Friday, January 16, 2009

Neon Brown Presents: "Ninja Poodles On Beets"!

Set 1 51 megs
Set 2 23 megs

Here it is: the first NBP of 2009, and the first new Juggler's Challenge Revival episode since July! Two sets in two unedited clips. The lineup for this one was a quartet of John Beezer (Direct Guitar), TQ Berg (Electric Guitar), Dennis Jolin (Drums) and Me Woods ("Bass" -- really an octavized bass-amplified plank-tuned guitar). I'd been feeling pleasantly low-energy for most of the afternoon and was starting to waffle on doing the usual Juggler's Challenge elements, but with the house nearly-full at 8pm, it was clear that some sort of audience-interaction was called for. Trying to split the difference with my mellow energy, I just gave the whiteboards out to the Challengers with very little briefing (maybe mentioning something about lyrics and pictures). Before 10 minutes had passed (usually the first input has to be pried out of their hands at around 20, at which point things start picking up) there was already a full set of lyrics and most of another.

The band worked really well with each other right from the start, leaking out a seamless stream of endlessly morphing wide-panned uplifting melancholia. Space and emotional-texture was the order of the evening. So great to have TQ back again! Originally known to me as a bassist, he's a long-time collaborator -- since at least 1995...? -- and has always been a musician with a truly unique earpoint, but I've got to say his guitar playing, which he started seriously much more recently has gotten to be amazing, especially his ability to improvise effectively in his own unique voice. Beezer made another step in his gradual transition to a full-blown Electric Guitar appearance by standing up and somehow making completely clean guitar the lushest sound in the room. And Jolin was fantastic on his first NBP-turn on drums, rolling out waves of organic groove, even around my muddy bass loops! With the huge variety of instruments he plays, you can expect to see lots more of him too in the coming year.

Near the end of the first set, I thought perhaps we'd do something for just one more white-board of lyrics but during the beginning of that movement one of my FX pedals suddenly turned off and then on again. Mysteriously, I couldn't get any sound again... Eventually, amidst the faint smell of fireworks, I noticed that my power-amp wasn't lit up anymore. I'm assuming the smell was the mini-mushroom-cloud from its sudden demise (a great excuse to finally get a decent bass-head...?). I plugged into the PA for the second set.

The Chai House had switched bookers again and there was no posted title for the evening. When somebody came up to the bar while we were setting up and asked what was up for the evening, the barista and I whipped up "Ninja Poodles on Beets" -- which actually isn't too bad as NBP titles go! There were a few riffs on it right at the top of the show and a couple other times when things slowed down, but clearly -- as with the copious audience input -- there was lots more there left un-mined.

Set 2 includes a sharp and timely "tribute" to the Bush years by guest-vocalist Brian (don't know his last name...perhaps Beezer can add it in the comments here). I didn't even know what he was singing about at the time, but on the recording it's plenty clear and -- I though -- hilarious.

The Challengers gradually expanded their lyrical input, embedding some crazy drawings (including one -- which I wish I'd been able to photograph before it was erased -- of a bulging-eyed demon barfing out various words) and even a masterful board where the words and the art seemed to fuse into a single abstract musical score (photo here). Looking at it again, I realize my riffs on this last one really just began to taste the tip of the juice-berg.

In closing this gargantuan post (perhaps I need a self-imposed word-limit), I'd like to again encourage you all to add any of your own recollections or comments here in the 'comments' so that more than my own ramblings are part of the context for listeners who weren't there and even for those who were, should they come back to this post in the distant future.

Thanks for listening!

(in addition to the other sets posted below, there are still a few of the older shows up at )


Anonymous said...

no word limits! juice-bergs deserve life. :)

F R E E L A B said...

( : { ) > Right on, thanks for the encouragement!

brioSphere said...

Hi! I'm the guy who did the guest singing improv 'goodbye Bush' dealio (it's Brian, not Ryan, but you were close!). Thanks so much for allowing me to be part of the evening and do my thang; it was fun and I hope to come back and do some more. I just moved here from San Francisco so it's nice to make new friends and feel welcomed!
Brian S.

F R E E L A B said...

Brian!! Right!! Thanks muchly, I'll fix that in the post. Great to meet you...looking forward to more collaboration in the future! :))

Anonymous said...

good sound quality. i need to get one of those recorders. Pizzaaaaa!!! Love it. BTW for the acoustic thing, nothing is plugged in right? I'll being my acoustic bass, guitar, nylon string, and mandolin.
thanks for finally being able to collaborate with you. It has been something I've been looking forward to.

F R E E L A B said...

Djiln!! I've really been loving the collaboration as well! Can't believe it took us so long to get together. :) For Acoustic Night, things can be plugged into the PA, but I try to steer people away from bringing amps (always seems easier to put together a good mix for more of the people). Speaking of! Looks like next Weds is likely to be our baby's birthday (a full-court-press of multi-modal coaxing has failed to convince her to flip out of her comfy breech position --she must know something that we don't --, so we've got a c-section scheduled for next Weds). I was going to see if you and Beezer wanted to host it in my absence... I'll email you tomorrow to see what you think. Thanks for the great jams!

Anonymous said...

Check out the synchronicity at 15:18 in the first set.

Also, was that you or me at 41:49 in the first set? That was a cool little riff.

Finally, you asking "did something blow up" at 44:19 (end of set 1) -- it's a good thing that I didn't hear that on stage or I would have creamed myself. It's too bad that something did blow up because I think that jam was heading in a good direction.

F R E E L A B said...

15:18: Awesome!! Yeah, now that we've done that spontaneously, we could probably make a signal for that: "You two, swoop into rhythmic choppy dissonance".

41:49: I think that's you. You should transcribe that!! It's so short, but what a cool melody/harmony/shape!

44:19: Definitely a bummer...I finally felt like I was getting good bass-push there with that line and that particular wah really sweeping through some low lows...but I guess that's why it blew up... :))