Saturday, May 16, 2009

Neon Brown Presents: "Juggler's Challenge Revival (Episode 17)"!

the show 102 megs

Here's a top notch Juggler's Challenge Revival show by a group that is mostly a duplicate of April's 5-piece band, but with two extra musicians. So, all told, that's Noah Adler (Mandolin), TQ Berg (Destroyer), Brett ??? (Big Sax), Dennis Jolin (Electro-Uke), Michael Perry (Drums), Donovan Raymond (Bass) and Me Woods (Hybrid Guitar and Vocals).
For those of you who are interested in numbers but not good at counting, that's 7(!) people at a fully-improvised event where (1) interpreting audience-input in a relatively focused and accessible way and (2) keeping the instrument volumes in balance with the vocals are both of fairly-high importance. And really, on both of those counts this was possibly the best group yet! Apparently, if the players are actively listening (something I know I can count on from all of these guys), 7 people is actually a great number of people for something like this -- allowing each person to play more sparsely and have plenty of leftover attention to explore and amplify whatever conceptual challenges the audience has thrown our way.
Throughout the evening, grooves, melodies, and counter-melodies morphed and intertwined seamlessly with nary a hint of devolving into an escalating-volume war. In fact, now that I think about it, we actually had 8(!!) for a while when William Precht briefly plugged in a thumb-piano for perhaps our most nuanced, uplifting, and rhythmically-interesting piece of the evening.

We started a bit late due to a combo of transportation malfunctions and generally poor time-management on my part. Except for Dennis, who was still completing his marathon journey to the Chai House, we were all finally ready to go at around 8:30, when I got a funny feeling about the recording device and decided to check the adapter.
Sure enough, the AC-power adapter was shorting and the screen was already flashing the 'low-battery' message. Sensing that it was likely to be an extra good one, I booked over to the drug store on foot while everybody else started warming up with some instrumental grooves. The recording here starts when I got back about 10 minutes later and stuffed the new batteries in. Since, we had less than 90 minutes from our start-time to Chai-O'Clock, the show became a single unbroken marathon set!
With only a little hounding of the audience on my part, the transparencies began showing up on the overhead-projector early in the evening and became ever-more-inspired, all the way up to the closing verbal input of the night from Erin, "Snails Exploring an Abandoned Salt-Mine".

Here's a rough outline of what went down: 0:00:Warmup-Jams/JC-Introduction/Dennis Arrives/More Jams, 20:30: 'A Musical Experience in 10 Words or Less with Some Cheating', 27:30: 'The "Musical" Love Song', 39:30: 'Todd's Abstract Graphical Swirl-Score', 44:00: Thumb-Piano Jam --> 52:45: "The Key", 59:30: Challenger-Penned Lyrics ("Leanne Rhymes With Busta"), 1:09:00: Sadbot's Grand Cycle, 1:15:30: Snails Visiting A Salt Mine, 1:24:00: Introductions/Sweet Home Mr. Spot's.

So that's it for this one! It feels like this format is really starting to come together. I'm looking forward to coming up with some new challenge-templates over the next month. I'm also looking forward to seeing where this goes if we can keep at least 75% of the band from show to show and can make the whole concept as accessible for the Challengers as it seemed to be on this particular Wednesday. As always, feel free to add your own notes in the comments here!


Anonymous said...

heya,i just get a blogger screen of some kind when i click to download the set. what up wit dat, yo?

F R E E L A B said...

Criminy!! This blog-format is great for some-things...but it really likes to break my links at the last minute. It looks like I've fixed it now... Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

i liked the stuff with you and yr brother more

F R E E L A B said...

I'd expect that would be true for some! ...I'm not sure which period you're talking about, but remember Adrian and I have been playing together for well over a decade. These new configurations are only in their infancy. (But by all means, feel free to hassle him to show up at Mr. Spot's more often! :))

F R E E L A B said...

Wait a minute!!... is this "Anonymous" really "Adrian Woods"!?

Destroyer said...

Doesn't sound like Adrian to me, but yaz, bring the other 'A' back and then there could be 2 drummers. Is it possible that the poster was referring to the 'Neon Brown' part of the set? Set 2 -- even back in the day -- isn't that far off from what happens now.

Sadbot & Snails! Yes.

Andrew, have you ever considered flipping the right and left channels on the recordings? That way they'd be back to the band's perspective.

F R E E L A B said...

It's funny, I've definitely flipped a few of the recordings that were recorded with my remote mics (where it isn't obvious when I'm setting them up which is left and right) so that it's back to the audience's perspective, but never the other way around... Perhaps I should do one deliberately from the band's perspective one of these days.

(also, yeah, the last few of the night just keep getting better and better free and and sparkly in some of the open spaces near the end!)

Dennis said...

good job and jams to all
lets do it again
it was a nice level of volume

maybe the poster thought one of us was Adrian HA!