Monday, February 13, 2006

Jane Franklin Dance at Iota

This past Sunday I performed with Jane Franklin Dance in an unusual event at Iota in Arlington. This season, Jane Franklin is doing a series of performances using poems by local writers - in very different types of venues. A few weeks ago, we were at the Schlesinger Center at Northern Virginia Community College (a huge concert hall), and this time we were in a small club.

This show was part of a monthly poetry series hosted at Iota. We did a twenty minute piece using several poems, and then the poets who normally gather for this Sunday night thing read some work, some of them inviting the dancers to improvise during their readings.

We had a few rehearsals, and I have to admit I think I did a better job in rehearsal. I made a few mistakes during the performance, and had some problems with noise from my guitar rig (probably interference from the lights messing with my single-coil guitar pickups). I think it went ok, but I didn't feel like it was my best work...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sport Utility Vehicle

I wrote this piece a few years ago and shelved it. The story goes like this: I heard a performance by Charles Amirhkanian, and a few days later (not surprisingly) I had an idea for a text-based piece. I came up with an algorithm for distributing the words using chance operations, and I found the numbers to be intoxicating and wound up getting caught up in the process, which caused the piece to go on for way too long.

Lately, I've been experimenting with some new looping tools in Audiomulch, and I came up with a revised version that could be performed live pretty easily. Cameron had some great suggestions, and we made this recording today. Hope you enjoy this new revised (rescued?) version of Sport Utility Vehicle featuring Cameron McPhee (voice).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Guitar and laptop

Today I want to share a new recording I made at home this weekend. I've been doing some tweaking of my guitar processing rig lately for a few projects that I have coming up.

A few years ago, I sold my racks full of guitar gear and switched over to a computer based system using my laptop. I'm working with an audio environment called Audiomulch. For more information about Mulch, visit and you can learn all about it. Basically, it's a very cool platform for manipulating audio in real time. It provides a system for configuring lots of little contraptions in a very flexible way. I've replicated the system I used to have with my old hardware-based rig, plus I've added some nifty new features.

This recording was made while I was testing out my latest configuration – making sure it works the way I'd hoped it would, and I've been practicing making loops and juggling looped material along with live playing. This piece was played live – it's just one pass with guitar and live processing, totally improvised. I hope you enjoy it.

As always, you can get the latest news about what I'm working on by visiting

Friday, February 03, 2006

Good News! DCIC = Grantee

Let's all give thanks to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Through their "Small Projects" program, the DC Improvisers Collective just received a grant of $1,000 to make a studio recording!!! We plan on spending three days at Inner Ear / Silver Sonya with Chad Clark.

We still need to raise another $500 to cover the studio time, so you'll be hearing more from us about that in the near future... but today let's just enjoy the good news!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

DCIC at Warehouse Next Door, Jan 18

As promised, here's a podcast from our performance at Warehouse Next Door a few weeks ago. We played as a trio that night, and did three "pieces." This is the final one. At this point, I was kneeling on the floor, playing prepared guitar. Mike opens the piece with key clicks on the sax, while Ben is playing with brushes. Mike then pulls out a particularly gorgeous lyrical improvisation and Ben's brushwork gradually coalesces into a steady rhythm. I didn't want to mess up this nice texture, so I let them take it for a while... You'll hear me sneak in at about 2:15. The entire concert is available for free download on our website now:

Dan (bass player) couldn't play with us that night, but he did contribute titles for the tracks. He named the set "An Index of Elements" and this track is named "c) Sn (density 7.3)"

Robert Carl - Changing My Spots

Last Friday night (January 27), I had the chance to perform in a concert by composer Robert Carl. He was one of my composition teachers at the Hartt School of Music (where I did my graduate work). He came to town to present an evening of work that he performs by himself - including several nice piano pieces, and some electronic things along with some shakuhachi music. The last piece on the program is an improv piece for an ensemble of unspecified instrumentation called "Changing My Spots." For this performance (which was the "world premiere" - fancy fancy), we put together a quartet with Jodi Beder (cello), Dan Barbiero (double bass), me (guitar), and the composer at the piano.

The score is wide open, but all pitches are specified. I'm probably the weakest reader in the group, and Cameron remarked that she thought it looked "cute" when I was squinting at the page, then looking at the neck of the guitar, then playing a note or two. Well, hopefully the audience couldn't see me counting the frets trying to make sure I was playing the right notes!

Music roundtable at DCist

Just came across this nice post at the DCist. They published a "music roundtable" discussion about the state of the "industry." It's not exactly comprehensive, but a great start. I think the discussion about the usefulness of MySpace is actually pretty accurate, which is rare given all the hype surrounding that stuff these days.