Monday, March 31, 2008

Our first grant for Eigenvalues

Some good news came in the mail today: we've been awarded a small grant from the Puffin Foundation for Eigenvalues. We've got two other proposals pending for this project. We're going to create a new, fairly large-scale work built from texts taken from Supreme Court decisions. Particularly dissenting opinions from the court's worst-decisions-ever. That will include the ridiculous Bush v. Gore case in 2000, and we'll put that in context with other historical missteps made by the court such as Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and a handful of others that may not be quite so widely recognizable.

In a few days, we're having a rehearsal for the Low End String Quartet - it's been almost a year since we played together, it will be very exciting to finally start playing some of this new music that I've been working on. It's always gratifying to actually hear music that previously only existed in my head.

Spring is here and I have the allergies to prove it. I spent yesterday like a good suburbanite working in the yard. Fired up the lawnmower for the first time of the season. Happily, it started right up. Then I spent about an hour doing my spring/summer ritual: the dandelion meditation. That's what I call it when I take to the yard with my weed hound and pull up dandelion's one at a time. It's, how-do-you-say, Quixotic? But I really don't want to use chemical fertilizers or herbicides so I stand out there for hours pulling up each little plant.

Yesterday, I timed my dandelion session by listening to the new Silver Mt. Zion record "13 Blues for 13 Moons." Despite what Pitchfork had to say about it, this is a fine fine recording. Pitchfork got all caught up in a discussion of political whatnot, but I think the album succeeds largely on the power of the instruments. The lyrics aren't necessarily the focal point (at least for me). In any event, the political content of the lyrics is cast mostly in metaphor - at least enough so that it doesn't weigh down the music. It's not like they're playing Billy Bragg songs or anything... If I wasn't so broke, I'd order the 2-disc vinyl version. They do a lovely job of incorporating strings (2 violins and cello) with loud electric guitars, no easy feat in my opinion. The last track, "BlindBlindBlind,"is especially awesome.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New piece for Low End Quartet

I'm chipping away at my goal of an evening length set of music for the Low End String Quartet. Here's a new piece, tentatively named "Grinder."

This mock-up version uses a sad MIDI organ sound for the bass part, and all the other parts are played on the guitar. The cello is in the left channel, violin on the right, and the actual guitar part is in the center.

The mock-up is missing one important thing: there's a cello solo in the middle of the piece. I didn't take a crack at that on the guitar, it's just missing. We have quartet rehearsal this coming week, so hopefully we'll get to record it and I'll be able to post something a little better than this wacky home version.

If you're curious, here's a link to the score: pdf

DCIC on the radio

I got word from a DJ on the Pacifica station in Seattle that we had a track featured on his program last week (the same track that's available for free download from the CityPaper).

And here in the other Washington, I was interviewed on "Metro Connection" on WAMU. The feature is over 9 minutes long. Quite generous of them, in my opinion. If you want to hear the interview, it's available streaming on their site:
or if you want an mp3, you can download from my site, it's under "DCIC Press Clips"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DCIC In the News

DC Improvisers Collective (DCIC) has a cd release show coming up on Saturday. A couple of articles appeared in local media today:
The Washington CityPaper did a "One track mind" review of the new album
The Washington Post Express interviewed Steve Lehman (who we are sharing the bill with)

Unrelated: Jodi Beder, cellist in the Low End String Quartet, is profiled in a feature story in the Prince George's County Gazette. Her band, Zen for Primates, is also performing on Saturday. Our quartet got a mention (although she is credited as being the group's "erstwhile composer" which is a little off... but so what).

Click here for details about Saturday's show.

UPDATE: Friday Mar 21
We got another hit, this time in the Washington Post's Style section. Apparently the facetious headline that I put on our press release actually got some traction. Funny.