Saturday, October 14, 2006

Menche and Block collaboration















In Milwaukee, Menche and Block did an encore set together. This live collaboration took elements from each of their respective sets and created something quietly powerful. Maybe they'll do a recording sometime? A great opportunity to see this live.

Daniel Menche in Chicago/Milwaukee















The highly anticipated Chicago/Milwaukee Daniel Menche concerts have come and gone. Thanks again to Adam Sonderberg, Elastic Arts, and the Cactus Club for helping make these two great nights possible. Olivia Block's support on both of these concerts was also essential. Two amazing nights of music, and a great time hanging out with Daniel at various places in Milwaukee.

"Creatures of Cadence" was released in conjunction with these events. If you haven't yet, pick up a copy now at: www.croutonmusic.com/cr32.htm

Thursday, January 05, 2006

29 Reasons To Go On.















A friend from Sweden recently sent this image of his Crouton collection. It's nice to see this. It's nice to know that these records mean something for people. To think back on the memories associated with each of these projects; the people, the ideas, the money falling from the sky... Much work went into making them happen, but not the kind of work that makes people tired. Just the opposite, in fact. This process is complete when appreciation like this is shared. Thank you, Mike!

Thursday, December 29, 2005















View from a window in Nijmegen where we spent 10 days recording with Martijn Tellinga for Brombron. Also played two concerts which went very nicely. Discussions now about the possibility of U.S. dates in 2006. Anyone interested in hosting us? Drop a note.

Martijn also runs the Stichting Mixer label in Amsterdam. Take a peek.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In Loving Memory of Jason Kahn















No, he's not deceased. He's just not in Milwaukee anymore, and I'm remembering the great music he made. From the looks of the photo, it appears he might not even have been in Milwaukee, but I promise that he was. The picture was taken by an annonymous attendee at the concert at Hotcakes Gallery. Were you there? It was glorius, it was recorded, and there's a small chance that others might be able to hear it for themselves someday. We'll see.

Milwaukee is truly lucky to have a place like Hotcakes Gallery in town. Mike Brenner (owner) really runs a selfless organization, causing me to simultaneously question his sanity, and praise him. Visit the gallery in person, or at least compute Hotcakes. There's some great exhibitions coming up, as well as a performance by Alessandro Bosetti. Do go.

Livingroom














The 2005 series recently ended. The concerts were great, and the space was perfect. Big thanks are due to Dan and Liz for their hospitality and amazing cooking (you too, Sam!).

It was great to see Michael Colligan again after seeing him with Kevin Drumm a couple years ago. In the trio with Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang (pictured), he added an almost electronic sounding element to the acoustic mix, keeping everyone changing their instrument and bending sonic degrees. A wonderful start to the series, indeed. And, a hard one to top.

Mountains and Chris Rosenau were a treat. A totally different kind of sound from the first concert, and this swing kept the series moving and interesting. Some good press and a nice turnout made this concert almost more like a rock show (without the rock). Chris' banjo recordings placed around the room really made the non-rock vibe apparent immediately. I was amazed at how varied his set was. Really quite more involved than I expected. Mountains were up next, and used a much more smooth approach than Rosenau's raw sounds, accumulating into a final bombastic guitar line with electronics that was like a sad tornado blowing through the room. Powerful stuff. For only having a couple hours of sleep the previous night, these guys were in great form, and apparently stayed up again the entire night with Dan. Simply a beautiful night.

The third concert of the season brought us a really wonderful solo set from multi-instrumentalist Hal Rammel. Besides the amplified palatte work, the field recordings blended seamlessly into each other, and whatever effects came from the hypnotic, whirring pinwheel with flashing lights that hammered away on the tines. I'm still mesmerized. Chicago's Haptic were up next, and delivered another of their (not too) lengthy pieces of dense frequency, static, and texture. Even though I was a guest in this set of theirs, I was not involved so much that I couldn't partially imagine just being a listener. Can't wait to hear what they do next, as each time I hear them it gets better.

What's coming next year? It's all in the works right now. It would be great to hear what people thought of this season - what worked, what didn't, and some votes on upcoming performers. No smoking was probably the biggest voiced concern, and perhaps the start time.

Any other input? Lay it on me.

Thanks,
Jon

The Portable Quartet


Tom Wincek, that guy. He came up with quite an idea here. I'm just glad I got to be a part of it. While he was going to school in Chicago (and commuting from WI), he would regularly pass this small trainstation on the way. Fascinated, he did some research on it and discovered plans to demolish it (over 100 years old). Most people would be content enough with finding this out and simply imagining all the history. Not Tom. He got a bright idea to invite people to take the train down there and see an improvised music concert.

Then he had to figure out who would play. All the instruments had to be acoustic or battery operated. So, in talking to people, they had to figure out if what they did could indeed be acoustic. Jim Schoenecker was to play a battery powered oscillator, Tom a melodica, Chris Rosenau a banjo and lightbulbs (with battery powered effects), and me a snare drum with a battery powered cassette deck.

With all that out of the way, he had to figure out a way to get people down to this station. Having a show at a gallery would have been difficult enough, but try getting 20 people to buy round-trip train tickets and travel out of town to see such a thing. But that's exactly what people did. In all fairness, I don't think it was because of us...

This experience was really just that, an experience. Something different that went beyond the sound, but really also enhanced the sound - the situation helped shape the playing and listening, and people knew that would happen. A reason to get excited. A reason to take part.

It's made me think more about how important space is to the live experience. How the situation determines certain dynamics within the players and audience, dynamics that shift with each scenario.

All in all, it was quite a time. We've documented it.

Anyone else have any great ideas like Tom? Post a comment.