Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Take it eeeeeeaaaassssyyy....

Those of you who have never spent much time in Buffalo may not grasp just how much goes on here, and the difficult decisions its residents must sometimes make, particularly those who are music obsessives. Today, for instance, I'll be spending most of the day and evening at the Albright-Knox for their unfortunately named annual fundraiser, "Rockin' at the Knox." The headliner is Wilco, and there will also be a virtual marathon of local bands on the bill, but I'm really going for My Morning Jacket and one final chance to check out the Forman Collection, which, while it would make a great band name, is in fact a large exhibition of monochromatic paintings (not normally one of my favorite things, but the group installation of them is perversely fascinating, as if a rainbow had been solidified, dissected, and mounted in a museum).

So where's the difficult decision, you ask? Well, across town at the same time tonight I could be seeing Dirty Projectors at Soundlab. I was not familiar with DP until I read this description:

The new album from Dirty Projectors, The Getty Address, is an epic glitch-opera about Don Henley, leader of the country/soft-rock group The Eagles. It was recorded over the course of almost two years in three different states with more than twenty-five people... Dave Longstreth, the primary Dirty Projector, wrote and recorded arrangements for wind septet, women's choir, and cello octet, digitally deconstructed them, and then sang over the reconstituted parts in order to make these songs. They are in English and a sleepily transliterated gibberish of lyrics from Longstreth's out of print teenage masterpiece The Graceful-Fallen Mango, and the Eagles' Greatest Hits Volume 1.

The Getty Address is about the conflict of Hernan Cortes and the Aztecs in 1519-21. It is also a meditation on the question of what is wilderness in a world completely circumscribed by highways, and what is the meaning of America once the "Manifest Destiny" imperative has expired completely.

This sounds absolutely amazing, and if I didn't already have tickets to one show, I'd be at the other in a heartbeat. I pass this info along to you for three reasons:
1. To invite you to share my pain,
2. For the opportunity to insert a reference here to Elton John: The Rock Opera, a self-explanatory event I participated in (and co-wrote with its mastermind, Steve Griffith) sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, and
3. To steer some of you--and you know who you are--to check out those Projectors yourself, either on disc or on tour. (I've heard not a lick of music yet, but their label's site contains samples, a video, and more.)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it...

Excitement reigns throughout the land, for my all-time favorite Buffalo band (leaving out at least one that sorta started here but quickly moved on) is reuniting for a night and collaborating with me on a new spoken-word-plus-music experiment next week.

That's right: Behold the brief return of Treelined Highway, a wonderful instrumental/improvisational trio who played their last show together in 2001 before the original members went their separate ways. (Update: Nick Laudadio now lives in North Carolina and has a terrific project called Gordon Merrick, which I can only describe as electronic covers of 80s power ballads, though I think the idea has changed a bit since I last saw a show. Mike Bouquard is still in Buffalo and is the newest member, I think, of another swell ensemble, Odiorne. And Brandon Stosuy lives in NYC and writes for all manner of music mags.)

A true obsessive, I saw TLH perform many times in their glory days, and bought multiple copies of their recordings to send to friends around the country in hopes of spreading the word far and wide. (I wish I could send you to an active website of theirs, but this is all that's left of it.) It was probably their soundtrack to Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera--performed live at a screening at Squeaky Wheel--that most excited me, but I pretty much liked everything they ever did, which was sometimes noisy and more often remarkably quiet. Reunion talk has been a kind of running joke for many years now, but it's actually gonna happen next weekend--Saturday, June 11 at Soundlab (110 Pearl in Buffalo, NY) at 9 p.m.

The occasion is the latest version of that ever-changing performance I've gone on about here from time to time--"EVERYTHING: AN EVENING WITH RON EHMKE AND HIS OR HER VERY SPECIAL GUESTS." I got the idea to invite them to be one of those VSGs during an earlier Soundlab show, the one by Animal Collective that I keep meaning to write about here. In the opening moments of that amazing performance, my mind sort of drifted (in a good way) and it occurred to me that now was the time to try this thing I've been wanting to do for many, many years: setting a monologue of mine to music, or at least finding a way to work music into a spoken-word performance. The late, lamented TLH seemed like the perfect band to do it, and happily enough Mike B happened to be in the audience at the AC show, and he was open to the concept, then brought it up with the other 2, and one thing led to another, and here we go. We'll have less than 24 hours to rehearse, which only adds to the excitement: 3 people who haven't played together in 4 years, joining forces with someone to do something none of them have done before as a group.

I'll do my own show, including the story with them, and then they'll do a set of their own. (There's even a chance of a Gordon Merrick cameo, but that remains to be seen.) Hey, it's every #1 fan's fantasy, is it not: to be the force who brings a favorite former band back together, even if only for an evening.