It’s official. The freeze thaw cycle is finally tipping in favor of mud and puddles. I am one of the few who are sorry to see this winter go. It was harsh. Coldest cold and lotsa snow. I tend to like the hunker down mode and long dark nights. I don’t mind a little sunshine on my shoulders, but I am not a sun lover in general. More of a squinty shades and hat wearer who takes an umbrella to the beach.
Our second-to-last dangerously cold snap in late January coincided with my week down in Chicagoland rehearsing and performing with Ken Vandermark’s Audio One. Ken had a pile of charts for us to learn; it was an intense week that ended with two big shows at The Green Mill. The (vw) Rabbit handled the cold like a champ. This trip to the city left a stronger-than-usual imprint on me. I spent some high quality time playing and just wandering around in Andersonville. It’s a special luxury to be able to drop everything back home and focus on playing, getting around in a great old-friendly city and spending a little time with family for a while. I bought a sachet of pure lavender early in the week and put it on the heater vent on the dashboard, so it is possible that I was getting a little naturally aromatherapeutically high while I was doing all that driving around with the heater on full tilt. Regardless, it was a particularly rewarding week.
When I got back to Madison it was time to really commit to playing Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht for a Sound Ensemble Wisconsin performance during sunset in mid-February. Madison friends, please check out these concerts. Mary Theodore is putting together some very creative and innovative chamber music programs in beautiful places. She carefully considers the repertoire, the space, the time of day….it is amazing. She/we need some more support. sewmusic.org
I have a busy spring ahead. Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Final Forte young performer’s concerto competition is this week. The competition will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Television on Wednesday night.
Then I am off to Chicago and Milwaukee for some Wrack-age. Wrack will be releasing a beautiful letter-press covered CD of “….Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire (a free jazz phantasmagoria inspired by the novels of Thomas Pynchon)”. This piece features the usual Wrack lineup: Kyle Bruckmann, oboe/mastermind/composer; Jason Stein, bass clarinet; Anton Hatwich, badassbass; Tim Daisy, drums and myself PLUS Darren Johnston on trumpet and Jeb Bishop on trombone. They both blow some of the sweetest and soulfullest music in this piece…..come hear it if you can. I can’t wait to hear it again. We toured on the West Coast and recorded it in San Francisco last spring. We’ll be playing at Elastic in Chicago on Friday night and on the final night of UW-Milwaukee’s Unruly Music Series on Saturday. I also get to sit in with The Echelon String Quartet for a rock and roll (they are calling it a hipster) wedding ceremony on my way up to Milwaukee.
Madison Symphony then begins rehearsals for a concert featuring Mozart’s Requiem. I also have a Faure Requiem the following weekend at First Unitarian Society.
Bluegrass band Milkhouse Radio will be debuting our new lead singer/guitarist, Mike (I don’t know his last name but man, he can play and sing…I’ll find it and pass it on…or just come out and meet him). I’ll post dates soon.
Audio One will be heading to the Victoriaville Jazz Fest in Canada at the end of May. I am looking forward to rehearsing with the fellas again and then traveling as a 10-piece band. It may be hard to sneak my viola into an overhead bin on that flight, but there is a chance the instruments outnumber the rolling suitcases, so we may be all right. If we get stuck on the runway we’ll be able to play them some Braxton or something.
I have been asked to play in two trios this summer for OKKA Fest 6 at The Sugar Maple in Milwaukee. Saturday 6/2 with Joe Morris and Kent Kessler, and Sunday 6/3 with Joe McPhee and Brian Labycz. I recently spent an evening reading interviews and listening to these guys and I am really looking forward to doing more of that as well as meeting and playing with them. It will be an incredible weekend of music; I feel incredibly fortunate to be invited to participate.
I took a blog writing break and went on my first bike ride of the season. That sun isn’t so bad. And I still get to bundle up. In honor of my bike ride I am posting a previously rejected take of my Bike Song (not totally original, you’ll hear if you listen) on tenor guitar. I made it up last spring when I got my new bike and recorded it in August. The original plan was to make a video to go with the recording….if it happens you’ll see it here. In the meantime, here is a technically imperfect but somehow just-right-with-a-few-late-summer-background-birds version of the tune on SoundCloud. I posted some other random things there for some applications and interviews. Feel free to peruse those also.
I intend to fill in performance details before I post this, but if I didn’t please check the calendar page! See you out there, and thanks for listening.