Things have been busy for a long while and I haven't posted anything here for over a year so this entry will be rather large.
To begin with, The Cabinet of Curiosities did a 10 day recording session in France early this year. THAT was a real blast and if you follow the above link you should be able to see some of the videos filmed during our live show.
The band now consists of:
Dave Kerman on drums (and the odd bg vocal)
Kavus Torabi on guitar and vocals.
David Campbell on bass and vocals
Bob Drake on guitar and lead vocals.
What a band! We have an album coming out on ReR records any day now. That will feature the same songs played by the band live off the floor, as well as by Bob doing his solo mutli-instrumentalist thing.
In Septemeber this year The Rebel Wheel played Progday and had a blast. We were asked to play about 10 weeks before the gig and as the band had kind of been hiatus (Aaron and I were getting together to play werid-ass heavily distorted free-from jazz but THAT isn't what they wanted) we scrambled to get a working line-up together. That worked out incredibly well!
Nathan Mahl keyboard player, Guy LeBlanc is in the band now as is bassist Andrew Burns
Here is the line-up:
The gig went exceptionally well and the crowd treated us like rock-stars. The sound was perhaps the best I have ever heard before at a concert and I got all choked up at the end when I went over to the FOH lad and told him so. It was just so unusual to have it THAT good. Kudos!
Aaron Clark on drums
Andrew Burns on bass
Guy LeBlanc on keyboards
David Campbell on guitar, vocals and keyboards
We were in pretty good form but I was suffering from an ear-infection and was developing strep throat so my vocals were pretty strained (more than usual ie).
The line-up was excellent and we quickly became road-worthy so that several day after we got back we hit The Elmdale Tavern and did a packed show with Mahogany Frog. We kicked ass (as did they) and were firing on all cylinders. The crowd was amazingly supportive and we sold lots of CDs and even made some pretty good money for a change!
In other news, Nathan Mahl has asked me and drummer Aaron Clark to join their live band (Guy and I work well together and are trading spots in each other's bands) so that is exciting.
This time Tristan Vallaincourt is onboard as well (he played on the Exodus album as well as the latest one Guy is finishing up as we speak). I was brought in to replace him for the live shows (I only played one track on Exodus and none on the new one) but those fences have been mended and now both of us will be onstage together. I am really excited about it. Here is the current line-up:
Aaron Clark on drums
Don Prince on bass
Tristan Vaillancourt on guitar
David Campbell on guitar
Guy LeBlanc on keyboards and vocals
Still more band news! I joined Ottawa band The Peptides in the spring (just before I went to France) and we played the Ottawa Jazzfest, several gigs at The Merury Lounge, The Elmdale Tavern (twice!), the Live Lounge and did a set at CKCU radio.
This 10 piece band is red-hot and is making a real name for ourselves in Ottawa.
Alex McFarlane on drums
Andrew Burns on bass
MJ McCann on guitar
David Campbell on guitar
Scott Irving on keyboards
Ollie Pruchinsky on vocals
Dale Watterman on vocals
Rebecca Abbot on vocals
DeeDee Butters on vocals
Claude Marquis on vocals (and eveil mastermind composer and prodcuder of the songs)
As far as compositions go I have been doing a lot of jazzy stuff, using 12 tone rows and odd-meters but with a definite nod to jazz's swing and overall sensibility. I intend to phase The Rebel Wheel out of the proggy stuff we are doing (which actually has a lot of 12-tone rows and odd-meter grooves) and more into jazz. By that I mean phase out the vocals entirely and lose the neo-ish aspect we kind of had on CD1.
I have been writing lots of cues lately and have had some success getting them, via music supervisors, into shows like The Amazing Race and other prime-time ventures. I do that stuff under the auspices of Fiction Music Productions and have been generally letting that side of my life relax a wee bit to concentrate on more concert stuff but have been feeling inspired to write some more stuff.
Right now I am dusting of Symphony #3 and re-working some passages that are no longer exciting me. Generally I tend not to go back and re-write stuff, especially stuff that comes out in a great roar of creative passion as that did, but I remember even when I was doing it that that were some sections that would need a bit of post-partum re-evaluation. After 10 years I am ready to do that!
Not so New News
Lots of news these days. I have been selected, among a host of others, to have music included in the 2008 60X60 competition. This is the second time I have had music chosen for the event (typically a CD and a TON of live performances), and I am pretty excited. This year there is a Canadaian division that was overseen by Eldad Tsabary and it has already enjoyed performances at Toronto University, Concordia University in Montreal and a performance in Mexico City . As well, the pieces are being hosted at CEC's site and available for streaming through Sonus.
60X60 is an idea of Vox Novus's Rob Voisey and it has become a very popular annual competition. The profile is such that a lot of performances have already occured and a lot more are in the works. Go to EuCue for podcast details. Go to
60x60 for more concert info.
I just got back from a 2 week mini-tour of the USA with Bob Drake's band: The Cabinet of Curiosities . Wow. What a lot of fun. Bob's music is challenging, chock full of odd-meters and shifting tempos and a real comedic twist in its performance. I was the bassist-2nd guitarist, harmony vocalist (and ham-fisted keyboardist) and was honoured to play with drummer Dave Kerman ,
and saxophonist Jason Dumars .
We did some intensive rehearsals and hit the road. The tour was well organized and we were treated incredibly well (no bare blood-stained mattresses to sleep on and unheated band "rooms" on this tour!). We did a performance almost daily in any number of venues ranging from barns, lobbies, driveways and living-rooms to bars and concert halls. Very fun. Bob has some videos posted (or links thereto) so check out his site for further info. The Cabinet of Curiosities
The Rebel Wheel just played a gig in Toronto at the Nuance Art-Rock festival organized by musician Wilton Said . What a blast that was. The band was well-rehearsed and we were antsy to get up onstage and do our thing. The crowd (a euphanism that) were very appreciative and gave us a strong reaction (a good strong reaction ie).
The festival was a one day affair and it was well organized. The sound was especially good, and is the case in these festival situations, the people who attended were great. We made a lot of new friends and also got to meet people with whom we have been chatting already on the internet. The typical conversation goes from a general sense of well-being to specific questions as to someone's internet identity (and this usually in regards to the website called Progressive Ears ).
The only disappointment for us was the lack of support from other bands. as the concerts aren't that well attended sometimes, the other bands and their entourage's are much welcomed and encouraged to stick around to show support. As we went on last, we of course were there all day and whooped and hollered for the other bands. We played after the dinner break. Everyone BUT the other bands showed up (well Wilton and his drummer came back but all the members of Counterpoint and Lorne Hindie 360 made a bee-line the hell out of there: weinies!!!).
I understand of course a band having to leave or having other obligations, but I find it especially hypocritical when those same bands make pleas from onstage for the crowd to support the local prog scene.
Still, all in all it was a very good gig and the band was very grateful to Wilton for being invited and we were also really happy with our performance. The sound was great, the band was tight and the audience, although small, was very appreciative. We had a hard time tearing ourselves offstage and if it wasn't for the concerned looks and grim wrist-watch glances of the staff, we would probably have stayed on for quite a while longer. No matter, the whole day was a blast.
As far as being a sideman goes, I have one other piece of news. Ottawa band Nathan Mahl has asked me to join them. Their last guitarist Tristan Vallaincourt left just after their new album was finished and he did a stellar job. I was drafted into one tune on the CD (Zipporah's lament) where I played a very jazz-blues tele solo. What fun. the difficult part is trying to figure out Tristan's parts... whew. the Cd is going to be released on Unicorn Records sometime in November 2008 (any day now ie). Thanks a lot for asking me lads, it is a pleasure to work with you lot.
I just got back from another peformance of Bob Drake's The Cabinet of Curiosities . This time we played in Denver Colorado at The Mercury Lounge. What a blast. We had quite an ensemble. The core band was Bob on guitar, banjo, violin and of course vocals. Dave Kerman on drums and sundry percussion (and I mean sundry), Jason Dumars on saxes, keyboards and chemicals, and me on bass, guitar and bg vox. Along with that we had, Dave Willey up to play bass on a few songs as well as Mike Johnson and Sharon Bradford on noise box (an very early circuit-bent device Bob came up with before the term circuit-bending really existed) and the innimitable Arnie Swenson on vocals and book dispersal. The gig was a blast and well worth the several thousand mile drive to and from.
The Rebel Wheel was invited to play at this years Rosfest after hours party. We gladly accepted and made our way over the dreaded border to Philadelphia. The trip up was a bit nerve-wracking as we left in seperate cars. The drummer, Aaron Clark and I went in my car (along with a full load of gear), and bassist Gary Lauzon, sax-vocals-keyboardist Angie Macivor and band friend and honoured associate, keyboardist Rick Barkhouse went in another. We were all stopped at the border (actually Gary, Ange and Rick were stopped first and the guards were waiting for Aaron and I). What a nightmare. We were searched and questioned but evetually released and free to go wreck havoc. The gig itself was a little harried. We were glad to be invited and went onstage to kick ass, unfortunately in the storm surrounding most music festivals and the fact we were playing at a venue different from the mainstage itself, we had a PA that really wasn't up to snuff, nor were we given enough time to ring-out the room and get our monitors and PA soundchecked properly (we had to wait until the cougar-fest dance lessons were over in the room before we could play. It was quite a contrast: upper middle class, dressed to the nines trophy wives and their ilk and then a slightly ragged looking prog band and a whole bunch of prog-fest fans descending upon them all). There was a killer drum kit awaiting us as well as a great bass amp, so it wasn't a total loss. We did a good job nevertheless, but the vocals were mostly inaudible in the mains and TOTALLY inaudible in the monitors (or were those big boxes even monitors?...not really sure). We all had a great time though regardless: good people , warm response and a great staff (with whom we partied after the gig) . Well worth the border crossing follies. We were stopped on the way back to Canada and our car was taken apart in some idiotic search. The young lad who searched our car told us he was a musician too (which of course explained why he was wearing a uniform and working as a customs agent) and even gave us much-needed advice about how to load our gear. Thanks a lot idiot-stick.
Even Older News
Well the Nearfest gig went swimmingly despite some very awkward moments setting up (monitor check anyone?). The stage crew at Nearfest is top-end and served our needs very well, but due to the nature of our slot, we had 15 minutes in all to get set up and onstage. We did it, but we had no monitors for a good chunk of the set. It was the first gig Bob had done as a featured artist (ie playing exclusively his own music and as leader of his own "band"). It was tricky and somewhat nerve-wracking but all in all it was a great gig. The people at Nearfest are the best and seeing internet friends as well as making new ones was especially cool. It was a whirlwind week for Bob and I; in from France, intense rehearsals, border crossings and onstage antics and a return flight to France, but we did it and did it well.
Some very cool news! I am going to be playing bass and guitar and doing some singing for Maestro Bob Drake's live set at Nearfest . It is incredibly exciting to be chosen and I am looking forward to it. Bob is an immensely talented composer-bassist-guitarist-producer-engineer (singer-banjoist-drummer etc.etc.) and typically surrounds himself with high-quality players so to be chosen for this gig is a real honour, especially considering how cool Nearfest is.
Originally I was going to be part of a touring band that included such well-respected and talented players
Dave Kerman and of course Bob Drake, but due to a lot of logistical reasons, sadly, that tour isn't going to happen .
My other band (well one of many ie) The Rebel Wheel has just released its 2nd CD. The band features a new line-up and we are very excited. Expect some more Neo-ish moments, some fusion, and of course the odd moment of twisted "dissonance".
Some news on the Synics: It seems that the band is just too busy to make it a big commitment, so for the time being, we are putting the project on the back burner. I had an album all ready to release, but we all had different feelings about it. Originally we all rehearsed and went to the studio to record (way back on June 16th 2003) but because the project stalled a few times, I ended up recording a few songs with me playing everything. While I was happy with the results, understandably, the rest of the band wasn't. We had some plans to change the line-up (basically putting Pat on lead vocals and putting me on BGs), adding another member to play bass and guitar (freeing Pat to concentrate on vocals and guitar, and of course bass), but these plans, although met with a lot of enthusiasm, never really came to fruition.
I have decided to create TWO albums from the Petrarch sessions (the album's name was The Petrarch Loop, and like I mentioned earlier, it is a name and inspiration any English major or sonnet fan should understand), one that has the band playing and isn't thematically related as such, and another that has both me and the band playing and shares a common inspiration from tune to tune. I am not sure when I'll release either, but they are both finished and in the wings!.
Another unit I am in Filth Therapy is finishing up its new release and we intend to launch it and our net label sometime in the spring. We will probably sell digital downloads only, and maybe CD-rs, but there is no plan to manufacture a batch of CDs as such. The music is basically a more angular form of drums and bass music with a lot of ambiences and sample manipulations. While it doesn't set any new standards for weird or anything, it is pretty far from the beaten path nevertheless and awfully fun to do. Stay tuned for the new label, web-site and release.
Lastly: I have financing in place to record some string quartets I have written (# 3 and 4) and am currently discussing plans to record them in the fall. When I do, I will probably release them on the same label that the Filth Therapy lads and I have built. We'll see.
I have been doing a lot of sessions lately and have been playing guitars and bass (and the occasional ham-fisted keyboard part) for another buddy (ex-Filth Therapy alumnus) Gus Moon.
His music is more funky and urban than I am used to (well at least to me anyway) but it is a lot of fun and I get to sing harmony vox and the occasional lead.
In other news, my band The Synics is almost finished our second CD. We had a lot of work done but as I wanted all the songs to follow one particular story line, I ended up putting about half of the sessons away and intend to use them for our third album. I then went in and recorded bass and guitars and vocals with Chris on drums (and Pat on acoustic guitar and bouzouki) on some songs, which stylistically mightn't be similar, but thematically fit in beautifully.
The album is called The Petrarch Loop and any English major or sonnet-writer should know what the album is about. I expect it to be ready soon.
Another band I am associated with is almost ready to release some stuff song too. The Rebel Wheel is ready to release our second CD. We have been fighting about direction, as I wanted it much more avant and dissonant, but the others were leaning towards a more Symphonic prog type style, so we have met on hopefully a palatable common ground. We have a spot at MySpace that has some demo versions of the tunes. Rebel Wheel
Recently I was working on a piece which uses voice and a fixed eight-speaker installation. Each of the 8 speakers will have a different voice reciting small fragments of Sappho's poetry. The parts will inter-twine and overlap.
This is a companion piece to "Sappho Fragments", which has a small ensemble made up of 2 harps, 2 guitars, 4 percussion, 2 tape decks and female chorus.
Symphony # 5 is a project I had started years earlier but have had to put aside dozens of times. It is an Ivesian romp through Canadiana, using themes from Canadian pop and historic culture. For example the first movement starts out with a series of variations on what turns out to be the fiddle-tune, Devil in the Kitchen. The second movement is a poly-tonal fugue based on “The Maple Leaf Forever”, the third is a scherzo using a composite of themes gnashing at each other as they merge and commingle. The last movement is going to be another variation and theme piece, based on our great hockey traditions. As this piece is using a myriad of themes, most of which are still enjoying their copy-right status, the biggest job isn’t doing the writing so much as clearing the rights.
A piece I wrote several years ago for the Vox Novus 60X60 project has been getting an awful lot of international performances. As of May 2005 it has been performed in the following venues:
New York City Premier Sunday November 2nd, 2003
UNDER St. Marks
94 Saint Marks Place, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A
East Village, Manhattan, New York
European PremierMarch 15th, 2004
European Premier University of Bucharest
Str. Stirbei Voda, no. 33
Sector 1, Bucharest, 010102 Romania
11th Annual International Electro-Acoustic FestivalMarch 31st, 2004
Brooklyn College - The City University of New York
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11210
Turkey Premier April 8th, 2004
The "New Music Days" festival Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey
Kustepe campus Conference Hall
Inönü Cad. No:28 34387 Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey
Multimedia D.U.M.B.O.April 28th, 29th, 30th, May 2nd, 2004. Multimedia featuring video artist, Nick Zedd One Arm Red
45 Main Street # 1009
D.U.M.B.O. Brooklyn, New York
May 13th, 2004 10:00 PM-12:00 AM Lobby
New York Premiere Screening
Film and Video Screening Lounge
330 West 38th Street
bewtween Eight and Ninth Avenues
Manhattan, New York
- The Essl Collection, Klosterneuburg, Austria 12/14/05
- Collective: Unconscious, New York, New York 3/19/05
- University of Maine, Presque Isle, Maine 2/18/05
- Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota 2/17/05
- National University of Music, Bucharest, Romania 12/09/04
- Harbor College, Los Angeles, California 11/20/04
- Contemporary Art, Museum St. Louis, Missouri 11/19/04
- Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama 11/09/04
- UNDER St. Marks, New York City 11/07/04
- Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah 11/04/04
The 60x60 project is receiving weekly airplay on Max Shea's Martian Gardens
The 60x60 project was performed on Tom Lopez's Foldover on February 28th, 2005
The 60x60 project was performed on Gregory Alan Taylor's rtqe (remember. those quiet evenings ) on February 20th, 2005
The 60x60 project is scheduled to have a special performance on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar on June 11th, 2005
Some praise for the project:
60x60 is a concert containing 60 compositions from 60 different composers, each composition is 60 seconds or less in duration. These 60 recorded pieces are performed in an hour long continuous concert. The performance is played in conjunction with a synchronized analog clock marking the passing of each minute. At the top of the minute begins a new composition from a different composer.
This compact disc adaptation of the 60x60 project is created for 3 different listening methods: The first is sequentially; each work in listened to in a designed order. The second is on random play, where there is no order. And the third is to listen to each work repeatedly for an extended period of time. Each method brings a different view and understanding to the composer's work and vision.
The goal of this project is to highlight many composers. The project presents a cross-section of contemporary music, including the various styles, aesthetics and techniques being used by the composers of today. 60x60 is a circle of sound, 60 pieces representing a slice of the contemporary music scene. The works in this volume of the 60x60 project represent the submissions received for the year 2003.
"Not since John Cage's "Indeterminacy" has the flow of time from one minute to the next been so significant. " - Doug Cohen
"Diversity meets homogeneity; great choice of music arranged in an effective pacing."-Eldad Tsabary
"Andy Warhol gave us fifteen minutes to bask in glory, but Rob Voisey has cut to the chase: state your case in 60 seconds or less. I love the 60 x 60 project and have encouraged my friends and colleagues to join in its celebration of compact clarity. 60 x 60 is a musical equivalent of having someone stick a microphone into your face at a party. Do you have something to say? If so, then say it now, and be quick about it. It isn't often that we have the opportunity to confront our angels and demons head on." - Noah Creshevsky
"It's really wonderful to hear so many miniatures from so many composers. I loved the sounds from all the people I know and it was great to hear some great pieces from people with whom I am not familiar. ... This CD certainly demonstrates great breadth." - Maggi Payne
"The standard and inventiveness is outstanding, some of it has been a real eyeopener." - Justin Breame
"Nearly all of the works are spine-tingling. The sound is crystal-clear, and the program book is very helpful... I have a feeling that these discs will stir a lot of interest in academic and other musical circles worldwide."-Dwight Winenger
"The CD is tremendously diverse! I will most definitely use the CD as a teaching tool for my students. Each track offers an introduction to its composer's sound world and begs for discussion of its compositional technique." -Daniel Eichenbaum
"...the most pleasant surprise is how well they [60x60 pieces] work together as a set. This has a lot to do with how you [Robert Voisey] arranged them, but even on random play it holds up very nicely. The differences among the works are expected, but the many similarities were less so. I wonder if people using similar tools is part of the reason for this? Or has electroacoustic music (more so than the live instrument works) reached some sort of plateau of sameness? A set of conventions--conscious or not--seems to have crept into things." -David Mooney
"60 x 60 has provided an insight to a dense array of talented artists who yielded a broad spectra of creative reactions to a rigid temporal constraint. And the CD's a wicked-good listen, to boot." - Chris Ward
"I've listened through 3 times and it's a great collection. I was impressed by the variety of the sounds and styles, as well as the incorporation of humor and political elements that are usually lacking from more academic EA compilations. The sequencing was superb. " - Eric Lyon
"The Capstone CDs sound great. I did not know that you were changing some of the pieces from the first concert - I saw that about 3/4 were the same, but about 15 new works. I haven't seriously compared them, but I think I like the ordering of the first concert more - I liked the way pauses were distributed during the concert. All in all it's great
For more info go to Vox Novus
To get the CD 60X60