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October 2012

Ticket Giveaway: Vital Vox at Brooklyn's Roulette - Oct. 29-30

Anyone interested in the contemporary vocal scene should email for a chance to score a pair of free tickets to check out Vital Vox: A Vocal Festival. The festival offers up vocal goodness across the spectrum–from jazz to world music to contemporary classical. This year's theme is "vox electronics," and will feature artists who expand their sonic vocabulary with electronics of all kinds. 

Details: 8 p.m. on Oct. 29th and 30th at Roulette, located at 509 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Good luck!

CMJ Day 4: Panache Showcase and Pitchfork Unofficial Showcase

by Laura Wasson Dent May CMJ 2012 Public Assembly

Dent May at the Panache Showcase at Public Assembly (Photo credit: Laura Wasson)

Friday, I finally found myself in Brooklyn for the CMJ Panache Showcase at Public Assembly and Pitchfork’s Unofficial Showcase at Villain. The latter was at least official enough to merit a YouTube livestream and sponsorship from Topman (complete with tote bags and baseball hats!), but that’s neither here nor there.

At Public Assembly I was treated to sets from two exceptionally talented Southern bands–something I’m always excited about since I am very much a Louisiana girl at heart. Mississippi’s  Dent May was first and handily proved to be the most interesting act of the evening. May offered a mix of pop-rock goodness that referenced everyone from New Order to The Bee GeesThe Beach Boys, and Elton John in a way that still managed to make sense. “Do Things” and “Rent Money” were two standouts, but every song felt fun and worthy of a little boogie.

Turbo Fruits CMJ 2012 at Public Assembly

Turbo Fruits at the Panache Showcase at Public Assembly (Photo credit: Laura Wasson)

Nashville’s Turbo Fruits were up next with their signature Southern rock swagger and guitar-slaying skills. The lads mostly stuck to material from their latest album, Butter, including “Where the Stars Don’t Shine” and “I Don’t Like to Fight.” While the set didn’t lack for energy, the wear of having played two shows earlier that day in addition to their ongoing cross-country tour was evident. Thankfully, the crowd of devoted fans sang along and ate up every bit of Turbo Fruit’s set.

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Bowerbirds at San Diego's Casbah

DSC03963SAN DIEGO, CA -- In search of a nightcap after last night's Fresh Sound show, I wandered into San Diego's Casbah, on a remote stretch of Kettner Blvd. adjacent to the airport. The club, which started as a gay bar in the '60s, has been San Diego's leading indie venue since 1989. Posters of past acts—including The Jesus Lizard, Pere Ubu, and Blonde Redhead—hung over the bar, lit by Casablanca-style lanterns.

I got there a little before midnight, just as North Carolina new-folk trio Bowerbirds were wrapping up a quiet-yet-energetic set in front of a small, attentive crowd. (Thanks to the door guy for letting me in gratis.) With drink in hand, I watched as guitarist Philip Moore and keyboardist Beth Tacular traded vocals back and forth, their harmonies both soothing and transporting. A nice way to wrap up my first visit to this exceedingly pleasant city by the sea.

Back to L.A. now, with a couple of more concerts in store before flying back to NYC tomorrow. 

New Music in San Diego: Philippe Manoury with Miller Puckette and Juliana Snapper

DSC04070SAN DIEGO, CA -- Of all the places to see a cutting-edge presentation of avant-garde music, the last place I'd probably think of is San Diego, California. Yet, that's exactly what I experienced last night at Space 4 Art, a multi-use art space in a transitional neighborhood a few blocks east of downtown, where French composer Philippe Manoury and Max MSP creator Miller Puckette presented a series of works written for real-time electronics and soprano, sung here by the impressive Juliana Snapper. This isn't as random as it might seem: both Manoury and Puckette teach at UC San Diego, which has one of the West Coast's leading music programs; Snapper is a recent graduate currently living in L.A.

The tight space was packed beyond capacity. (A second concert was added tonight for those who were shut out.) Manoury's music dominated the program, including the world premiere of Ilud Etiam and his 1994 song cycle, En Echo. Both used six-channel electronics filtered through Puckette's Pure Data program, allowing the computer to react in real time to the performer. Manoury and Puckette sat side by side in front of the stage, with Manoury fiddling with knobs and levers Stockhuasen-style while Puckette manipulated what looked like a split-screen iPad. The sound was a mix of ambient and dissonant, interrupted with what sounded like gongs or gamelan bowls. 

In between Manoury's works was Luigi Nono's La Fabbrica Illuminata (1964) for four-channel tape and soprano. Written in response to a horrifying incident in which dozens of Italian steelworkers were burned alive inside a locked plant, the music was far more harsh and severe—almost aggressive—in its ugliness. 

The concert was a presented as part of Bonnie Wright's Fresh Sound series, which has been almost alone in providing cutting-edge and experimental music to San Diegans since 1995. I've had the good fortune of getting to know Bonnie during her serveral extended stays in NYC, and I can honestly say that I don't know anyone more enthusiastic or energetic about supporting new music than Bonnie. One only wishes there were more of her in other cities around this country.

DSC04075(l-r: Miller Puckette, Juliana Snapper, Philippe Manoury)