Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sunday Blessed Sunday

Gary performs solo acoustic at the Rubin Museum of Himaylayan Art, NYC--12/11/04 (photos hosted by flickr)

photos by -max- | Click on a photo to enlarge

Sunday night and I am staving off the the plummeting temperature outside by listening now to an album that was sent here by Nom De Plume (the winner of my Don't Say We Didn't Warn You contest, see blog #1), Nom has sent me a CDR of music by the French traditional folk group Malicorne as a reciprocal gift for the copy I sent him of my album with Jozef Van Wissem, "The Universe of Absence"--and I hear a certain affinity in the make-it-new transformation of medieval harmonies Jos and I were going for, albeit with a Gallic twist. Alan Stivell, whose "Renaissance of the Celtic Harp" album was a favorite of mine in college, was one of the guiding lights behind Malicorne, and I find this music irresistible: haunted, misty Bretagne landscapes presided over by ethereal male and female voices entwined in delicate French plainsong, traditional instruments blended with modern Lanois-like soundscapes (reminiscent in part of very early Bruce Cockburn on the True North label). For fans of the Young Tradition, Forest, Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention--I strongly recommend Malicorne. Thank you Mr. Plume, you da Nom(an).

Yesterday I played two superb gigs: the first was a solo steel guitar concert in the new Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art, which recently opened in the building that formerly was Barney's, on 7th Ave, and 16th Street. What an amazing space! The building retains the spiral staircases and general layout of the old clothing store but has been reconfigured as a lavishly appointed spectacle for the senses, most likely boasting the most elaborate display of Tibetan art on view in this hemisphere:
whirling friezes and tapestries of gods and monsters, witches and demons, saints and sorcerors running riot in a luminous play of sensual and vivid colors. Thanks so much to my friend Brian Cullman, the erudite polymath musician who arranged for me to play there (Brian is booking regular Saturday afternoon musical events in the space under the heading of Spiral Music)-- he set me on a batik covered throne-like chair on the ground floor near the bottom of a central spiral staircase, so that when I played my unamplified steel guitar reverberated magically up and down the galleries. Many strollers by commented on the marvelous acoustics and how the guitar floated ambiently up to the topmost viewing space... I did 4 hours without much of a break and could still be playing there now, I was so inspired by the beauty of the art surrounding me, I felt it my duty to sacre the the midst of my performance which ranged over a wide swath of my acoustic oeuvre (maybe 40 different pieces) a guy walked up and introduced himself and lo and behold it was someone from my high school days that I hadn't seen in about 30 years or so...turns out he lived in the neighborhood of the museum and was just checking out the scene. I love New York!

After a long but delightful afternoon playing my heart out (I love to perform in open public spaces like this, I did a similar solo concert in a beautiful old church in Hamburg a few years ago, and performed my acoustic Chinese pop repertoire last year at the Bonn Kunstmuseum, which had a similar vibe, great acoustics too; played a couple years ago for ORF TV in the new Viennese modern art museum, come to think of it), I split for the John Lennon Tribute at the Bowery Poetry Club, a benefit concert for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. It was a really well thought-out program, with many excellent performers, kudos to Bob Holman and John Kruth for organizing this, and while I didn't see all of it, I did catch Genesis P. Orridge do a heartfelt version of "Mother" (his band Throbbing Gristle was one of Don Van Vliet's admitted favorites), and heard Syd Straw sing a shimmering "Across the Universe". Mad puppeteer poet Edgar Oliver did a way-out spoken word version of "Cold Turkey" backed by aleatory scrapings from the house band, who were ace... as the evening's final turn, I played a solo electric version of "Tomorrow Never Knows", bringing Michael Schoen, a young intense Manhattan-based singer, up to sing, and he was great, holding his own while I attempted to levitate the room with my guitar-- and then the group rallied en masse for "All You Need is Love", where I reconnected onstage with my old friend and Du-Tels partner Peter Stampfel, who was looking dapper indeed with his new moustache. It was a really good feeling to be up there with all those folks in front of a great and loving audience. John Lennon was someone whose death brought tears to my eyes, and I do not cry easily...

There are a spate of Fast 'n Bulbous shows happening this week, beginning tomorrow at WFMU on Irene Trudell's show...

and so to bed!



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