Sunday, May 26, 2013

Robert Fripp & The Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists 5/26/13 St. Marks Church on the Bowery, New York City

Being amongst the first 30 or so people waiting on line for admittance to the performance I had my choice of seating and at first set myself up in the second row of the circle but then spied at the far end of the room a slightly elevated proscenium with around 10 seats and secured myself there for a slight birds eye view of what I knew was going to be 100 guitar players that made up todays lineup of the Orchestra of crafty guitarists (OCG).

100 Guitars, This can be a very impressive thing, to see and hear a Guitar Orchestra but this was Not an orchestra seated and playing arrangements on stage This was an orchestra that played in and amongst the crowd in attendance more akin maybe to Sun-Ra's Arkestra. What struck me immediately was that Fripp and the OCG was using performer placement and the architecture of the room itself to create an ambient "stereo" picture in sound, Who needs Bose speakers, a Joke comparatively.

The performance began promptly at 4 p.m. with 5 persons (2 women, 3 men) entering the circle and asking us not to record or film the show or take any photographs with iPhones or otherwise in 5 languages, they then proceeded to repeat this message in 5 languages but at the same time, Very Crafty indeed. Our emcees exited and everyone in attendance waited in rapt silence, this might have lasted a whole minute or two but there was a feeling of electricity in the air as well as some healthy tension. Then very faintly and almost inaudible at first a sound coming from the left (my vantage point) as 100 guitars began quietly to vibrate sympathetically. One by one the OCG entered the room but from above on the balcony ringing out and making a straight line along the three walls above us and when they reached the end (with more guitars and members still joining) the line double backed on itself returning to the starting point of entry, While the procession continued on the balcony upstairs the first members entered through a door onto the main floor and began to fill the circle in the center of the room while playing all along an Undiscernable Melody, Mapped Out Meandering, Howling in Hades, Pastoral Cacophony of Organized Chaos. Once or twice I thought "Where's Fripp ?" but this did not matter so much as the OCG was of his creation under his direction and I was already sitting with my mouth and mind agape while keeping my lips closed and mind wide open. 

During this opening piece I spotted Mr. Fripp (there he is) coming down the aisle to the left (outside of the circle) as he spotted a dissenter amongst the crowd recording the event and gave him what can only be described as a wordless headmaster's point until the disrupter stopped his recording machine, this brought humor and joy to my heart, we were asked nicely weren't we.

After the introductory number Robert came into the empty circle and presented a question to the crowd which many of the uninitiated may have been thinking.

"So, Do You just make it all up as you go along ? Or can you play any real Tunes ?"

After which we were treated to an Octet or Decatet (I was not counting) version of King Crimson's "RED" performed Beautifully and note perfect. Following this were a few numbers only one of which I did not recognize from the Fripp songbook and the League of Crafty guitarists repertoire from a few decades back. Robert did from time to time "tune" the band by way of tuning fork between numbers but was mostly and importantly emcee for the afternoon.

Then came "Whizz" which can only be described as "The Wave" as perpetuated by sports lovers worldwide whereas one follows the other to create a moving wave physically by raising their arms in a community based moving image of sorts, You raise your arms, your neighbor does next and so on. "Whizz" was done musically however as a note is dictated and guitar after guitar neighbor strikes that chord with dexterity and accuracy, furthermore I was ten inches away from one of the starter points (wisely both equidistant female guitarists) and they could send the wave either way, to the left or to the right. It was breathtaking to watch and listen to this as the wave got tighter and tighter as I watched it travel amongst the circle of the OCG surrounding the outside of the inner circle of the audience. You could predict when it was going to hit your point in the circle and hear the wave move amongst the room. As a side note there were points in tonights performance when the OCG turned their backs on the inner circle of audience and played for those sitting on the sidelines, myself included which meant that there were OCG members playing right in my face and I mean 20 inches away, I was smiling, happily intimidated and dumbstruck all at once.

The performance was over (*) accompanied by Thunderous applause as much as can be accomplished by maybe the 300 people in attendance to this sold out performance as the OCG exited via the inside of the circle in an "S" shaped orderly parade like formation (see diagram) which was very dadaesque to watch, disciplined in form and gentlemanly (and womanly) fashioned in balance and equality. Robert Fripp himself was the last one to exit and do you know what happened ?, He winked at me in a knowing thank you gesture of good will.

Afterwards I ran into my friend Bruce outside who was seeking an autograph from Mr. Fripp, I hung around for a few minutes then decided not to cheapen the experience trying to get my ticket signed.

* - Encores were a small ensemble performance of 21st Century Schizoid Man and then the entire OCG being called back again doing more "Whizzing". Fripp once again exited in front of me and gave himself a palm closed three beats on his heart to himself. 

Give yourself up in listening to and creating Music, For in Music lies the spirit of God. 

The Holy Sandwich board outside the church.

A Simple request.

The church spire and what I can only assume to be the OCG tour bus.

In these Digital Days its nice to have an actual ticket stub.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Good Yeggs CD Release Party 5/11/13 Three Jolly Pigeons Brooklyn, New York

You know that old saying "The Burrito Got The Best Of Me".

Well that was tonight's Gig, I had a Burrito and I played my best pretty much aside from warmup pains for the first few songs (of which I recently bragged to Tom that I no longer suffered from) and dropping my stick during the third encore (of three) at the end of our rendition of B.B. King's "Sweet Little Angel" (no one noticed and SHIT I almost played a perfect show), Forgot my high-hat stand at home of which Joe came to the rescue and brought his and propped Tom's flashlight on my Burrito filled bag for my printed/teleprompter lyrics to The Beatles "What Goes On" of which I sang and there was also a U.F.O. sighting. That said and done lets get on with the gist of the evening.

The Good Yeggs arrived with our gear and a Box of CDs to celebrate the digital fruition of our recordings made over a few years time and we promise ourselves and You the beloved listener that it will be a much shorter gap in production now that we are out in the open with our debut CD and the natives clamoring for more.

To me this was the best show we have played to date, songs were fluid and the Drink's were fluid as well. During the encore portion we had planned out "Johnny B. Goode" but were asked for two more before night's finish. The Yegg's played a sublime version of the Sub-Basement Blues Band warhorse "Coney Island Summer" and if that wasn't enough we ended with "Sweet Little Angel" (mentioned above) with some very tasty dynamics as called upon by Thomas during his guitar solo (Keep it Low and then Blow It Out).

Thanks for the Good Yegg's photo's by Matt Shanley.

Photo Via Vlad Viz

The Subway Serenader had the crowd in Punk Rock Anarchist mode with Vlad and Carl on the Guitars along with Thomas, Joe and myself providing the Rhythm/Lead Guitar section. Add the heroics and conducting from The Subway Serenader and it was a Great set.

Most of us being New Yorkers well,... we understand what a song like "Hate The T.A." is all about.

Costume Changes and stage props abounded in abundance. The Santeria doll was left out by accident but let's leave that to the Santerians, I think the Thorny Devil Horn's made a better, positive and effective Christian impression.

There was Moshing too, from The Subway Serenader himself and the crowd was Most Receptive.

Harold the Horny Hunter had an Enormous Horn.

In this case it's Joe with his Longhorn which is light in weight and has become Joe's favorite weapon of choice, so much so he is considering purchasing the company and their forefathers and their forefathers forefathers.

Thomas with his Tasty Tone On Tube amp.

My Favorite Drummer in the World.

Jazelyn our Banshee Singing Friend, Cohort, Noisemaker, Criminal and Sweetheart joined The Yeggs for "American Crank" of which she is on the official recording as well.

My Friend and Blues Guitarist Stephen made it down to the show all the way from Jersey City. A nicer man you will never meet.

Blue Moon in the glass, Pro-Mark Hot Rods on the snare (These are used during Johnny Cash' "Folsom Prison Blues") They compliment each other. Beer and Wood or if you prefer Wood and Beer.

I captured video of what I was looking at all night through the window 2 feet to the left from me behind the kit. A U.F.O. that is plain to see.

It's a reflection of one of the light fixture/fans on 3 Jolly Pigeon's ceiling for all you naysayers and unbelievers.

This Is Show # 9

- Spike

Friday, May 3, 2013

Overnite With The Good Yeggs

It all began like any other rehearsal night for us running through our set list for the upcoming gig at Three Jolly Pigeons and enjoying some delicious Manhattan's that Joe mixed for us with the remaining Bourbon from a 1.75 Litre (Half Gallon bottle of Jim Beam), Second drink and new bottle opened during our break between sets and this drink went right to Joe's head (not that we were totally sober either) much to Joe's puzzlement but what can you do.

What we decided to do was Have More Drinks.

By this point in the evening Thomas decided he was going to crash at Joe's so instead of eating Joe and Jennie's dinner from Gino's Pizzeria we ordered some more food from Yummy Fresh Taco. I mentioned I would be leaving shortly to which Joe replied "come on!!! how often does this happen!!!" he had a point you know, this never happens. Joe and myself had off the next day and Thomas took a vacation day. We ate, threw out the containers of which there were no leftovers and broke a few dishes by accident all the while keeping our glasses full after which Tom and Joe arranged and wrote two new songs (1,2,3 & 4 and Shine, Shine) while I doodled on a notepad.

(pictured above) Pork Fried Rice (Quart), Chicken Wings (20 piece) that I usually don't eat but did this time and Chorizo Mexican Pizza. 

Much to our amazement we polished off an entire half gallon of Jim Beam.

Like proud parents my fellow bandmates parade our accomplishment for the camera.

On one of our many breaks out on the deck Joe was literally Rolling On The Floor Laughing His Ass Off. Well, he did start making the cannibal jokes and I guess you had to be there. Of note also is the fact that Joe was having trouble all night with his cuban cigar that would not draw/inhale properly, he finally jettisoned it off into the dark of the night.

At around 2 a.m. we brought our singing, strumming and wire brushes on an envelope selves down to the rehearsal room so Jennie could get some sleep and also performed as quietly as possible an impromptu Blues Jam (Sweet Little Angel, Coney Island Summer etc.). My experience performing at wedding receptions came in handy here and I was playing so low that the squeaks from the Bass Drum pedal became part of the music, by this time I was also playing with my eyes closed as I could hardly keep them open. Afterwards Thomas and me topped off the evening with a stiff Vodka and Iced Tea drink.

Here is my notepad doodle from earlier in the evening, this photo was taken at 6 a.m. after two hours sleep as I anticipated Thomas' alarm going off as he informed me he was leaving at 6:30, this of course did not happen so I had a brief chat with Jennie who was heading off to work. Around 7:30 I lay back down to be awoken by Thomas around 8:30.

It was indeed a night to remember and due to the bourbon forget large chunks of too.

Earlier in the evening I expressed interest in holding on to the Blue Cheese and Celery to munch on later and Thomas not realizing the dressing was uncovered offered me some Hot Sauce as well.

- Spike