Brain Lesion at the 2012 Circuit Benders’ Ball. Photo by Brandon Greer.
The Circuit Benders’ Ball takes place in Nashville, TN over the weekend of August 25 through 27, and we’re still looking for participants! If you’d like to perform, provide visual projections or electronic art, speak, teach, or volunteer, you need to apply by June 1 at 11:59pm.
Tim Kaiser, maker supreme, ambient maestro, and two-time Circuit Benders’ Ball performer, is returning to Nashville on Friday, April 14th to perform a special set at Make Nashville. On Saturday afternoon, he will lead a piezoelectric pick-up workshop.
Based out of Duluth, Minnesota, Tim creates his own instruments out of thrift store finds, children’s musical toys, automotive parts, and in a few cases, snow plows! He plucks, bows, loops, and bends the instruments into melodic, otherworldly ambient music. This profile by Make TV is a great introduction:
Opening the Friday evening show is Nashville keyboardist and circuit bender No Stress (Paul Horton). Paul plays in the jazz duo Concurrence and is a touring member of the Alabama Shakes. As the solo act No Stress, Paul uses circuit-bent toys, keyboards, and looping pedals to make music unlike anything you’ve heard.
Here’s Paul at the 2014 Circuit Benders’ Ball (under the moniker The Tree is Base):
Saturday afternoon from 12pm to 3pm, Tim Kaiser will lead a workshop on making piezoelectric pick-ups, the very same kind he puts in his kalimbas and bowed instruments.
Tickets are on sale now for both events. Details below.
Friday, April 14, 8pm
An Evening with Tim Kaiser and No Stress
@ Make Nashville, 947 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206
All ages, $10 in advance, $15 at door. Buy tickets here.
Saturday, April 15, 12pm to 3pm
Create a Piezo Electric Pick-up with Tim Kaiser
@ Make Nashville, 947 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206
All ages, $15 for Make Nashville members, $20 for general public Buy tickets here.
Circuit Benders’ Ball is a biennial celebration of hardware hacking, free culture, art, and the creative spirit. I’ve been running the show since the festival’s inception in 2010. The three-day event at Fort Houston in 2014 was our biggest and best yet. We have a venue lined up for September 2016, and we’re preparing to send out calls for participants. There’s just one thing we need:
A new producer.
I’ve reached the unfortunate conclusion that with all the other things on my plate, most notably Modular Art Pods @ OZ, I won’t be able to devote the time necessary to put on CBB. I’d still like to pitch in, perhaps even finally perform at the fest, but I’m looking for someone else to take the reins. So, what would this involve?
The 2016 CBB producer would be responsible for:
Assembling the lineup of performers, visual artists, workshop teachers, and presenters.
Fundraising. Seeking money through sponsorships, funding drives, pre-sales, etc.
Building a team of volunteers to help with all aspects of the show.
Negotiating and fulfilling payment/travel expenses with the venue and artists.
Finding places for the touring artists to stay.
I won’t lie. The hardest part is the money. The organizing side of CBB has always been all-volunteer, from the producer to the visual art directors to the sound engineers to the ticket takers. After expenses, all of the funds have gone to the touring performers, although never as much as they deserve … and never enough to properly compensate the local performers. We’d love for that to change this year.
This would also mean that you, the incoming producer, would also be volunteering your time. You may be able to strategize ways to increase revenue and allow enough for a producer’s salary. If you can make that happen and still fairly compensate the performers, more power to you.
I would make myself available to answer any of your questions and help out in any way I can. You would have free rein to run the festival as you see fit, except for the following core rules:
Performances must involve circuit bending, creative coding, instrument building, or modular rigs (especially if the modules are homemade or heavily-modded). In the past, we’ve also included music made with Gameboys because of the homebrew cartridges.
Producers must be committed to inclusivity. Producers should seek out a diverse lineup of performers that include women, people of color, people with disabilities, and people in the LGBT communities.
The Code of Conduct should reflect that spirit of inclusivity by fostering a safe environment for all guests.
The new producer will be chosen by me and group of past CBB staff. A producer that lives in or near Nashville, TN is heavily preferred. If selected, you will produce the 2016 edition, and if all goes well, you’ll have the option to produce future editions. Interested parties should e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m ridiculously happy to discover that there’s a circuit bending workshop happening in Nashville on Sunday, March 13th at 2 p.m. Little Harpeth Brewing is hosting “Circuit Bending: Exactly What Your Mom Told You Not To Do As A Child.” The workshop is led by multimedia artist McLean Fahnestock and presented by Gallery Luperca.
If you want to attend the 3-hour event, order your tickets now. Space is limited, and they need time to know how many parts to order.
Circuit bending is the creative, chance-based customization of the circuits within low voltage battery-operated toys and gadgets to create new musical or visual instruments and noise-makers. Bring an old, used toy that still works, open it up, and learn how to make it into your own sound machine.
This workshop will get you started. We will cover the basics of circuit exploration, soldering, and switches. The $25 class fee covers an assortment of parts for you to try. Basic tools will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own kit if you would like. Bring a toy or two and make sure you have batteries!
Circuit Bending: Exactly What Your Mom Told You Not To Do As A Child
Sunday, March 13th, 2 p.m., 3 hours, $25 in advance
@ Little Harpeth Brewing, 30 Oldham St, Nashville, TN 37213