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Jul 122012

If you were lucky enough to attend last month’s John Butcher / Thomas Lehn show at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, you know how magical (dare I say holy?) a performance in the historic church’s chapel can be. On Friday, July 13th, prepare for another such experience.

Growing together as masters of the British free jazz scene in the ’70s, this duo disclosed the perfect emotional and performance synchronization of two masters who do not even need the hint of a glimpse to know where they are headed.” — Sara Villa on Trevor Watts and Veryan Weston’s performance at the 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival. ALL ABOUT JAZZ magazine, Oct 2011.

Rare are the moments when you get to hear true legends in a setting as intimate as the DPC chapel. Saxophonist Trevor Watts is co-founder of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, a loosely-knit group of free improvisers whose influence in the avant garde and free improv communities cannot be overstated. Saxophonist Evan Parker once said co-founder John Stevens had two rules:

(1) If you can’t hear another musician, you’re playing too loud

(2) if the music you’re producing doesn’t regularly relate to what you’re hearing others create, why be in the group?

Those simple instructions have trickled down the years of free improvisation and guided many hands. There are plenty of Theatre Intangible improvs where such ground rules would have improved the product.

In addition to his work in the SME, Trevor formed the groups Amalgam and Moiré Music ensemble and has performed with jazz greats such as Steve Lacy, Don Cherry, and Archie Shepp.

Pianist Veryan Weston performed with Trevor Watts in Moiré Music and on the duet album 6 Dialogues. He’s also played with the Eddie Prévost Quartet, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton, and John Butcher. Seeing these two masters together on this side of the water is a-once-in-a lifetime opportunity. In short, don’t miss this!

Louisville-by-way-of-New-York drummer  Tim Barnes and Nashville guitarist William Tyler will open the evening. Jesse Jarnow at AllMusic writes,

The drummer Tim Barnes was important in three ways: as an expansive experimental percussionist (and producer/engineer on the side) who had one foot in the downtown New York avant-jazz community while contributing to more traditional indie rock projects; as the owner of the Quakebasket label, distributors of limited-edition and broader releases of work by contemporary experimenters as well as careful reissues; and, finally, via his day job, where he helped bridge the worlds of indie rock and music licensing for advertising.

Barnes emerged in the late 1990s, contributing to indie rock staples like the Silver Jews and the Elephant 6-affiliated Essex Green, as well as pop-fancying avant-garde mainstay Jim O’Rourke. . . He hovered on the edge of Sonic Youth‘s world, as well, joining the band for their deeply psychedelic Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui release and serving as occasional member in Lee Ranaldo’s Text of Light.

William Tyler is the founder of the excellent local record label Sebastian Speaks , member of Lambchop and the Silver Jews, and a session guitarist for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Tim Chad and Sherry, Laura Cantrell, Charlie Louvin, Hiss Golden Messenger and others. I can’t wait to hear what the two talented players will do together.

This show is organized by Chris Davis, drummer for the Cherry Blossoms and promoter of countless amazing Nashville shows.

More details on the Facebook event page.

Trevor Watts & Veryan Weston
Tim Barnes & William Tyler
Friday, July 13th, 8:30 doors, 9 pm start, $15-$20 sliding scale

Downtown Presbyterian Church
154 Fifth Avenue, North
Nashville, TN 37219

Apr 292012

Photo by Chris Decato

World music superstar guitarist BOMBINO from Agadez, Niger will perform in Nashville on Tuesday, May 1st at the VFW Post 1970! I really have to hand it to CHRIS DAVIS for continuing to organize amazing nights of music in Nashville. Also performing are THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS, and WILLIAM TYLER.

From the Facebook event page:

Bombino’s electrifying jams capture the spirit of resistance and rebellion while echoing with guitar riffs reminiscent of fellow Africans Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré not to mention rock and blues icons such as Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Page.

From Bombino’s Wikipedia page:

Bombino was born in Tidene, Niger, a Tuareg encampment outside of Agadez. Following the outbreak of the Tuareg Rebellion in 1990, Bombino, along with his father and grandmother, were forced to flee to neighboring Algeria for safety. By 1997, Bombino had returned to Agadez and began life as a professional musician.

Filmmaker Hisham Mayet managed to track down and record Bombino and his electric band in 2007 during a wedding performance. Those recordings, along with several acoustic performances in the ‘dry guitar’ style, can be heard on the Sublime Frequencies’ 2009 release, “Group Bombino – Guitars from Agadez, vol. 2.” Later in 2007, tensions grew again in Niger and ultimately erupted into another Tuareg Rebellion. The government, hoping to thwart the rebellion in all its forms, banned guitars for the Tuareg, as the instrument was seen as a symbol of rebellion. Additionally, two of Bombino’s fellow musicians were executed, thus forcing him into exile.

In January 2010 Bombino was able to return to his home in Agadez. So as to celebrate the end of the conflict, a large concert was organized at the base of the Grand Mosque in Agadez, having received the blessing of the Sultan. Bombino and his band played to over a thousand people at the concert, all dancing and celebrating the end of their struggle.

While Bombino lived in exile in Burkina Faso, filmmaker Ron Wyman, having heard cassette recordings of his music, decided to track him down. Wyman encouraged Bombino to properly record his music. Bombino agreed, and the two of them produced an album together in Agadez. The recordings culminated in his album Agadez, released in April, 2011 which debuted at the top of the iTunes World Chart.

Tuesday, May 1st, 8pm
VFW Post 1970
7220 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, Tennessee

8 pm Cherry Blossoms
9 pm William Tyler
10 pm Bombino

Aug 012011

This is a very strong week for experimental, improv, and noise shows in Music City!

Tuesday, August 2nd at Betty’s, catch the dark drone band PHARMAKON (New York)  and harsh noise electronicists DETERGE (Chicago). Watch the clip of Pharmakon below. They remind me of Nashville’s own MASS AT DAWN.

Thursday at Springwater, check out U.S. MAPLE-reminiscent NAMES DIVINE (Chicago) and locals CHERRY BLOSSOMS and TROPHY WIFE. Listen to the song samples at this Names Divine Chicago Deli review. I compare them to U.S. Maple because, well, they sound like U.S. Maple. And no one ever sounds like U.S. Maple. So, that’s a compliment! That same night, clone yourself to Betty’s for the glorious return of ex-Nashvillians ANCIENT OCEAN (New York) and SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS.

Head to an in-store Friday at The Groove for local guitar guru WILLIAM TYLER, the aforementioned ANCIENT OCEAN, and one of my favorite local bands LYLAS.

And Saturday? Watch this space for a very special show announcement for Saturday featuring a supremely-talented ex-Nashvillian on loan from New York. (Hint: Not John Bohannon from Ancient Ocean.)

Here’s where you need to be this week. Click the links for the Facebook event pages:

Tuesday, August 2nd

Betty’s, 9pm, $5
Pharmakon (New York)
Deterge (Chicago) -Harsh Noise Power Electronics

Thursday, August 4th

Springwater, 9pm, $5
Names Divine
Trophy Wife
The Cherry Blossoms
T Rust

Betty’s 9pm, $5
Ancient Ocean
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Sparkling Wide Pressure
Clay Cantrell

Friday, August 5th

In-store at The Groove, 5:30pm, free
William Tyler
Ancient Ocean

Saturday, August 6th


May 312011

This isn’t technically an “experimental show,” but the dream-team of guitarists CHRIS DAVIS has assembled to play the Nashville Downtown Presbyterian Church on June 2nd is too good to ignore.

For starters, we have semi-obscure-but-legendary UK singer/songwriter MICHAEL CHAPMAN. He cut his teeth on the 60s Yorkshire folk scene and never looked back, redefining himself with each new decade.

Chapman is joined by PHIL KEAGGY, guitarist for American 60s rock band GLASS HARP and one of the world’s top-3 “fingerstyle” guitarists according to Guitar Player Magazine readers’ polls (Wiki).

Rounding out the bill is friend of Theatre Intangible WILLIAM TYLER, himself a guitar legend in the making. In addition to running his own record label Sebastian Speaks, laying down session work all over Nashville, and touring with the likes of KORT and LAMBCHOP; William is also winning the praises of NPR and Pitchfork with his new solo instrumental album Behold the Spirit.

The show is happening in the acoustically-resonant Egyptian revival sanctuary of Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church. Three amazing guitar players in a wonderful music-listening environment equates to a must-see. (I can’t speak for the worshiping bit.)

More details at the Facebook event page.

Downtown Presbyterian Church, Thursday, June 2nd, 7pm
Michael Chapman
Phil Keaggy
William Tyler
$10-20 suggested donation. “Your generous donations ensure the continuity and possibility of adventurous musical programming. Thanks to Downtown Presbyterian Church for the generous use of their space and for their ongoing support of the arts.”