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Feb 192015

Dave Cloud beard 15022008

Nashville punk/lounge legend, Gospel of Power singer, actor in Gummo and Trash Humpers, Murakami of pickup artists, force of nature, and king of karaoke night at the Springwater Supper Club Dave Cloud passed away last night due to complications from cancer. Sources close to him say he passed calmly surrounded by friends and family. He was 58 years old.

Dave appeared on two episodes of Theatre Intangible, two of our best: the episode that got us banned permanently from WRVU and the Fourth Annual Halloween Extravaganza. Whenever I ran into Dave after that final WRVU episode, he told me he felt terrible and guilty about getting my show banned. And then I would reassure him that it was not his fault. He was very careful to avoid the FCC dirty words and to replace anything objectionable with surrealistic placeholders. The objectionable material came from the callers, who we monitored (unsatisfactorily, apparently) with a three-second delay. I would then tell Dave that were it not for Theatre Intangible getting banned from WRVU, I would never have started the website and podcast version. I guess I owe all that to Dave and everyone involved with the episode Get It On with Dave Cloud.

Then he would ask me to buy him a beer, and I would. Dave was a drinker and a chain-smoker. While we were taping Get It On, he would excuse himself for “quick” smoke breaks that ended up lasting 20 minutes. The other performers just kept improvising music until Dave returned. When it was time to record the Halloween Extravaganza, I had learned my lesson. At this point, I was recording the episodes in my basement, and when Dave asked to take a smoke break, I told him he could smoke while performing. Before long, other performers were lighting up, and my house smelled like cigarette smoke for two weeks. But the recording is better for it.

I didn’t know Dave very well, and I don’t feel qualified to write a eulogy for him. We only had a handful of conversations at the Springwater and Betty’s, and, of course, we had the live tapings. One thing that I do know is that Dave possessed a rare magnetism that made his performances (and pickup lines, rants, boasts) hypnotic. And that has me thinking about the parallels between Dave and other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston, Frank Sidebottom, and Wesley Willis. Magnetism such as Dave’s often comes with depression and mental illness, and I wonder if we enabled Dave with our attention and admiration. We were always willing to buy him a beer in exchange for a song. Jon Ronson writes about the magnetism / mental illness duality beautifully in Frank: The True Story That Inspired the Movie. In an interview with the The Wire about his time performing with the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band, Ronson writes,

… it just interested me so much, that kind of beautiful naïveté when you’re young and see the tortured artist as being fabulous, and then when you’re faced with the reality of being with a tortured person and it’s not at all fabulous. It’s not fabulous to the person and it’s not fabulous to the people around the person. I’ve known that from my own life, and also this brilliant documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston talks about that too, about how awful it is to be Daniel Johnston’s parents, the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s heartbreaking, and there’s nothing romanticizing about mental illness in that documentary.

Dave lived with his parents for most of his adult life, and right now I’m thinking about them. I am sorry for their loss. I will never know Dave, in all his unvarnished glory, the way they did. I will never know the struggles Dave and his family faced. I only know the Dave behind the microphone. But that is enough.

Jul 202013
Insect Factory

Insect Factory

The fifth installment in the Noa Noa Experimental Series is happening Monday, July 22nd, and this one is a doozy: Insect Factory, Public Speaking and Dig Deep Light Show w/ Live Improv Score.

The theme is “Mood Light:  three acts altering mood with color and sound,” and it garnered a Critic’s Pick from Joe Nolan at the Nashville Scene:

Insect Factory’s music would be the perfect thing to listen to if I were writing this pick in a space station, generations removed from my earthbound ancestors, chronicling the aching edge of the species’ evolution into some wholly new thing as it hurtles toward an ever-more-unknowable end. Jeff Barsky is the man behind the project, and the densely layered, repetitive, droning tracks he creates are as surprisingly dynamic as they are pleasantly hypnotic. In addition to the Factory’s cosmic mood-making, this event at Noa Noa will include the soulful noise of Public Speaking. The band’s debut full-length Blanton Ravine is being talked up as a masterful meld of sound collage and sexy pop sensibilities. Tonight’s show should make clear whether Brooklyn artist Jason Anthony Harris and his bandmates are messing with a mismatched mash-up or connecting disparate elements to create something genuinely unique and lasting. Tonight’s festivities will culminate in a colorful light show by Dig Deep, featuring the projector magic of Scott Sanders and Dave Shambam. Their swirling spectrums will be accompanied by the live musical improvisations of Tim Carey, Alan Fey, Matt Hamilton, Mike Hiegemann, Craig Schenker and Chris Watts.

Joe did a wonderful job with the profiles of the performers. I just want to add one bit about Dig Deep Light Show. Members Scott Sanders and David Shambam will wash an entire side of the Noa Noa basement with vivid, hypnotic oil abstractions magnified on overhead projectors. Normally visual artists get relegated to making pretty backgrounds for live music. For this show, we wanted to flip the balance. In the most ambitious Noa Noa set up so far, a six piece orchestra featuring marimba, horns, synths and guitars will make improvised music to the visuals. The musicians will stand behind the audience. Yes, the visual artists get the spotlight for a change. We’ll be recording the improv for a future Theatre Intangible podcast. This show will be be one of the coolest things ever to happen in our basement. Because of the ambitious set-up, Dig Deep will probably go first, so make sure you arrive on time if you don’t want to miss the indoor fireworks show.

More info on the Facebook Event Page.

Insect Factory, Public Speaking, Dig Deep Light Show w/ Live Improv Score
Monday, July 22nd, 8:30pm, $5 suggested donation to touring bands

@ Noa Noa (house)
620 Hamilton Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203
BYOB. Park in front yard and surrounding business lots.

Jun 212013
Still from a/v synth performance at Transcinema, 1999, Benton C. Bainbridge

Still from a/v synth performance at Transcinema, 1999, Benton C. Bainbridge

Here’s episode 104: Adventure Bomb: Projecting, a revised and expanded edition of the set I performed at Soundcrawl in collaboration with Benton-C Bainbridge’s live video projection mapping (“Fast-mapping”). Recorded at Brick Factory Nashville. Best experienced through headphones.

Adventure Bomb is my experimental “scoop & loop” solo project.  “Scoop & loop” is a performance-style that involves scooping out sections of recordings and looping them live … basically, audio juggling.

Benton-C Bainbridge is a media artist based in The Bronx, working with custom systems of his own design. Benton has presented immersive environments, screenings, installations and live performances across five continents, collaborating with scores of artists around the world. He even has a Wikipedia page! (Someone should add this collaboration!)

Soundcrawl is a sound art and new media organization led by Kyle Baker presenting works by the best and brightest new media artists and composers in a unique “opt in” gallery format.

“Projecting” is comprised of:

  • Interviews with Soundcrawl attendees. As they listened to Soundcrawl “sound art” selections via headphones, they were asked to describe what they were hearing. The central idea to this experiment was seeing if I could “map” their descriptions onto the music I was generating live.
  • Snippets of live musical performances occurring at Soundcrawl 2012.
  • Instruments performed by Adventure Bomb live, including a Casio Sk-1 keyboard, circuit-bent toys and various effects.
  • Sound effects and field recordings from Freesound.org. Freesound aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, etc … released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse. Listeners are encouraged to donate to Freesound.

The interviewees (in order of appearance):

  • Lesley Beeman
  • Unknown (Let me know if you can identify this person)
  • Antonia Oakes
  • Joe Nolan
  • Tony Youngblood
  • Ilana Morgan
  • Ryan Hogan
  • Unknown (Let me know if you can identify this person)

The 2012 Soundcrawl performers sampled (in alphabetical order):

  • Jason Fick
  • Timothy Harenda
  • Ilana Morgan
  • Adam Vidiksis
  • Sally Williams
  • Mark Zanter

Freesound.org collaborators and the names of the samples used:

Big thanks to the participants and to the Freesound artists! Thanks for listening!

Jan 312012

You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. On February 27th, the space where Gallery F resides at Scarritt Bennett Center will be converted into a student center. There are talks to relocate Gallery F to another area on the Scarritt Bennett campus, but the award-winning art space’s future is uncertain.

I’ve been helping to organize a show for experimental jazz bassist THOMAS HELTON at Gallery F on February 26th for some time. The show was to coincide with the closing reception for the exhibition “23 Years Without War.” With the news of the gallery’s closing, we’ve decided to turn the show into one last hurrah for Gallery F.

Director Sabine Schlunk has been a tireless supporter of experimental art in Nashville, and the gallery’s absence will be sorely felt. Sabine tells me the powers that be at Scarritt Bennett are thinking of moving the gallery to another area on campus, but the details are still up in the air. One thing is for certain though: This will be the last Gallery F event at the current space.

Come show your support for one of Nashville’s most innovative spaces. Be sure and tell Sabine Schlunk what Gallery F means to you. And stay for the kick-ass lineup of performers:

* Thomas Helton
* Theatre Intangible Live
* Craig Schenker TBA improv group
* The Nashville Scene (Mike Hiegemann and Rhendi Greenwell)
* JJ Jones

THOMAS HELTON is a composer and experimental jazz double bassist from Houston, Texas. Inspired by the great improvisers Peter Kowald, Evan Parker, and William Parker, Thomas plays every inch of his double bass — bowing, plucking, beating, and scratching out otherworldly timbres. He performs around the world and with jazz greats such as Tim Hagens, Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander, Mark Elf and Ernie Watts. Thomas plays like a man possessed, lost in communication with some invisible entity, blind to everything but his instrument and the music. Thomas appeared on one of my favorite T.I. podcasts to date. Check it out: Podcast 9 –  Crow Helton Rauh Schenker.

Thomas will be screening his brand new video “I,” a synesthetic collaboration with video artist Jonathan Jindra. See a preview of the video below.

Saxophonist CRAIG SCHENKER will perform an improv based on the exhibition’s theme of war featuring a to-be-announced roster of local talent.

Thomas will join Craig and others for a THEATRE INTANGIBLE live improvisation based on the exhibition’s theme of war.

“THE NASHVILLE SCENE” aka RHENDI GREENWELL and MIKE HIEGEMANN (not to be confused with the local weekly paper) will reprise their celebrated Nashville City Limits audio-visual performance. JJ JONES (The Human Snowglobe) will close the night with cappella songs. All have appeared on Theatre Intangible at one time or another.

$5 suggested donation to the touring performer. More details on the Facebook event page.

February 26th, 5:30 – 10:00pm
Gallery F @ Scarritt Bennett
1000 19th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212