Evan Parker, Nate Wooley, and Joe Morris at Snugs
A wonderful performance from three of the best!
This was my first time at a Snugs Concert Series event, but I hope to attend more in the future. They’ve got great lineups, a very comfortable vibe, and a convinient location.
Gongs Galore and Red Baraat’s “100+ BPM” at Make Music New York, 2014
New York City has a wonderful Summer Solstice tradition in Make Music New York, when thousands of coordinated free public concerts happen all over town. I have sketched it before on my own (here’s my 2012 sketches), but this year, I dragged the New York City Urban Sketchers Chapter along with me. (It was helpful that the Solstice fell on a Saturday this year!)
I picked events for us that I though would have maximum visual appeal. We started in Madison Square for Mass Appeal: Gongs, in which a dozen or so gong players performed. Here’s my sketch:
We then headed up to midtown to sketch the massed harpists, but they were not nearly as compelling and also we had some important business to talk over, so I didn’t get a sketch of them.
Then off to the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library! I did sketch on the subway over, but I just remembered that now as I’m posting and the subway sketches aren’t scanned. Oh well. They look like any other subway sketches.
We arrived at the library in time to snag a good vantage point for Red Baraat’s “100+ BPM”, a piece composed by Sunny Jain for massed marching bands. The bands had set out hours earlier, in various corners of Brooklyn, and made their way to Grand Army Plaza for the gathering. Some 350 musicians eventually lined up. They ran through the piece twice, and then kept on playing, because how often does something this glorious happen? It was great. Here’s my sketch:
John Luther Adams’s “Sila: The Breath of the World”
On July 25, I attended the world premier of John Luther Adams’s “Sila: The Breath of the World” at Lincoln Center.
It’s a grand, immersive work. The musicians were arrayed everywhere around the plaza: on the elevated lawn, in the reflecting pool, surrounding and amongst the audience, wherever. Unfortunately, they didn’t put anyone atop the Henry Moore sculpture.
The audience was encouraged to move around during the performance, to experience varying vantage points. But, as with many such things in New York City, it was far too crowded for anyone to do that. Luckily, I had a good spot in the trees right behind the string players, who were generally the quieter instruments (compared to percussion, brass, woodwinds, and singers with megaphones).
(I also sketched Adams’s “Inuksuit” in Morningside Park a few years ago—maybe I’ll get around to sharing those sketches someday—and that really required the audience to move around, as it took place in a much larger area; and it was on a Tuesday in a “marginal” neighborhood.)
Here’s a few pages of sketches I made, including a bit of the composer’s very informal post-concert talk as he greeted well-wishers.
Afterwards, I wandered over to Damrosch Park where Eighth Blackbird was performing and did a quick sketch of them. I didn’t have to move as fast as the band though; some of them had performed in “Sila” and then had to hustle to their own performance immediately following. Real troupers! I especially enjoyed their juxtaposition of Tom Johnson’s Counting Duets and György Ligeti’s Études.
Thanks Lincoln Center Out of Doors for putting on so much great free programming every summer!
Trio X and Daniel Carter, Andrew Barker, and Charles Waters at Pioneer Works
The headliner was famed Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed. He and his band were wonderful, but I didn’t sketch them because it was very crowded and also I was dancing.
Before Mahmoud Ahmed, we heard from some top-tier luminaries in the music best known as free jazz. For them, I was able to sit right in front and sketch comfortably!
Then next up was Trio X, made up of Dominic Duval, Jay Rosen, and Joe McPhee. They were more stately, and also up on stage rather than on the floor, playing what I swear sounded like a set-long deconstruction of “My Funny Valentine”:
I had a blast. And Pioneer Works is a super cool venue, with a wonderful garden and vast, antique interior spaces. They even have Art and Science Residencies program. I recommend going there on the slightest pretense just to enjoy the place!
Darren Hayman at Cake Shop
I was lucky to snag a choice corner from which to sketch Darren Hayman performing on Saturday night. It was a wonderful set from someone I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a chance to see in person. This was his first US show in 15 years. I’m a big fan of Darren’s old band, Hefner, and I’ve recently started checking out all the music he’s released post-Hefner (which hasn’t been released in the US). It’s great stuff! There aren’t many songwriters who achieve the balance he does, between passion and jadedness, humor and pain, nostalgia and novelty. And he managed to get a very un-New-York-like singalong happening for the coda of “The Greedy Ugly People”, especially after he (fairly) admonished us to “stop singing like fucking indie kids.”
Cake Shop was an ideal venue; it seems to be the only rock club in Manhattan where anything worthwhile happens anymore. I had a nice chat with Darren after the show, and showed him this sketch, though it probably looks better here than it did under the dim barroom lights. I’d discovered via Twitter that Darren is an urban sketcher, too! His watercolor postcards are great.
See you at the opening at BRIC tonight! Here’s a map: