Every day at the top of my notes I see this:
“Don’t think of time in days or weeks, but in months.”
On Oct.1, my first (and likely only) 2020 Virtual Concert will happen in conjunction with my installation at the Brattleboro Art Museum, “Transmuting the Prosaic”. The concert will feature four of my “Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble.”
It feels very weird not to be touring: it’s how I’ve defined myself, and has been my livelihood, since the late ’90’s. I get a weird paranoid feeling that something’s wrong… then I realize I am just home, and it’s really pretty nice on this mountain-side. I was actually able to watch the frog eggs in the pond grow from tiny black dots, adding tiny tails, then leaving the egg mass, now fat with strong tails, and spreading out all over the pond. And I love the newts – they just hang in the water and gaze around. I mean, don’t they have work to do or something?
I am still teaching guitar lessons, which I enjoy, and it connects me with people. Connection is definitely something I miss: playing with band mates and playing clubs. Alloy Orchestra was supposed to play the San Francisco Silent Film Festival this May. It got moved to November; and now it’s moved to May 2021. I suspect that’s how it will be. So… I’ll be home all Fall for the first time since 1999.
Because I am a “gig worker”, I am getting money from both the Feds and the state of Vermont, plus a few artist grants here and there. I am very grateful for that. Deb’s work is still happening, so that’s good. She works entirely from home now: luckily we get along rather well!
But I am still working, even if not playing gigs:
I am currently composing Dream Interpretation #19 and #20 for my solo multiple electric guitars set-up. I am incorporating techniques I used in Maximum Electric Piano (1983-1988), and it feels very natural, like coming back home. Sometimes impressionistic sound, at other times riffs and melodies. I am still working on getting the sound to my satisfaction for a virtual concert: at some point it will definitely happen.
And amazingly, I have access to a grand piano at a nearby studio. I am completing a series of compositions I started in Nov. 2018 when Alloy Orchestra was at Hamilton College in upstate NY. We had a day off and I had access to a piano room. I am making use of the Sostenuto Pedal, which sustains only the notes one is playing, rather than lifting off all the dampers like the more typical Sustain Pedal. So these selected strings remain unmuted, and when other notes are played on the piano it activates harmonics on these strings, like ghost residue. Minimalistic and ethereal.
And I’ve mapped out a piece for small orchestra titled “A Song for Vermont”, based on the map of Vermont, starting north and heading south. If I can get one (or two) of the small orchestras in Vermont to agree to look at the score and play it if they like it, it will be my primary composition for 2020.
It really sucks that all my concerts, which I invested so heavily in over the last two years, have been nuked by C-19. And while the BMAC has been great – the gallery is now open on a limited basis – my installation “Transmuting the Prosaic” is truncated and one is not allowed to use the turn-tables to play the records, which was an integral part of the Modified Vinyl work (Ed. Note: one can now use the turn-tables if one uses hand sanitizer afterwards. Great!). So it goes. Also by now all the main tracks for Trinary System’s second full-length were to have been completed. Well, well, well…
But Deb and I are healthy, and I have plenty of interesting stuff to do besides care for the house while she has an actual job: lack of ideas has never been my problem. I recently finished reading a history of ancient Greece (focusing on Athens 5th Century BC of course), studied the artist Wassily Kandinsky, and am now on to a book on Van Gogh. I may even get back to developing my frottage drawings, who knows?
Here’s my brief song, “Stay Home! Stay Home!”, which I composed in April at the request of the city of Boston. It’s on Boston mayor Marty Walsh’s twitter feed and has over 9,000 views: it’s a hit!
Hope you are staying healthy and are doing fine in these Covid-Times.