Author Archives: Roger Clark Miller

About Roger Clark Miller

Musician/composer/soundtracker/conceptual artist. Relentlessly Active.

Fall 2018

As a Composer:

Thurs. Sept.27, 8pm, at Tufts University. Free!

This is Miller’s first concert entirely focused on his chamber work.
——–Three premiers:
Solar System Sonata (for piano and string quartet);
Three Skies (for viola and piano);
Rocks Music (for solo cello).
——–Plus:
Snakes Dream Sky (viola, piano, percussion, altered sounds) and
In Natura (for clarinet, violin, prepared piano, modified nature ambiences).


 

Alloy Orchestra:  

September 30:
Hamilton College F.I.L.M. program, Clinton NY. MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Russian avant-garde); THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton)
October 8:
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA.  COEUR FIDELE (Dark French romance)
Oct.16 – Oct.30:
Midwest tour. (Columbus, OH; Chicago; Milwaukee; Omaha; Lincoln, NB; Iowa City; Webster Groves, MO; Nashville; Tuscaloosa, AL.)
Dec.1:
San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The Castro Theater.

Alloy Orchestra smites Again!         L to R: Roger, Terry, Ken. Drawing by R.Miller

 

Trinary System: 

The band was derailed in mixing the new album over the summer, but is planning to complete mixing before the end of 2018.

Trinary System playing “See You” at Thunder Road on Aug.17. Video by Will Regano.


——–A 

A Night of Surrealist Games:

Thurs., Nov.15, 2018. 118 Elliot in Brattleboro, VT.
Miller is jumping back on the surrealist bandwagon, looking forward to opening minds of the masses.
Tickets and info HERE.

Previous Exquisite Corpse Result

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As an Experimental Film-Maker: 

The Davis Square Symphony score is being recorded instrument by instrument. Hoping to have it completed by the end of Dec. So far ‘cello, stand-up bass, french horn, trumpet, clarinet and flute. The film will be part of an installation at the Brattleboro Art Museum in spring 2020 along with five of Miller’s modified vinyl pieces, and very likely at film festivals.

Roger at deCordova Museum.  (D.McLaughlin)

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Anecdote:

My sister Francie, like many in my family, was a zoologist. She studied primates before she taught biology at UNO. In 1966 or ’67 she did a neo-Jane Goodall thing, spending nine months in Rio Muni (now called Equatorial Guinea) in Africa, studying a troop of monkeys in the jungle. Just her and an African guide with a machete most of the time. When she came home, she brought back 4 monkeys! A chicken-wire fence was installed in the back yard of our Ann Arbor home, and the monkeys (Katie, Kobo, Ka’a, and Chitfung) moved in. She would sometimes take them out and let them play in the yard and with us kids – but they always came back because they had bonded with her. She was a pretty amazing sister, and is still very much missed.

                                                                                Francie and 3 of 4 monkeys.


And:

Here’s Deb on our summer trip to the Four Corners region of the US. The place is stunning – you can see deep time in the rocks.

Deb in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

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Summer 2018

Thurs., Sept.27, 8pm at Tufts Music School in Medford, MA. Free!
Tufts Music School presents a concert of Miller’s chamber music.
Three premiers: Solar System Sonata (for piano and string quartet); Rocks Music (for solo ‘cello); Three Skies (for viola and piano).


Trinary System:

HERE is Trinary System’s version of Robert Fripp’s King Crimson song, RED. Why did they learn it? Because they could.
The band is in final mixing phase for their first full-length. Rawer and more immediate than their previous psychedelically swampy release.
Summer Shows:
July 21: Framingham, MA. Exhibit “A” Brewing street party: Demo Tape Fest.
July 29: Greenfield, MA. First Annual Psych Fest at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts.
Aug.17: Thunder Road, Somerville, MA. With Count Zero and Chris Brokaw Band.

Miller hammering the song “Dave Davies” with Trinary System at the 9:30 Club, Washington DC. Photo by Roxplosion.

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Conceptual Art:       

Recording the score for Miller’s first experimental film “The Davis Square Symphony” begins on July 2 with Cello, French Horn and Trumpet. The completed film will show at film festivals and at Museum Installations.

Miller’s conceptual vinyl piece “POP Record/evolving” was taught this spring in “Sound Studies and Sonic Arts (Master of Arts)” at Universitat der Kunste, Berlin. This bodes well as he is planning on creating more Modified Vinyl pieces over the next year.

POP Record Cover: xerox deterioration of black, 1982

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As a Composer:   

The Tufts Music School will present a concert entirely of Miller’s chamber music compositions on Sept.27, 2018. There will be three premiers: “Solar System Sonata” for piano and string quartet; “Three Skies” for viola and piano; and “Rocks Music” for solo cello. All of these scores are highly organized by natural phenomena.

Page I, Movement III, from “Three Skies”.

———–

Alloy Orchestra:

The group will spend much of this summer completing and rehearsing two new films to premier at Telluride and play throughout the coming year.
Summer shows:
Aug.11: Mass MoCA (Rudolph Valentino’s Son of the Sheik)
Aug.29-Sept.4: Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, CO.

New Alloy Orchestra T-shirt!

———–

Frottage Drawing:       

A series of 6″x6″ origami paper frottage drawings were done from the various locations that Miller shot the Davis Square Symphony. Folding the surfaces of the locations onto themselves to create a new reality.

Origami Paper Frottage #1 May 9, 2018. (Surfaces used: sidewalk, wood on walls, 2 manhole covers)

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Mission of Burma:  

“Invisible” is the only song recorded for The Obliterati album not to appear on that album – perhaps the title was prescient? It is none-the-less a somewhat unique song in the band’s catalog, incorporating dub effects and a nod to Dr. John’s spooky first album “Gris-Gris”.  

It is not legal to post the mp3 because it is owned by Mission of Burma, but HERE is the link to purchase with about 30 seconds of the song.

 

Sgt. Rock comic from the ’60’s.

———–

F.U.K. (1977 pre-Burma punk-rock):      

The crushing 1977 proto-Riot Grrrl archival 7″ from F.U.K. gets the feature treatment from Dusted Magazine. A very interesting philosophical article.
It can be purchased HERE from the label, or from Miller at shows.

Back cover of F.U.K. 45.

———–

Anecdote:

When I was in 10th grade, I painted psychedelic lettering posters for The 5th Dimension Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were displayed in the small door marquee advertising the coming week’s shows: Amboy Dukes; SRC; The Thyme; The Rationals; Frigid Pink, etc… I didn’t get paid, but I got in for free to any concert I wanted except the big ones which I paid for: Jimi Hendrix; Pink Floyd, Mothers of Invention. So just about every weekend I’d be in the club, absorbing ideas and skills from bands a few years older than me.

One of my earliest experiences there was as follows: 

L.B., the kid who I learned the psychedelic lettering technique from, was the lead singer for a small local band. A couple of the guys in the band were on the “dubious” side, but I was there to take it all in and learn. During their 10 minute version of “Hey Joe” (didn’t everybody do it that year?) the guitar solo was very peculiar – it seemed to mostly consist of semi-regular percussive attacks. Curious. Finally, of course, the guitarist smashed his guitar (didn’t everybody do it that year?).

After the show somebody’s Mom came into the club quite mad, claiming that the guitarist had stolen her son’s guitar. There was a bit of a scene, and it was during this scene that I discovered that the odd guitar solo was the result of the kid systematically stapling all the guitar strings to the neck before he smashed the (stolen) guitar. All in all, a learning experience.

The Sky High Purple Band, May 1967. Left to Right: Dave Rogers; Ben Miller; Roger Miller; Tom Grimes; Larry Miller. Photo Francie Miller. (Same basement as the F.U.K. cover!)

———–

Photos from our Southwest trip May 2018: 

Roger and Chance at 10,000 Feet above sea level.

Roger and Deb at the Grand Canyon.

 


Spring 2018

F.U.K. (Fucked Up Kids, 1977)  

Release date:  March 21, 2018, on Hozac Records.
A nice review in Raven sings the Blues.
One can order from Hozac or purchase from Miller at shows…
“Here’s this chugging 2-chord riff coming at you, and then it bursts into a guitar solo that sounds like a wet robot frying in a vat of acid.”
It was Oct. 1977, and Miller had long decided not to join the Ann Arbor band Destroy All Monsters. But his band Red Ants had already bottomed out in four completely different incarnations. So he decided to put one last band together before he moved to Boston. He named it F.U.K. (Fucked Up Kids) in a quasi-parody of D.A.M. (Destroy All Monsters). In a quasi-parody of punk rock, most members of this one-off band could barely play their instruments. They played one show, on Halloween, at The Cube in Ann Arbor, MI. It was a very fun mess. The song Road Kill was performed extremely sloppily at that show, and Miller recorded this version with Sue Rynski in Dec. of that year. The B-side, I Got A Head, was one of 5 or 6 songs which he wrote as fast as possible whilst listening to the first Ramones album three times in a row in the summer 1977.

FUK

Singer Sue Rynski on F.U.K. cover

—————-

Trinary System 

All overdubs are done for their first full-length album: only mixing remains. They will likely release their version of King Crimson’s 1974 classic “Red” as a pre-release freebie.
—–Spring shows:
June 8, Fri: The Root Cellar, Greenfield, MA
June 9, Sat: On the Ground, Townsend, VT

Tim Bugbee

At the Sinclair, Boston. Photo Tim Bugbee.

—————-

Alloy Orchestra

—–Spring shows:
April 15: Beverly, MA
April 21: Ebertfest, Champaign, IL
May 4: AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD
May 6: Maryland Film Festival, Baltimore, MD
June 19: Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC

Alloy T-shirt

New Alloy Orchestra T-shirt!

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Mission of Burma

***  “Vs.” was recently listed as one of the 10 best post-punk albums to own in vinyl.

June ’80 at The Channel. Photo Richie Parsons.

—————-

Other:

Miller will be performing solo (guitar/voice) for an Amnesty International benefit on Sun., Mar.25, at the Aeronaut Brewery, Somerville. Miller will perform songs he’s written starting in 1967 (2 years before Sproton layer) and ending in 2018. That should be “quite a trip.”

Miller will be sitting in on keyboards (as he has happily done many times before) with the venerable improv. group Club d’Elf at Lizard Lounge on Fri., Mar.31.

 

Anecdote

Ryles, a club I didn’t frequent much, is closing in Cambridge. Still, they promoted local musicians and gave non-rock bands a place to play. One more club gone.
Some years ago I was scouting for vocalists at Ryles for a film I was scoring, “You Don’t Know Dick”. It was around Halloween and costumes were requested, so I went as “death”: completely robed in black with a very white “The Scream” face mask. I sat in the back of the room, and as I knew no one there I just listened. People started to get very uneasy about my presence – death just sitting in the back of the room, saying nothing. Towards the end of the night a couple guys, after more than a few beers, came up and started provoking me. I had nothing to say really, but they got more and more worked up. Finally I realized there was a possibility of violence and that maybe it was time to act more “alive”, so I perked up and managed to defuse the rising adrenalin in my corner of the room. Close…
The other time I was at Ryles was a great show by Lookie-Lookie where Deb and I danced the whole night.

Deb Ipswich

Deb on Plum Island, Nov.2017


Wintry 2017/18

Trinary System:

——————— ———– – Upcoming Gigs:

Sat., Jan.6: Brooklyn, NY.
El Cortez. Headlining with Munic Hoof opening.
Sun., Jan.7: 9Washington DC.
9:30 Club. Opening for Boat Burning 100 Guitar Orchestra.

The band will be mixing their first full-length at Kimchee Studios in February.

Hasslefest 2017. Photo Ben Stas.

———–

Alloy Orchestra:

The Fall touring season is over, and winter is usually spare. But the group has the following shows going into the new year:

Jan.25: Keene, NH.
The Black Pirate.
Mar.3: Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA.
Two shows: The Lost World and Page of Madness.
Mar.9 and 10: Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY.
Two shows: Strike! and The General.

L to R: Roger, Terry, Ken.

———–

F.U.K.:

“Road Kill” (with singer/lyricist Sue Rynski) and “I Got a Head”, both recorded in Ann Arbor, MI, in 1977, will be released as a 45rpm on Hozac Records. Miller played all the instruments (yes, it sounds like punk rock with Eno sitting in). This is definitely a curious artifact. Release date not yet set, but probably Spring 2018.
——–————————-————-—————-“I don’t need a rifle to be an American Hunter.
——–———–————-————-
—————-All I really need is my shiny front bumper!”

Road Kill/I Got a Head front cover on Hozac.

———

The Davis Square Symphony:

The fine cut has been critiqued by a select few. Ideas are being compiled. Completion of the final cut will happen in Jan/Feb.

———

Living:

The Bathroom Upgrade is finally Done. We have officially been potty trained. Now I can’t wait to get into second grade so I can make stencils of leaves with a paint-soaked toothbrush over a metal screen.

Trash Removal. It’s Gone.

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Minor Anecdote:

The mind-bending 2.5 minutes that changed my life on the Ed Sullivan Show (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”) nullified my positive feelings about piano as a 12-year old. Yet I took up French Horn entering Jr. High, and kept studying piano, and (of course) started guitar. Who knows why anyone does what they do… Once the Doors and Pink Floyd kicked in, keyboard was cool again. Not that the 9-year old pictured here had any idea what was going to happen in a few years…

Roger@Piano, age 9.

 

 

 

 


Fall 2017

Alloy Orchestra Fall Tours:

Sept.22 – Oct.6:
Hopewell, N.J.; New Haven, CT; Cedar Rapids, IA; Iowa City, IA; Lincoln, NB; Omaha, NB; Milwaukee, WI; Nashville, TN; Columbus, OH; Rochester, NY.
Oct.-Nov:
Forays to Washington, DC; Hamilton College, NY; Keene, NH; Silver Spring, MD; Baltimore, MD.

The band will mostly be playing their new score to A PAGE OF MADNESS, a 1925 Japanese silent which takes place entirely in an insane asylum. Half the time one sees things from the inmates point of view. Very psychedelic, and a perfect vehicle for Alloy’s more improvisatory work.

New Alloy Orchestra T-shirt!

————

Trinary System Action:

Nov.10: Ralph’s, Worcester, MA
Nov.11: Once Ballroom, Somerville, MA. Hasslefest with Pere Ubu headlining.
In Sept., vocal and acoustic guitar overdubs started on their first full-length LP. Overdubs will continue into December.

Hasslefest Poster 2017

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As a Composer/Conceptual Artist:

The first pass of The Davis Square Symphony is nearly done. Miller not only scored but also shot and edited the entire film. This may account for the excessive time it is taking to complete the project. It’s almost there.
Miller is also revisiting his conceptual vinyl work, beginning with his 1984 record, POP Record/evolving. That record involved record surface noise ONLY, which wears away and is replaced by new surface noise. It was in two gallery shows which also featured Christian Marclay. Miller has come up with a number of new manipulations of the vinyl medium which he has begun preparing.

Gallery Show from 1987.

————

Fun World Productions:

Miller and Andrew Willis (Trinary System bassist) produced an EP for the Washington DC multiple guitar band BOAT BURNING. The same duo also produced the first Trinary System record, AMPLIFY THE AMPLIFIERS. They are available for production needs.
contact…

Fun World Productions, producing.

————

On the home front:

Our bathroom is nearly finished! The charm of an outdoor shower wears off after a couple of mandatory months.

Almost ready to Use!


Summertime times 2017

“Other” Art:

Artist Joeseph Wardwell created a gigantic mural titled “Hello America” for the new wing at Mass MoCA, based on selections from Miller’s Mission of Burma song “Fame and Fortune.” In layers of smaller letters are quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Patti Smith, Burroughs, etc..

“Hello America” at MassMoCA. By Joeseph Wardwell.

 

———————-

Alloy Orchestra Upcoming shows:

June 23 and 24: Wilco’s Solid Sound Music and Arts Festival at Mass MoCA
June 30: 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH
July 30: Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City, Michigan.
Sept: Texas swing likely early on, then Midwest tour begins.

The ensemble’s new film for the fall is the silent Japanese Avant-masterpiece A PAGE OF MADNESS. Set entirely in an insane asylum, half the time one is viewing the world from the inmates’ point of view. This is a perfect vehicle for Alloy’s improvisational mayhem. Truly psychedelic. The BluRay with Alloy’s score is available at their on-line store.


Page of Madness with score by Alloy Orchestra. Flicker Alley.

———————-

Trinary System:

Upcoming shows:

Wed., July 12: Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain. With the amazingly high-energy Fully Celebrated Orchestra.
This is Trinary System’s last show before they go into the studio to record their first full-length the end of July. Makin’ sure they are lubed up for the sessions.

It’s hard to explain how things move in a band that plays so rarely (the first release was recorded after a total of 6 gigs). But because the band plays so rarely, each gig is a landmark. As such, the show at Midway Cafe in J.P. on March 8 was where the band reached a new level of relaxed confidence, and this was obvious in the following shows. By the time Trinary System hit the Sinclair stage in April (where Burma played 5 years earlier) there was no concern at all – they just played because they knew what they were up to. Now it’s time for an album.

Noise Floor, May 2017, review of Apr.28 Sinclair show:
“Trinary System, a power trio led by Roger Miller, was on first with an excellent set of jams that fell somewhere between Marquee Moon and a more experimentally-minded deconstruction of Miller’s work in the venerable Boston art-punk unit Mission of Burma.”

Trinary System at the Sinclair, April 2017. Photo by Tim Bugbee.

———————-

Guitar Lessons:

Tonereport: 9 Essential Post-punk Guitarists.
Mr. Miller is listed at number two.

Guitar Lessons continue, mostly via Skype. If interested, click here.

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As a Composer:

Miller has begun a Viola Sonata inspired by hearing the RAHA piano/viola duo perform his “In Natura” in April. As is his mode these days, he is utilizing natural phenomena for organizational purposes. Two photographs of lighting (thanks Tom Sholz!) and one of clouds he took in Vermont form the basic structural form. Audio peaks in recordings of a camp fire and a fountain tumbling into a pond form some of the basic rhythmic gestures of the piano pulses and viola melodies.

Miller’s Davis Square Symphony, which received an Awesome Foundation award earlier this year, is on-going and nearing completion.

Viola Sonata Part I (Lightning Music), first page.

———————-

Anecdotes:

In the summer of 1975 I was sequestered in the Bay City area of Michigan, trying to make a living as performing musician (still working on that…). I played bass guitar in a quartet I did not start. We started out as a jazz-rock fusion band, performing covers and originals the guitarist wrote. During my 3-week stint in the band we morphed from that into a quite good Top-40 cover band. I quit shortly after we were offered a set of “stage costumes” to choose from, after which we’d make “really good money.”

The most interesting and terrifying moment in this band was as follows:
We played one venue almost every night, 3 sets. On one particular occasion, a biker club/gang from this part of Michigan hired out the venue as a memorial for one of their members who died in a crash the previous week. We were on-stage with 300 leather-clad bikers in the audience, definitely not the friendliest bunch. At one point, they “requested” we sing a song about death. We decided to do a blues, and it fell to me to do the singing. As the song got going, I made up some cliched lines about death: “no one wants to die”, that sort of thing. Almost immediately, the entire group of 300 leather-clad bikers was bawling in each others’ arms, sobbing uncontrollably. We were both terrified and amazed. We had to complete the song of course, and the bawling did not stop until it was over. That was quite possibly the strongest reaction I ever got to a song I made up on the spot.

———————-

Epilogue:

Five Lady Slippers and Deb (Maidstone Park, VT).

———————-


Spring-time in America…?

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Trinary System 

Upcoming shows:
March 28:  Pipeline – live radio broadcast on WMBR
March 30:  Once Somerville (w/Black Helicopter and Boston Typewriter Orchestra)
Apr.28:  The Sinclair, with Boss Hog
April 29:  Aurora, Providence, RI (w/Minibeast)
May 20:  On the Ground, Townsend, VT

2017 Reviews for AMPLIFY THE AMPLIFIERS (Listen HERE and buy if so inclined!):

Mojo Magazine:
Their EP Amplify the Amplifiers opens with a snarling garage nod to the younger Kink’s influence on MoB’s razored-amp electric fizz (“He kinda helped me go crazy”).  

Delusions of Adequacy (UK):
The threesome’s promising self-released debut download/seven-inch combo EP, Amplify The Amplifiers, which appeared to not enough fanfare last year, extends upon Miller’s blistering psych-infused solo-traded “Big Steam” b/w “Dream Interpretation” 7” from 2012.

The band is planning to record their first full-length album in the late spring. Their newest song, “Hovering”, is based on two dreams from the same night. As Miller was waking up, he had a drum riff in his head that he kept perfecting for Trinary System. When he awoke, he wrote down this unusual drum beat. Later he wrote the main guitar riff around the drum beat and put together the lyrics from that night’s dreams. It is turning out to be one of the band’s more interesting songs.

Trinary System at Store 54. Photo: Margot Edwards.

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As a Composer

Sun., April 30:  Third Life Studio in Union Square, Somerville, MA.
The Elaine Rombola Ensemble will perform Miller’s composition In Natura (2011, for clarinet, viola, prepared piano and modified nature ambiences). Elaine Rombola prepared piano, who played on Miller’s Gilgamesh at Jordan Hall in 2016; Rane Moore clarinet, who helped with the extended techniques used on this piece; and Amelia Hollander Ames viola. Other compositions on the bill include a piece for toy piano and amplified viola as well as a Beethoven Cello Sonata adapted for viola.

“In Natura” continues Miller’s interest in concrete sounds, this time entirely from nature: wind, water, insects, storms. The 9’30” collage of natural ambiences is in 3 continuous movements and directs the entire composition. The clarinet and viola  parts are based on Miller’s bird-whistling improvisations, incorporating numerous extended techniques, and the sound of very slowed down crickets. The prepared piano serves as commentary.  As in “Vines for Music”, Miller has eliminated “concert pitch”, creating a score which mimics nature’s tuning: sounds co-mingled but do not form “chords” or have an over-arching tonal center.

Miller’s Davis Square Symphony was awarded a grant from The Awesome Foundation in March. Miller is close to completing this time-consuming work for film and orchestral score, with the aim of getting it into film festivals and shown as an art installation.


After performance of Snakes Dream Sky at New England Conservatory in 2010. Photo Bill T. Miller.

——

Alloy Orchestra

Alloy Orchestra has prepared two new films for our next season
1.  A new version of the classic Dinosaur film, LOST WORLD.
2.  The 1927 Japanese masterpiece PAGE OF MADNESS. The film is set entirely in an insane asylum and is a perfect vehicle for Alloy Orchestra’s more improvisatory work. One of our very favorite silent films!

Upcoming Shows:
Lincoln Center, NYC.
Academy of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles.
Roger Ebert film Festival, Champagne, IL.
AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD
Maryland Film festival, Baltimore, MD.
Beverly, MA
Castro Theater, San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Premier of LOST WORLD and PAGE OF MADNESS.
Mass MOCA Wilco Festival, North Adams, MA

Alloy Orchestra setting up in Albuquerque.

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Guitar Lessons

I continue teaching guitar lessons, mostly through Skype. I can be contacted at the link above.

 

2002? Photo: rthenadey.

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Three quotes about my music that amused me:



1. The Noise (Boston). Nov.’95, regarding my Elemental Guitar CD:
“The album as a whole makes you feel like you’ve just been lectured to by someone who is a genius, but in a subject that you never thought was important.”

2. From an NPR piece on The Binary System, my piano/drum duo with Larry Dersch, in the late ’90’s:
“Roger writes complicated music. They learn it. Then they play it like it’s Louie Louie” – Russ Gershon, Either/Orchestra

3. I played one of my compositions for my teacher at CalArts in 1976. When it was over, he looked up at me and said:
“That shouldn’t have made sense.”

Maximum Electric Piano, Chicago 1987? Photo Russ Smith.