Tuesday, October 21, 2008

bedlam at the Bedlam with Frances Gumm and Monoplex

Last night there was so much going on at the Bedlam Theatre it was like candy for me, a multi-media, sensory freak. In the Fireplace Room was Frances Gumm, Paul D's phenomenal punk rock band since 1983. I and the couple dozen others were lucky to be treated to this rare performance. They'll play again when they release their new album they're working on later this winter.

Next door was an old-time square dance, always a good time. Upstairs on the beautiful deck was David Pitman's Monoplex — the Greek tragedy Medea was last night's featured film preceded by shorts Pitman gathered. Somehow it was quite fitting that Medea was playing upstairs, with Frances Gumm's rebellious punk next to a room where at times murder ballads were being played. Paul D. cut his finger on his guitar strings.

In the big room, were many gigantic fantasy creatures and puppets taking shape of cardboard, shimmery cloth, paper mache and various unusual items which Axman is an invaluable source for, as preparation for the Barebones Halloween production is in full tilt. Puppetmakers/performers had just arrived for the annual production from Vermont, and a bicyclist just wheeled in from St. Cloud. We got caught up, then a couple went off to play old-time fiddle, and a few of us discussed our Art Shanty proposals.

Just another fun-filled, creative night at Bedlam Social. They've increased their large array of entertainment offerings, now featuring a Hot Tony DJ night on Mondays. Some will recognize Hot Tony as literally hot — he's a fire-eating flame-juggling, fire-breathing performer who works with Rah Kojis at Bedlam fire-spinning performances (another spectacular part of Barebones production, and various events). There are cabarets on Fridays, Last weeks' was hosted by Bedlam's creative co-director John Buecke and legendary Michael Sommers of Open Eye Figure Theatre. The next one is rife with Puppets, hosted by excellent puppetmaster Dhann Polnau.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dark Dark Dark Release CDs two nights of darkness . . .

Dark Dark Dark releases two CDs into the light, Friday at a private party (you're invited as long as you know them and/or where to find the poster — could be a Hard Time). They're also the featured band for the March 15 Electric Arc Radio Show a Literary-Musical Tragicomedy that's the perfect, darkly twisted match. Catch them before they embark on their long dark tour at various points in the U.S. through October.

This dark folk trio — Nona Marie Dark (accordion), Marshall LaCount (banjo) and Jonathan Kaiser (cello) play traditional and traditional-sounding East Euro/Klesmer/Old-timey/Gallic/Old-country blues/ polka-punk/Other music with the seemingly unseemly yet delectably dark combination of the accordion-banjo-cello.

The sonorous cello mournfully swoops and soars in and out with the melodic, sparse banjo, and Baltic and Klesmer sounding accordion , while Nona sings low and plaintive, perfect for their dark ballads, torch and sea shanty style songs. Marshall and Nona harmonize and trade off singing, Marshall's vocals remniscent to me of Andrew Bird. The trio are a harmoniously interwoven relationship of rhythms and strings and vocals mesmerizing to the ears, sending chills, and enchanting to watch looking as though they live the life and times of the songs they play.

The versatile Dark Dark Dark lead "a weird double-life," said Jonathan (Painted Saints, The Blackthorns). "We play restaurants and gallery openings, and then we have clubs life . . . "". . . underground or overground!" continued Marshall (Woodcat). They tend to play more traditional music for restaurants and galleries — old folk songs, jazz standards, gypsy and blues. In clubs they perform mainly their original music — "as original as traditional-sounding music can be!" quipped Nona.

Dark Dark Dark are releasing two CDs. The live EP Love You, Bye was released in France under the label What-a-Mess. Spontaneous, sparse and warm, Jonathan said, "We were trying to capture how we sound live in a living room — the core acoustic experience of Dark Dark Dark. They're also releasing The Snow Magic full-length CD. This one is more arranged, with more instrumentals, and friends joining in such as Martin Dosh playing drums. Those familiar with Dark Dark Dark will hear some new direction with the arrangements and some new songs. They're starting their new label, Blood Onion Records with The Snow Magic CD.

Go into the dark night for Dark Dark Dark treasures and treats before they embark on the long tour of the East Coast and other regions.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

(Mur/Mer) Murzik CD Release , Iron Mermaiden, Dark Dark Dark!

So much to do!
Friday night at 11 p.m. I'm participating in a Exercise/Exorcise panel discussion about experimental/avant garde/progressive work in the Twin Cities during the Exercise Exorcize "Best of Night." This will be aired on Twin Cities Radio and Gotham Radio, NYC! What is Exer/Exo? Director Jeremey Catterton describes:
* A variety of Twin Cities artists performing short works in an intimate setting, curated and hosted by Jeremey Catterton.
* Each evening includes: 6-8 new dance, theater and solo performances, with 2-4 films. Then an interview with each artist about their piece and other works.
* Based on On the Board’s 12Minutes Max, in Seattle.
* Occurs at the Bottling House Theatre in the Historic Grain Belt Brewery. The “best of night” March 7 features audience-voted favorites from the past 6 weeks, and concludes with a panel discussion with Twin Cities artists and experts in their field: Venus de Mars, Charles Campbell, Cindy Collins, plus many more.

Exercise/EXORCISE is also a benefit for upcoming Lamb Lays with Lion productions; Fort Wilson Riot Presents: Idigaragua and Massgraves (featuring Kill the Vultures), performed in repertory at the Bedlam Theatre April 3-13 (opening April 4).

Saturday, lots more fun!
Bedlam Theatre's Iron Mermaiden Mar 7, 2008 - Mar 23, 2008
a living film, created and directed by Kristi Ternes with the Iron Mermaiden ensemble

"An Iron-Man talent competition set in a genetically modified future- where mermaids, created as highly prized works of art, are pitted against each other to win the ultimate prize- the opportunity to be immortalized. Who will survive the cut? Who will survive the night? Who'd want to miss this?"
And, Saturday, is the Special International Women’s Day Benefit Performance
Saturday, March 8th $50 — includes drinks, hors d’ouvres, and an auction of local art, goods and services!

And, I'm excited about the Murzik "Buried" CD Release Party! at the Kitty Cat Club, with James Apollo and Black Audience (hurray! Can't get enough of Jayanthi's powerful vocals and skillful, unruly ensemble) I recommend Murzik highly, as a terrific a local "dark folk" band I've enjoyed seeing much since I first attended one of their live shows at the Hex about 3 - 4 years ago (singer Nathan first introduced the genre term "dark folk" as we were discussing how to describe them that night). And since, that genre has grown to easily be one of the most exciting and growing genres over these past few years in the Twin Cities. Murzik's music can be described as East-Euro folk tinged Americana, with accordion, glockenspiel, bells, mando and more. Filled with poignant lyrics, they could be described as gypsy music, but more quiet and mournful, something like sea shanties rough and dark Tom Waits style . . . ah, delightfully undescribable.

I'll suffice it to say, go see Mursik Sat. if you love, or want to hear more of what this "dark folk" thing is creeping through "both the underground and overground" as Marshall of Dark Dark Dark says. Note! 2 CDs are being released March 14 by Dark Dark Dark, an astounding, mesmerizing favorite dark folk band featuring the unimaginably beautiful trio of a banjo (Marshall), accordion (Nonah) and cello(Jonathan Kaiser — Blackthorns, Painted Saints) together. The CDs (one live, also released earlier on a small label in France, the other here on their forthcoming label, Blood Onion fe: performers such as Dosh) are being released March 14 at a private party — they say: if you know them or how to find their posters, you'll know where it is. And if you miss this, catch them March 16 as musical guests on Electric Arc Radio, before they go on tour for many months. More info, and an update closer to that date!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Brass Kings CD release, Old-Time, and Townes

Life's been good as I've been seeing some great shows . . . there are a few coming up very soon I'd like to recommend here as well.
The Brass Kings CD release party at the Cedar was fantastic as they hosted many good friends, fellow musicians playing their songs with them: Jon Rodine, Molly Maher, Jayanthi Kyle (who, with her band who opened, Black Audience were phenomenal — Jayanthi's vocals are stunning, in their skill and emotive qualities as they did traditional tunes such as Darling Cora, and Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately and the cheeky, playful "It Won't Make a Difference After Dark").

Also playing with the Brass Kings were Baby Grant Johnson ( I rec everyone check out his and Rich Mattson's folk duo project Bitter Spills) and an oft duo partner with Steve Kaul, Dave Babb which is always a treat. The Brass Kings new CD is as excellent as the first, which was one of my favorites of '05.
Attended the MBOTMA (Minn. Bluegrass and Old-time Assoc) fest at Plymouth Radisson yesterday, always a great time, and I hear that The New Bad Habits fe: Chirps Smith, Tim Foss, David Landreth and one more (sorry, let me know) are working on a CD — they were very fun, Chirps and Foss fiddles are incomparably great, and the twin fiddles are beautiful together.
Just a few recommendations live music coming up soon, tonight, Charlie Parr at the Turf Club, The Townes Van Zandt tribute at Lee's Thurs. not to be missed, with several great local musicians/bands doing the Townes songs justice — last year was great — one duo I'm aware of is Jake Hyer (Get Up Johns) and Megan Duddle (Ditch Lilies) together, a real treat. Magic Castles March 7 at Stasius, Murzik CD Release Party March 8 Kitty Cat Klub and Dark Dark Dark CD Release party March 14 and 15 (Check their myspace page for details).

I've been remiss with the fiddle playing and must catch up with it again, as I miss it much, and also must honor where it came from, one of the old time legends from W. Virginia. So practicing much in anticipation of upcoming workshop in April by Jimmy Triplett!

Ice fishing tonight for the first time. Laying low and reading Chabon (so good) and watching Deadwood (dangerously good, but my vocabulary has hit the gutter as I've begun swearing like a late 1880's goldminer as a result, because its so fun. Especially since I grew up near them thar hills, rife with tragic history conducted by hoopleheads.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Magic Castles live review

Phantasmagorical. That was the live Magic Castles show tonight at the Uptown, as their other two shows I've seen at Kitty Cat. I urge all you kitties out there to climb on board this magickal mysticore tour, and trip and dance to Magic Castles, one of the most authentic psych folk/acid rock band I've heard during this current resurgence of psychedelia.

The dreamy, jangledy songs with fantastical lyrics and groovy layers of keys, primal drumming, sweetly eerie harmonies, ghost-like echoes and vacuums of sound, tambourines perfectly accentuating those layers, melodic bass . . . weave a web of intricate layers of sound beautiful to both hear altogether, and to isolate from each other (as if hearing 2 or 3 songs beautifully intertwined) in the mind. Magic Castles, drawing from late '60s and early 70s psychedelia, had excellent timing and space jams, approaching Zappa, and also featuring haunting Joy Division moments. Definitely strong Pink Floyd (Sid B. days) V.U and Jefferson Airplane references abound in a delightfully dark way. It was a trippy fun musical experience that you couldn't help but dance to and get caught up in inextricably. They have beautiful periods of slowing down,and messing with time and breath-catching transitions. Their slight off/minor/flat keys cause delicious shivers. The harmonies are perfectly eerie, playful and dark. Songs such as entirely memorable "Emory" you'll find yourself hearing over and over in your head long after the show is over.

Definitely catch their next live shows: March 7 at Stasius, and March 11 at Lee's with
the band currently known as The Lapdance Band of Horses ( a better name than their last one; who knows what it will be next? Stay tuned for 2nd Tuesdays at the Turf beginning April for more on this great new local supergroup and the bands they host).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentines, Theatrical shows, Ice, Puppets, and Bedlam's Bleeding Hearts Romp

Well its been awhile . . . but have seen some very interesting new stuff. Just a brief overview . . . last Tues. at the Uptown the first of a 2nd Tuesday series put on by a band with no name (yet). 9-piece, formerly calling themselves "The Bukkake Party" fe: lots of strings (cello, fiddle, innumerable guitars :) organized by lead Jacob Grun (parts for all makes, Ice Palace). This is an amazing large group with much potential, using big soaring vocals, heavy strings and layers of guitar and percussion that may bring to mind other large groups like Arcade Fire (in scale, and big sound) yet darker, more psychedelic remniscent of: Pink Floyd, maybe Sonic Youth, a little bit Velvet Underground. Their March show is second Tues at Lee's with a relatively new (about a year-old) absolute new favorite of mine, Magic Castles. Magic Castles authentically captures the essence of late '60s early '70s psychedelia with mind-bending minor chords and dreamy layers of sound, eerie vocals and beautifully long space jams to space out to and escape to other realms of the mind. They are not. to. be. Missed. They're turning out a phantastically magical mystical mysticore (hint) CD that I reckon will be one of the best local CDs of 08. Mark my words, and look out for it. Meantime check out their great live show.

Feb 13 Pre-Valentines La Belle Epoque Fetish Bash, hosted by Venus (All the Pretty Horses) was a real ball, of the best kind. Lots of lovely costumes, many of which were Victorian era, but more risque. Great music by theatrical punk band Dangerboard (also performing tonite at the Bedlam!), the Melismatics, Sirens of Titan and All the Pretty Horses. MC poetess Laura Brandenburg was very cat-like on the catwalk as she introduced the fetish fashion show, with beautiful XXX-travagant fashion, including ink, feathers and silk ribbons in strategic places.

All the Pretty Horses were in their element(s) as they took the 1st Ave stage with incredible big sound, intense rock and through the course of the show, a few pyrotechnics and engaging theatrical interpretations of songs such as Ice, Fallen Angels, Wild Horses . . . depicting love, love lost, rejection, angst and passion in its various facets — with fantastic deep red lighting and spotlights on the dancers and the room, and Venus' vocal prowess with a balance between control and raw release, this was truly one of the most memorable ATPH shows I've seen.

Last night: Super Furry Animals, a looong-time favorite, were phenomenal at the Varsity, stripped down (no films or furry costumes this time) their show was as always futuristic and weird and wonderful.

Today, if you get this in time . . .get out on the ice! Puppet shows at 3:00 at the Black Box Theatre Shanty fe: Vermont, Texas and Wisconsin puppeteers/musicians who have been involved with Bread and Puppet from Vermont. Lots of live music and fun at Medicine Lake on this, the second to last weekend. Go to Art Shanties and you can see the schedule.

If you miss this, or even if you don't, you can catch more puppet mischief at The Bleeding Hearts Romp at Bedlam Theatre tonight at 10! A perrenial fun event featuring the ever-popular 5-minute movie (cheesy movies condensed to their best moments colliding together in high hilarity), bands! Puppets! and cabaret. . .tonites show features:

the dance antics of Mad King Thomas , bard love by bEn Krielkamp, sumptuous drag by barbara gordon, the WYXY news and a bedlam 5 minute movie ....with your host, the lovely DITZY POOFBALL.

PLUS travelling Puppet shows. Pinata. Prizes. Heart -shaped Sake jello shots. Skits and Surprises including Anti-Love meter readings and The preimer release of Ape and COffee's first zine.


Must get out on the ice. Enjoy the shows.