@ Powel House Museum
244 S. Third Street
8pm; $10, $8 in advance
WOODEN GUITAR HEROES
It is doubtful that any instrument carries with it more clichéd images and references than the acoustic guitar: the college crooner on a grassy lawn or the bandana-clad protester. But often behind such stereotypical images is an element of truth. In many ways, the acoustic guitar is the great democratic instrument: Affordable to obtain and easy to transport; a generous learning curve for beginners; limitless nuance and complexity in the hands of a virtuoso. But in the end, the enormous multiplicity of musical styling, allows a creative mind to wander in any direction, the acoustic guitar serving as a blank page, ready to receive any creative urge.
This evening Bowerbird brings together three unique perspectives in the pantheon of acoustic guitar: multi-instrumentalist Tetuzi Akiyama visiting from Japan, internationally-renowned Philadelphia based Jack Rose, and local DIY scene favorites, Little Ocean; all performing in the intimate and historic surroundings of the 18th century home of Samuel Powel, Philadelphia’s ‘Patriot’ Mayor.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Those acquainted with music happenings in Philadelphia in recent times may remember Tetuzi Akiyama from his blazing Boogie Woogie set at Tequilla Sunrise a couple years ago. Tetuzi is frequently associated with the insurgent improvising community in Tokyo generated around guitarist Taku Sugimoto but to be sure his sound owes as much to a unique strain of country blues engulfed in negative space. His loosely strewn playing skirts the usual clichés of the guitar in both the free improv and traditional folk scenes. Sit back & let your ears bear witness to a zen blues of the most elemental, meditative form. (adapted from LocustMusic.com)
"While the new century's novel folk has already seen significant definition, Rose is largely alone in talking new century ideas with the old language” (Pitchfork). Often and rightly compared to the late, great John Fahey, Jack Rose has established himself as preeminent proponent of the finger plucking American Primitivism (a term Fahey coined himself) movement. With its roots in Appalachian Folk and Country Blues traditions, the complex and avant-garde nature of this movement (the weighted prevalence of ostinatos and accompaniment patterns over linear melody and song forms, or the unusual guitar tunings, for example), is often overlooked. At the hands of Rose, the level of subtlety and nuance reaches a new level of perfection, appealing to the intellect with out sacrificing beauty.
Little Ocean, originally conceived as a “math rock on acoustic guitars” collaboration between Ben Remsen and Jake Anodide, has reinvented itself in various manifestations, including the more aggressive (and louder) Big Ocean, and most recently a trio version with Elliot Klein on keyboards. Here again expect a strong influence of Fahey, but with an additional touch of Terry Riley minimalism and up-tempo Don Cab. This evening, for the first time ever, the trio will perform in an all acoustic guitar configuration.
Tetuzi Akiyama's performance is made possible by the High Zero Foundation in Baltimore, MD. He will be performing at the 10th Anniversary High Zero Festival from September 17th - 21st.
TETUZI AKIYAMA (guitar)
Tetuzi Akiyama plays the guitar with primitive and practical implications, by adding a desire of own to the instrument's characteristic nature in minimal and straight method. He delicately and sometime boldly controls the volume of the sound from micro to macro level, and tries to quantize his physical system.
Akiyama started playing electric guitar at the age of thirteen. Later, he also came to be very interested in free improvisation. He formed the improvised music band Madhar in 1987. He also started playing viola, and formed the Hikyo String Quintet in 1994. The band included Taku Sugimoto on cello. Later that year, Akiyama and Sugimoto launched their guitar duo, Akiyama-Sugimoto. They played a gig in New York in 1995, and in the Midwest (including Chicago, Ann Arbor and Detroit) in 1996. His latest band is Satanic Abandoned Rock'n'Roll Society with Utah Kawasaki, Atsuhiro Ito and Naoaki Miyamoto.
Since 1998, together with Sugimoto and Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board), he has been organizing an inspiring monthly concert series, The Improvisation Meeting at Bar Aoyama (renamed The Experimental Meeting in 1999) and Meeting at Off Site in 2000 until 2003.
Akiyama released his first solo album Relator (slub music) in 2001. Mixing feelings of country and blues with free improvisation, Akiyama began to perform solo with greater frequency playing both acoustic and electric guitars, turntables without records and other effects. Using a prepared resonator guitar with a Samurai sword, Akiyama recorded his second solo album Résophonie (a bruit secret, 2002) which can be described as sonic sculpture with guitar. In 2003, his third solo album Don't Forget to Boogie! was released. Performed in a minimal one chord Boogie/Rock/Blues style with vintage electric guitar tone, Akiyama sees this LP as a tribute to the electric guitar. A live album from 2005, Route 13 to the Gates of Hell: Live in Tokyo (headz) was selected in the 50 albums of the year by The Wire magazine. Pre-Existence, an album of acoustic guitar solos, was released on Locust Music in the winter of 2005. Recently Akiyama started releasing an "official bootleg series" with the labels Esquilo (Portugal) and Utech Records (Milwaukee).
Akiyama is a frequent guest at international music festivals and in recent years has performed at What is Music? (Australia, 2002), Alt Music (New Zealand, 2002 & 2004), Amplify (Tokyo, 2002 & New York, 2003), Musique Action (France, 2003 & 2005), Musiques Innovatrices (France, 2003), Uchiage (Berlin & Vienna, 2004), Instal (Glasgow, 2005), Suoni Per Il Popolo (Montreal, 2006), Vancouver International Jazz Festival (Vancouver, 2006), Festival Densités (France, 2006) and Moment (Stockholm, 2006), South By Southwest (Austin, 2007), Sonic Protest (Paris, 2007), Courtisane Festival (Gent, 2007), Musik Triennale 2007/Klangtransfer Festival (Cologne, 2007), Musiques du Rues (Besançon, 2007), Sonorités (Montpellier, 2007).
Jack Rose has been going places lately, and the evidence is all over this splendid record. The names of six of its eight tunes refer to places, some easy to find on a map "Calais To Dover", some harder to pin down "Cross the North Fork". Another brings up the journey we all must eventually take "Flirtin with the Undertaker". The guitarist has toured like a demon in the year that preceded this recording, and it shows in the best possible ways. Every track is a first take, and each radiates the confidence of a man who knows he can just sit down and nail it, no problem. Rose has never sounded better; some credit must go to engineer Mike Chaffin for an exceptionally bright and present recording job, but more must go to the artist for the clarity, strength and purposefulness of his finger picking. He also forges ahead in his material, sometimes by turning back the clock. Working backwards is part of his MO .. remember that he recorded crumbling rock, acoustic trance, and full-on noise with Pelt for half a dozen years before he laid down his first finger-style performances. Kensington Blues includes a couple delightful ragtime tunes, his first compositions in that ancient but honorable style. It also features several winding, quasi-narrative fantasias, pieces that will lose you in the sheer gorgeousness of their sound without ever really getting lost; go ahead, try and stay rooted in this time and place whilst listening to "North Fork" or "Cathedral et Chartres" (forgive his French .. you'd do the same for Chic). If you do, you..ve got some serious karmic baggage weighing down your soul. "Now that I'm a Man Full Grown II", his latest Indian-style slide piece, picks up where Rose's side of the By The Fruits You Shall Know The Roots compilation left off. It accelerates slowly, affording plenty of time to appreciate his voluptuous tone on the lap steel before he builds to a thrilling breakneck climax and elegant denouement. Rose also travels to the mountain. He..s dedicated music to John Fahey, but here he finally records one of the man..s compositions. His version of "Sunflower River Blues" sounds regal, unflappable and complete in the way that, say, Rose's pleasant but somewhat hurried cover of Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground" on his first album was not. Truly he is a man full grown, and this is one of the best albums in any genre to come out in 2005. Bill Meyer
bowerbird@LANDMARKS is an ongoing curatorial partnership that expands cultural offerings in Philadelphia by bringing experimental and improvisational music, film, dance and other creative, genre-defying performing arts to historic sites in the region.
Showcasing the newest performing arts is nothing new for Landmarks' four historic, 18th century houses---Grumblethorpe, Physick House, Powel House and Waynesborough. These houses would often have been the locations for recitals of the most "fashionable" music of their time. Powel House which was the one of the most significant cultural and social centers of colonial and revolutionary Philadelphia. Events in the bowerbird@LANDMARKS series revive this long-lost tradition of intimate concerts, and provide an intelligent alternative for contemporary audiences.
What can you expect if you attend a bowerbird@LANDMARKS performance? You can expect to hear some of the most innovative, avant-garde music being produced by local, national and international artists. You can expect to be challenged to expand your definitions of music, and to leave behind your preconceptions. Each performance will involve some risk-taking by both the performer and the audience member, but if you come with an open mind, and we promise to provide you with a uniquely stimulating experience.