May 20th (friday) An Evening of Solos with
CHARLIE LOOKER, JOSHUA MARCUS, ERIC CARBONARA, and HELENA ESPVALL
Bowerbird Presents GATE
@ The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
ABOUT THE EVENT
Many artists manage to hover at the hazy crossroads of folk, world, underground, and even classical music - but so few bring the sincere authenticy as the musicians gathered for this evening. From the medieval inflected vocals of Charlie Looker, the raw Appalachian folk of Joshua Marcus, the contemplative guitar meditations of Eric Carbonara, and the unusually sweet Swedish Folk songs by Helena Espvall - there's clearly ghosts of familiar genres here - but only lurking in the shadows of something very original.
Charlie Looker has been active since high school as a composer, guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist and improviser, between the worlds of underground rock and art music. With roots in metal, modern composition, indie pop and Early Music, Looker's music has always worked to synthesize diverse influences. While his music has been performed by various ensembles, his primary focus has always been on his own bands which perform in grassroots contexts. Looker holds a B.A. in Music from Wesleyan University (2003), however he claims to be mostly self-taught.
From 2001 to 2007, Looker was a core member of notorious Brooklyn noise-prog-chamber cooperative Zs. In 2007, Looker formed his own band Extra Life to explore his singing and writing for the voice. Extra Life has released several albums and EPs, receiving wide critical praise. touring constantly and building a devout international following. In 2010, Looker also formed the group Seaven Teares to investigate folk and early music aesthetics and instruments. Looker's music has been performed at numerous international festivals including Primavera Sound, Moers, Kilbi and La Terra Trema and has been documented on labels including LOAF, Planaria, ThreeOneG and Sockets. In 2011, Looker founded Last Things Records, a vinyl-only label to release his ever-proliferating projects.
Looker's chamber music has been performed by the S.E.M. Ensemble (U.S.A), the Soozvuk Ensemble (Bratislava) and Yarn/Wire (U.S.A.). In 2005, Looker was awarded a fellowship from the Ostrava New Music Days Festival (Czech Republic), as a performer and composer. Other credits include work with Dirty Projectors, Tyondai Braxton, Mike Pride, Glenn Branca, William Parker, Dax Riggs, Christian Wolff and the Wordless Music Orchestra. www.lookerland.info
Philadelphia's Joshua Marcus has been quietly emerging, banjo in tow, as one of today's most intriguing songwriters. As a solo artist and with his group Fan of Friends, Marcus' astonishingly honest and powerful songwriting is steeped in Appalachian tradition and pre-AAA folk innovation. At the heart of his songs is the simple beauty and subtlety of a great melody. The strengths of Marcus' songs and live performance have led to increasing appreciation and critical acclaim (namely for his 2007 solo debut make/believe), a growing audience to play to, and most importantly, Marcus' own desire to engage and interact with his crowds.
On his latest full-length Reverse the Charges, a co-release from Contraphonic and Philadelphia's High Two Recordings, Joshua Marcus elevates all of the high points of his solo debut make/believe and confidently enlarges the scope and range of his songbook. On make/believe, Marcus collaborated with a dozen Philadelphia musicians within his community; for Reverse the Charges, Marcus broadened that community by setting out to record in various locales in various States, employing the services of just the right artists for just the right song. Marcus traveled the East Coast and Mid-West, working with over four-dozen musical friends and family, including artists such as Jack Ohly (bass), Amy Pickard (vocals), Megan Williams (violin) and members of The Lesser Birds of Paradise, Joy, and Red Heart the Ticker.
Marcus' traveling recording process informed many of the songs themselves. The end result is a beautiful enhancing of his musical palette and reach, while still retaining the musical elements that make him unique -- the lilting banjo, heartbreaking harmonies, sly lyrical phrasing. Reverse the Charges is Joshua Marcus' most musically moving and lyrically powerful recording to date. It marks him as one of the most engaging folk songwriters today, and a statement from an artist that has figured out what he wants to say and just how to fit it to tune. www.joshuamarcus.com
Eric Carbonara is a Philadelphia based guitarist, whose search for raw aural expression has led him far and wide – from noise & electro-acoustic music to taking deep root in the bounty of the wooden guitar.
Carbonara’s playing draws on the rich musical styles from Andalusian Roma-Flamenco to Hindustani & North African folk to form a kind of exalted pidgin style of playing that covers a wide emotional terrain from meditative calm to restless unease. He has developed a unique idiom of gypsy music for non-existent cultures by combining rogue self-taught, free-form classical and flamenco techniques with those learned from formal studies in India.
His live solo performances range from contemplative acoustic meditations to aggressively loud electric sets; both encompassing Carbonara’s ability to draw the listener in to his world, where his lyrical playing doesn’t just entertain but triggers a myriad of emotional responses.
Carbonara has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe promoting his releases on Locust Music, Majumua Music and New American Folk Hero as well as various self-releases for solo guitar and solo upright-chaturangui music.
The Paradise Abyss is Eric Carbonara’s newest album. Told in the form of solo instrumental guitar, Carbonara’s lyrical playing offers the listener seven personal autobiographical narratives. Written over two years on a friction peg flamenco guitar, Carbonara employs techniques borrowed from Andalusian Romany, Hindustani, North African, and Western Classical guitar music to carefully shape his thematic song poems.
The Rotunda is a West Philadelphia community-gathering place that is fueled by the belief that art is a catalyst for social change and that the arts can lead to the formation of meaningful partnerships between the University of Pennsylvania and surrounding neighborhoods. Over 300 events are offered every year, including live music, film, spoken word, theater, art, dance, education, youth programs, arts incubation, and various experimental genres. As an alcohol-free, smoke-free venue, The Rotunda provides a critical social alternative for all ages. At its core, The Rotunda is a shared space fostering learning, enrichment, and community support while empowering the public to present, produce, and promote their work.