Blogs The Green Room On the Road

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company

Next Wednesday at 7 pm, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will hold a free, open rehearsal for their new Walker-commissioned piece Story/Time, followed by a Q&A with Bill T. Jones and the company. Story/Time is based on John Cage’s performance Indeterminacy, in which John Cage told 90 one-minute, unrelated stories in succession at the […]

Company Dancer photo by Paul B. Goode

Next Wednesday at 7 pm, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will hold a free, open rehearsal for their new Walker-commissioned piece Story/Time, followed by a Q&A with Bill T. Jones and the company.

Story/Time is based on John Cage’s performance Indeterminacy, in which John Cage told 90 one-minute, unrelated stories in succession at the same time as pianist David Tudor performed, out of earshot of Cage, selections from Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra and played pre-recorded tape from Cage’s Fontana Mix. The unrelated unison of sound and story illustrated Cage’s philosophy that music is “a purposeless play” which is “an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living.”

The entire John Cage performance exists as a recording you can purchase through Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, or you can listen to excerpts here (and see that the stories do indeed clock-in at roughly one-minute lengths). There is also a website that has transcribed all the 90 stories (plus more from other Cage performances/publications) to be accessed in randomized order.

For Story/Time, the stories are completely new and told by Bill T. Jones himself. The addition of choreography also sets it apart from the Cage/Tudor performance, which included only text and music.

I was able to catch part of a rehearsal today, and the piece—even at this early stage —has an electricity to it.  Cage’s “affirmation of life” shines through, and even better, Bill T. Jones has crafted Cage’s concept into a play less “purposeless.” Don’t miss this chance to see it free Wednesday, followed by the Q&A where you can ask Mr. Jones and his company questions about their creation process, a uniquely intimate opportunity to interact with an artist whose work and success shine so bright.

St. Vincent: Much Buzz

Yesterday St. Vincent had a show on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first musician to ever play there. You can see her in a little over a month here at the Walker, when she plays two back to back shows in the McGuire Theater on October 2—7 pm and 10 pm. […]

Yesterday St. Vincent had a show on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first musician to ever play there. You can see her in a little over a month here at the Walker, when she plays two back to back shows in the McGuire Theater on October 2—7 pm and 10 pm. This Walker show will kick off her fall tour, where she will play behind her new album Strange Mercy (out September 13).

The first video for a track off her new album just premiered. The song is called “Cruel” and you can watch it here:

The new album’s first single, “Surgeon” is a real doozy. Pitchfork recently called it a “powerful and cerebral comeback” and named it one of their Best New Tracks, read the review and listen here.

This video for “Laughing with a Mouthful of Blood” (off her last album Actor) is my personal fave and features two of the Portlandia folks, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, back when they were ThunderAnt.

Workshop and Open Rehearsal with Miguel Gutierrez

                          Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People (his company) are in town. At their free open rehearsal and Q&A next week, Thursday, August 4, at 8 pm, not only will Miguel Gutierrez be performing, but he will be joined in performance by, notably, […]

Miguel Gutierrez (far left) during a 2008 rehearsal at Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People (his company) are in town. At their free open rehearsal and Q&A next week, Thursday, August 4, at 8 pm, not only will Miguel Gutierrez be performing, but he will be joined in performance by, notably, Ishmael Houston-Jones and K.J. Holmes, as well as Michelle Boulé, Hillary Clark, and Luke George. Houston-Jones is a Bessie-award winning performer, author, teacher, and arts consultant whose choreographic work includes multiple collaborations with iconic queer novelist Dennis Cooper, and K.J. Holmes is adjunct faculty at NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing whilst exploring simultaneous projects as an independent dancer, singer, poet and body worker. This is a cross-generational choreographic project jam-packed with talented people, and there isn’t even room here to expound on the dazzling resumés of Michelle Boulé, Hillary Clark, and Luke George.

Miguel Gutierrez himself is known primarily for his work as a choreographer and dancer, but he also has investigated a “choreography of the human voice” and recently wrote a book of poems/”Performance Texts” that Eileen Myles thinks is great.

Rather than overshadow this blog with the amazing accomplishments of all the Gutierrez Powerful People, let me say that Miguel Gutierrez’s work is explosive, sexy, spontaneous, and subversive. His recent piece Last Meadow  “mixed movement and words from James Dean’s three movies to look at the myth of America the father, and confusion as a potentially transformative, sensory-enlivened state.”

If you are a mover of any kind, Miguel is leading a workshop this Saturday! And for everyone: the open rehearsal and Q&A is next Thursday. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until Fall 2012 to catch Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People here when they debut And lose the name of action.

Backstage and on the road with a Rock the Garden PA

  The number one question I hear when someone finds out I drive the bands around at Rock The Garden is: “How the (expletive) can I get a job like that!?” Actually, the process is quite simple. Deep inside the corridors of The Walker Art Center is a small room that contains a broken golden […]

 

The number one question I hear when someone finds out I drive the bands around at Rock The Garden is:

“How the (expletive) can I get a job like that!?” Actually, the process is quite simple.

Deep inside the corridors of The Walker Art Center is a small room that contains a broken golden harpsichord.  When WAC’s Performing Arts department is in need of a nuanced and compassionate Production Assistant, they collectively brush their hands against a few specific strings. All you have to do is recognize the particular vibrations and meet them at the correct unspoken space and time. For me, the experience happened something like this:

Me: (cautiously approaching my buddies): “So… I think I’m gonna move to Minneapolis.”

West Coast Musician: (approvingly) “Prince is from there.”

West Coast Musician’s Girlfriend: (amazed) “Target is too…”

Naturally, I moved to town for yearly tributes to the gods of rock.

Today, my fellow PA Jesse Leaneagh and I will be picking up bands from the airport, listening to their stories of being on the road, answering questions about Minneapolis (“So, how many people live here?… How cold does it really get?”) all the while trying to prepare them for this ‘little’ midwest rock show that brings 11,000+ people and is an impressive orchestration of solid work from the Walker staff. They always leave quite  impressed with the event: the crowd’s enthusiasm, the a excellent outdoor venue, and especially the stellar Tech staff that bring them the best possible support.

We drivers have a little trick in our back pocket we like to call The Glory Lap. If a band needs a pep talk, nothing wakes them up after a long flight (aside from the Sugar-Free Red Bulls they request) than a drive around the perimeter of the site, starting with a view of the hill from the top. It’s a cool scene indeed, an impressive stage/vendor set up, with the skyline as a backdrop.

Since I probably won’t have this blessed job forever, I took advantage of an opportunity to document this experience. I will be posting from time to time throughout the weekend to give you the inside scoop. You, the reader, can ask yourself questions like, “What is it like backstage and on the road?” - “Do the artists sing in the van or ask for blue M&M’s?” or “Did this guy luck into this gig or is his presence more like manifest destiny?” And hopefully I’ll have the answers!

See you at the big show,

Dave Good

DG with Sharon Jones and Gabriel Roth at RTG, 2010

My Morning Jacket + Todd Haynes + Erykah Badu

Rock the Garden 2011 headliners My Morning Jacket performed last night at the Louisville Palace Theater and were joined onstage by Erykah Badu. The concert was live webcast via American Express’ “Unstaged” series, with Todd Haynes (recently at the Walker for the premiere of Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff) filming. If you missed the live broadcast, […]

Rock the Garden 2011 headliners My Morning Jacket performed last night at the Louisville Palace Theater and were joined onstage by Erykah Badu. The concert was live webcast via American Express’ “Unstaged” series, with Todd Haynes (recently at the Walker for the premiere of Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff) filming.

If you missed the live broadcast, MMJ’s VEVO has some high-quality videos of the performances. Below is MMJ and Erykah Badu performing the MMJ track “Wordless Chorus”- Pitchfork has the full story.

WACTAC chats with Tunng

  Marielle Foster of WACTAC recently interviewed Mike Lindsay, one of the founding members of the band Tunng, based out of London. Tunng will be performing tomorrow, Saturday May 7th at the McGuire Theater. W= WACTAC M= Mike Lindsay, one of the band’s founding members. W: The extremely reliable Wikipedia calls you “an experimental folk […]

photo Paul Heartfield

 

Marielle Foster of WACTAC recently interviewed Mike Lindsay, one of the founding members of the band Tunng, based out of London. Tunng will be performing tomorrow, Saturday May 7th at the McGuire Theater.

W= WACTAC

M= Mike Lindsay, one of the band’s founding members.

W: The extremely reliable Wikipedia calls you “an experimental folk band.” What sort of things (musically) do you experiment with?

M: Well, it’s a very broad term “experimental” and it can mean different things to different people. I guess in the early Tunng days we experimented with glitch electronica and unusual percussion (sea shells , bears toe nails, bells, bits of wood, keys) and we still very much use these elements. However, now we have expanded our sound with live drums and vintage synths which to other bands are perhaps the more usual line up. To us and to me as a producer it felt more experimental to be using electric guitars and synths because we never really had before.

W: What would you classify as “epic folk disco”?

M: Actually my friend coined that term the first time he heard the new album and I kind of liked it. I think its fairly self-explanatory, although I’m not sure any other bands are taking up the genre.

W: Snooping on your cover art and website I couldn’t help but notice the prevalence of sea horses… Is that your band mascot/an inside joke?

M: Hmmm. Well it’s only on this album and a single I think. The album is called “And Then We Saw Land” so there’s a nautical theme running through the record. And sea horses are amazing!! Especially the child-bearing men.
W: Where do you find inspiration for lyrics, tunes, etc?

M: Places we’ve been, people we’ve met, journeys accomplished, relationships failed, books read, drinks drunk with escapades to follow in the early hours. Hmmm well at least that’s where I get inspiration for lyrics. Everyone has their own method. I find with the music side of things that sitting in an armchair late at night with the TV on whilst playing guitar gives me “chordal inspiration” and then a dark basement studio lets me jigsaw puzzle it all together.
W: Have you ever been to Minneapolis (or Minnesota) before?

M: Yes, we came in 2007

W: If so, what was your impression? (fun fact: we had snow on Tuesday morning and by 4 o’clock it was all gone and about 15 degrees Celsius. I’m sure by the time mid-May rolls around the April snow will not be bringing May woe, no worries.)

M: It was cold!! I think it was March, so I’m sure we got a fairly good deal weather-wise, but I remember seeing overground tunnels between buildings so that in the winter people don’t need to step  outside. Very cool. Also an amazing record shop with a huge sign saying “applause.” Actually my desktop photo was me outside that shop in an “arms in the air” pose.

W: Where is the most exotic/unusual place you have played?

M: Tiranna island in the Arctic circle in the far north of Norway. 24 hour sunlight…whale meat… bands playing in caves. Some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.

W: Any funny stories about audience members?

M: We just played in Melbourne Australia in February and there were two girls about 18 years old right at the front of the stage singing along to every song SOOO loudly and out of tune that we could barely hear ourselves. The rest of the audience hated them. Then they did a mini stage invasion which was a little scary because they were kind of crazy. But man, we never have stage invasions so hats off to the Aussie young hot crazies. Afterwards they wanted us to write something on their arms and they said, “whatever you write we will get tattooed”!! This was worrying because my writing looks like a 3 year olds. I wrote something crap like “happy tunng night” and drew a dodgy face of a woodcat. There’s no way they got that tattooed
(I hope).

W: People always talk about what they look for in performing bands. What do you look for in audiences?

M: Well I guess enthusiasm is always great, fast nodding heads, true smiles. I guess it’s a two way thing. If we are sounding sweet and really feeing the wonky epic folk disco, then so will an audience. So then they should be head nodding and bouncing/beaming back at us. Oh, and loud applause when we come on stage is always a welcome feeling.

W: What are you looking forward to about the Twin Cities?

M: Well hopefully our old sound engineer from the 2007 tour called Matt Freedman will come and say hi. He lives in Minneapolis.

W: Thank you!

Tunng play Saturday, May 7th at 8:00 pm in the McGuire Theater, with special guests Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of Sea and Cake

Attend to Devotion

Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text  for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper […]

Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text  for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper Room joining the original score), Merce Cunningham; “and what gloriously severe dancing it is,” said the New York Times. The ambitious athleticism of the dancing has kept more than one reviewer in suspense; there is much at stake in this choreography, like the most difficult of figure skating jumps. Devotion‘s text, narrated in New York by Sarah Michelson, like William Blake evokes both the tone of a scripture and a pointed vulnerability.

Let’s pause here to mention that the two-week run of Devotion at the Kitchen last month was severely sold-out, with lines around the block steadily growing as buzz spread. Visual artists, curators, composers, gallery owners, critics, and downtown theater innovators were all there, mixing together as rarely happens in NYC,  to witness this coming together of two of the most iconoclastic purveyors of  contemporary dance and theater right now.

Let’s pause here also to state that while each Walker dance performance this season is unique in its own way, Sarah Michelson’s Devotion is the piece to see if you are most interested in what’s happening (and what’s happened) in the New York downtown dance scene. In other words, it’s more than fair to call this cutting-edge work (see again the art21 blog where artist Marissa Perel said that Michelson “pretty much defined what is cool. Period” ?)  not only for dance, but in theater; par exemple, Jim Fletcher, Devotion‘s Adam, is also the star of (Walker-commissioned in 2006) Gatz, which finally made it to NYC last year and which the New York Times said was “The most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade (which, gee, means this century too).”

Devotion will surely be one of the most remarkable achievements in dance this year. Sarah Michelson! We missed you so.

Devotion has been favorably reviewed by:

the Village Voice

the New York Times

the Financial Times

Dance Magazine

 

Gob Squad the New York sensation hits MSP this week

Gob Squad is the hit of New York’s Under the Radar Festival! I just returned home today from the exhausting, and sometimes exhilarating Association for Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference in New York, which now umbrellas four simultaneous performance/dance festivals, hundreds (maybe thousands) of showcase performances alongside dozens of panels, meetings, gatherings, and on the […]

Gob Squad is the hit of New York’s Under the Radar Festival!


I just returned home today from the exhausting, and sometimes exhilarating Association for Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference in New York, which now umbrellas four simultaneous performance/dance festivals, hundreds (maybe thousands) of showcase performances alongside dozens of panels, meetings, gatherings, and on the fly conversations with artists.

Within an hour of arriving there last Friday, three colleagues all stopped to tell me the same thing, Gob Squad’s Kitchen (you never had it so good) was the must see event. This mantra continued unabated over the next four days…of course these folks didn’t realize the show was already coming this week to the Walker.

The Walker first introduced the work of Gob Squad to Minnesota more than a decade ago. I travelled to Stockholm nearly two years ago specifically to see Gob Squad’s Kitchen, was totally knocked out by it, and I have been working on bringing the show to Minneapolis since then. Mark Russell, good friend and brilliant producer of Under the Radar Festival in New York, is also a fan of Gob Squad’s and didn’t have the chance to see this latest piece live. And, remarkably enough, Gob Squad had never yet shown their work in New York. I am grateful Mark trusted in my enthusiasm around the piece and was thrilled that it was such a hit with presenters and the public alike.

If you’re interested in new performance, theater, contemporary art and ideas, and of course all things Warhol – or, if you just want to have a great time in the theater – you owe it to yourself to see this unique, smart, joyous show.

Here is New York’s Culturebot review that I think captures it perfectly:

“If there’s one show that’s already played over the last week that’s generated real buzz, it’s Gob Squad. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked with has had nothing but praise for the London-Berlin based company’s take on Warhol’s filmic work…” Click here to read more.

I look forward to seeing you in Gob Squad’s KITCHEN this weekend!

– Philip Bither, Walker’s Senior Curator of Performing Arts

Click here for tickets to this weeks performance running Jan 13th-15th.

Juana Molina: Hear Everything and Feel Free

A friend recently shared this video medley with me: Juana Molina’s former comedy show, Juana y Sus Hermanas (!) The clips are funnier to me than, say, most SNL skits in recent memory, and I only speak un poco. Ms. Molina’s comic genius speaks a language of universal incoherence. Molina is better known in the U.S. for […]

A friend recently shared this video medley with me:

Juana Molina’s former comedy show, Juana y Sus Hermanas (!) The clips are funnier to me than, say, most SNL skits in recent memory, and I only speak un poco. Ms. Molina’s comic genius speaks a language of universal incoherence.

Molina is better known in the U.S. for her music than for television, which she left in 1996 to release her first album; it was a metamorphosis executed with astonishing aplomb, although the medium-swap was less radical to her than her (T.V.) fans. She grew up in a musical home, and her tango-player father has said in an interview (regarding the backlash of her switch from television to music) that “People are too conservative in what they think of as music, and I wanted her to hear everything and to feel free.”

Throughout her music career, Molina has elliptically re-envisioned the singer-songwriter paradigm, traversing to its farthest borders on her latest album, Un Día. But on her first album, Rara (currently unavailable), we find equally compelling albeit more traditional tweaks of the same theme. “En los días de humedad” (scroll up after clicking this link to download) has been on repeat for months now with me: the haunting, tremulous uncertainty at 0:38 and throughout, her voice at 1:03 and 2:06 capturing a delicate anguish with inertia. Her voice navigates unexpected intervals, the more oblique entanglements of song structure in general, and the vagaries of existence itself.

I saw Juana Molina at her last show in Minneapolis, at the Whole Music Club, and it was easily among the best shows I’ve ever seen, perhaps the best. It’s difficult  to explain why some live music is so much more essential than others, but for her Whole appearance, the groove—in all its moving, shifting, tapestry dimensions—was flawless, and belied the unique conceptual underpinnings of her harmonic understanding. She explains:

“When I started to write the songs for [the] record ‘Son’, a new element that may have been hidden for a long time appeared; the randomness of the combination of sounds in nature. Each bird has a particular singing; nevertheless this singing is always different. It is not a pattern; it’s a drawing, a sound and a mode, only a few elements that each bird combines in a new way each time.

In the same way, sometimes I chose to sing a melodic drawing I develop for the song. Verses are alike, but never the same (rios seco, no seas antipática) other times I chose to sing a repetitive melody. What changes here and moves randomly is, for example, a keyboard. It is like overlapping two different loops, with no synchronicity at all. One very rhythmic and the other one more loose. When you play both, at the same time, the loose loop will provoke a changing harmony, because their beats will never be in the same place. This causes a moving harmony.”

This video illustrates her moving harmony concept:

Juana Molina’s concert at the Walker this Saturday night  is a nice tie-in to fellow Argentinian and visual artist Guillermo Kuitca’s opening at the Walker this Friday night. The two even interviewed each other for the Star Tribune.

Tickets for Juana Molina are still available. Click here.

Eiko and Koma Coming Soon

As mentioned in this blog, Eiko & Koma’s retrospective launched last month, and will be making its way to the Walker starting in October. Mark McCloughan, prior Walker Art Center Performing Arts Intern, had this to share about Eiko & Koma: “As a Walker Art Center intern in the summer of 2009, I worked in […]

Eiko and Koma photos by Anna Lee Campbell

As mentioned in this blog, Eiko & Koma’s retrospective launched last month, and will be making its way to the Walker starting in October.

Mark McCloughan, prior Walker Art Center Performing Arts Intern, had this to share about Eiko & Koma:

“As a Walker Art Center intern in the summer of 2009, I worked in the performing arts department, supporting the wonderful staff as they planned events for the 2009-2010 season and beyond. One of the projects that was on the horizon for late 2010 was a residency by Eiko & Koma, two Japanese-American dancer-choreographers who have a long history with the Walker. Over the course of Eiko & Koma’s career, the Walker has been a great supporter, presenting and even commissioning new work from the duo.

Now, almost a year, later, I find myself working as an assistant to these great artists, who are gearing up to make the planned residency a reality. As part of Eiko & Koma’s Retrospective Project (which you can read more about here) the Walker has commissioned a new piece from the artists, which will take the form of a living installation titled ‘Naked’. Eiko and Koma have been hard at work over the last few months conceptualizing and designing the piece, and will spend the next few months asartists-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory building the installation before it arrives in Minneapolis in November.

It’s been really exciting for me to get to know Eiko & Koma, both through exploring their history at the Walker and assisting them with their current work. ‘Naked’ is shaping up to be something really special, and I hope many of you can make it to the installation in November to see the most recent product of the decades-long collaboration between Eiko & Koma and the Walker.”

While plans for their month-long installation here in November, Naked, are already in place, Eiko and Koma are exploring ways to add additional components to the piece. They’ve been chosen by United States Artists to participate in a unique fundraising strategy that may be “the first Internet site that allows direct public donations between art patrons and pre-selected artists” according to the Eiko and Koma website.

Part of their residency plans at the Walker also include a retrospective catalog of their work.

A final note of interest is that Eiko and Koma have put together a video anthologizing their entire body of work, nice for those new to the oeuvre. Check the first clip to see White Dance, with Koma “throwing potatoes with abandon” as Gia Kourlas wrote in the New York Times.

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