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Music Production: Maurice Rickard
01/26/2006 Maurice Rickard: The Even Bigger Show


Announcement
First we had the BIG show. Then we had the BIGGER show. Now there's the EVEN BIGGER Show! How big is this show?

* Unfinished Symphonies rocking the joint with his witty, urbane musical musings on the not-so-cheap plastic organ

* The belly dancers of Wicked Temple, accompanied by the atmospheric tribal ambient music of electronic guitarist/ukulele player Maurice Rickard and electro-flautist Steve Sciulli

* As far as we know, the world's ONLY Knonono No. 1 cover band, Konono No. 2! If you dug K#1 at the Warhol, get ready for Pittsburgh's own fun-loving music luminaries to take a whack at duplicating K#1's extremely catchy, distorted groove. On board are Mr. & Mr$ Funky, Tommy Amoeba, members of Amoeba Knievel, the Stem Cell Liberation Front, and the Hope Harveys! How can you lose? Well, by not going to this show, that's how.

When is it? Thursday, January 26 at 9PM. Where? Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (right near Penn and Main in Bloomfield/Lawrenceville). Map. How much? $5. And it's 21+. See you there!

Report

Glorious. We had a buzz, we had an audience, and the vibe was right. Even the road-rage-addled cab driver doing 50 in a 25 zone couldn't spoil it. (The one unfortunate part of the evening.) Load in was a bit arduous, because I was carrying the keyboard and the new drum, a gift from a friend, so I did it in two trips, with help from one of our K#2 players.

Rob had said he thought we'd be in the house by 9 for a last rehearsal, with show time to start at 10, which seemed a bit late of a start, but he had called it exactly right. We had a few friends witnessing this, along with one actual audience member, and for a while I thought it was going to stay that way for the show, but no--after our rehearsal, people started pouring in. The rehearsal had some good portents, as well--Ami from Life In Balance was dancing to our rehearsal, so it seemed we were in fact hitting our groove. After this, Steve Sciulli and I did our brief soundcheck (brought a preamp for him, both of us through my PowerBook), and we were ready to go.

My conversations with people before the show kept being interrupted as even more people I knew showed up--the dancers, my friend Constance, other people we knew--and even more importantly, did not know. The buzz Rob got going in the City Paper was going to help us a lot here. The place ended up with a lot of people, in fact.

Rob's Unfinished Symphonies set was first, which he did in the personage as Bill Clinton. His ideal pop sense was fully on display, to the obvious pleasure of the crowd. I felt a bit guilty for continuing conversations, though.

Due to the late start, Rob wanted a quick changeover and a short set, so we figured on doing a half hour. Steve and I were ready to go, so we gave the dancers the heads-up and began. As of this writing, I've yet to listen back to the performance, but my overall perception at the time was that a) I was glad Steve was there to contribute on flute, as he was supplying some really strong melodic lines and textures that the piece needed, and b) I myself was rather rusty in using my system, not always coming up with compelling ideas, and sadly missing opportunities to loop Steve's lines at the best times, or to process things in interesting ways. But then I'm often unsatisfied with how I'm playing. I was at least careful not to break the rhythmic flow for the dancers, so that was a positive thing. The dancers, of course, did a great job, or so it seemed to me, when I could see them to the left or right of the K#2 music stand blocking my view of the floor.

At the end, we got a lot of applause--or, perhaps, the dancers did, and we just basked in it. Still, it was neat. (If weird for me at the time--I seemed to want to keep making acknowledgements and announcements, rather than wait the appropriate interval for the applause to run its course.)

A bit of a break, some congratulations from friends, and soon we were back on as K#2. When hitting the drum (double-headed Indian drum), I'm always a bit worried about hurting my hands, because I don't know what I'm doing. I figured out some methods that weren't hitting the edge full-force, but which still allowed the head to ring, so that helped.

In addition to the drumming, I'd also be adding psychedelic keyboards from time to time. Many of the K#1 songs are in the same key, so what I'd do is turn the PowerBook's volume down, hit a few distorted metallic keyboard notes into the dub delay on infinite, and let the ostinoto go, turning up whenever there seemed to be a hole. On a couple of the tunes, I took a full-out solo. Nice. At one point, Mr$ Funky addressed the dancers, asking if they'd consider just following her around and dancing as part of her life--another ringing endorsement. So we had a good groove, a good vibe, plenty of applause, and money from the door. I even dropped three CDRs. Quite a good evening.

11/12/2005 Maurice Rickard: Arts in the Autumn, Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills

Announcement
I and the belly dancers of Wicked Temple will be taking our act up to Pittsburgh's North Hills, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills' Arts in the Autumn festival. While the festival goes for three days, we're playing on Saturday the 12th, from 3-4 PM (the festival runs from 10am to 10pm on Saturday, so definitely come to spend some time. )

I'll be playing atmospheric tribal ambient music on electric guitar and electric ukulele through the PowerBook, and I'll also have CDs ffor sale. The dancers of Baya will do co-ordinated dancing as a group, as well as individual solos. Expect mesmerising dance, trance-inducing music, and an open, contemplative mood. See you there!

2359 West Ingomar Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237, (412) 366-0244. Saturday November 12, 3-4 PM. Map

Report
Well. There are gigs, and then there are gigs that remind you of why you're doing gigs in the first place. This one was quite glorious, with the most attentive, receptive, welcoming, just all-around pleasant audience I've had in a long time.

It was a bit of a busy morning (and hey, quite a musically busy week), dropping off Patricia and the boy so they could attend a family party later in the day, and I got some work in, as well as putting in a string order at the Acoustic Music Works (I'm almost out of D'Addarios) before hightailing it up 279. Google Maps, oddly, suggested a really circuitous route, and the church's own directions were much clearer, so I went with those. After a lot of "Is this it? Did I miss it?" moments, I got there just fine, and started loading in. Nice building, lots of friendly people asking questions about what I was going to do. On my way back out to the car for the second load, the dancers called, looking for directions. In a sign of how the day was going to go, one helpful member of the church community stepped up, got on the cell, and guided them in, no problem.

I brought in the rest of the stuff, and loaded into their meeting room, which is a large octagonal room with a lot of light, and very good sound. I didn't have direct boxes to plug into their PA, but I'd known this in advance (good communication), so I'd brought the Pignose amps as a fallback, which would work pretty well at the lower volume we'd have here. I set up, answered a few more questions, and by the time we had all three dancers, everything was ready. The room had an encouraging number of audients.

We were given a brief introduction, and then Amy and I explained what we were going to be doing (in her case, mixing the dance styles; in my case, why uke--it's an instrument originally from Portugal, and stringed instruments near the Mediterranean have a Middle Eastern heritage). And we were off! As with the RCT solo show, I started with the kind of thing I'd been doing, and gradually introduced more "modern" electronic beats, got minimal, remixed my stuff on the fly. Shortly after we started, there was an influx of more people. I'm not surprised to see people leaving during a set (I've played some really inappropriate venues), but seeing people flood in was nice. I know the dancers are the main draw, but I wasn't chasing anyone out.

A few technical problems cropped up--I had a bad ground going to one Pignose at one point, but reached over and corrected it, and the Pignoses crapped out a bit on some low bass notes, but overall this was good. I was able to watch and play to the dancers, I could hear myself, and people were into it. I was a bit concerned about being too samey, but the remix section varied things enough.

Amy had mentioned that they'd wanted not to have to dance the whole time, so we came up with the idea that they could go out into the audience at the end and encourage them to dance, and it worked really well. One could feel the point of attention in the room broaden, and people did get up to dance. Rather than end it here, they did a few more solos, and I slowly faded my loop. We were done, and it was overall pretty good. Not only that, but we made some decent donations (split among all of us) and I dropped six CDs. They asked if we'd like to come back next year, and of course I'd be glad to do it. A really good experience, all the way around.

Rather than go straight home, I had a party to get to, so I continued North, hopped on the Turnpike, and headed East, watching the light fade and enjoying the glow of a very good (and early!) gig.

11/10/2005 Covers: Victoria Williams

A friend asked me to do this back in the spring, and what with everything going on in my life, I wasn't terribly productive on it. Part of the problem was picking a track (I find the Van Dyke Parks production on her first record--first couple of records?--to be impenetrable, so there's not much of a way into those songs for me), although once I recalled "You R Loved," I knew I wanted to do it. It's simple enough, so it was mine to screw up.

I worked out the chord progression pretty quickly, but the question then is one of interpretation. Just me playing the tune in the same arrangement doesn't add anything to the cultural marketplace. OK, different playing style and a much lower vocal, but that alone wouldn't make such a version worth listening to. So, what to do? This question lingered nearby for months.

Gradually I started thinking of doing a Silkworm-influenced version, in part because I love that band, and in part out of thinking about the tragic death of Michael Dahlquist. This wasn't an appropriate tribute to that great man, however, especially as I tracked the guitars to a boom-chick MIDI drum track. It was clearly not going to work.

Well, what about a uke version? Or alternating uke and guitar? Maybe...not. Those didn't work much, either. Finally I started thinking I'd slow it down and do a Bedhead-influenced approach, with three guitar tracks playing minimally, then getting denser on the second chorus. I did a few takes of these, and they kind of worked in a loose way.

Some weeks later, I figured I'd track the vocal, and picked an evening when I'd be alone in the apartment, to avoid losing a take to unplanned sounds. This was, alas, a hot evening in August, and the windows were open, so I wouldn't be able to sing it at full power. I'd have to keep things quiet, which led me to thinking that the piece should be even slower. I did a number of vocal takes, trying to get a handle on this, hit some licorice root tea (great for sore or fatigued throats, which is a real problem for me, as my voice has decent tone, but very little durability), and kept at it. My biggest problem was on the high notes, which I'd ordinarily hit by taking the volume up, but with the windows open, I wasn't about to do that, so I kept to a lower range. I also thought to pull out the old Astatic crystal mic, which I used on several additional vocal takes on another track. It seemed kind of cool to do these alternate takes without listening to the regular tracks, to avoid tight unison. Finally, the Astatic shorted out, and that was the evening. I still have to solder it.

I did a mix of this session which the tribute organizer liked, but I just wasn't happy with the vocal and decided to retrack. More time went by with other things, and listening to this again, I realized that the problem wasn't the vocal, but the guitars, which were too dense. I went back and redid them around the vocal, and ended up with three takes that weren't bad, and often complemented each other, but which also sometimes clashed. Rather than retake, I just punched out the problematic notes, and suddenly I had more space. When all three guitars hit at the same time, there's a nice piano-like tonality. I went back through the vocal takes, and among the later takes were indeed better vocals.

Some nights later, I looked harder at the MIDI drum track, and added some changes to it as the song went on, so that it was a bit less mechanical and more like an actual drummer getting bored playing the same thing, and adding little touches here and there. Still, something was missing, so I dropped in a Hammond-like drone behind everything, and I had something...almost. One guitar note really bugged me--it was either sharp or flat, and it was important, so I couldn't just notch it out. I split that note out and raised and lowered the pitch, trying to find the problem, finally deciding it was six cents flat. Then several mixes, trying to balance everything right, and we were done. Next day, off in the mail, and the organizer (and her cats) liked it. (Strange, because I usually scare cats.)

A few days later, I listened to the original and realized that I'd dropped a third iteration of the bridge and chorus, but oh well--my version was already plenty long from being so slow. So I really was done, and you can hear it here.

11/09/2005 Remixes: Thrilljockey

A few days before this, a friend emailed to point out that there was a little contest going on over at Thrilljockey. While I've been intensely busy, it made sense to throw something together, so rather late the night before the due date, I pulled a bunch of the Thrilljockey stuff in the collection (Tortoise, Brokeback, and Tom Verlaine's Warm and Cool, which has been reissued on this fine label. I grabbed a few loops I liked (notably the drum beat from "Seneca" on Tortoise's Standards, some classic TV moments from "Saucer Crash" and "Sor Juanna," and some other nice stuff), dropped them into Ableton Live and an hour or two later, had something worth checking out.

Then I went back and read the rules again--they didn't want .mp3s necessarily, but were mainly looking for lists of pieces to play simultaneously (or instructions as to who to offset them). OK, so I overachieved. I wrote out a recipe, more or less:


Seneca from Tortoise - Standards
Saucer Crash from Tom Verlaine - Warm and Cool
Glass Museum from Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Lives of the Rhythm Experts from Brokeback - Morse Code in the Modern Age
Flat Handed and on the Wing from Brokeback - Morse Code in the Modern Age
Dear Grandma and Grandpa from Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Sor Juanna from Tom Verlaine - Warm and Cool
The drum beat a minute into "Seneca" goes with the organ drone of "Lives of the Rhythm Experts," embellished by bits of "Saucer Crash" and snippets of "Glass Museum." Bring "Sor Juanna" in at 20 seconds, and scroll around through the solo of "Saucer Crash." Then layer the drones of "Lives of the Rhythm Experts" and "Dear Grandma and Grandpa." End everything but "Dear Grandma and Grandpa," and layer over it the end of "Flat Handed and on the Wing."
I included a link to the mp3. After a week or so, I saw that someone from Thrilljockey had checked it out, and the next day I learned I'd gotten one of the second place slots. (I got the OOIOO canvas 12" record tote bag, and they threw in a "from the desk of Helen Bach" notepad.) More notably, they linked to the .mp3, so it's cool for me to link to it here.

In retrospect, the second quote from "Saucer Crash" toward the end was a mistake, but overall it hangs together rather well, and I really like the ending combination of the Brokeback and Tortoise drones. Thanks to Thrilljockey for digging it, too. And, hey, free tote bag.

11/05/2005 Jandek Night: at Kiva Han

Announcement
Any Jandek fans near Pittsburgh are encouraged to start polishing up one to three songs for the third annual Open Mic Jandek Cover Night. Anyone can show up and play, but you have to cover a Jandek tune. Let's face it--there's enough in the oeuvre that you can surely cover something.

When: Jandek Day (Saturday, 11/5/05), 8PM-whenever (we'll likely be over by 10:30, so you can still get to Ubu at the Regent)
Where: Kiva Han coffee house, at Forbes and Craig (by the Carnegie Museum), Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Who: mainly you, I hope, though I'll be doing some covers myself.
How much: Free, but buy something to show your support for this fine independent business.

There'll be a small PA (two small amps, but it's all we need), and I'll have microphones and a place to plug in an instrument. The space is way too small to accommodate a full band, so solo acts are best, though in a pinch we can handle a duo. I'll record the whole evening, and later we can get you CDs. I'll also have a Web browser open to Seth Tisue's fine Jandek site's lyrics page, so you don't have to worry about memorizing. So come on by and do a tune or two in tribute to Houston's International Man of Mystery.

Kiva Han, Forbes Avenue & Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. 8PM. All ages, FREE. Anyone can come and perform, but you have to cover a Jandek tune. Map here: Map


Report
Well this was quite the glorious evening--"another victory," as Mr. Funky likes to say. The evening didn't start so well, though, with my having to circle around quite a few times before finding a parking space. Apparently there was some big to-do in Oakland, but I was oblivious to it. The thought did cross my mind, though, that Jandek Night might be overrun with people who expected Jandek to be there, and who would be bitterly disappointed and angry that I hadn't arranged it. Luckily, the most likely scenario was the right one, and we were largely ignored.

After I actually parked and got into Kiva Han, I saw that Unfinished Symphonies was in the house (at least his keyboard was), so that was a good sign. As for others, no one yet, and it was about 10 minutes to show time. Still, that was ok, as I hadn't set anything up yet. I was carrying a somewhat heavier rig than usual, with both the now-resurrected EHX pre and the backup DMP3 for vocals, two mics, small mic stand, and Line6 DL4 in addition to the usual. And that extra Pignose amp as the other half of the PA. Quite a load.

I set up the pseudo-PA and the other gear while we waited for audience and other performers, and people did indeed filter in--J-night regular Justin, Bob from the Gothees, one young gentleman with whom I've been working on some drone/doom metal, and a student from Carlow and a friend of hers. While she didn't know anything about Jandek's work, she's in an experimental/electronic music class, and attended this event as research for a paper. It seems that this was on the list of approved events compiled by the professor, which surprised me. It was almost like a mark of legitimacy for this humble guerilla event. (It'd be interesting to read the resulting paper. Or maybe it would be full of brutal truths.)

I was hoping that J-night regular John Eastridge would appear, but it was not to be. On the other hand, we did get Weird Paul and My Boyfriend the Pilot, who had promised to perform something. We'd have at least three mini-sets, possibly four, so off we went.

Rob started his set with a Jandekian keyboard version of the Beatles "Birthday"--with slow drum machine rhumba, on the assumption that J-Day was Jandek's birthday. (I've heard from some people that it's October 26 or 27, but seriously, it might as well be J-Day for all we know.) Very nice. He followed this up with a straight, upbeat pop version (with a bit of a Burt Bacharach twist) of "No Slow Ones" (Telegraph Melts), and he finished with a solid bluesy B3 version of the new Khartoum's "New Dimension." His vocal delivery on this was just perfect (including the audible smile on "I'm the vulnerable kind"), and the keyboard was glorious. Seriously, listening back to these versions, particularly the last one, Rob's genius just leaps out of the speakers. Very well done. Keep an eye out for any Unfinished Symphonies gigs, and maybe he'll slip one of these Janky tunes into the set if you ask nicely.

Paul and Min were up next, and needed a bit of a tech hookup--they wanted to use an additional backing track on Min's PowerBook, but I didn't have any additional 1/8" stereo to 1/4" cables. No problem--I could transfer it to mine and drop it into Live through a computer-to-computer 802.11b network...right? Oddly, I couldn't set it up to use hers as the host, but I could set up mine as the host and transfer that way. It may have killed the momentum a bit, but then that's the nature of J-night--if anyone can come and play, then I just have to deal with the resultant curveballs. It was well worth it, though, as they did a hilariously theatrical "Painted My Teeth." Paul hammered on an appropriately tuned $8 electric (powerful pickups--I had to bypass the preamp), which had a paper plate attached to the headstock, to which was affixed a photo of the young Jandek from Follow Your Footsteps, while Min held a La Joconde/Medusa painting in front of her face. Paul delivered his lines with a beautifully unhinged enthusiasm, and they dropped in some beautiful ad-libs ("Charles Schulz painted his teeth!" "What the fuck? You stupid dumbass!"), all to a powernoise-processed loop of Jandek and John on drums. At the appropriate moment, Paul pulled out a marker and, yes, painted the teeth of the Jandek photo. Nice.

We talked Min into doing a solo piece, but since she had the backing track in Garage Band, we just mic'd her PowerBook, which had to be kept low or else it was feedback city. Still, even against these obstacles, she turned in a fine, stirring pop/disco/symphonic hair metal version of "Wild Strawberries" (Six and Six).

I did my set on uke this year again, starting with "Janitor's Dead" (very similar to "Niagara Blues"), and again used the Line6 to hold down the rhythm playing while I soloed. I bungled some things, like closing the loop a fraction of a beat too soon, and having a bit of a hesitating vocal delivery. Fairly early in, my hands were pretty sweaty, which undermined my sense of oneness with the music a bit. The solo wasn't bad, though, and I definitely got applause playing part of the solo with my teeth and again when I got up and held the uke up to the Pignose speaker for feedback. After this point, my vocal was stronger, too, so perhaps I just needed more rehearsal or something. Afterwards, Rob observed that he was afraid I was going to smash the uke, what with the Hendrixian teeth-playing and feedback. I had, however, two more songs to do, so that wouldn't have been too cool; also I don't believe in smashing instruments. Or, rather, I believe the practice exists, but I don't agree with it. I'm fairly sentimental about my instruments, actually.

Next up I did "Open E," which was similar to last year's "Carnival Queen," but my voice was in better shape this year, and my uke playing on this, while simple and minimal, was effectively wandering, alienated and "other"--not quite Byron Coley's famous "notes get picked like scabs," but it worked. It's a good song.

"Only Lover" is a favorite for me, but I think I didn't do it justice this year. I'd sped it up a bit too much, and my vocal isn't quite hallucinatory enough, plus there are a lot of wrong notes in the end section. Oops. Still, I had some moments--the sostenuto on the "so" of the "cantaloupes" line, and a few other places when I slowed time a bit. Overall, though, too perky, or competent, and not enough invested in the fever dream of the lyrics.

And we were done by 9:30 or so--another sucessful gig. Quite the victory, in fact. Glorious, even.

I played some actual Jandek for the room while I packed up the gear. It turned out that most of us were heading to the Regent for the live Pere Ubu film soundtrack, though I dropped the gear at home first before going over there with Rob. That was a good performance, too, although I don't know if it hit the peaks of Jandek night. One thing's for sure--if someone had dropped a bomb on the Regent, Pittsburgh's cutting-edge cultural live would have been wiped out...though as Rob observed, Pittsburgh wouldn't have noticed.

10/27/2005 Maurice Rickard: At Kiva Han

Announcement
The weather's getting colder, nights are getting longer, and we're all wondering just where the hell summer went. What to do about this? Well it's a Thursday evening, so let's belly dance, just like we used to at the Blue Light District events. This time we'll be in Oakland at the Forbes and Craig Kiva Han (so you can warm yourself up with coffee, tea, chai, vegetarian entrees, all kinds of things), and we'll be inside (so no cold bellies).

To make this clear, I myself won't be dancing--the dancers of Baya will be doing that. I'll be playing electric guitar and ukulele through the PowerBook, as well as triggering ancient and modern percussion patterns, remixing my performance on the fly (just like the recent WRCT live show), and flogging my latest CD. And Baya will be doing a special Hallowe'en dance they've worked up (for which I did a remix--good thing I'm sending this so I know to bring the remix), so you don't want to miss this.

Forbes Avenue and Craig Street, Pittsburgh (Oakland--right near the Carnegie). 7PM. FREE, though we'll be passing the hat, or veil or something. All ages. Directions here: Map.

Report
A good evening, actually, but at the time it was a struggle. The night before, I worked on expanding the rhythm tracks I was using, particularly in the remix section, and developed a fairly high level of complexity at times. I did something similar before my solo WRCT performance, which had gone well, so I thought I'd try it here, too.

I gave Mr. Funky a ride down to the venue, and we struggled with parking. What's with Craig Street? It didn't used to be this bad. So we were running a bit late, but setup would be quick--instead of futzing with the Kiva Han PA, I'd be going right into the two little battery-powered Pignoses, so that was convenient, although I'd have to worry about exceeding their bass frequency.

Once I got into the performance room, I did have to ask a couple at one table if they'd mind moving. When I mentioned belly dancers, they resolved to stay, which was nice. I set things up and tuned, which went smoothly. Now all we needed was the dancers, who did arrive one by one, and in fact we'd have a new dancer as well. Excellent! We also were joined by Ryan in the audience, and it was nice of him to drop by, especially as I couldn't make it to the show he'd done with a new band a few nights before.

We made our entrance together, and I noted that there was now a hipster woman sitting right up front, not facing the performance space. I figured she'd either move back or we'd chase her out; we'd find out soon enough. I tweaked the volume, which people said was ok, and off we went. This set was unusual compared to the Blue Light District sets, as I actually could see what the dancers were doing. On the street, they had to be to either side of me, and it was often difficult to watch what I was doing and to follow them too.

I set up some loops and textures, and observed some walkouts, including the hipster. Either the volume was too high, she didn't like the music, or she just wasn't in the mood for belly dance. Most others stayed, though, even though some of the sections got a bit too loud in my estimation, and I should have notched down the PowerBook volume a touch, or the Pignose volume. (I did pull down the volume in Live whenever it seemed high to me, but it would have been better to get it right from the beginning.)

Some sections seemed to work reasonably well, others not--notably some attempted key shifts in a bass line that just didn't work with anything else going on, some loops that I think I'd left on a bit too long. My transition to the remix section wasn't particularly smooth, either--I was hitting one or another control in Live, and it just wasn't responding. Instead, the audio froze mid-bar, and when Live recovered, parsed it all as a stop command. We got applause. Nice, but oops. Rather than have to start over in a new setup, though, I advanced to the end of this arrangement and started the remix section, clumsily. Also, some of the nifty pitch shifting sections ended up waaaaaay too loud here, so I had to crank back on them in a way I didn't have to at RCT, for some reason. Some of the new rhythms were too bassy for the amps to handle, so they farted out at times, and the new rhythm arrangements got to seem too dense to me. Overall, I was concerned that the thing didn't hold together, and was mere noodling.

There were moments of playing that I liked, though, and both Mr. Funky and Ryan seemed to be getting into it. We didn't lose any other people, also, so that helped the vibe. We got to about 40 minutes and stopped--that's long for a dancer's set, but a bit short of what would be a full set for me. One of the dancers couldn't make it, so we couldn't encore with the Hallowe'en dance, but even so, things were good. We hung out, got some coffee and desserts, and all chatted for a while. Some of our audients were with the new dancer (mother and sister), and they bought one of my CDs, which was nice. (I'd been very slow on the person-to-person sales of late.)

A bit after eight it was time to move on, so Mr. Funky and I checked out the new and promising bar in the old Penn Cafe space--now called Brillobox. Perhaps late this year or early next will see a show there. And perhaps with dancers, as well.

10/20/2005 The Stem Cell Liberation Front: WRCT: a live show

Announcement
Now expanded to a quartet, the SCLF rides again! We've added Steves Sciulli and Pellegrino (on flute, lap steel guitar, electronics, accordion, melodica, and overtone singing, respectively) to the core group of Ryan Sigesmund (drums, percussion, keyboard) and myself (guitar, untuned guitar, ukulele, electronics). We'll be doing the live WRCT show on Thursday October 20, 9-10PM EDT (GMT-4).

We'll be doing a structured improvisation in which we play in all the different combinations of players--that's 15 different performing units, packed into one hour, the changes and station breaks being cued by a Javascript I've written. Don't like what you're hearing? Wait three and a half minutes, and it'll change. Like what you're hearing? It'll change anyway. Join us for this improv experiment.

WRCT, 88.3 FM Pittsburgh, or over the 'net at http://www.wrct.org/ 9-10PM EDT (GMT-4).


Report
An unlikely victory. The experience of playing this show was a bad one at the time for us--technical problems that distracted us and put us in generally bad moods, and we didn't lock the way we're capable of, but given our lack of rehearsal (complex lives) and the bad experiences, we actually rose to the challenge rather well, and we really came together in places.

Load-in was 7:30, and we all converged pretty much simultaneously. Steve Pellegrino said, "What kind of band is this? Everyone's on time!" Things were generally relaxed with a slight edge, which is usually the ideal state of mind for me to be in, pre-performance.

In setup, I got to the point of tuning the guitar, so I powered everything up and plugged in headphones, only to hear--wow--quite the ugly buzz from my gear. This had to be a bad cable, so I started unplugging audio cables to find the fault, when wham--I got quite a shock from the Electro-Harmonix LPB2ube preamp. Maybe I had a ground loop going somehow, but at this point all my powered gear is new, so everything's either wall warts, polarized plugs, or three-prongs. Was I plugged into a bad outlet? We tried another, and--I got shocked again. The chassis was live with current. One of the selling points of this box is that supposedly there's 300V of current on the heaters of the tubes, so (if the marketing verbiage is correct) this wasn't something to take lightly.

OK, it was 40 minutes to airtime, and I had to do something. What I did was call home and ask Patricia to grab the solid state M-Audio DMP3 preamp and its adaptor, and I'd be by in a few minutes. In ten, I was home, got the pre, and was back at the studio in another ten. Things wouldn't sound as good (on guitar, anyway--for mics, it's a darn nice little preamp), but at least I wouldn't die.

At this point we were close to airtime, but we didn't have much of a soundcheck, though, as the crew didn't finish mic'ing Ryan's drums until a bit after 9, so our monitoring was compromised, and we were plagued by feedback throughout. Since we started late, I kept our intro short, and decided to skip the mid-program station ids. After the intro, we all were off and rolling...somewhat more quietly than I'd expected, but then we had no soundcheck during which we'd get the throat clearing out of the way, and gain a sense of how to start.

The piece was conducted by a Javascript I'd written, which led us through all the different combinations of players, including solo sets, duos, and trios, with the beginning and end covered by the full band. The script was randomized, though, so the order would be different from one performance to the next. The script printed the current player's (or players') name(s) in large letters, with a smaller block listing what the next set of players would be, and another block showing available time left in the current section. For the record, the score this time was this:

1: Pellegrino, Rickard, Sciulli, Sigesmund
2: Pellegrino
3: Sciulli
4: Pellegrino, Rickard, Sciulli
5: Pellegrino, Sigesmund
6: Rickard, Sciulli
7: Sigesmund
8: Rickard
9: Sciulli, Sigesmund
10: Pellegrino, Rickard, Sigesmund
11: Pellegrino, Sciulli
12: Pellegrino, Sciulli, Sigesmund
13: Rickard, Sigesmund
14: Pellegrino, Rickard
15: Rickard, Sciulli, Sigesmund
16: Pellegrino, Rickard, Sciulli, Sigesmund

During that first section, we were fighting feedback, and during Steve Pellegrino's solo (what struck me as a kind of Mongolian funeral rite for his late father-in-law), the engineer came out to adjust mics. The theory was that the 421 on Steve Sciulli was the problem, so the engineer went to adjust it, and popped it out of the clip, from where it dove down onto Steve's PowerBook, scratching the screen and putting a dent in the case. Ouch. His solo set was up next, and he laid down some beautiful processed shakuhachi. (I didn't realize until later how bad the damage was.)

We moved on through the sections, with some moments being particularly rewarding: Steve Pellegrino's use of the Whammy pedal on accordion, at times sounding like a pedal steel; Steve Sciulli's lap steel and flute and sense of texture, Ryan's grooves (sadly his softer playing didn't really come through on the recording, and my moments on untuned guitar, using the uke as a mic to pick up Ryan during his solo for later looping, and the act of just having us all got through this thing. Some not-so-good things: my being out of tune (particularly on the uke) with Steve's lap steel, and the constant struggle against feedback, as well as an occasional sense that I was just dragging down the process. But we got through it.

Afterwards, Steve Pellegrino was upbeat, having turned in a really good performance, and being excited about the composition in general; the rest of us were not so enthusiastic about our own playing, and about the personal misfortunes that had befallen us. We loaded out, waited around for the CD copy of the show, and decided to head to Gooski's for a beer (though Steve Pellegrino had to get going). Out in the garage, the first evidence of disjuncture: Ami called Steve to say that she really enjoyed it. On the way to Gooski's, I listened to the CD, and...it wasn't as bad as I'd thought. A phone message from Mr. Funky was congratulatory. Hmm. How about that.

We'll do this one again, I'm sure, and tighten it up. Good result, not so good experience, but the next one should be better.

09/22/2005 Maurice Rickard: WRCT: a live show (Maurice Rickard and Death Pig)

Announcement
The iTunes Store! WRCT 9/22!

I was going to delay these announcements until I got everything moved over to the new email list program, but since my solo appearance on WRCT is this week, it's best to get this out now.

The iTunes Store!
First up: My latest disc, Music for Dance, is now available for purchase on the iTunes Store! Just fire up iTunes (admit it--you were running it already) and download that sucker.

Considering that Apple's holding the line on low download prices (link), there's no reason not to buy! Download copies for everyone in the family. Plus if you're belly dancing, you'll get in better shape. How can you lose?

It's also available in shiny disc-shaped form from CDBaby and from Tower Records, believe it or not. Hey, it was news to me. As always, you can also download it from onezero music, where prices are so cheap, I'm almost paying you.

Live on the Radio!
So that's right--I'll be returning to WRCT: A Live Show, doing a half hour set of the atmospheric yet friendly belly dance music I've been doing of late on electronically processed guitar and ukulele. Can I make this work without dancers in the room? Maybe those of you out there in radioland can dance to it at home. That may be enough. There's only one way to find out, though.

The second part is looking like more abstract beat-oriented IDM. I'll also do a set of my no-input abstract soundscapes--that's right, the return of Death Pig! Very few people have actually seen a Death Pig set, and you won't this time, either...but you can hear it. You owe it to yourself.

This will be a live, in-the-studio performance over the radio (88.3 FM), which will also be streamed over the 'net at http://www.wrct.org/ in both .mp3 and .ogg formats. Even if you're in Pittsburgh, you might want to tune in over the 'net, though, as a transmitter failure on September 6 has signnificantly reduced their range. Thursday, September 22, from 9 to 10 PM EDT (GMT-4).

Report
Well this was a whole lot of fun. I scheduled the SCLF for a gig in October, and it also turned out that the Live Show crew really needed someone to take on the first show of the term, so I volunteered to do a solo set. As prep, I wanted to give myself some additional channels for noise, and add some new percussion lines. I wasn't too attracted to the idea of filling an hour with the kind of stuff I've already done, and I didn't want to get partway through the set only to find I was out of ideas. I'd always rather have too much material than too little, so I thought of this second section, in which I'd remix the first. I added some deep bass drum beats to one channel, and sparse percussion to another; it all seemed to work in rehearsal.

I'm glad I did one of these in-studios with the Funkies in January, as I realized I could load in from the loading dock--not so important with my usual light rig, but add all the Death Pig pedals in there and it gets too heavy to do in one trip or over long distances. My January experience also helped me find the station once I got inside (some people who work down there have no idea where it is). I loaded in, moved the car (free parking in the nearby garage after 5), and came back in to set up.

I'd brought the music stand for the PowerBook and the preamp, so that I could reserve their table for the DP effects, and that plan worked out as I'd hoped, although I had to be careful not to whack the guitar's head into the table. My own sound check went well, and then we learned that no sound was going to the console--turns out, someone had removed the batteries from the DIs. That fixed, we got levels and were ready to go 15 minutes before showtime. I chatted a bit with Jason (Underwater Culprit) and got focused, although I felt pretty focused already.

Showtime came, and I started with the usual belly dance rhythm and volume swells (well I am technically promoting a CD that people haven't heard yet). I kept my 20-minute time limit in mind, and quickly brought in uke, grabbed some loops, reversed them, advanced through the various traditional rhythms and variations. The reverse uke--and reverse-half-speed uke--worked quite well.

I'd thought that some Television-list people might be listening, so I felt a bit more comfortable playing melodic guitar lines, and got somewhat spirited at one point. Also helping was my inclusion of the pitch-shifting delay, set to two delayed octaves, which gave me a canonical bassline to play against. Quite exciting in the moment. The most "solo-y" solo I'd grabbed as a loop, and so was able to scrub over it immediately. One mistake here was that I'd ended on a series of one-per-bar low E hits, which worked well enough in context, but when I looped just that section, it quickly got out of sync and didn't sound so hot.

At 20 minutes in, I signalled a shift so that Jason could do a station ID, and I slowly introduced more noise without breaking the flow--buffer overrides, hard gates on the percussion, and introducing the newer bass-heavy patterns and sparse percussion patterns. I did play some guitar in this section, but generally it was obscured by the buffer override. I'm pretty happy with the result--it generally was a good twisting of the first section, more spacious, more abstract, the new percussion section is actually kind of atmospheric, and the new beats maintain the groove well while being distinct from the previous belly dance patterns. What didn't work here was that I occasionally leaned too heavily on the buffer override manipulation (scrolling between parameters; often I should have just left it in one place), and I should have had more variations on the groove of this section--as it is, it's kind of a steady-state thing. Overall, though, I'm excited about this direction for future shows.

After 20 minutes of that, I signalled another change, started taking out loops, and fired up the Death Pig rig, arming recording on a separate input channel in Live. As often happens with DP sets, I didn't have audio at first, and left one loop running to cover the silence. Of course, it wasn't a constant loop itself, so there were a few dead air gaps in there, but that's the nature of Death Pig. Overall a rather quiet set, but atmospheric and at times even harmonious. There's actually a lot of stuff in there to like, including an ominous bass ostinato. Some of this may see the light of day at some point.

A brief announcement from me and one from Jason, and we were done. While I packed up, we chatted and the staff prepared a CDR of the show, which was ready by the time I was back to cart out the second half of my gear. Quite a successful show, I thought, though I don't know how many people heard it--at least two for sure, so apply your standard listener multiplier. A good experience, and I'm looking forward to doing the October show with the SCLF, and possibly some other events here in the Winter term.

09/20/2005 Maurice Rickard: Music for Dance on the iTunes Store!

My latest disc, Music for Dance, is now available for purchase on the iTunes Store! Just fire up iTunes (admit it--you were running it already) and download that sucker.

Considering that Apple's holding the line on low download prices (link), there's no reason not to buy! Download copies for everyone in the family. Plus if you're belly dancing, you'll get in better shape. How can you lose?

It's also available in shiny disc-shaped form from CDBaby and from Tower Records, believe it or not. Hey, it was news to me. As always, you can also download it from onezero music, where prices are so cheap, I'm almost paying you.

08/18/2005 Maurice Rickard: Live at the Blue Light District, South Side, Pittsburgh

Announcement
It's time for another belly dance gig on the street on East Carson, for the Blue Light District night. Once again we'll have excellent dancers working in traditional, tribal, and modern dance idioms, and I'll be playing variations on the percussion-heavy guitar/uke/PowerBook improvisations. I may even have found a way to reduce the distortion out of the little Pignose amp, but I'm of two minds about this--if I went cleaner, I might lose that nifty Konono No. 1 vibe. In any case, check it out.

Thursday, August 18, 7-8 PM. 1102 East Carson Street, South Side.

Report
This was another fun one--as with the Co-op show, we brought the baby along to show off, as this would be an outside show with my control over the PA.

As prep, I'd reconfigured the percussion tracks, adding some more "modern" patterns, and also spreading the patterns over three channels, so that I could play up to three simultaneously. The result is a constant rhythmic flow, without the jarring transitions that have been bothering me. I have to offset the sample quantization from one bar to a half bar, though, so that I can get more complex interaction between parts. Works nicely, although when I want to start my own recordings right on the bar line, I have to remember to change it back.

As with the last gig on the street, we had two dancers, and this time they added zils to the arrangement, which I quite liked--I like the sound of them, and they fit very well into the percussion arrangement. I played some things I liked, though perhaps the real advance on this one was the constancy provided by the offset rhythm patterns. I saw an old tourmate across the street, and felt oddly disoriented when it turned out not to be him. A few photos were taken of the dancers (and me with them; my appearance in them will be chalked up to new-parent tiredness). Our friend Mary Ellen dropped by, and we followed up the show with an early social night out with the boy.

08/13/2005 Life In Balance: Live at the Ellsworth Music, Dance and Arts Showcase

Announcement
Given how well our set at the Food Co-Op street fair went, I'm once again joining Steve and Ami of Life In Balance for a set at the Ellsworth Music, Dance and Arts Showcase on Saturday, August 13, on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Steve and Ami are invigorated after their western tour, and playing at a whole new energy level. Their latest piece for dance is really quite stunning, and this one's not to be missed.

As ever, I'll be playing electronically processed guitar and ukulele. In keeping with recent shows, rehearsals, and mindsets, though, there will be a pronounced surf/western vibe to what I'm doing. ("What?" you may be asking, "How's the ukulele 'western'?" Consider the American West to be a kind of continental extremity, and then remember that Hawaii is even farther west than that. And while there's no surfing in Nevada, there's plenty of surfing in Hawaii, so it all fits.)

To complete the cultural cross-pollination, we're looking at bringing some of the dancers I've been working with as well. Come on down--it's free, all ages, and takes place at a reasonable hour (7-8 PM). And you can check out plenty of other performers and vendors of all types. How can you lose? Well by not dropping by. See you there.

Saturday, August 13, Ellsworth Avenue at College, Shadyside (in front of Eons). 7-8 PM.

Report

This was an aesthetic victory over bad circumstances. Things started reasonably well--I went down in the morning on bike to scope out the performance site, and was surprised at the size of the stage platform and the number of seats. This really was the main stage. I was also happy to learn that parking for performers would be both conveniently close and free, for reasons that were quite clear when I came back with the gear--lots of people around, and street parking largely full up.

I looked around for Steve and Ami, but couldn't find them, and went into the VIP tent to set up my gear as much as I could so that the move to the stage would be quick. While I did this, the dancers who were performing then (quite energetically) would run in, throw off their outfits, throw on the next outfit, and bolt out the door. I'm really not sure why people seem to think that "backstage" is a glamorous place to be--it's usually pretty utilitarian, and in this case about a million degrees due to the heat and the necessity of keeping the tent closed. Fortunately there was a large cooler full of bottled water, to which we helped ourselves.

I caught up with Steve and Ami, and once the dancers finished, we brought the gear up to the stage, being extra careful with the bowls. I set up to one side, we did the check (with some concern for uke and bowl mic feedback), and waited a bit for the time to start.

As the set began, things were going well--there were a few familiar faces in the crowd, and a general good vibe. We began with "United Dream States," on which I contributed a sort of baritone line on the E and A strings, but didn't want to overplay. I couldn't hear myself in the monitors as well as I'd ordinarily like, but I was able to deal with it. The next piece was more ambient, and I concentrated on volume swells, and then we went to pick up the energy. I started in on the belly dance stuff with Steve and Ami contributing, which seemed to go well, although as the looping went on, my lines were even lower in the monitor, and for playing uke I was relying on hearing what I was doing acoustically.

We'd assembled quite an audience by this point, and we moved into Steve's latest dance piece in three sections, at which point the deluge started--the rain just poured down, scattering our audience to whatever tents or overhangs they could find. Still, we kept going, even as the wind whipped rain around the stage. We played harder, and Steve ran around the stage with his wireless mic, asking people "Are you experienced? Are you experienced?" and it was awesome. It struck me that the appropriate response was to play uke with my teeth, so I did (which people commented on later). The guitar lines were less successful--I wasn't able to monitor the electric guitar acoustically, and I'd pretty much disappeared from the monitor. (Was this because of the deliberate uke feedback I had made a couple times? Still, it was in tune...) Had I been able to monitor the guitar, I would have realized (as I did later, listening to my own recording of my contributions) that the top two strings had gone out of tune in the moist air.

The rain slowed and we got some audience back, and we ended on something of a high. Lots of applause, and requests for encores (which, due to scheduling, we couldn't fulfill). So it seemed like quite a success overall, even with the rain. What we weren't prepared for, however, was the World's Dumbest Stage Hand, who immediately and without warning started poking the tarp over the stage with a long pole, dumping the water off it. OK, so he didn't want the stage supports to collapse, but he could have given people a heads-up before he dumped the water. He came very close to dumping it on everything of mine (he drenched the open flap of my gear bag, inches away from everything inside) and did the same to Steve. He wouldn't hear any complaints, though, as he barked at us and berated someone on the other end of his cell phone call. He also came close to drenching people walking alongside the stage, and on reflection I wonder if all this was just deliberate assholery. Certainly the mood was bad, as the two helpful stage hands (women) were also being insulted by the sound guy. Bad scene.

We got our equipment out of there without further incident, and I received some congratulations from friends (though--again--no sales). I did hang out with Steve and some other friends, checking out Lenora Nemetz's show tunes set, although eventually I had to get rolling for dinner and home. Ultimately a good night, even with TWDSH going around with his malicious pokes.

07/23/2005 Life In Balance: live at the East End Food Co-op

Announcement
Steve and Ami Sciulli of Life In Balance just returned from their Western tour, and they're doing an outside gig at the Co-op. They've also invited me to sit in, which I'll do even though I'm on for a gig tonight. 1PM at the East End Food Co-op on Meade near Braddock, behind the Factory shops at Forbes & Braddock.

Report
The first of two gigs in one day, and our son's first concert, since Steve would be in charge of the PA and I knew he wouldn't make it too loud. All the music gear and the baby gear fit in the Mini, and it wasn't a long drive anyway. A very hot, clear day, which was beautiful, and I didn't have to worry about the sun as they'd put up a tent over the stage. I set up and tuned (silently) right as Steve and Ami started their set, and stood off to the side while they played part of their regular set. Steve has also been working on more danceable pieces, one of which got a tryout this previous week at a festival, and which I was psyched to hear.

Our first piece together was more ambient, but I was looking forward to opening things up--and we did when Steve started the backing track for the new piece. It really is a hot track from the ground up, and engaged our attention in a really good way--Steve was full of energy, wandering around with his wireless headset, going up to people and playing flute right in their faces. Ami brought the drones up as she played the bowls with more intensity, and I let loose with some Western surf-like twangy TV guitar parts. Quite fun, though we did get asked to turn down a bit. We ended to quite a bit of applause, and one young man came up to me as I was breaking down my gear, saying that he'd heard we were good, but our being this good made quite an impression on him. Nice, although I can't take it personally--the reputation belongs to Steve and Ami, and while I did contribute the surf guitar, Steve's groove really pushed us to a new height today.

For some reason, I can't seem to move many of the Music For Dance discs yet, no matter how many people I engage in conversation. Other notable highlights: running into various friends, getting to show off the boy, sampling some of the interesting vegan and vegetarian selections at the Co-op, getting lunch, and picking up some groceries. Quite a pleasant afternoon, great peformance by Steve and Ami, and an overall good vibe, though we had to get rolling by 4 so I could prepare for the next gig of the day.

07/23/2005 Maurice Rickard: live at Zenith Tea Room

Announcement
This is a private gig--a bachelorette party for one of the members of the belly dance community. I like mentioning this to male musicians, though--their eyes get wide, and they offer their services as roadies. It's unlikely to get particularly wild while I'm there, as this is in a public restaurant, and the real festivities will probably take place afterwards, at which point I'll be home.

The plan is for me to play a short set of varying tempi, and then cede to another dancer's pre-recorded soundtrack. After that, looks like I'll be fed--the perfect evening for a musician.

Zenith Tea Room, 86 South 26th Street, South Side, Pittsburgh.

Report
The second of two gigs in one day. We'd done some rehearsal for this, since the dance was more choreographed than the way we often work, and there'd be a changeover at the end, so that two guest dancers could do their own choreography to a CD they'd brought.

It turned out that the performance was a surprise for the woman whose party this was, and it was neat to see her reaction. The other patrons seemed a little surprised themselves, and kept watching the dance while trying to look like they weren't. For the performance itself, I was actually prepared for a lot longer of a set than we ended up doing. I hit the usual landmarks, but made some changes in the guitar and uke sampling, grabbing shorter phrases more frequently, and having them overlap more. I didn't want to vary the tempo much, though, as I didn't want to throw anyone off. The dancers formed a semicircle, and individuals would step out for solos, and I expected that everyone would take one or two solos. I was gearing up for a next major variation when I saw the cue for me to end it, but no problem. So I shut off loops and the recording, and watched the two guest dancers do their planned set--quite elaborate, and fast. And the vegan dinner and conversation afterwards were also very good, and by 8 or so I was on my way home.

07/21/2005 Maurice Rickard: Live at the Blue Light District, South Side, Pittsburgh

Announcement
It's time for another free, all-ages live belly dance gig for the Blue Light District. We start at 7, and go for a half hour or 45 minutes. Expect new beats, a different flow, as well as the atmospheric electric guitar and electric ukulele you're used to. Come by and say hello, or just bask in the electric uke vibes.

1102 East Carson Street, South Side. Map.

Report
Another pleasant evening doing the dance music--the weather coöperated, the dancers were enthusiastic (though regrettably one of them injured a toe on the concrete), and Jim Brenholts stopped by to check out the scene live.

I wanted to change some things up for this set of performances, so I thought I'd move through several different tempi--speed things up as they got more intense, slow them down to give the dancers a break. In practice, I adjusted the tempo too quickly, and it struck me as more than a bit jarring when I did this, rather than a smooth transition between sections. Still, particularly in the fast sections, things were different enough that I did some playing I rather liked, and perhaps some of it's releaseable. (I haven't yet gone back and listened to it, though.) The dancers liked the set, as did Jim, and we grabbed a coffee afterwards for debriefing. Still no sales resulting from this, but it certainly is an enjoyable evening out.

06/25/2005 Maurice Rickard: Media Tonic 2 at PFMI

Announcement
This is the Really Big Show of the summer: performance artist/accordionist/drywall whisperer Stephen Pellegrino is putting on a massive live show around his piece "Calling Mr. Conrad" as part of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Media Tonic 2. Steve will be playing, of course, but there will be other acts as well, since the whole thing's going from 7 to 11:30. I'll be doing at least two sets (one guitar/uke-through-the-laptop, and possibly one all-feedback or all-drone set), if not three or four total, when you count collaborations. There will also be a number of non-'Nyayzar acts, too, elsewhere in the building. (Including, I've just learned, John Doe of X.)

As Mr. Conrad was the Pittsburgh-based developer of commercial radio, there is a radio theme going on--it's station NYZ, broadcasting from the alternate dimension of 'Nyazar. In fact, while the musicians and other performers are in one room, the performances will be broadcast via microradio to radios elsewhere in the building. Pretty slick, huh? But wait, there's more: we'll also be incorporating visual performers, including belly dancers, a radio-only mime, and other diversions.

So mark your calendar and start setting aside your spare change: for this evening of entertainment (including a whole range of non-'Nyayzar stuff going on elsewhere in the building), you'll be ponying up $15. If you only have to spend $15 at the Filmmakers this year, make sure it's this $15 at this event. We'll see you there...on the radio.

477 Melwood Ave, Pittsburgh, 15213 - (412) 681-5449. Map.

Report
This had the makings of a significant show, but a series of negative events tends to wear one down. For an evening show, load-in was oddly early--I met Steve down there at 10:30. I planned to bring my gear later, but for the morning I helped Steve set up the room--arrange tables/chairs, set up a background, test the transmitter, etc. Steve had asked which direction foot traffic would be coming from, so we arranged the performance side of the room to face the door, and allow people to come and go freely. We put down dropcloths as the background, and also mounted one as a backdrop--not bad looking.

I returned home, sat out the hot day, did work, and prepared for the show. For quite a while I've been threatening to do an Earth-inspired drone piece, and put the EH Big Muff Pi distortion in the bag. There were snags, though: ironing my shirt (dress code) made the place as hot as it could possibly be, and as I was heading out to the car, I noticed the shirt was stained. Great. I hadn't been able to make dinner, either, but at least there would be food at the venue for the performers, I'd been told.

Various frustrations of the day had built, and on the trip down I realized what state of mind I had attained. In Zen practice, there's what's known as "beginner's mind." In my case, I had attained what I'll call "blow me mind," the state in which one's first reaction to any bad or even inconvenient news is simply "Blow me." At the Melwood Screening room, I had to park waaay back in the lot and schlep the gear all the way. On the way I ran into Mike Yaklich, who'd be drumming for us, and we commiserated. Turns out we were pretty much in the same frame of mind.

We got our performer badges, and arrived at the installation room to learn that we'd been told to set up...facing in the wrong direction. Most of the foot traffic would be at the entrance immediately behind us, and if people wanted to come in the audience-friendly door, they'd have to go down to the end of the main hallway, take a turn down toward the restrooms, tack back along a rear hallway, and somehow find us. There was no way we were going to have time to break everything down and move it, so we put a map on the door, and hoped that people felt like following it around to the back hallway.

At this point I could either snag some food and a drink, or be a professional and set up my gear, so I opted for professionalism to guarantee that I'd be set up by showtime. When I was done with my setup and went in search of the food tables, though, they were pretty much depleted. The staffers tried to be helpful, directing us to other tables, but those too were depleted. There was, apparently, plenty of beer and wine, but I didn't want to be impaired for our sets. In the end, I scrounged a few vegetables, a small amount of cheese, and a petit four in the hopes that this would be enough to get me through the evening. Indeed, others weren't so lucky.

We didn't start at doors-open time, there being so few people who made the trip around to the back hallway, and we started essentially an hour later, with a bit of an audience. We had yet another musician with us--a young man named Luke, who'd be on guitar. He happened to have his own EH Muff, and was apparently quite open to experimentation. There--that was one good omen. We did some old 'Nyayzar favorites, as well as a couple new pieces of Steve's and it went down well, although we had audience members drifting out moreso than in. Another good omen--the Funkies drifted in and checked out a chunk of the sets.

The plan was to play several sets through the evening in different combinations, so after the first piece I had a bit of a break, and wndered around, checking out the other installations. The food was not replenished anywhere, and there appeared to be no plan to restock.

Back down in the performance room, it was soon my set, so I busted out some of the belly dance stuff. I seem to have held people for a while, but most of them moved on--was this the fault of my playing, or was it just the smorgasboard nature of the event? Parts of what I did were pretty good, and Steve jumped in after a while, which was nice. The gradually dwindling audience irritated me, though, and I took out some cumulative frustration by ripping out some more direct, overdriven, less textural modal lines--probably the straightest I've ever played in public.

After some other combinations of players, Steve announced a break, but since I'd just returned from one, I volunteered to do the fuzz drone piece I'd wanted to do, and Luke was willing to join in. I announced notes to him (based on the cycle of fifths), we droned, I grabbed loops for additional texture, and we gradually chased everyone out of the room except for a couple stalwart listeners. It was nice, although unfortunately the recording I made of my signal chain doesn't include Luke's contributions. The next step is to work out more of a structure to this, and do it with the large group.

Things seemed to wind down during the next round of performances, though people were still walking around, and I quickly set up to do another belly dance piece, which was pretty much ignored--what draws them in on the street apparently does little for the Filmmakers audience. After a command performance for Steve's wife Mary, our hungry and grumpy crew broke the gear down and called it a night.

06/16/2005 Maurice Rickard: Live at the Blue Light District, South Side, Pittsburgh

Announcement
The last few belly dance gigs have gone so well, I'm doing yet another, this one once again outside of Ethnic Artz, a fascinating store on East Carson Street. Things get started at 7PM. The event is free, the dancing excellent (ranging from traditional to tribal to modern), and the music richly textured percussion samples, live electric guitar, and haunting desert uke. I'm serious about the uke, too. You'll dig it. See you there.

1102 East Carson Street, South Side. Map.


Report
About a week before this show, I'd gotten an email from a gentleman who plays ukulele, and who'd be in town for the Senior Olympics (table tennis), and who wanted to meet up. I'd figured that he'd done a web search on Pittsburgh and ukulele in order to get my name, and we worked it out that one of his available times was during this show. So not only would I have a gig, but I'd have a chance to meet a more experienced uke player, and with any luck I'd pick up a few pointers or techniques. If I was really lucky, he'd dig the set.

I'd had a number of things going on this week, and there was a possibility that scheduling for the day would be difficult, but things worked out--I was significantly early for the show, got good parking, the weather was clear and warm, and I was in a good frame of mind, even without having done one of these shows in a few weeks.

Rather than rent another preamp, I thought I'd bring a long extension cord and siphon some power from Ethnic Artz, and that worked out, even though I was pretty much at the outer limit of the extension. Since I was so early, I did a leisurely setup inside the shop and chatted casually with the owner and a few customers, as well as a photographer who'd taken many of the shots displayed (and for sale) in the shop. He was a musician himself, a keyboardist, who apparently has quite the array of gear at home. In talking about what I was doing (guitar and ukulele for belly dance), he mentioned to someone that he thought it was a "stupid" idea (um, gee, thanks) until he heard it (oh, well, thanks). So I take that as a compliment, I guess.

Eventually a few dancers came by (as did the vegan baker--people, you have to check this out) and we started setting up. As I was running my gear outside, I noticed one older gentleman coming up on the scene and checking things out; my vibe was correct--this was ukulele player Dick Jeffers, in from Houston. I asked him to hang on to my little $27 Mahalo uke while I set up, and of course he was welcome to try it. I'd mentioned that it was quite a low-end piece of gear ("good" ukes start in the low hundreds), but he liked it--I knew it sounded good and played well in my limited uke experience; apparently it compares respectably even for people who are playing more painstakingly made instruments.

I did my soundchecking and tuning (headphones, as usual), and answered a few questions asked by some prospective audients, and soon it was time to get started. Off we went, and my end of the set wasn't bad, although I'm a bit bothered by the feeling that I'm just going over familiar ground here and not pushing things, as for me Music seems to appear most frequently when I'm on the edge of something new, not knowing what I'm doing. Maybe it's the heightened attention that I have to have in those cases, and, lazy being that I am, turn off when I don't absolutely need it. This kind of slacking is something I need to train myself out of. So it was a reasonable set, though there were more bad notes than usual, so it seemed (guess it's the feeling of pressure, playing for a real uke player). I was afraid I was boring people, but may not have been--for one thing, the dancers had said they'd be dancing for a half hour or 45 minutes tops, but we seemed ready to blow past that, and I brought things to a close at 10 to eight.

I packed up, loaded the car, and Dick Jeffers and I joined two of the audients for an excellent Thai dinner at Thai Me Up, several blocks up Carson, where discussion ranged across several topics, but concentrated on ukuleles and Dick's lifelong experience with the instrument. Afterwards, we did get a chance to play ukes back down at Ethnic Artz--more of a uke lesson, actually, as Dick ran through several of his arrangements of classic tunes ("Jeepers Creepers," "42nd Street," "Button Up Your Overcoat," and others). Quite an education for me, and it's obvious why he's in demand as a teacher and performer. Very good guy, too.

At 10 or so, the owner had to close up shop, so we said our goodbyes, and I was home shortly thereafter. One of those evenings that justifies why one does all this.

05/22/2005 Maurice Rickard: 26th and Smallman, the Strip District

Announcement
Sunday's edition of the dance performance, at 26th and Smallman in the Strip District (Map). Dancing will be from 10-4, and I'll be playing from 1 to 2. Come on down and check it out.

Report
Day two of this street festival, and it went rather smoothly. Same spot, same set of people, but this time we set up in the opposite direction to get any foot traffic from Smallman Street, as there seemed to be fewer people in the middle of the blocked-off street.

My performance was about par, although I worked in a rather neat little key change at one point. Unlike yesterday, we took a few breaks rather than running straight through the hour. During the last set, we noticed a local news cameraman and reporter filming us; as would inevitably happen, I was playing a particularly uninteresting guitar part during this segment, and by the time I'd picked up the uke, the camera was off. Ah, well. Still, after the set, the reporter came by and got names for the segment, if it were to be used. She pointed out that she was an intern, and had no editorial pull, but any publicity is good. It doesn't count as publicity, though, if the segment isn't used. They weren't covering the street fair, but a robbery of the Spaghetti Warehouse, which was across the street from us.

After we broke things down, I picked up a tasty vegan dessert at the vegan baker's table, and agreed to meet up with the dancers at the South Side Beehive for debriefing. Before leaving, though, I had an interesting talk with someone who was helping out a painter with a nearby booth--he'd rather liked the set, and had notably wide-ranging musical tastes. Cool. I packed up the car, headed over to the South Side, and consumed yet more vegan desserts with the dancers before we were joined by--surprise!--the baker again. A neat group of people, and it'll be interesting to keep working with them. Should you come out to these shows, with any luck the baker will be there. Highly recommended.

05/21/2005 Maurice Rickard: 26th and Smallman, the Strip District

Announcement
Considering how well last night's dance performance went (even with the rain!), we're doing two more this coming weekend, at 26th and Smallman in the Strip District (Map). For music, expect some IDM-ed up hand percussion samples, ambient guitar, and haunting, ancient ukulele. The dance will range from traditional to freeform, with anywhere between four and six dancers in full costume. Much like last night, there *will* be a tent, so weather won't be a factor, although it's supposed to be nice.

Dancing will go on from 9-5 on Saturday, and from 10-4 on Sunday. I'll be playing from 1 to 2 both days (about the battery duration I can be sure of across all the devices at this level of activity). I will have CDs for sale, including this recent music for dance. So come on down and check it out. Or make like a number of people last night and drive by, honk, hang out the window, and shout incomprehensibilities as your car speeds past. Either way, it's free. See you there.

26th and Smallman in the Strip District (Map). 1-2 PM, all ages, free.

Report
This show was one of those triumph-over-adversity shows. While loading the car, I dropped the uke--only a cosmetic scar, thankfully, but it definitely freaked me out for a minute. I'd realized right before leaving for the show that I'd probably not have a table for the PowerBook, but I could swing by a music store and pick up a heavy music stand that would work. (Steve from Life In Balance introduced me to this concept--thanks, Steve!) I had to stop by a store anyway to get a new strap button for the Kalamazoo, as I noticed last night that the one at the base of the guitar had cracked. I guess 38 years of setting the guitar down on its base was too much for the old plastic part. I hightailed it to Pianos 'n' 'at, which in fact did have both chrome strap buttons and heavy, foldable music stands. I bought the widest one they had, which did in fact turn out to be exactly the width of the PowerBook and the preamp--score!

I jammed back downtown to get to the venue, a corner in the Strip District, and made it about 10 minutes before showtime. We'd be under a tent offered by friends of the dancers, who were showing off some sculpture and fashion items, and who were extremely welcoming and friendly. (Thanks for letting me use your space!). This was good--I could keep the sun off the PowerBook screen; otherwise I'd have a difficult time seeing what I was doing. I set up in one corner of the tent, but then it was decided to move the stage to the other side so we'd get more foot traffic from the festival, and be seen by people who'd sat down at the food area. So I moved my stand, and the PowerBook almost took a dive off it, but I caught it in time. Close one.

We started playing, and it went pretty well. I'm still a bit dogged by the little Pignose speaker clipping on loud bass frequencies, but I can't complain--it's performing great for its small size. The set I played was roughly equivalent to the one I did this past Thursday--not bad, but not possessing the compelling center of the set from May 18. You really should check that out.

Why the internal disconnect? In live performance there are a lot of variables to have to consider, and there were a few extras for this outside show: for one, despite the bright sun when we started, there were a couple instances of actual rain during the set, and the dancers got soaked. I was under the tent this time, but it made things difficult for them and for my tent hosts, who lost a vase of flowers to the wind, and had to keep adjusting the tent's side panels. Another complicating factor was the band who were to perform after us. They set up and started jamming on half-assed classic rock covers while I was still playing. I guess their thought was something like "Duuuh, girls! Dancing! They'll dance to our stuff...because we, uh, rock." I persevered, though, and we finished the set. Talking to the dancers and the vendors later, I found that they too were quite irritated at the band, and said that what I was doing was much better, which was nice to hear.

I broke down the gear and loaded the car up, and we all dispersed--none of the dancers stuck around for the next band, who in fact probably did not get a chance to play in the heavy downpour and lightning storm which started a few minutes after we all left. I suspect that with their huge PA and plugged-in amps, they had to forfeit, as well as losing any audience they might have had. Bad day to be them.

On the way out, I listened to my pre-mix CD of the rehearsal from the 18th, and I'm really enthused about releasing this one.

05/19/2005 Maurice Rickard: Live at the Blue Light District, South Side, Pittsburgh

Announcement
In another move in my tour of non-traditional performing venues, I'll be accompanying a troupe of belly dancers at the Blue Light District event on the evening of Thursday, May 19. We'll be performing in front of Ethnic Artz at 1102 East Carson St. Should be fun. Rehearsals have been very promising--I'll likely do several layers of atmospheric guitar parts, looped over each other live, along with semi-IDM treated hand percussion samples. I'm probably also going to sneak in some pieces I'm working on for another project. Sonicly, it'll be rather like my Whole Health Expo set--only this time you'll have more to look at than just a guy hunched over a laptop.

See you there!

1102 East Carson Street, South Side, outside Ethnic Artz. All ages. 7-8PM.

Report
The portents were good on this one. In the event, a righteous victory over adversity, although the musical advances were made the day before.

A while back Steve from Life In Balance mentioned that he'd been talking with some belly dancers about doing live music for their performances, but wouldn't be able to make all the gigs, so would I be able to do something like that? Since I'd done music for belly dance before, yeah, it seemed like a fit. The downside? All of the upcoming gigs were outside with no AC power, so I'd need to be on battery. The PowerBook was fine for this, and I could borrow a Pignose 20 amp from Steve Pellegrino, but I'd have to work something out for the preamp.

So I got in touch with Amy, the main dancer of this group, and she was enthusiastic. The first rehearsal went well, and the dancers in general dug what I was doing (basically a retread of what I'd done in June of 2004, but new to them). In the rehearsal space, the Pignose had a surprising amount of balls--just turn that thing up a quarter of the way, and off one goes. For that one, I remained plugged in, though, not sure of how much battery life there'd be, and needing to plug in the preamp. Do note, though, that if you buy one of these rechargeable Pignoses, follow the instructions about charging the batteries. It's been working well for me, but I think a lot of people may ignore the documentation on it. They're lead-acid batteries, and you need to keep them charged or they'll die permanently. Like I say, I've been lucky, but I've also been careful about the recharging. In practice, if well cared for, they have a pretty amazing battery life, in fact, so it's worth preserving.

The day before the rehearsal, I opted to rent a Bass Sansamp from Pianos 'n' Stuff. At first I thought I might just haul out the Big Muff (hey--it's battery powered), but a test proved that while it was glorious, it wasn't appropriate for this stuff, since there was no clean option. I'm tempted to do an Earth-like sludgecore/dronecore project with this thing, after I hit it with some contact cleaner. But in the meantime I needed to check out my other, cleaner battery-powered options. Turns out there wasn't much to buy down in the price range I wanted, but rental was extremely cheap--$5 for the few days I'd be using it, or $10 for the whole month. I'd brought the guitar, the PowerBook, and headphones so I could check out how they actually sounded, and the guitar Sansamp seemed to subtract a lot of tone in its amp simulator circuits, while the bass Sansamp sounded more like the actual instrument. So I went with that.

Steve Sciulli showed up at Pianos 'n' Stuff to hang a bit while I checked out the scene, and we discussed the sheer level of gear he has to carry around--this just for a flute player. Back in rental, he picked up a mandolin and just messed around with it, but still displaying his usual high level of musicality. I observed that if he started playing mandolin, he'd probably end up needing a semi for all the related gear.

The Wednesday rehearsal (May 18, the day before the gig) was to be a tryout of the all-battery setup, and it all performed surprisingly well. In advance of this (and following up on a suggestion from Beth, another of the dancers), I worked up some traditional drum patterns and embellished them, as well as arming some randomized stutterers to keep things varied. I'd also created a Live setup that would let me do the set as one constant stream of music, without stopping. I couldn't use my MIDI footpedal, though, due to the no-AC requirement. This time, though, I thought I'd add the uke.

The off-the-grid rehearsal went well--very well, in fact--staying at a moderate tempo and pretty much sticking to one mode, I nonetheless moved through a series of rhythms and moods, alternating guitar and uke, swells and plucked notes, and forwards and backwards samples in a way that surprised me. I've been listening to the result quite a bit, in fact, and I'm tempted to put it out.

The day of the show itself was rather hectic, but I managed to be in the appointed place at the appointed time to join Amy and her boyfriend for an appetizer before heading down to the designated performance zone, on the sidewalk outside Ethnic Artz. Some friends would be arriving, as would Steve and Ami Sciulli. The rehearsal had gone well, I had the right level of energy, and was getting positive response from the dancers. The store owner was a fellow musician, and was also supportive. What could go wrong?

The weather, as it turns out. The rain started very lightly before the performance began, and I thought maybe I'd be able to get through without having to move inside, what had begun as sparse droplets soon became actual rain, and I had to move things inside. Due to the loop-based nature of what I was doing, I could unplug the guitar, uke, and preamp and still keep the show going, as long as the PowerBook was still connected to the amp. The battery-powered nature of the setup was also helpful here, since I wasn't drawing from actual mains. So I reset everything up inside the shop, with the amp in the door pointing out, but no sooner did I get set up again than some resourceful person set up a tent right outside, so I'd be able to see the dancers (kind of useful, if one's actually playing for them). I brought the gear back outside, and continued, the only real fallout being that there was a long stretch of the same old stuff just going on and on and on and on, since I wasn't making any changes to things in Live, what with all the moving activity.

For audience, my friends Dan and Michelle did show up, checking out the show from across the street, from nearby, from inside the shop, and Michelle took several photos. Local electronic/noise artist Min of My Boyfriend the Pilot also came by to check out the gig, and Steve and Ami Sciulli did drop by as well, contributing some spur-of-the-moment flute. Very nice.

So how'd it all sound? It sounded ok, although now with the Pignose turned up to project in this unforgiving environment of buses, cars, and other sonic distractions, I had to turn it up at least halfway, which brought on the resonant frequency rattles, serious distortion on low notes, and the speaker crapping out at similar high-level low tones. Kind of a drag, and distracting, but this little Hog-20 wasn't designed for bass or keyboard frequencies. I did get some nice uke playing in, and explored some musical motives that I liked from the rehearsal, but I think overall this one failed to have a shape. I may revisit this, but I think the rehearsal was thematically stronger.

How was the dancing? Great, actually. The dancers freely combine traditional techniques and other dancing forms, working individually and in sub-groups with each other, for an ever-changing improvisatory approach that works really well with my improvisation. Sadly, I didn't get as much of a chance to watch what they were doing as I probably should have, since I was often preoccupied with the rain, grabbing loops, changing rhythms, etc. But what I saw was really good, and the dancers are wonderful to work with. Generally when they'd switch from one solo performer to another I'd try to change the rhythm, but my location next to them, facing the same direction (a repeat of my setup for the belly dance show with Steffi last June) made it difficult to be consistent with that. A lesson for me for next time.

A sociological note: while we were playing, plenty of cars would slow down, a passenger would roll down the window and hang out, apparnetly hitting on the belly dancers. I guess some people do courtship this way, but I'll tell you: it wasn't working in this instance. Gentlemen, the hollering and wooooooo screams just put the women off.

I ended my set as the PowerBook battery ran low (estimated remaining time under 50 minutes), a byproduct of how much the hard drive was being used, the power behind the audio out, and the brightness of the LCD monitor (which I needed to have rather higher while it was light outside). Steve kept playing, though, which was good--the dancers could keep going for a while, and he did a rather nice tempo increase which I'll probably steal for a future piece, to keep things from being monotonous. After bringing my gear inside for a liesurely packup (and to plug in while I burned CDRs of the rehearsal for the dancers), I chatted a bit with Dan and Michelle, talked with the owner of Ethnic Artz (a drummer himself, and appreciative of the music, too!). I also talked for a while with Min, who'd stuck around for the whole thing, and was in fact interested in having me play the Electric Boogaloo performance series she's curating, likely for the June 18th date. Look for details once this is confirmed.

It's still somewhat surprising to me that the dancers are into what I'm doing, and it was good to be reminded of that after the show. They all headed off to get dinner, while I joined Steve and Ami for a couple rounds of good beer and good conversation at Iguana, after which they dropped me off at home. In all, quite a nice evening, even with the weather, and boding well for the future.

05/07/2005 Maurice Rickard: Live at the Starlite Lounge

Announcement
In a bit of a surprise last-minute development, I'll be playing again with Steve Sciulli of Life In Balance at the Starlite Lounge this Saturday. It's another installment of A Three Penny Opry, and this time we're going on first, at 8 PM sharp to 8:30 PM. Expect atmospherically processed shakuhachi and flute, as well as atmospherically processed guitar and ukulele for a doubly atmospheric experience. (This may well be verging on the hyperbaric, since there's so much atmosphere going on.)

Also on the bill are several Pittsburgh-area folk and folk-related acts (so once again we're technological and stylistic outliers here, but what's life without variety?): Heather Kropf, Frank Bienkowski and Robert Wagner doing an in-the-round set, with Dave Wells and filk artist Randy Hoffman doing featured sets. Steve Sciulli and I are on first.

I believe this will be a pass-the-hat event as was the last one, assuming the hat does get passed, and I'll be bringing some new merch, for those economically inclined. So come on out.

8 PM sharp, Starlite Lounge, 364 Freeport Rd, Blawnox, PA 15238-3440, 412-828-9842. Map

Report
I wasn't really happy with my playing at this show, and my volume level was hot to the point that Steve had to keep turning up and Ami wished she'd been mic'd, but we seem to have made good impressions on at least some folks, and in that sense, it was a good gig. And now, listening back (which I don't tend to do much these days), my contribution wasn't half bad.

I'd spent the day from fairly early on until after 6PM helping my father move from his Paleozoic Win95 box to (thankfully) Mac OS X on a different box. I'm glad to do it, but it did consume a large chunk of the day, and I had to run home, eat something, pack, and hightail it to the venue, so that I could set up before our 8:00 PM start time. I reached the Starlite a little after 7:30, hauled in, and started setting up. I didn't have much margin until showtime, but made the best of it, setting up and tuning to the iSpectrum oscilloscope before plugging two leads into the PA. Steve suggested I buy the kind of music stand I've lately been able to use as a laptop stand (either his or the venue's, whenever possible), and I just might--it's one of those solid all-metal ones, as opposed to a completely-folding model.

Audients were filtering in while we were setting up, and there were plenty of other acts, so the pressure was on not to go over our allotted time. As I was setting up, one woman asked if I'd brought an Ebow, which could have signified either of two things: she was conversant with experimental guitar playing, or she was jokingly calling me out on the way that the lot of us seem to play with ebows. As it happened, I had decided not to bring the ebow or the slide, and create these effects instead with my fingers. Any embarrassing aspect to this question was entirely mine--there certainly are times when one couldn't fling a dead cat without hitting someone with an ebow, so I was honest--I'd left it at home.

I tuned up and we started with (of course) drones, moving into denser territory. I had difficulty picking out what I was doing from the overall texture, but apparently everyone else had no such trouble. I mostly concentrated on Looplex textures, but I also included some uke tracks in there. Steve alternated between flute (no shakuhachi, as I recall) and using the keyboard to manipulate samples in Live, while Ami tried to get the acoustic bowls up around our volume levels. Occasionally Steve leaned over and informed me of a key change, so I'd adjust. I was glad that I'd mapped the continuous control foot pedal to the feedback on Looplex, so I was easily able to turn things down from time to time, to adapt to key changes or instructions that I had too hot of a level. In a half hour we were done, so we quickly broke down our stuff while one of the other performers covered the time with some jokes, including observing that it was unusual to hear a ukulele sounding like, well, the way I play it.

After packing up and moving the gear out front to the bar area, Steve and Ami and I hung out for a while, talking about various things--music, mutual acquaintances, personal history, etc. We were joined by Annette, a painter and the person who'd asked me about the Ebow. Turns out she's quite conversant with avant garde guitar, a fan of Robert Fripp (an influence on me, to be sure), a guitar player herself (classical), and likes to paint to the kind of music we were doing. She said she quite liked the set, and bought a Guitar Clouds disc, which I hope she enjoys.

I hung out with Steve and Ami a bit more, decompressing from the day, and also checking out songs by Heather Kropf, whose songs, piano playing, and voice were all impressive indeed--in fact, over two weeks later, the one song's still in my head. Keep an eye out for her. I also got a chance to hear one of Robert Wagner's classic songs from the prime Pittsburgh punk days as well. In all, a rather full evening, a good chance to hang out, a decent set, and a new listener. Things are good.

Contact:

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Interstellar Radio
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Howlers
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Live at Black Forge, January 2, 2016
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Output
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Live, November 5, 2015
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live at the Garfield Artworks, July 27, 2014
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Troy
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impulse
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Live at the Thunderbird Cafe, November 9, 2011
Maurice Rickard: Live at the Thunderbird Cafe, November 9, 2011
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Wave Space, Cleveland OH, September 16, 2011 4?:?34 PM?-?5?:?37 PM
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snwv
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Music for Dance
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Tell Ya One Thing And Then Some
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Death Pig (Live, July 2, 2003)
Death Pig: Death Pig (Live, July 2, 2003)
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Circuits of Steel Tour 2003: Chicago, St. Louis, Muncie
Maurice Rickard: Circuits of Steel Tour 2003: Chicago, St. Louis, Muncie
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Guitar Clouds
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Lady of Pain: Live, June 2, 2003
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Live at the Quiet Storm, November 2, 2002
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Blast
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Tell Ya One Thing
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