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Music Production: Maurice Rickard
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:

You can buy my music right now over the 'net at onezero music-- instant music at sensible prices. You can check out free samples before you buy, and there's a discount for buying full albums or EPs.

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