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Music Production: Glenn Branca Ensemble
02/02/2006 Glenn Branca Ensemble: Hallucination City: Symphony No. 13 for 100 electric guitars

Day 0
In 2004, I took part in composer Glenn Branca's recording sessions for his Symphony No. 13, Hallucination City, which requires 100 electric guitars. It was a volunteer gig, a fair amount of work, and quite a blast. I was curious as to why it wasn't coming out, and in mid-2005, Glenn emailed us to say that the 2004 sessions weren't usable, so we'd be going at the piece again in early 2006 at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ.

I really like this piece, and was happy to see it through to its conclusion, so I set up a place to stay (with a friend and fellow player), and waited for the parts to come out, as Glenn was changing the structure of the piece.

A week or two ago, we started getting our parts--less lead time than the last one, and these parts were substantially different. It's more rhythmically complex, with new techniques (not double-strummed throughout, but with periods of individual downstrokes, or regular downstrokes), with shorter rhythmic notation (eighths, dotted eighths, and sixteenths, often tied across bar lines). It's really a different piece, and I regret to say that I prefer the earlier version for a few reasons: the earlier one was easier to play, had a much slower tempo, and was a great example of getting complex results from simple ingredients; there were some devices in the older one that I found to be very elegant, like a series of climbs up alternating wholetone scales, and a clustered call-and-response section. Perhaps this one will grow on me when I hear the recording (and hear the last movement), though.

I also was not been able to get enough rehearsal to feel really comfortable with my part--the greater complexity requires more time, and that's been difficult on the shorter lead time we've had. So I tried to mitigate that by retranscribing it into the notation program I usually use, so I can hear the piece (some of these sections are simple to play--they're just difficult to play at precisely the right time)...but that's a long process, too. So I'm showing up and doing my best.

I left late on the drive up (1:00, since I'd had to take care of a number of things, and at the last minute turned back to bring my power strips), and with a few stops arrived at Fred's place after 8. Very nice to be met at the destination--friendly folks, friendly dog (after my short probationary period), and some hang-out time before getting to sleep. Readers of my account of the Kaufman-Astoria sessions will note that this first night was much, much better than the last time.

Day 1
As concerned about my readiness as I was, I still didn't get any practice time in before we left. There were, of course, things to do--send business-related emails, pack the car with both guitars and amps (everything fit in the Mini just fine), etc. Great weather, though Fred pointed out the oddness of seeing young mosquitos in the condensation on the Mini's roof. In February, I remind you. It was about a half hour to Montclair, not bad at all. Directions were clear, as well--where to go, where to park, etc. On the way up to the garage, I saw composer Lloyd Mair, one of the bassists, walking with one of the tenors. Great to see him in the group for this one.

We parked, schlepped the gear down to the stage, and found our places. Oddly, there didn't seem to be room for me, although it was just that my seat was going to be at the front, and on the edge of Tenor 2. All right, no problem. I was still in Reg's section, and would be sitting next to Marlowe Stern, a guitarist from the NY area. Ben Miller was back in Tenor 1, as well, and it was good to see him. I'm glad I remembered the power strips, because the nearest power breakout was over by Ben. I set myself up with some power, and a few minutes looked back to see the strips almost filled. Wow. I looked around and saw a few other familiar faces: Wharton Tiers, Joe Fogarazzo, and some other people whose names I didn't know.

Giving in to my feeling of unpreparedness, I practiced various sections, and got rather more uncomfortable, shuffling score sheets around, trying to count, etc. Unlike the last time, instead of having Glenn do the conducting, John Myers would be our conductor. For me this was fine, as he was very helpful last time, though I wondered what the audience might think. Would they expect to see Glenn conducting, and be disappointed? Ultimately John went around to everyone and asked for us to play a note, turn up, turn down, etc. I ended up diming the amp, which didn't seem good, going through three days of playing, and I was sure I'd be asked to turn up eventually, so I'd need to find a good time to put in the pre.

After a while, we were ready for a run-through, and I learned how clueless I was. The fingering was easy, but the timing was hard for me on the more syncopated parts (dotted eighths and sixteenths, ties across the bar, etc.). Once I got on the train, so to speak, I was ok on the dotted quarters, but once it got to the dotted eighths, I had about a 50% chance of hitting the note at the right time. Disheartening. Other parts of the movement weren't much better for me, and I found myself looking at Reg's hands quite frequently for cues. After this, I brought in the EH preamp, thanks to the power cord swapping help from my neighbor behind me in Tenor 2. With the preamp, I was able to bring down my master level considerably, and I ended up with better tone, too. Bonus.

We broke for lunch in the green room at the back of stage left, where I learned that in New Jersey, cheese is a vegetable. I chatted with Fred and Lloyd, among some others, meeting a few people, including photographer/musician Jodi as well as Matt from Bellini, who were playing Travis Beans. Once again, lots of good gear in the house--another Tenor 1 was playing a gorgeous black Hagstrom, and the gentleman on my right was playing an aluminum-neck Kramer. We decided that if he noted my attention drifting, he'd give me a whack with the Kramer's tuning fork head.

On the next run-through, Glenn determined that the front row was too loud, so we'd lay our amps on their backs. The result of this is that I can hear myself really well. It also means that my fellow players can hear me screw up quite clearly, which is potentially humiliating. But we moved on, rehearsing the first and second movements, while I learned just how far out of trim I was. One problem was that I didn't have a good page turning system. I had just loose sheets, and was taking advantage of the wide music stand to go three across to reduce page turns, but that introduced two problems: what to do with each page as it was discarded, and (if I didn't take care of that right away) remembering to do so. On at least one occasion, I started playing page 5 instead of page 8 because I'd forgotten to move the middle page. Clearly, I'd have to work something out. My first inclination was to have everything taped together accordion style, though I noticed Marlowe, my neighbor to the left, running into trouble with the whole long string of the score just flopping off the side of the stand. Something to think about.

Soon enough, we reached the dinner break. I'd initially thought we'd just stick to the green room for dinner, but instead the college set up a buffet in a private dining hall a short walk away. What little I've seen of the college is quite pleasant, and they have one heck of a view of the city from that 7th-floor dining hall. I sat with Lloyd, Joe (turns out he's doing quite a lot of live sound, engineering, and playing in bands; the dude's hard core), and some other folks. I talked some, though I tried to keep some head space for marking up my score with (I hoped) helpful notes indicating repetitions of larger patterns in the piece. These ultimately weren't helpful at all, and I should have spent time marking beats and fret reminders, since it's always a struggle not to think in terms of E, which I usually do.

So back down to the stage, where I now saw that to capture the Tenor 1 section, our engineer Liz had suspended a mic pretty much right above me. While I have complete faith in her engineering, I did wonder if it was a good idea to put the mic over the guy who sucks. We worked on the second and third movements, for which I was still rather lost. For the second movement, my problem was that the tempo is much faster, and that I'd not spent enough time with it. It's another wholetone climbing section, so the concept is clear, but there are a few brief backtracking sections, as well as alternations between double-strumming, single hits, and tremolo strumming--basically all our different techniques, as well as variations within each climb. I found it easy to get lost, as has been happening with these.

The third movement was also difficult, once again for knowing when to come in. It's a cluster section, so hitting the exact pitch isn't critical, but hitting it at the right time is critical--lots of rests between short blasts--and I didn't often do that in this run-through. At this point, I wasn't feeling too great about this piece, largely due to my poor performance. Still, a cursory glance at the fourth movement showed something fun, especially at the end, with an instruction to "detune" and another just saying "random." By this point, I realized that I was keeping my eyes open for long periods of time, and they were getting quite red, so I'd have to pick up some drops.

We broke up for the evening, and while Fred and I left our amps, we took our guitars and scores (and I also took the EH pre). We did stop to pick up the eye drops, so I'd have some relief. Back at his place, I checked email while he did family things; then we got a late bite to eat, and talked for a while. It also happened to be a significant birthday for me, so I called home and touched base with friends. Happily, there wasn't any big deal made about it, though it did feel odd to have a day of such sub-par performance mark the occasion.

Day 2: Dessert of Vengeance
I'd wanted to practice in the morning, but didn't get much time before having to head over, due to the twin necessities of marking up the score, and taping my score sheets together (which I did, though I didn't get to mark up the score all the way). We're falling into a routine--stop for espresso, put it in the vacuum bottle, go down to Montclair, get settled, do some practice. Same deal today, though there were changes. For one, my neighbor on the right got some new company in the person of a young man with an Eastwood copy of a Guyatone. (He said that with some setup tweaking, it was a really good guitar.) For another, I was staring to gain competence with this piece of music. I wasn't able to count the dotted eighth sections, but I was getting better at feeling them, and thus play them correctly.

And because I was now more comfortable with the piece (probably everyone else was, too), my performances are stronger. And now that we were playing it better, I liked it more. Run-throughs of the first three movements were more solid, and I was feeling that locking with everyone else. Still, there were mistakes--my concentrating too hard on one aspect of the score (say, a switch from the usual chords to full bars) and blowing another (wrong note).

In the break room, cheese was once again a vegetable. New signs were up--apparently the vegan selections looked much better than the non-, since they were all gone. Sadly, they were gone before the vegans could have any, so there were signs cautioning people to stay away from those selections if they weren't official vegans. I hung out with Ben during lunch, and he pointed out that the March rhythms were at times five over four, which he was counting, and he gave me some tips to that effect.

Afternoon practice was stronger, particularly the rhythms in March (the first movement) now. I'm not counting them as such, but I'm feeling them better, and I can get back on the train when I fall off. As a group, one of our problems has been managing the dynamics. While the previous version was something of a monolith, this one is more like ocean waves, with some parts swelling up and cresting over others, then receding and revealing them. There are only two dynamic levels here (p and f), but even that can be hard to manage for a large group of guitarists. And no, the old joke doesn't apply here. ("How do you get a guitar player to turn down? Put music in front of him.") So we needed to work on getting quiet for the quiet parts.

For one of these practices, John worked with us in sections--apparently Tenor 1 is the rhythm section for March, and we could hear our parts better in isolation. At either this point or close to it, Glenn decided that us 1s should play our non-double-strummed notes as f throughout this section, so they could be heard. Afterwards, while the Tenor 2s and Alto 2s were practicing, I went wandering around, and was stunned at how great even just a few players sounded from up in the balcony. If I were seeing this as an audience member, I'd want to be up there, and I hoped there was a stereo pair up there somewhere to record it. (Turns out not, but there is a pair above the conductor.)

At dinner I sat with with Fred, Lloyd, Joe, and other folks. Much of our conversation dealt with modern composers we'd been listening to, favorite Branca pieces, analyses of this piece. We'd have to be somewhat obsessed with this stuff to do this as volunteers, many of us coming in from way out of town (and some from the West Coast, even). Many different perspectives on this stuff. Lloyd is a fan of Branca's third, though of course Lloyd's own work sounds nothing like it. (One of Lloyd's pieces is just incredible--a Spanish church organ section with field recordings. Really gorgeous stuff.)

Back on stage, we did more rehearsals, working on the dynamics more, and finally getting into the last movement, which did in fact involve detuning on a long double-strummed open chord (hard to keep this as p; we keep wanting to open up), followed by several specific rhythmic patterns, and finally random playing--play anywhere on the neck, or not at all (though "No 'Louie Louie'," as Glenn and John pointed out). It sounds quite...well, it's hard to say what it sounds like. I can hear myself, and hear everyone else, though all that microtonal blending sounds like white noise, but also not. And I quite clearly sense that I'm missing a lot of it with hearing protection in, but if I took the plugs out, I'd miss a lot of it due to eardrum rattling. (Glenn says, "I've done this before, and it always sounds the same." He also mentioned that it was "great" and that he'd thought of working on a full-length piece of the detuned stuff, which could be interesting, if he did it. Or it would have to be interesting, in that it would be easy to do it badly, and making it a good, rigorous piece would require a smart structure.) So with all this microtonal stuff blasting for fifteen seconds, we watch John, and on his signal, we mute the strings instead of letting the piece ring out. Unfortunately, someone keeps not muting his strings, though. Several times. I'm really wondering what's up with that--if it's more "band-practice" mind, or something else. We never did get it right before it was time to end for the evening.

Once again, we had a late night of conversation, though this time I had a lot more energy, pumped up from the feeling of getting more competent with this piece.

Next, day 3: performance

After last night's late conversation, I was up early, again. I checked mail, ate breakfast, and did a bit of marking up of the the score, though I'd thought I'd take some time to update my notes, and possibly even post some of this. (No dice.) Fred had errands, so he left early on his own, and the rest of the family had Saturday commitments, apart from Fred's eldest, with whom I ended up talking film for a while--he has quite an advanced engagement in cinema, and it was interesting to hear his take on various films, many of them outside the usual teenage scope. So I didn't get around to doing any blog posting, but no matter.

I got ready and headed into town for the usual coffee. I'd also wanted to stock up on some provisions for the session and the trip back, so thanks to Fred's wife, I had directions to Trader Joe's, where they had some natural energy bars to keep me going. Meanwhile, I called Steve and Ami back home to touch base, though there wasn't enough time or cell phone battery life to do a full update other than tell them how positive I was feeling about this piece now.

My directions to the GSP were good, and I headed in the right direction, but I turned off one exit too soon and called Fred, who reassured me that I could get there anyway via this route. A few 180s later, yeah, I came out somewhere that looked familiar. In fact, I pulled into the garage right behind Fred, so we had coordinated timing again. I'd been concerned about being late, but the 1:00 start time actually was lunch, so I wasn't keeping anyone waiting.

Cheese was still a vegetable, but that was ok. I did finally see some vegan lunches, and man, they did look good, which explains why they were pilfered on the other days. Turns out, vegans had given up on being fed, and just preemptively made their own arrangements. I did chat a bit with one of the Tenor 5s from last time (sadly, his name escapes me; nice guy, recently moved to New Mexico), speculating about the reasons the last sessions never came out. I had to leave the conversation, though, as I had to get back to rehearsing--I'd wanted to concentrate on the third and fourth movement, but also refresh on the second if I could.

I kept marking up my scores, realizing now that my plan of early yesterday (count the number of bars in each new playing pattern) was largely unhelpful. More useful was to write fret reminders, so I wouldn't get confused with the B root of the strings, also to write rhythmic notations (too late for that, really; it'd been better if I'd have done it earlier), and just plain play through the piece. Since my pattern-counting notations often conflicted with the fret reminders, I ended up doing a lot of scratching out. I wasn't being too quick on the uptake here, though I did get a chance to play at least some of these sections.

John came out to have us rehearse the last movement and its end a bit more, as well as when/how to stand at the end, when presumably we'd be basking in the audience's applause. I notched my strap up a bit more, all the way to the top, in fact, silly though it might look--the goal here was to avoid banging the guitar into the music stand, and also to keep it high enough to make the double-strumming easier.

Rehearsals of the end seemed to go a bit smoother this time, and then it was back into rehearsing parts of the other movements. At this point, my memory becomes rather fuzzy (we're a week out from the experience as I write this), but there were several breaks as people swapped out blown amps, or amp fuses. There was an additional delay in dealing with one of the tenors behind me, whose tiny amp went into overdrive pretty quickly, and in fact was just plain distorting. Nice amp, but the distortion stood out to me against the loud, clean background of the rest of the ensemble. John felt it was extra texture, though, and wasn't too worried about it, and in any case there was little that could be done if that was the player's only amp.

Around this time, the paths in and out of the theater were locked down, or at least changed somewhat, as Glenn expressed some consternation that he wouldn't be able to go right out of his dressing room and onto the stage, as he'd done throughout the sessions so far. Instead, he'd have to wind around backstage a bit, apparently, for reasons that weren't made clear by the staff.

After these interruptions, John asked us to play through the piece, front to back, as a dress rehearsal for the performance. With no audience to distract us, and having played through the sections as many times as we did, the energy seemed really good. I was better focused than I'd been other times during the week, and everyone seemed similarly on top of their parts. Things felt really good here, and the piece seemed glorious in this realization--indeed, waves of other sections cresting over ours, the syncopation of the 1s holding a rhythmic tension, the fast climbs of the second movment, the resonating dissonances of the third, the chaos and blast of silence at the end of the fourth. And finally, after all this time, I was hearing the re-emergence of different themes throughout the piece. This piece is really quite something.

After the full rehearsal, there was a break while photographer Paula Court took some promo pictures (posing him against the little distorting amp!), and some other players held up their guitars behind him. While this went on, I decided I'd restring entirely, to minimize the chance of breakage during the show. Once I'd done this and tuned up again, I heard Paula asking for a third guitar, so I figured I might as well step in and get the Kalamazoo into some shots. While it seemed pretty clear that she was just focused on Glenn (these were his promo shots, after all), there were a bunch of other photographers getting these shots as well. It was weirdly like being at a press conference or something. In a lot of them, I'm looking down at Glenn--not my best angle, but I didn't want to whack him in the head or anything, especially with the notably heavy Kalamazoo. Turns out, a lot of these non-official shots are pretty good, and the ones taken by my fellow Tenor 1 Marlowe Stern are very good. Check out the photo section.

After the photo op, Paula showed us the shots she'd been getting, and she mentioned that she'd tried to get at least one of each player, but that she'd not gotten around to a few of us, me included. So as a quid pro quo for my holding the prop, she took a number of shots of me, which should be pretty good. (And she did the same for the other propmeisters.) Later I learned just how many portraits of influential musicians she's taken over the years--interesting company to be in.

Yesterday, someone had asked about a dress code for the show, and John said he'd been told "no bad shoes, and not too much makeup." We weren't sure what constituted "bad" in this case (clown shoes? pointy elf shoes?), but I did think that I'd want to change out of the older sweater I'd been wearing that day, so I put on the perhaps inevitable black turtleneck, which would have the advantage of not being distractingly garish.

At dinner we walked in the light but cold rain to the dining hall, presented with more purely veggie options, and a vegan spin on an eggplant and pasta dish. Not bad at all. I sat again with Fred and some other tenors, and conversation tended toward cultural things outside the ensembler--the Southwest, Burning Man--though we soon came back to people's plans for the March show in LA. (West Coasters will make it, probably; many of the rest of us are uncertain.) Fred and I briefly got a chance to talk to Glenn for a moment to talk about how much we liked playing the piece, though he was carrying his plate and looking for a place to sit, so we didn't want to detain him.

Back at the theater, I was surprised to see a lot of people milling about in the lobby. I shouldn't have been--I'd been told that we sold out the space--but it still surprised me. I couldn't go in via the usual stage door (there was that backstage traffic pattern issue again), but wound around a bit and came out at a door in the back of stage right that I'd never noticed before. We'd been asked to leave all our coats, cases, and bags off stage left, but I was hesitant, having the laptop in there. It was also a good idea to have extra strings nearby, which meant that I should have my winder and pliers with me, so I figured I'd just fold up the gig bag and put it in front of my messenger bag, and slip the coat in there somewhere. It all fit fine under the chair anyway.

I tuned up again to counteract new string slippage (which made me happy I'd changed them before dinner), and did some more last-minute practicing on the quiet channel. It was hard not to feel jittery, though, so I took some photos, noted that my neighbor in Tenor 2 had some water, so I briefly went to get my own, and then settled back into more practicing. I scanned the audience from time to time for familiar faces, and did spot Fred's wife and son, but no other familiar people.

Finally the house lights went down and John came out to general applause. He cued us for silence, and after what seemed like a long count, got us started. The first movement seemed oddly slow to me here, and I found myself getting lost more than the last run-through. At this point I was familiar enough to follow the score, but in concentrating on matching the slower tempo and not getting rhythmically lost, I found that a couple times I had missed a chord change and was--yikes--playing the wrong chord. On one of these occasions, I'd been struck by how beautiful this particular section of the first movement was, with the interaction between Tenors 1 and 2, both harmonically and rhythmically. Then I noticed that I was on the wrong note, and not expressing the tritone this movment's concerned with. Great. It was covered by other Tenor 1s, of course, but I was a real outlier there for a while. Overall, though, the first movement's really striking, with those cresting and breaking waves of sound from the basses, baritones, and higher-numbered sections. The beginning and ending of the movement were very pleasing as well, with the rumble starting from the basses at the back, and then the sound gradually receding back to them at the end. It was also, apparently, quite loud out there in the audience, as I noticed two women in the front row who were holding their ears from the first few notes (I'd heard that the college was supplying hearing protection, but that must have been a rumor and not real information), and they were gone after the movement was over. "Sonic terror in music hall" all over again. Everyone else applauded, though.

The second movement was something we'd nailed well in rehearsal, though somehow this time I found myself off the train rather quickly. Since it's mostly wholetone climbs, it's easy to get back on, but it's not always certain which climb one's in, so I kept looking from the score to John and Reg, trying to verify that I was on the right climb, but at 144, this movement is passing by rather quickly, and I did miss a page turn or two (and caught myself fairly quickly...but then the climb was largely the same in shape each time, so the damage was minimal). Very frantic, and I found myself feeling a bit sweaty under the stage lights. Again, applause (for the music).

The third movement, all clusters, was even faster at 152, with a lot more rhythmic interaction. For us it was a lot of rests, starting playing at various offsets from the bar line, and only briefly. Sometimes we were double-strumming, but mostly doing measured, steady tremolo for these brief notes. The result, especially on the low strings, was a stunning wobbling gong sound, really incredibly powerful. I wonder now if there was a matching set of notes going on with the baritones and a few other sections, because this astonishing sound would just emerge from our picking. Our notation instructed us to clip notes rather than letting them sustain, but from the sound of things, I don't think many people were remembering that instruction. Still, I'm inclined to say that I prefer how it ended up. While I often found myself lost in this section, I was mainly only 10% lost, and it seemed fairly easy to get back on, and play at the right time, though I did find it difficult to stay on top of the climbs at the end of the movement. Still, as it was all clusters, it'd be hard to pick out my inappropriate notes here or there. And we ended on a fermata, which allowed everyone a chance to get caught up. People were applauding consistently at the ends of these movements, which was encouraging.

The fourth movement was again our reward for making it through the difficulties of the rest of the piece, and at this point I don't remember much about playing the first couple parts of it. The first part's a satisfying set of drones (in which we have to be careful to start p), and the second part's another set of complex climbs. I do remember powering into the satisfying third part of the movement, which is another set of the sonar pings before another set of tricky climbs...and then the detuned section. I think everyone was so relieved to get to this section that we really powered into it, and John had to hold us at the fermata to bring us back down to p. Looking over the score now, I don't see where it goes to forte after that (a double-time section anyway), but go to forte we sure did, powering into the rhythmic sections and the last sonar pings before the total chaos of the random section. Happily, we clipped it fairly clean at the end, though there was a slight buzz from somewhere back in the tenors. And again, applause--a standing ovation, actually.

John invited us to stand, shook Reg's hand, and we waited for Glenn to come out. And waited. And waited. Did we do that badly, or what? Wharton started hitting the bass drum, and a few guitar players (myself included) started rhythmically whacking on our now out-of-tune guitars, and this little jam itself was quite nice--kind of like "Structure" from The Ascension. Eventually Glenn did appear, took a bow, and walked back off. Those of us in the ensemble saw plenty of Glenn during this whole process (even if we didn't all interact with him much; hey, he was busy and so were we), but I wondered how the audience felt about the brief glimpse. The event was about the music and not the composer's appearance, but I was still curious what the audience made of that.

The audience filed out, and the rest of us had to break our things down quickly so the crew could strike the stage. I quickly unplugged various amps so I could get my power strips back, and got things packed up a bit more slowly than I would have liked. Supposedly there was a lockup room for guitars, though I wasn't sure where it was (green room? elsewhere?) and didn't want to risk losing my guitar behind a locked door somewhere. I consolidated bags and coat down so that I could just have the laptop on me, and trusted that with all this security and crew around, nothing would happen to the guitar or amp at stage left. Other people were doing the same, though still others were loading out to their cars. (I was reluctant to leave gear visible in the car if I was going to be hanging out at the reception for a while.)

Having figured all that out, I joined the rest of the ensemble in the lobby, where I got a chance to meet Lloyd's wife and chat with them for a few minutes before circulating. It seemed that the reception was already out of red wine and much of the food, so I made do with white (red later appeared, though, so I got a chance to have some, and it wasn't bad). Marlowe introduced me to some friends who'd attended (nice folks), and I touched base with Fred and family. (His son's reaction: "It was different." I suspect he didn't have the background context to know what to make of it.) Since audients weren't really likely to pick me out as someone to talk to ("Hey, isn't that the guy who fucked up in the first movement?"), I sought out other ensemble members to greet. Ellen Watkins and I talked briefly about the piece, and her perspective was interesting, having toured the 6 and been with the ensemble since. Some of the points she made are sending me back to the 8 and 10, of which I've generally only liked the second movement of the 10, but I'm willing to give the other movements a fresh listen, as it's been a while. (For me, the second movement of the 10 is a stunner, and one of my favorite pieces, but the other selections on that disc are a bit too, well, Wagnerian for me.)

Some other players discussed the possibility of leveraging this event into sexual capital, but I think they may have been a bit overly optimistic about the social cachet of being in the ensemble. Not an issue for me, having a family to go home to, but I found it charming to observe others' pursuits.

I did chat briefly with some other regulars, Reg, Libby, Wharton, and I listened in on Glenn's conversation with John, jumping in to greet at what seemed like a reasonable moment. Much to my surprise, it seems the earlier version of this piece isn't dead after all, and may yet re-emerge one of these days. "The way to do it," Glenn said, "is to do both on the same night." Now that would be a commitment. Still, given the chance to play that earlier version again, I'd probably go for it.

Eventually the crowd thinned, and I chatted with a few folks on the way out to the garage. All the rain left the air rather picturesquely foggy, and the trip back to Fred's place was an appropriate ramping down after the peak of the performance. Fred and I debriefed a bit more in another late night conversation before turning in. Unfortunately, a late-night phone call signalled a not-unexpected family emergency, and my sympathies are with my hosts.

The next morning, I got some breakfast, hung out, entertained the kids a bit before getting on the road in the early afternoon. Trip companions this time were Boards of Canada, the Tod Dockstadter/David Lee Myers collaborations (very nice!), and GBV. By the time night fell over the Pennsylvania turnpike, the snow was heavy, and I ran out of wiper fluid by Somerset. Stopping here reminded me to turn on the radio to catch parts of the Superbowl, and by halftime I was home to Patricia and the Boy, getting a bit of dinner and catching the last half of the game, once again (slightly oddly) back in the civilian world.

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Live on WRCT, March 23, 2009
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Live at Morning Glory Coffeehouse, March 6, 2009
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Tell Ya One Thing And Then Some
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Death Pig (Live, July 2, 2003)
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Circuits of Steel Tour 2003: Chicago, St. Louis, Muncie
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Guitar Clouds
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