from Thursday, July30th of the year2009.
…by Chris Becker appeared re: yesterday’s post:
I think it’s important for composers to consistently push themselves out of their comfort zones ““ and that can include your borough. With that in mind, the “scene” as described by Amanda seems strangely narrow to me. No mention of musicians around John Zorn and the Stone. No mention of Harlem or the Bronx or any African American artists. No description of the forward thinking jazz and world ensembles you find at Barbes and other small clubs.
I mean”¦I get it ““ she’s not trying to throw a net over a zeitgeist. But she certainly doesn’t mirror my experiences here in NYC (going on 12 years now”¦) creating music.
Someone many years from now will rewrite history and break it down for us.
And this is so interesting, because when I was writing that blog post, the Stone literally didn’t even occur to me. This is odd because the Stone in general and John Zorn specifically has been hugely supportive to many friends of mine. Nadia and Caleb and Paola and Judd have all had very successful concerts there. I think the reason it didn’t occur to me is because the last six times I have been to the stone, I am overcome with an insane guilt derived from the following two thoughts:
1 – It is such a great thing, like, Such a Great Thing – to have a venue downtown that is small, intimate, cheap, with a piano in it. It’s basically perfection. The policy about programming is good, the policy about money is great. The size is great, the piano is nice to the touch, it’s close to Il Posto Accanto where I can get those Oxtail Ravioli.
2 ““ I have never once had an okay time there. One time, it was so hot, I got delirious and almost stopped the concert to ask for the A/C to be turned on. I was getting the neck sweat, the back sweat, the pussy & the crack sweat. It was horrible. Another time, during Caleb’s show, it was literally a six-man jackhammer crew outside, going to town, at 10 PM on a Tuesday or something. It was Not the Composer’s Intent, either. The composer looked mortified.
Now, I know that a lot of this discomfort is not the venue’s fault, and I know that morally we are all better people for presenting our work in alternative venues at low prices, but if you asked me what I remember from Caleb’s concert, the only thing I can remember is a song cycle with prog-rock lyrics (?) fully drowned out by the jackhammers, and if you ask me about Nadia’s show, or maybe that was Judd’s show, I have a flashback like Agatha Christie in Ur or whatever, fanning myself with a program and wishing for death. Moral of story: I feel like the stone occupies the same place in my mental mapping of my relationship to the New York Scene as “that one family vacation where everything went wrong.”
I also feel like I have an especial liberty to say these things about, like, The Stone, and to a lesser extent, Jody Redhage’s Album, for the very reason that it is so close to home. I wouldn’t go to another country and start yammering on about how I had a bad time in a left-of-center venue or how I heard a CD I didn’t like: I criticise because I want “my” scene to really feel like my home team. I want to have the same fervency that people have about the Red Sox about Music in New York. Even my friends who live in Berlin, Tóróntó, Reykjavík: they all have a fierce mama-bear relationship with the(ir perceptions of the) scene(s) they proudly inhabit.
I wanted to also add as a side moment: I feel like I witnessed one of the more interesting emulsification and scatterings of a scene a few years ago. It was at the Bowery Ballroom in, let’s say, 2006 or 2007. CocoRosie were opening for Antony who was opening for Joanna Newsom who was opening for Devendra Banhart. I might be conflating, but if that wasn’t the lineup, it was something like that, and it was enormously, powerfully exciting. I can see how easy it would be, if you were a music historian, to quickly identify that as a Scene, capital-S. But inasmuch as that might have been true for those few hours, those people are coming, as the saying goes, from very different places, and their itineraries are very different. I remember thinking at the time, “oh, is this It? Did we just witness It?”
In other emulsification news: I have a whole post about this upcoming, but a week ago, at the very last minute, I was called upon to make an aÃ¯oli for twelve people, as well as some green sauce (I used some Faroese ingredients and imported capers to work through the one from St John in London). Look here at the aigs: