Monday, July 17, 2006

On Saturday evening, Carol and I journeyed into the bowels of Brooklyn (Bushwick), looking for a junk shop called Goodbye Blue Monday, a site that has been hosting musical events for a little while now. A friend of hers, Rick Brown, was performing that evening in duo with Mark Howell, a situation they call Inconvenient Music. We found the shop, nestled in among various closed and miserable loooking places, under the rumble of the elevated J Train. The front room, reasonably jammed with detritus (a lot of vinyl I would've loved to pore through...) included a small bar and stage. Wending our way through some back areas, we came to the "garden", half open to the sky, half sheathed by corrugated tin, where Rick and Mark were playing. It's a cool little space, packed dirt floor and all. I had little idea what to expect, musically speaking though eyeing the instrumentation initially led me to think I was in for something out of the burgeoning psychedelic Americana quasi-movement with which I'm not at all familiar. Howell played electric guitar, cornet and percussion while Brown wielded a G3, an ancient, tiny electric keyboard, a wooden drawer (complete with shoulderstrap) affixed with sundry jangly stuff and a couple of homemade "trumpets", consisting of plastic cones with sax mouthpieces. And he sings, too.

Actually, given the set-up, I'd've expected more of an improv set but the pair did pretty much nothing but short, composed songs. The first set featured odd, blocky rhythms that never quite let you get comfortable (a good thing) and even odder song structure; it almost sounded folky but would always slither away. One really nice piece for cornet and cheapo organ leaked into Tony Conrad territory. The second set featured a surprising and lovely cover of Don Cherry's "Trans-Love Airways" from his sublime (and little known--not yet released to disc) "Relativity Suite" followed by a work that was pretty darn close to the Art Ensemble's "Odwalla". Good, rough-edged, funky stuff.

In the front room, there was another enjoyable duo, Emma Zunz, hailing from Seattle (via Borges). Two young ladies, Annie Lewandowski (guitar, accordion, voice) and Christin Miller (guitar, noise, voice) again doing songs, this time of a resolutely quiet and plaintive sort. Very effective--some beautiful harmonies and a nice dash of noise via Miller's guitar-bowing (what hath Rowe wrought!) and manipulation of pick-ups and other small items.

A lovely, unusual evening, all told. At home, I did the necessary googling and discovered that Lewandowski had studied with, among others, Eddie Prevost! How about that? Further, sieving out Rick Brown from his several million like-named companions (tossing "inconvenient" into the mix helped), I came across an FMU site that mentioned his past participation in a band called Fish & Roses. Hold on a second, I thought, that rings a bell. Troop over to the vinyl, fetch out the mid 80's compiliation "Island of Sanity" and, sure enough, there's a track from Fish & Roses with Rick and wife Sue Garner (also at the junk shop). Damn, coulda brought it for an autograph.

Today I realized I probably have Howell in my collection somewhere also, possibly on a Phil Kline disc. Turns out he was a member of Frith's Guitar Quartet as well though the one time I caught them, in Victoriaville, I don't think he was there.

Small musical world, anyway. Very cool.

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