Got a heart exact tomato flourish on a spike of greedy prongs/ If a baseball dug moussaka Alan wraps the biscuit in a/ Novel thongs accepted every turning bends away/ Biting off a crust, the troubled hey do you/ What can I say to you?—”Unsettled,” a song on Globe of Frogs by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians.
Unsettled about the whys and wherefores of local musical expression, dear reader? Do you itch or have an uncontrollable urge—to put it in the patois of the new wave—to embrace the rich diversity of shapes and sounds that comprise the local scene, but just don’t know where to begin? Well, for Crissakes, don’t be embarrassed; this is all natural stuff happening in a natural world, after all. And by the way, you picked a helluva week to get interested in our burg’s sonic happenings. There’s a heaping helping of great shows coming up this week. I kinda picked the outliers this time ‘round; excellent offerings that speak to our city’s wanton quirk and don’t exist so much on the fringe, but at its leading edge, a vanguard as it were. The French word for vanguard is avant-garde, I think.
Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians: “Unsettled”
Shultis performs the work of John Cage
Courtesy of the artist
Outpost! (210 Yale SE) presents challenging music for inquisitive and/or knowing audiences. That’s the only way to say it. Without the distraction of club accoutrements to embellish and augment artists (everything from lighting and loudness to liquor served), it’s really possible and inevitable to focus on the performance. With a tendency to book the best in modern jazz, world and art music, owner/operator Tom Guralinick really brings the possibility to fruition. Listeners can get a load of all that beauty and complexity manifesting on Friday, April 21. On that night, composer and percussionist Christopher Shultis will give his first recital in more than 20 years. A mostly loyal follower of the John Cage brand of postmodernism that helped fertilize a fruitful generation of academic composers and performers, Shultis holds a very lofty and well deserved position at the local university (Distinguished Professor Emeritus); he influenced countless numbers of students who went on to be integral parts or our town’s scene (Raven Chacon, Jon Bartlit, Monica Demarco and Clint Dearborn come to mind but there are many more). For his return to the tricky world of art music performance, Shultis will be revealing broad swaths of his oeuvre, from work in the late ‘80s that was composed around the time Cage was briefly in residence at UNM to current work in collaboration with visual artist Hee Sook Kim. Ace percussionists Simone Mancuso and Scott Ney will assist Shultis. Really, definitely start here this week, listeners; the concert begins at 7:30pm and costs between $15-20 for entry to occur.
Saturday’s a whole different thing altogether. Without digressing too much, it’s still possible to say that the concept behind “Saturday night,”—the crux of the party, the nocturnal indication that one is truly free and young and beautiful and work will never come again—needs a soundtrack. That postmodern conceit, leads me to believe that Burt’s Tiki Lounge (515 Central NW) will be the place to get all polymorphic whilst appropriating and colonizing. A rock concert on Saturday, April 22, featuring local and regional bands is the reason. It’ll be cooler than school though, dudes, because regional weirdo noise punks ThePsyatics will be playing a gig with local standouts The Dying Beds and Shitty and the Terribles. Interestingly, the whole “noise” thing is a John Cage thing popularized by a slew of mainly ‘80s percussionists and pianists who passed on their love of musique concrete and Cage to a generation of students who put that once removed influence to use in rocanrol projects. That’s some cray evolution, but you can almost hear it on Psyatics tunes like, “Bags Of Bones.” Also, the local openers totally rock! The Dying Beds featue muscular vocals and guitar work by Paul Sanders and Eric Moran, while Shitty and the Terribles have a dirty, crusty allure that is equal to if not more fragrant than their Burque dirtbag band predecessors, Icky and the Yuks. I wonder what Icky thinks. Anyway this awesome, 21+ example of how the now is constantly and loudly digressing into the noisy chaos of forever lacks a cover charge (FREE show!) and goes off at 9pm.
If what just transpired on the page above didn’t send you into fits of concert-going madness, then perhaps you should check out goddamn Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers at the Route 66 Casino Legends Theater (14500 Central SW) on that same Saturday night, April 22. Rogers, who now appears ageless due to the grace of some surgeon’s razor-sharp touch, is on a North American tour that treats the artist’s work as an authentic, definitive expression of Americana that includes songs like “The Gambler,” “Islands in the Stream” and “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” But don’t go for the historic importance, go hoping Rogers belts out a rendition of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” Tickets range in price from $43-101 and Rogers takes the stage at 7pm.
Kenny Rogers and The First Edition: “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”
No matter what else happens, no matter which show you chose last night— Saturday night—Sunday morning is totally, universally, but not necessarily lamentably inevitable. As such is the case dear fellow traveler, take note by indulging in some serious Sunday sounds. This Sunday, April 23, at Las Puertas (1512 First Street NW) Chatter ABQ’s Sunday morning concert series presents some intensely listenable, musically compelling works by Shostakovich and Ysaÿe, whose “Sonata for Two Violins” is opulent, ice-cold twentieth century composition at its tour-de-force best. The Shostakovich pieces, in comparison, are warmer, somehow more languid. All of these gravitas-wracked modernist musical incantations will be ably handled by violinist and Chatter Co-founder David Felberg in collaboration with violinist Ruxandra and pianist Paul Marquardt. Poet John Marcantoni begins the proceedings. This restorative and reflective all-ages Sunday morning outing requires an admission price between $5-15. It starts at 10:30am.
And before you go on and on about how serious this week’s column is, then have I got news for you. Son Volt plays on Tuesday, April 24, at Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall & Saloon (9800 Montgomery NE), courtesy of AMP productions. That’s pretty damn serious. Jay Farrar, the genius behind seminal alt-country icon Uncle Tupelo, succeeded in advancing the reach and range of traditional American music through the recordings and performances of Son Volt. The band, both the former legendary line up and the new quintet (including Mark Spencer of Blood Oranges) have hewed to Farrar’s unitary vision over the years, helping forge a sound that radically deconstructs country tropes while nodding auspiciously to traditional forms. The band’s new album, Notes of Blue, continues the exploratory and subsequently expository nature of Son Volts’ journey through the American melody and mind, referencing the blues as a matter of telling stories that are big and lonely and full of life; for Farrar, the blues becomes the vehicle of musical narrative. Folkster David Luning provides tour support. The previously described, 21+ aural experience can be yours, regardless of affiliation with America, for only $22. That’s a helluva low price to pay to get in on some of the sounds that made this country famous and put us out in front, kinda like a vanguard.