Posts Tagged “tour”

Thanks to everyone who came out to our SoCal shows last week. I’m going to post a rundown of the music we played on both nights (both shows were basically the same), starting with set one, which was as follows:

1. “The Truth and the Abstract Blues” (from Industrial Jazz a Go Go!). At one point, our drummer, Dan, asked for some chord changes to be written into his part to help him keep track of the form of this piece, which was dropped from the set back in 2005. In the process of doing so I realized that “Truth” is actually pretty polytonal in spots. I guess the effect is almost like having three or four different blues records, in different keys but at the same tempo, playing at once. Oh yes, and the title is an obvious inversion of a favorite Oliver Nelson album.

2. “The Bee Dance” (unreleased, though you can hear a rough mix on the ReverbNation player widget, off to the right there). With any luck, this tune will appear on the next album. Though the composition dates from 2007, it wasn’t until 2008 that the arrangement fell into place. Based on one of our heavier grooves, this particular arrangement is adjusted slightly in order to make the Rimsky-Korsakov references a little shinier.

3. “Howl” (from LEEF). Like “Truth,” this one is heavily blues inflected. The title refers not so much to Alan Ginsberg (though I love Alan Ginsberg), but to Chester Burnett (aka Howlin’ Wolf), whose importance to me is somewhat greater: without him I might not even still be making music. It is probably easy enough for the other Wolf fans out there to disentangle the various lupine riffs that have been folded into the first part of this piece. Exhibit A: the trumpet line at about a minute in (again, you can check the version of “Howl” that is cued up in ReverbNation player if you’ve never heard the tune), adapted from the classic Roosevelt Sykes song “44,” of which my favorite version is still Wolf’s. The whole thing ends with a rather dissonant vaudeville two-step sort of thing. Because why not?

4. “The Seagull” (unreleased). One of two brand-new tunes we performed on this tour. There is some serious time displacement nonsense happening here (7/4 against 8/4, or some such thing). I’m not sure I understand it, actually, and I know for a fact that I can’t let my guard down for a second in performance, because there is so much to concentrate on, but I swear the whole thing makes sense once you know how it all fits together. Take away the time madness, and you’ll find the song is based on a pretty simple set of riffs, one of which is very firmly in the “surf sax” genre. You can hear some of the craziness excerpted in this lo-fi video (note how at various points my conducting doesn’t seem to match up with the actual piece — even though I swear it does). Also, this one was originally called “The Pelican,” until I realized it sounded much more like a seagull.

5. “Bajaja” (unreleased). Wow, this is yet another thing you can hear on our ReverbNation player (a veritable potpourri, that). This is a Go-Go era song, and it almost made it onto that album, but was dropped at the last minute, for reasons I don’t quite remember. The tune takes its cue from the Baja peninsula, SoCal culture in general, and Mingus’s New Tijuana Moods stuff. The last time we performed it was in 2005.

6. “The Star Chamber” (from The Star Chamber (duh!)). One of the harder tunes in our repertoire, not least because of the infamous letter E, in which one portion of the band is in 13/8 and another portion is in 13/4. “Chamber” dates from 2002, making it one of the older things in our current set. I think that the next time out I really need to re-insert the piano part (a la the album version), but for this last tour I was too busy trying to make sure everything fit together the way it was supposed to.

7. “Antennae Town” (unreleased). Another one that I hope to have on the next album. A rather sharp shift from “The Star Chamber” in the context of this set, as “Antennae” is an unabashedly melodic and singable tune. I have to say, this is one of my little babies.

8. “Tuxedo Trouble” (from City of Angles). Comically, the twitter pseudo-avatar “Jazz Nerds International” recently posted a tweet that refers to audiences sitting on their hands in the presence of a song that happened to be in 11/8. This tune is in 11/8! (Most of the time, anyway.) And yet people danced when we played it. I guess that’s more evidence that the IJG is not nerdy enough to be jazz nerds, but too nerdy to be jazz non-nerds. Great.

9. And what better way to end set one than with “Jazz-Pop Jerkoff” (unreleased, slated for next album)? Apparently this one caused a bit of a titter in the audience when I announced it, because of course we were performing as part of the Hammer’s “JazzPOP” series, and there was a gigantic sign that said “JazzPOP” hanging right above us as we played. I swear that was just a big old coincidence.

Next: set two.

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Loading gear in Hudson, NY

Loading gear in Hudson, NY

Number of times I hit my head on this tour:  3

Number of times it was earth-shatteringly loud:  2

Number of times it was captured on video:  1

Number of times you’ll watch it on YouTube:  0

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Around 1980, my cousin Billy often used the word “biffit” to describe “10 pounds of x in a 5 pound y.” 1

Ever since our band broke the 10+ member barrier, The Industrial Jazz Group has had to figure out how to deal with the challenge of playing in smaller places. It’s fun to walk into a venue and do the mental tetris to figure out how we’re all gonna fit. Even though we have trombones and music stands and a keyboard and furiously gesticulating singers and dance moves and such, we always manage to make it work, and also to make it super-fun.

Friday (10/16) we played at The Green Line Café in Philadelphia and despite the teeny space, we ROCKED it. That was most definitely a biffit: 20,000 pounds of awesome crammed into a 5 pound bag… and by “5 pound bag” I mean an 80-square foot slab of floor that required the trombones to stand on the windowsill so they could play over the heads of the trumpets, and 9 tunes crammed into a 40 minute set. And by “20,000 pounds of awesome” I mean that our show contained booty-shakin’, hootin’ and hollerin’, audience-member smoochin’, and a big-time bangover the next morning. Or: to paraphrase Durkin: “On a 40-degree rainy night, we had the place rockin’ so hard that the venue had to turn on the air conditioning.” Oh hells yes!

On Saturday (10/17) we were invited to play at Galerie St. George, which is an old, huge, beautiful home on Staten Island that’s been turned into an art gallery. Despite the lipstick on this (absolutely gorgeous) pig, this show was still at its essence a house concert. You might be thinking, “How on earth can a 17-piece band play a house concert?” The answer is: With awesomeness, baby.

This event was another biffit: We stuffed 17 people, 15 music stands, a PA, a keyboard, and two mic stands into a 120-square foot center room of this house. Only the band could fit in this room, but the the audience sat in the surrounding spaces and they had a great time, goshdarnit. So did we! It was probably the most unusual setup we’ve ever had, and it was cool figuring out ways to engage the audience. I got to resurrect the signs by parading them around the house, which was good fun. I’ve missed those signs, and I plan on using them for most of our other gigs on the tour. Keep your eyes peeled!

IJG at Galerie St. George

Anyhoo, tomorrow (well, technically today as it’s 12:16am EST, despite what the header might say) we’ll be on a big, beautiful stage in Brooklyn at The Bell House. I’m very excited to share a bill yet again with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and to experience for the first time Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra. The show starts at 7:30, and IJG goes on around 9. Can’t wait to see you there!

But now: Sleep. Today was a full day of mystery-gigging and bacon-cookie-making, but I’ll tell you all about those at another time.

——-
1 Where x = dingleberries and y = bag.

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The Industrial Jazz Group’s east coast ROCKTOBER tour unofficially began yesterday, as a few west coast members made their way into the eastern time zone. Yesterday I rented the smallest of the three tour vehicles: an “arrest me red” 2009 Chevy Impala. This afternoon the rest of the band flies in, and we head straight to our rehearsal in Brooklyn, and then we’re off to Pittsfield, MA to play as part of that city’s Jazz Festival.

This tour is our most ambitious to date; I just loosely mapped it out via Google Maps and this is what I discovered: This tour, from city to city, is just shy of 2000 miles. Insane, isn’t it?

That's a lotta miles: 1938 of them

That's a lotta miles: 1938 of them

Another new high for us is the hiring of an official tour photographer. Out of the many photographers we know, we chose Steven Noreyko of Austin, Texas. I freakin’ love his work, and his specialty is capturing people interacting with odd environments. If a 10-city, 10-day, 2000-mile tour with 17 people crammed in three vehicles and sleeping on floors isn’t an odd environment, I don’t know what is. I told Steve that he could do with us as he pleased, as long as he got at just one shot of us in front of an Applebee’s sign.

For tour updates, keep your eye on this here spot, as well as on Twitter. Durkin, Dan Rosenboom (our skeletor/trumpet master), Matt (our mirthmaster), Steve (our photomaster) and yours truly (the bee-master) all have Twitter accounts and will be keeping you up to date in 140 characters or less. We’ll be trying to use the #ijgtour hashtag, character-limit permitting. If you attend one of our shows, please use that tag, too! (Unless you hate the show. Then use #KennyG.)

To the Impala!

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eh?When I was living in San Francisco, one thing I grew to appreciate was the ubiquity of earplugs at bars, music venues, and thumpy clubs. Just ask the bartender for a pair, or grab a set as you paid your cover charge and you were good to go. You could hear the nuances of the music just fine, but your ears weren’t ringing for three days post-event. Lots of people wore them, and it wasn’t considered dorky.

I always keep earplugs in my pocket or purse, because I never know when I’m gonna be in an emergency rock-and-roll situation– yessiree, that’s the life I lead. One minute I’m shopping for soup, and the next minute: METAL!!1!

Anyway.

Singing for a big band means that I stand in front of 14 other people playing their hearts out, which translates into ow-ow-ow-ow after the second song if I’ve forgotten mah ‘plugs. You should see the fabulous set Tany has– I bet she’d show you if you asked nicely. (Her EARPLUGS people, her earplugs. Tany will show you her fabulous set of EARPLUGS. Good lordy, you are that pig!)

Because some venues let audience members sit close to the stage, I can see folks cowering a bit during the loud bits, and relaxing more during the quieter moments. But let’s face it: Even when 16 people are all playing softly, it’s still loud.

Folks, we want you to be able to enjoy our music for many years to come, so you have to protect yourself. Practice safe listening!

You can do this by:

1) Not listening to shitty music
2) Buying The Industrial Jazz Group’s albums, either online, or at a show
3) Supporting the band by donating to our fund raiser (Honestly! This is scientifically proven to protect your hearing!)
4) Wearing your earplugs.

As a comfy, environmentally friendlier, low-cost, effective option, we like Argus Hexagonal Polyurethane earplugs. Hexagonal design means there’s less production waste than round or conical earplugs, and they expand comfortably in your ear canal just fine. Polyurethane means no latex allergy concerns. And we buy them in black, because black is the (non-)color of ROCK.

So this is why I, Jill Knapp, The Industrial Jazz Group’s Patron Saint of Hearing Protection, will make sure that earplugs will be available at our east coast shows this ROCKtober. Like I said, we want you to enjoy our music for many years, but you can’t do that if we make you all deeef.

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