If you judge a tech conference by the number of balloon drops, artesanal cheeses on offer, and lobster sandwich affordability, PopTech wins hands down. Sure, PopTech excels in more traditional categories like social networking and inspiring awe in the ability of technological progress and human ingenuity to improve living standards in impoverished countries, but you really should have seen the cheeses.
PopTech may or may not make a video of my performance available, but they’ve got some great shots of my performance up on their flickr photostream. Also, I recommend checking video of Reggie Watts’s brilliant impromptu comedy/beat-boxing mind explosion.
I do a great impression of a grizzled, drunken rock star who opens every show with a slurred shout, “ARE YOU READY TO ROCK, CLEVELAND?” Needless to say, I won’t be showcasing this gem of low comedy at my next gig, and that’s for two reasons. One, I like my fans, and I want to keep them. Two, the gig is in Cleveland, which kind of deflates the premise. But give me ten years on the road and a poorly-attended show in a Dayton amphitheater, and I will kick-off my Axl Rose phase with these words.
With that cleared up, I’m excited to report that I have not one but two shows lined up at the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. This festival takes place under a bridge in downtown Cleveland and features all kinds of musicians, artists, fashion designers, and performers, including former members of the Sugar Hill Gang and a guy with a gong ensemble, together! Kidding. They’re not jamming together, sadly. But the gong guy plays right before I do on Saturday. I’m on the Cafe Stage on Friday at 6 and at the same stage on Saturday at 5.
The video of last year’s festival shows it’s as much a giant party as an art or science festival.
On the heels of my Cleveland shows, I’m performing at the Spark Festival in Minneapolis. My set comes during the middle of the opening party, which runs from 4:30 to 6:30 on Thursday, September 30, in the Regis Art Center.
A little more than a week later, I’m performing in TPT studios in downtown Saint Paul as part of the Sound Crawl. More details on that as I get them.
Building Jazari has involved a lot of experimentation and trial and error in every dimension of the project, from hardware and software to rhythms and improvisational forms. After my performances at the Minneapolis Electronic Music Festival this weekend, I think I’ve settled on a formal structure that I like. Here’s how it works: I start playing and improvise beats until I’m mentally exhausted. Then I stop. It’s elegantly simple, and it preserves momentum through the whole set. I decided to try this approach to make my set fit in within the context of a dance music festival, where the beat is relentless, but I think it will become my normal performance style. If people are digging the beats, why stop? To tell jokes? If I want to inflict my stand-up routine on people (and I’m telling you, my Garrison Keillor impersonation kills so bad, it’s practically genocide), I’ll launch another improbable career.
A big thank you to the folks at Shuga Records for the opportunity and their professionalism. These guys and gals can run a festival. In particular, I want to thank Adam, Jonah, Elaine, and Will, who did a great job behind the sound board.
My next gig in the Twin Cities is Oct. 2 at the Spark Festival, followed in quick succession by another gig Oct. 9. I’m not sure where that one is, but I’ll know soon and update everything accordingly. Before Spark, I play the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival in the third week of September.
I’m playing Shuga Records again on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21 as part of the Minneapolis Electronic Music Festival. It’s all DJs…and Jazari. The proverbial foot is in the door. I play inside at 8 pm on both days. It’s free, and there’s cheap beer available for the 21+ crowd.
On June 15, I will join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of other skinny white guys in over-priced denim who want you to go to their show in New York. But mine is better! Because I have robots and they don’t.
Even if you’re not going to be in New York City on June 15 because you’re in the Hamptons or possibly because you, like most of humanity, live elsewhere, you probably know someone in New York who would enjoy hearing cyborg percussion music in a casual but tastefully furnished bar. Your uncle Bruce, for example, or your former roommate’s super hot and extremely nerdy ex-girlfriend who now lives in Park Slope. Well, now there’s an easy way to send them to my show.
This is a link to the event page on a well-known social networking site. There’s a Share button in the right column. Use it! The resulting street cred will impress your friends, make your co-workers jealous, and cut velvet ropes the world over.
I just finished a great conversation with Pam Hill Kroyer on her show Pam Without Boundaries on KFAI. Thanks again to Pam for having me on.
Pam made a somewhat mysterious reference to a show I’m playing this Sunday at Room Zero. She didn’t offer details because the location is a little hush-hush, but you can get the location, pass code, and secret handshake by emailing shield.your.eyes[at]live.com. Also, all three of the tracks Pam played are available at iTunes and for the Steve Jobs averse, Amazon.
During our talk, I alluded to some still vague plans to incorporate speech recognition software into my setup. This idea is still in the research phase, and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s even possible. Commercial speech recognition software can perform poorly in the relative quiet of a home office. It’s uncertain that even the most advance algorithms would handle the noisy atmosphere of a live stage show. But I’m going to give it a try. The recognition API I’ve been looking at is Sphninx 4, developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Since Java is what I know best, I’ve been looking at Java APIs, but I’d welcome suggestions for other APIs. I also have the impression that Hidden Markov Models, which is what Spninx 4 uses, are slightly dated, and the state of the art uses Conditional Random Fields. I was wondering if anyone has a perspective on the relative merits of these models.
Playing Hooliefest at Shuga Records turned into a much bigger gig than I anticipated. I played Saturday indoors in the early afternoon, the first time I’d ever played on a amplified system. Wow! Hearing the low tones of the djembe boom from the PA was an awesome experience. The set was highly improvisatory, which always carries a lot of risk. Some sections will be stronger than others, but in general, I think I managed to keep the set consistently high-energy while varying textures and rhythmic and melodic materials.
The staff at Hooliefest liked what I did so much that they invited me back to perform on Sunday on the main stage as the last act. That was a great opportunity, and I have to thank the owners of Shuga Records, Adam and Danielle, and the booker of the festival, Jonah, as well as all of the other staff members for making that possible. They kept everything running smoothly and on time so that they could fit me in, which was an impressive feat of logistics.