Wordless Wednesday: Kate (I-80 Bay Bridge)

I-80 towards the Bay Bridge from Kate St.

I-80 towards the Bay Bridge from Kate St.

Wordless Wednesday: SQUARED (Hayes Valley, San Francisco)

Squared, Hayes Valley, San Francisco

SQUARED by Charles Gadeken, a 50-foot LED-and-metal sculpture currently on display at Patricia’s Green in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

Wordless Wednesday: Mussel Rock

Mussel Rock

An evocative spot at Mussel Rock Park, which is along the Pacific Ocean south of San Francisco.

I used to stop here periodically eight years ago when I worked at Digidesign/Avid but hadn’t been back in a long time until a couple of weeks ago.

Outsound New Music Summit: Rubber City and Ralph Carney Memorial Octet

Last Thursday night at the Outsound New Music Summit, musicians and music lovers came together to celebrate the life and legacy of one of our own, Ralph Carney.  He was a fixture of the Bay Area new-music scene who could be spotted performing in many groups and venues, and he also enjoyed success and notoriety in popular music with Tom Waits, the B-52s, and others.  He is also one of the most infamously colorful characters in the scene.  He passed away suddenly at the end of 2017 in an accident, leaving many both shocked and saddened.  This tribute concert featured a performance by Rubber City, of which Ralph was a member, and a memorial ensemble featuring local musicians who performed his compositions.

In the week leading up the concert, we had the chance to speak with David Slusser of Rubber City and Phillip Greenlief, who arranged Carney’s music for the memorial ensemble.  You can hear from them in these videos.

Rubber City opened the evening with a rendition of Beautiful Ohio, sounding much like they did in the video.  It was a fitting opening as Slusser, Carney, and drummer Chris Ackerman were all Ohio expatriates.  They were joined by bassist Richard Saunders and reedist Sheldon Brown.

The second piece, a rather bluesy tune, also evoked their Ohio origins and gave Saunders and Brown a chance to shine in solos.  The next was much darker and more atonal/arhythmic in nature but still had a very playful quality to it.  Another featured Slusser and Brown both playing soprano saxophone at the same time, a rare combination!  For the last piece, they set aside the saxophones for bass clarinet and flute.

David Slusser on flute

Even during moments of seriousness, there was a lot of fun and energy in the music, which was fitting for the artists on stage as well as the one they were paying tribute to.  It was a tremendous performance overall, and one I am not likely to hear repeated soon.

Slusser, Brown, and Saunders returned in the second set for the memorial “octet” that actually had nine members.  They were joined by Phillip Greenlief and Rent Romus on saxophones, Suki O’kane on drums, Myles Boisen on guitar, and Karina Denike and Michael McIntosh from Carney’s “Serious Jass Project.”  The performance was dominated by the horns in what I dubbed the “wall of saxophone.”

Wall of saxophone

The group began on a somber note with Carney’s Lament for Charleston, written shortly after the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.  But even this dark piece had exuberance and could not fully contain the energy of the large group.  From there, they continued on a rollicking trip through Carney’s compositions, including his oddball marches and an old-timey song about driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that was sung by Greenlief with great effect.

In keeping with Ralph Carney’s wide-ranging musical interests, there were a number of vintage jazz-style and mid-century tunes complete with swaying horn-section choreography.  Karina Denike’s singing and vintage presentation added to the overall effect and classic style of the performance.

Many of us were simply caught up in the joy of the music and the celebration.  Upon reflection, one realizes how different this was from the typical Outsound set with its references to swing, bebop, and early rock-and-roll.  But there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – I have long professed that “new” and “experimental” musicians should not feature traditional idioms and structures in their music.  This was an unequivocally great show, and the fact that it was on the Outsound stage was all the better.

Both bands played to a full and very appreciative house.  Throughout the evening, on stage and in the audience, people shared their memories of seeing Ralph play or performing with him, and how much he is missed.   I am confident that he would have loved our musical tribute and celebration, though he probably would have expressed his appreciation in an appropriately dry and confounding way.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Camera Study

The vast majority of my recent photography has been done with the iPhone, but for the upcoming Outsound New Music Summit, I will need to use the SLR and lenses.  So I’m getting back into practice with Sam Sam.

I think this one came out beautifully, especially as Sam Sam was being the perfect model.  I recently got a new faster camera, and so far it has been a joy to use, especially with our existing portrait lens on manual.  With the iPhone, I have forgotten both the fun and hazards of managing optics.  When focused properly it really brings out the detail of her fur and puts the background in the background.  Some shots work better than others, of course.  This one was less than perfect, but I really liked her vocal expression.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t shoot some pictures of her scratch’n’roll.

Sam Sam definitely knows how to ham it up for the camera.

I will be on photography duty for most nights at the Outsound New Music Summit, or at least the nights I’m not also performing with my band CDP.  You can find out more about the festival, including tickets, on the official website.

Wordless Wednesday CatSynth Pic: Mother-32

Wordless Wednesday: Sutro Baths Ruins at Lands End

The ruins of the Sutro Baths at Lands End on the western edge of San Francisco.

Quite a few of our recent Wordless Wednesdays have focused on the western parts of the city.  Here are some previous posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Orizaba

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Merced Abstraction

Wordless Wednesday: Windmill (Golden Gate Park)

In addition, there is our video and article about Lake Merced.

Wordless Wednesday: Independence Day

The flag we see every day out the window from CatSynth HQ.  We wish all our fellow Americans a happy 4th of July (Independence Day)!

(Shot on an iPhone using Hipstamatic Lisbon Pack)

CatSynth Pic: Luna and Keyboards

Beautiful black cat Luna strikes a “noir” pose atop one keyboard and next to another.  Submitted by Matthew Vasquez via our Facebook page.  I really like the way the stripes of light play against the keyboards, which in turn heighten the black cat’s figure.

This is Luna is not our Luna, but looks so much like her!  You can read our more recent tribute to the late great Luna of CatSynth here.

Identification of the synths/keyboards left as an exercise to the reader.

Wordless Wednesday: Orizaba

South on Orizaba Ave

Looking south on Orizaba Avenue in southwestern San Francisco from Lakeview and Ashton Mini Park.  You can read more about our visit to this spot in this article.