As we are in the middle of Passover, it seems like a good time to look back at a Jewish-themed show in which I participated earlier this year. The Amy X-Perience brought together a mix of artists in solo, duo and ensemble sets at the Jewish Community Center in Berkeley, California. The evening was curated by our friend and collaborator Amy X Neuburg.
The night began with a piece by Neuburg featuring electronics and potato chips. Yes, potato chips. Small vending-machine-sized bags were distributed to the audience, who were instructed to on cue open the bags and start chewing the (edible) contents loudly, as Neuburg manipulated the sounds and added additional musical layers.
I was up next. Regular readers have likely already heard part of my solo set from this show – I posted the performance of piece White Wine in this article a couple of weeks ago. I also performed a live version of my piece Donershtik (Yiddish for “Thursday”), which you can see below.
I was quite happy with how both solo pieces came out, but the real treat was having Amy join me in a duo of my piece North Berkeley BART, humorously appropriate for the location that evening.
I have always been impressed with Amy’s musicianship, discipline and ability to learn songs quickly, and very much appreciated her joining me. We also performed an avant-garde rendition of the American standard All of Me later in the evening.
Between the two of us, there was quite an impressive collection of musical electronics on stage.
My solo set was followed by Alex Kelley, a veritable one-man band on cello and electronics.
His music blended jazz, klezmer and rock influences with experimental sounds. His cello acted not only as a melodic instrument, but also as the rhythm section, with Kelley striking it like a drum at times, and recording bass lines into a live looper and then riffing on top of that. His performance was both tight and humorous and a lot of fun to watch. You can hear a little bit in this video:
Next up was Solstice: A Female Vocal Ensemble. Sadly, several members of the group were unfortunately absent that evening due to illness, but that didn’t stop the remaining trio from delivering a strong performance.
Solstice’s repertoire spans a variety of styles and languages, and their set that evening included pieces from several places. I was quite impressed with their ability so sing in so many languages.
The second half of the program brought together the various artists in different combinations. I already mentioned my duo rendition of All of Me with Amy X Neuburg. She also performed show tunes with Alex Kelley, and joined Solstice for a virtuosic rendition of an Eastern European song. And finally, all of us joined together for a rousing rendition of Mein Herr from Cabaret. It was a fun and fitting conclusion to the evening.
All of the performances were well received by the enthusiastic full house. Thank you to Amy X Neuburg for inviting all of us to participate in this event, and to the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay for hosting! Please visit their website to find out about the many performances and other cultural programs hosted by the JCC.