Feed Me Weird Things, Vol. 2, Ed. 1: Robert Noyes w/ Alexander, Haunter
Trumpet Blossom — Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Trumpet Blossom Café, 310 East Prentiss St. Iowa City, Iowa. — photo by Adrianne Behning
Having concluded the first volume of Feed Me Weird Things (FMWT) on Aug. 12, Chris Wiersma, curator of the series, pauses for the brief transition before Volume Two commences on Wednesday, Aug. 16 with Robert Noyes, Alexander and Haunter at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe at 9 p.m. (Tickets are $5, $7 at the door or $30 for the season pass.)
The brief interval between volumes is good news for those who have enjoyed any of the events so far — affordable and intimate, they provide a way for audience to practice a deep engagement with music as art and performance that occasionally is overshadowed by background noise or volume).
Can you describe the series, for those who missed Volume One?
It’s not just experimental music — it’s about rare things that most people don’t know. They’re the shows that wouldn’t get booked at any of the other venues — the things that fall in the gap, but that provide a distinct kind of music experience and a community where people come to really listen to music.
What did you like about the first series?
Personally, seeing a guy playing a cement mixer in my backyard was a high point, but that runs more to personal taste. Each of the shows had a different highlight. I really like seeing people I don’t know in the audience, because it means I transcended a level from a social media standpoint — it means that I’m connecting with an audience and not just browbeating my friends. In the underground, DIY music scene, that ends up being what happens. I also liked talking to Dave Dove, having a conversation on stage. A lot of folks said that they want a deeper level of connection with the artist and a deeper understanding of the work, so that it isn’t just a show.
What did you learn from putting on this series vs. other shows?
What the patronage ticket option [$50] taught me is that people will financially support things that move beyond a known quantity. So: I got to see shows and take chances based on work that was new to me. This isn’t often the case. I can take greater chances on the work in this series that wouldn’t financially be wise in other contexts. That also is a highlight for me. I’m sharing in the audience experience, and when you work behind the curtain that’s almost never the case. That’s why people who are in the business become callous — you don’t get the magic of being in the audience. But FMWT has restored some of the wonder that, in turn, enables me to continue doing it. And, for season two, there’s even more that I haven’t seen.
What are you trying out that’s different for the second series?
There will be new venues. I’ll be working with Public Space One for the first time, which is — I’m excited about them because it lets me stay outside of the concert venue system, which means that nobody cares that the music doesn’t sell beer. Getting to work with PS1 also lets me show off another community resource in the town, and introduces people to their workshops and resources for those who may not have been there. I’m hoping to do something with RADinc for similar reasons.
Also, I want to do at least one film screening. What I have in mind is Mdou Moctar, who made the first Taureg language film ever made. It’s unique for a nomadic society to have film … it’s a remake of Purple Rain set in the Sahara. We’re hoping that everything will work out for it.
I’m also trying to work in a few writers to present instead of just musicians. I hope that in putting this out here a few people contact me and let me know they would be interested — but we’re talking to a few people now to perhaps read. There’s a female film maker/photographer that I’m emailing right now. She did a film I will try to present — so film and literature will be incorporated. The base will be music, but I want to branch from there.
Somehow, we have never found the magic that lets writers and musicians share a stage, and you’d think that if any town in the country could do it, it’d be the City of Literature.
Why do you think that FMWT might be successful?
The audience for FMWT is coming with a deep listening experience in mind, and deep listening doesn’t confine itself to music. It is a greater philosophy and practice and it could encompass poetry, fiction and personal writing that we would benefit greatly from. With this audience now starting to develop, we will hopefully find that. If that works — and this is my pipe dream — a format will be created, and other people will start doing it. I don’t want to be a goal tender or gate keeper. I want people to copy the format and do it on their own. I’ll hand out my blueprints. I’m old, and I can’t do everything I want to do.
What’s exciting about the fall?
The summer series was for the people who live here. For the fall, other than just getting too many offers that I couldn’t turn down from incredible musicians — I would love to get just five young people for whom this could maybe open new avenues of thinking about music, and music as art (rather than a separate thing), then … that’s my ambitious goal for the fall.
For the curious but tentative, what shows would you recommend?
The fall series is not totally done — I have two more conversations before I’m locked in, so there may be another highlight that first timers would love.
• Mdou Moctar: That will be the show of the fall because the Saharan style of guitar playing has been imitated by Western indie rock for awhile now. This is the original version of it…but it’s an absolute pleasure and joy to hear. I think there will be dancing.
• Diane Cluck and Liv Carrow: Liv played [Saturday, Aug. 12], and Diane … is such a deep, deep thinker at that level that it thrills even a cynic like me. It’s just excellent writing with someone who happens to be singing and playing guitar. She’s weird enough for the weird people but rooted in a form that’s familiar for everyone.
• Tashi Dorji and Jon Mueller, who is a percussionist who has a piece based on the Shakers. He’s one of the best percussionists working in America right now, and he has a whole performance with strobes and a multi-gong kit. It’ll be intense and incredible … and something deeply thought and reasoned. But it’s not quite beginner stuff.
Any final thoughts?
Weird is more than Crazy Doberman, which I love — the crazy blistering screaming noises. It’s more expansive. I think once people recognize that they appreciate the appeal of the weird, it creates a broader way of thought and perspective that I think we need now. We need new ways of thinking and being.