Last Saturday Night was another in the “Intimate At The Englert” performance series, and I was on hand to record the proceedings.
Phil Ochs started the event with some solo electric guitar. His finger-picking was transmuted by pedals into a shimmering haze of guitar sound. As int the work of Rhys Chatham, the harmonics and ghost notes created by amplification and distortion were as important as the notes he actually played.
The Gloaming Duo (Jared Fowler and Chris Wiersma [Lwa]) combined Jared’s slow meditative guitar with subtle rushing and crackling sounds from what looked to be a cell phone interfering with Chris’s guitar pickups.
Wind Farm performed a piece that was supposed to be a theme from a documentary on Jet Skis, which they showed on a television in front of their assemblage of home-made and circuit bent electronics. The piece built slowly to a grinding, amorphous, throbbing sound that managed to retain a ghost of a melody.
Pete Balestrieri finished the event out with his solo saxophone renditions of “what we laughingly refer to as the Great American Songbook.” Pete chooses popular songs (“Que Sera Sera,” “Down By The Old Mill Stream,” “The Happy Wanderer,” “Caravan,” “As Time Goes By” etc) that have been beaten brutally to death by over-exposure. It’s hard to say whether his performances rehabilitate these songs or performs messy autopsies of them. The tempo stretchs to where individual notes seem like paragraphs, and notes bend into smooth curves, only to fragment into skirling clouds of skronk.
Pete’s pop song performances began in the 1980s, when he played with Geoff “Stinky” Worman and Tim Taylor in The Ghostly Trio. On their Christmas Record and a series of home-made cassettes, they commandeered songs from Muzak and “Easy Listening” radio and made them strange. Called “the Wedding Band From Hell” by the Milwaukee Express, they sounded like a small town Wisconsin dance combo playing the 3rd set at a wedding after a case of Blatz Beer and pot brownies.
Taylor left soon after the LP was recorded, and Geoff and Pete continued on as a duo, still called “The Ghostly Trio.” With Geoff Worman’s death in 2010, the Trio is down to just Pete, and his solo performances are haunted by the memory of Geoff’s unique guitar playing, and by the ghosts of the hundreds of cigarette-burned upright pianos where the songs were written by men long since dead.
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|[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/2011-03-19-Englert/2011-03-19-WindFarm-Live@Englert.mp3|titles=Live @ The Englert 3/19/2011|artists=Wind Farm]||Wind Farm|
|[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/2011-03-19-Englert/2011-03-19-PeteBalestrieri-Live@Englert.mp3|titles=Live @ The Englert 3/19/2011|artists=Pete Balestrieri]||Pete Balestrieri|