jim o'rourke

Behind The Reduction: Darin Gray by David Bernabo

So, our first performance of The Reduction is fast approaching. I'd like to take a bit of time to talk about the piece and the people involved in its creation. I thought I would start with the person that I have known the longest, bassist and all-around great person, Darin Gray.


You may have seen/heard Darin recently as the bassist in TWEEDY, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and son and friends, or his work in Chikamorachi with drummer Chris Corsano, or various shows with saxophonist Akira Sakata, Jim O'Rourke, Tyler Damon, and, of course, his duo with Glenn Kotche called On Fillmore.

On March 8, 2003, I met Darin at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. It appears that the internet can back this up. I was playing keys in the Pittsburgh band, Boxstep, and we were sharing a bill with On Fillmore. Azita, whose recent-at-the-time album I really loved, was headlining the evening. I remember Boxstep guitarist Daryl Fleming and I being really into Azita's set because there were traces of Steely Dan chording somewhere in there. Anyway, I knew of On Fillmore from Tim Barnes' Quakebasket label, but also knew of Darin and Glenn from the Jim O'Rourke Drag City records. I want to say that at that time, Tim had released their wooden box record and possibly the first non-box CD, which may have been split-released with Locust Records. (I could run upstairs to check, but I like not knowing everything. Also, the internet is a great place for wandering truths.)

Anyway, the On Fillmore set was wonderful! If I remember correctly, it was kit, vibraphone, and upright bass with no field recordings. Very rhythmic. Repetative. Shifting time signatures. Wonderful stuff. On Fillmore has since released a few more records, all wonderful, evolving, great sounding works. On the album, Extended Vacation, there is an Ives-ian sequence where a marching band crashes into the human birdcalls and dark vibes/bass. For that record, the duo played the Warhol Museum, and while I was out of town, we recorded an interview that is still online.  Later on, they also toured with Radiolab, providing sound for forty shows.

So, when I proposed The Reduction to the New Hazlett Theatre, it seemed like a good time to see if a collaboration was possible. As it turns out, it was! As with much of the show, I do not want to give much away, but here is a photo of preparations for the sound.

Darin has the ability to change his sound from project to project, but there are qualities that transcend the genre or the group. His playing is fully committed, and that commitment allows the music to really be something special.

Here are some of my favorite clips of a few of his projects and collaborations. For further listening, I would recommend Darin's solo album, St. Louis Shuffle, Jim O'Rourke's InsignificanceBrise-Glacé's When in Vanitas (sooo good!), Grand Ulena's Gateway to Dignity.

Loren MazzaCane Connors & Darin Gray live at Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington, Indiana on March 4, 2000. A CD of this concert was released as "This Past Spring" on Family Vineyard, May 24, 2001. Filmed by CATS (Community Access Television Services).

A beautiful section from the Radiolab piece by On Fillmore with Sarah Lipstate from Noveller.

I'm really into the new Tweedy record. There is a great consistency in the songwriting, the production is cool, and I really like the live shows. Here's one of the live shows.

Sergey Letov, Chris Corsano, Akira Sakata & Darin Gray Moscow, 25-10-11

Hope to see you on August 13th for the show!

MakerDate, Mine Factory Opening, and CDR by David Bernabo

I write this note to you while listening to the stream of the new Jim O'Rourke record - it is great, unique from his other song-based records, unexpectedly reverb-y, with an unexpectedly low mix on the voice, complex, harmonized, and just crazy good. I'm also making dinner. Slow cooking chuck roast that I froze a few weeks ago. Dehydrating rhubarb. Roasting squash. Quick pickling cucumber.

Anyway, three things are coming up this week. An art opening, an event with Host Skull-related activity, and MakerDate, where my newfound filmmaking skills will be auctioned off for a filmmaking date.

CDR Pittsburgh, 5/14, Space Upstairs

Host Skull has been working on our third record for a bit. We started a little over a year ago, and we are close to completion. We'll be presenting the first video at the CDR event. The song is called "Big Tan" and it closes the record. Here is some background info on CDR. Note: lots of folks will present works in progress. Should be interesting!

"CDR (Create, Define, Release) is an evolving multi-platform music project delivered by a collective of music producers, artists and thinkers passionate about creating opportunities to share the process of music production.

CDR sessions offer music makers the opportunity to submit their own songs (burnt onto CD, on a USB or uploaded in advance) then hear them played in a club environment over a superb soundsystem.

By getting a chance to publicly listen to their sonic works in progress, producers can identify any tweaks or development their songs could benefit from. They can also gauge people’s responses as well as discussing their tracks with others attending."

Live music at Space Upstairs

MakerDate, 5/16

Assemble, founded by my college-era and current-era friend Nina Barbuto, is a great gallery that has consistently engaged the community and brought "making" to the neighborhood through children's programs, interesting curation, and unique events. MakerDate is one of those unique events. It's a fundraiser, but you can bid on an experience. Get a private welding lesson from artist Dee Briggs. Make a zine with Maggie Lynn Negrete. And, um, hang out with me while making the FOOD SYSTEMS films, learn a bit about Adobe Premiere, and strategies for editing. Lots of people are donating their skills and there is a silent auction, too. Check out Nina on CBS!

The event is this Saturday, May 16. MakerDate Tickets


Mine Factory Opening, 5/17

A bunch of us have studios in 201 N. Braddock Ave, which is a building that is often referred to the Mine Factory building or, sometimes, the building that Stacyee Pearl's dance studio is in. Whatever you call it, the building houses the Mine Factory gallery and the tenants are having a group show on Sunday, May 17. The show is called NO VACANCY. The opening starts at 5pm and ends at 8pm.

Lastly, I'm raising some modest funds to cover the remaining expenses of the Food Systems film. By backing the project, you will ensure that you can see the films. Early previews have been very positive. So, I think you will like it. If you can help (even $5 gets you one of the films), I greatly appreciate it! Thanks! Back the project here: Food Systems Kickstarter



Also, while you are weighing your options with those selfishly-me-related activities, maybe you want to go to Conflict Kitchen's Palestinian Film Festival instead. 5 Broken Cameras screens Thursday night at Regent Square Theater. Divine Intervention screens at Melwood on Friday. And Saturday, 5/16 has a double feature with the short, The Dinner, and the long, When I Saw You, under the tent in Schenley Plaza.