“I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” a passerby said as Patrick Grant and his small platoon of electric guitarists and percussionists filed into St. Mark’s Church on East 10th Street. The musicians — roughly 20, with guitars plugged into miniature, battery-powered Danelectro amplifiers — had just finished a circuitous 85-minute journey from Rivington Guitars, on East Fourth Street, through the East Village, around Union Square Park, and on to the church, playing Mr. Grant’s insistently upbeat “Tilted Axes” as they walked.
The procession proved a fascinating barometer of New Yorkers’ tolerance for mild artistic eccentricity. Most people whose paths the ensemble crossed either smiled and stopped to watch, or scarcely glanced at the players, as if a parade of amplified guitarists was something you were likely to see at any time here.
A few happenstance listeners clapped to the rhythms of Mr. Grant’s piece — a series of simple, repeated chord progressions, to which a few players contributed spicy lead lines — and others joined the parade. No one seemed impatient or put out. And many a cellphone was drawn to document the performance.
Mr. Grant and his colleagues — among them, the guitarists Larry Simon, Angela Babin, Alex Baxter, Cristian Amigo and Nick Didkovsky — ended the piece inside the church after circling its auditorium a handful of times. They probably could have played for another 85 minutes, but on a signal from Mr. Grant, they produced a final, briskly strummed cathartic chord and settled in for what he called the “afterglow party.” – ALLAN KOZINN
For a brief glimpse of Tilted Axes, here’s video from along the parade route:
Make Music New York founder Aaron Friedman has said that Make Music Winter was inspired by Phil Kline‘s annual boombox parade Unsilent Night, which was performed this year on December 17. Kline’s piece Peregrine made its American debut at Make Music Winter, a musical procession which began at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, and made its way through Park Slope to JJ Byrne Park.
Unsilent Night is a neighborhood institution here in the East Village, many I know have been a part of it at one time or another. I’ll end with a video profile of the yearly event from 2008 and thank Unsilent Night for being such a wonderful inspiration for the musicians who participated in Make Music Winter: