The podcast goes unplugged this week! Our host, Patrick Grant is in the front parlor with James Moore of the Dither Guitar Quartet. We’ll find out how James made it from the San Francisco Bay Area to the new music scene here in New York. He’ll tell us about the strange playing techniques he uses on his recent album of solo guitar music by John Zorn, and we’ll hear an exclusive rendition of a Chet Atkins ballad.
Dither is an electric guitar quartet that includes James, Taylor Levine, Joshua Lopes, and Gyan Riley. They specialize in an experimental mix of “composed music, improvisation, and electronic manipulation.” They’ve performed across the United States and overseas since forming in 2007, and produce a yearly festival of music and art called Extravaganza!.
As a multi-instrumentalist and composer, James juggles a number of musical projects aside from Dither, such as The Hands Free, an acoustic quartet, and a rock band called Forever House. He recently put out another album of violin and steel-string resonator guitar called Gertrudes, with Andie Springer. The pair formed their duo when they were on tour with playwright Richard Maxwell’s “Neutral Hero”.
The CD for James’ version of the guitar etudes by John Zorn called “Book of Heads” includes a film featuring the crazy techniques involved in the making of the album. Here’s a sample of what you’ll see on the DVD:
Thanks to everyone who’s been listening to the Strings and Things podcast! We really appreciate you spending time with us and our talented guests while we do the glamorous work of changing our gummy guitar strings. But, we want to let you know about another project we’ve wrapped up here at Peppergreen Media:
It’s the new Tilted Axes album!
You may remember we’ve met some of the guitarists on the podcast through Patrick’s project, Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars. It’s both a processional event and an ensemble of electric guitarists. They use portable amplifiers strapped to their sides as they criss-cross the urban landscape and play music for unsuspecting audiences. Anywhere from 9 to over 40 guitarists have performed in a Tilted Axes event, playing compositions that Patrick’s written specifically for the group, the project’s host city, or various cultural occasions.
If you haven’t had a chance to see Tilted Axes on the streets of New York, Detroit, Germany or Brazil, here’s YOUR chance to check out the unique and intricate textures of the mobile electric guitar procession. Whether we’re out on the streets or in the studio, Tilted Axes is an eclectic ensemble of musicians, producing potent and polyphonic guitar music.
On this episode of Strings and Things, Angela Babin drops by to work on a Melody Maker that hasn’t been out and about in years, while our host Patrick Grant restrings his studio-weary Les Paul. They’ll swap stories about the weirdest gigs they’ve played in New York City, and talk about how numbers and math inspire Angela’s current compositions. Then they’ll amp up for a special Strings and Things duet.
Since picking up the electric guitar at 14 years old, over the years Angela’s performed in a wide range of venues, from Folk City and CBGBs, to BAM and the Berlin Jazz Festival. She entered the downtown New York music scene with the band Off Beach, and played guitar in the nine-piece experimental rock group The Ordinaires. The Ordinaires were compared to Philip Glass, Captain Beefheart, Henry Mancini, Husker Du and Stravinsky – all at the same time! You may remember their cover of “Kashmir” was all over MTV at the time:
Randy’s going to tell us about the history of the EBow and where you’ve heard it before, and we’ll hear about trying to be an environmentally conscious guitarist when you also have a jones for tube electronics.
This time on the Strings and Things podcast, we have Anthony Mullin, from the merry band of head-banging hard-rockers called The Blackfires. He’s here to work on a very special Les Paul with a cool backstory, and he’ll tell us how his PhD influences his musical efforts.
While he and our host Patrick Grant re-string their guitars, we’ll hear how Anthony’s parents played a pivotal role in his early days as a musician, and we’ll find out what riffs and records inspired Anthony’s blues-based approach to his own playing.
Hailing from Leeds, England, Anthony joins an international crew of dedicated rockers in The Blackfires and the group is in a significant moment in their career. Enthusiastically described as a “hard rock circus,” their live shows garner raves for the rollicking energy and potency of the band’s performances.
The Blackfires – photo: loudwire.com
After opening for Aerosmith in Russia and continuing a busy live schedule, the band heads into the studio this summer to work on a new album. Your can find out more about Anthony and The Blackfires at their website, theblackfires.com.
On this episode of Strings and Things, we have the prolific composer/guitarist Nick Didkovsky, founder of the rock ensemble Doctor Nerve, and an agent of destruction in the grindcore outfit Vomit Fist.
While changing the strings on his B.C. Rich Stealth guitar, he tells our host, Patrick Grant, how he uses the programming language HMSL to compose music, and explains the virtues of his single humbucker pickup. Then Nick and Patrick plug into some Vox Amps for an electrifying duet.
Listen to an extended version of “Episode 4 Petromyzontiformes”, the piece featured at the end of the episode:
BONUS! Listen to Nick’s brief demo of the Stealth guitar:
Nick also plays with the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet and composed music for the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Meridian Arts Ensemble, ETHEL, and others. He’s a co-founder of the $100 Guitar Project with Chuck O’Meara. Find out more about Nick and his many musical projects at didkovsky.com.
On this edition of Strings and Things, the versatile electric guitarist Matt Grossman works on an iGuitar and host Patrick Grant attends to a Les Paul Standard.
As an in-demand soloist in New York City, Matt describes how he finds his role in different kinds of ensembles, from jazz and R&B, to folk and rock. He relates the story of a particularly alarming performance, and then amps up for a funky duet with Patrick.
Matt has also been teaching music for many years, to all age levels and all kinds of styles. You can find out more about him at mattgrossmanmusic.com.