Fringe Festival

  Liette and I discovered the Fringe Festival the year before. We went to see a dance group and really enjoyed it. I just assumed the rest of the festival had these kind of high quality but out-of-the-mainstream acts. As I watched the dance performance with the music I had the thought,”This might be where my stuff would fit in.”  So I applied to get in the following year.

    The people working for the festival were all very nice but completely disorganized. I think they hired artists to manage and organize every aspect which was probably a nice, supportive gesture to artists but as far as managing a festival, a very bad idea. The most basic things never got communicated to anyone, the venues or the artists. Things went wrong that I never could have imagined could go wrong. That was in addition to the things that could have gone wrong and always did. One of the highlights was about two thirds the way through performance on the first night at Kaldi’s an angry lady tried to get my attention. When I looked over for a second she was angrily pointing to her watch. The only thing I could do was ignore her but it did sort of rattle my nerves. Then a few minutes later a bluegrass band started up in the room next door. The two rooms were only separated by a small open hallway so the banjo and high lonesome vocals came sailing right in and mixed with my sounds of giant cicadas and big washes of electronic sound. The date and time of the performance had changed so many times and Kaldi’s was never told so they hadn’t changed their regularly scheduled bluegrass band. And that was just one small thing that went wrong. Every night had it’s own set of surprises.

    I guess as far as the Fringe Festival in general goes, I didn’t seem to have a clear idea of what it’s about. I had based my whole impression on the dance group I had seen the year before but it turns out most of the acts have a kind of sordid edge to them, to say the least. I’m not exactly a prude but for the most part I found a lot of them actually revolting. Someone suggested they were a form of public therapy, people working out their “issues” in public. I was wondering if that’s what it is for the audience too. I had the distinct feeling that people weren’t there for any kind of art experience, but they were there more to show their support and root for the “cause”, whatever cause the performance was about. I really couldn’t connect with it.

Thomas More College

    One of the professors from Thomas More College was there on the last night of the Fringe Fesival. He and his friend, David Jackson, were the only two people in the audience, except for a table at the very back who were not interested in the music at all. Anyways, they seemed to enjoy it  and we talked after about electronica and bands from the 70’s so he asked if I’d be interested in doing a concert at the college and he could have his classes attend. It ended up being on  Halloween. I did the same piece as I did at the Fringe Festival. That turned out to be a good experience. People actually listened. When I know people are listening I’m a lot more aware of making the music good. And since there is a big improvisatory element that makes a difference.
    I also got to read the students comments on the concert which was very enlightening.
Here are some of my favorite comments:

link(pictures) Earlier David had talked about the strangeness of the painting of Thomas More outside the hall. Later he wanted to get a picture of me and Jay in front of it. I was surprised and said,”I thought you said you didn’t like that painting?” He said,”I didn’t say I didn’t like it, I said it was a bad painting. I love it.”

Cincinnati Art Museum: One World Wednesdays

    The theme was Iceland. I guess my music made them think cold thoughts so they thought it would go well for this kind of event. I thought the theme and the whole party built around it was cool but the venue itself couldn’t have been more wrong for the kind of thing I do.  It was pure stress from beginning to end. Having to set up late in the day amid all the hustle and bustle of dj’s and catering people. Some guy from building management came down and said there would be a problem with the amount of power I was drawing. Of course, it turned out to be no problem but I guess it gave him something important to do. I noticed many of the people connected with building management there radiate the feeling of “union”. A few of the guys were standing around watching me load everything by myself from the truck on to the  dollies in the loading dock, occasionally pointing a finger suggesting an easier way.
    After setting up and doing a quick sound check I left to take a break. When I came back a couple of hours later the place was jammed. I couldn’t believe how many people there were. It was the young professional “enlightened” art crowd. The noise level was that of a really high energy party with the music of 2 dj’s pounding in the large space. They’d take a break and I’d play during the interim. The music was introspective so it didn’t go at all with what was going on. I had to turn the system up higher than it had ever been just to get over the ambient noise and try and make it seem like it was some sort of party music, which it wasn’t. It was quite ridiculous but I thought what the heck, just try and enjoy it.

    At the end of the night the dj’s and caterer’s etc. had all packed up within 15 minutes and were wheeling their carts out the door. I had been promised help  but there was no one in sight except the night watchmen who were impatiently waiting for me to get out of there. It took about an hour and a half to break down. The watchmen were going nuts waiting for me but again all I got was the occaisional point of a finger and suggestion of an easier way.   

    This was over all not the greatest experience but it did have some positives. The party itself was very upbeat and it was very different to be able to walk around looking at great paintings in such a party atmosphere with House music pounding away in the background. It took the art museum experience out of the rareified atmosphere you usually associate with museums, so that was good. Also, I got to hang out with the dj’s after I had finnished playing and they were very nice. I got to ply them about their trade which is a whole world I know nothing about.

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