Monday, August 20, 2012

marimba mail august 2012

Hi all, 

Apologies for the somewhat delayed arrival of this month's marimba mail! I could blame a carrier-pigeon strike, rising fuel costs for the marimba-mail steamship... truth is I've just been ridiculously busy and all over the place. Mostly pinging around between New York City and sunny Vermont. 

~~~Video Killed the Radio Star~~~ 
Video footage of Garry Jones' park-bench concertino is now up, with some of my photos. The actual bench-marimba I used for this concerto performance is now looking for a home, see for more details.

July 30-August 4th I was teaching drums at Girls Rock Vermont. I'm also director of development at this non-profit day camp, which I co-founded in 2011. Stuck In Vermont did a great video piece about camp, check it out here: 
I successfully avoided the camera, but I think my influence is present in this video -- every time a young drummer counts something off metronome-style. Plans (and grant applications) are already underway for Girls Rock Vermont 2013. It's one of my favourite things that I do. 

~~~Home Taping is Killing Music~~
I'm moving forward with recording my 0-8 mallet solo marimba album. I've already recorded Frank Zappa's 'The Black Page' (2 mallets), the Pitfield Xylophone Sonata (2 through 4 mallets), 'Indigo Spanish Fantasy' by Charles Joseph Smith (5 mallets) and the 8-mallet extravaganza 'Marimba Moods II' by Ludwig Albert. The remaining tracks are getting recorded September 12, and they'll be out on CD, vinyl and digital media shortly thereafter. 

~~~Keep it Live, Keep it A-live~~
The New York Musical Theatre Festival performances of Shelter: The Musical were a blast. Newell Bullen's score is an intricate, layered double-kicking rockfest. I sweated around NYC playing a variety of electronic drums and almost losing my cool when the theatre's kit completely collapsed during one of the performances. Crucially, it didn't unplug itself so I kept going -- at an increasingly horizontal angle -- without losing the beat... It was an honour to work with the cast, crew and pit on this show. I now have 100% more friends in Utah than I did the previous month, and see the value in (very occasionally) using drumsticks lighter than an X5B. 

I also returned to the Salisbury, VT concert series to perform rags and tangos with Rose Chancler on her birthday. Belfry-bats commented throughout our rehearsal, I played Lucas Guinot's 'Tango for Six' for the first time, Rose's little girl came on stage to sing 'Happy Birthday'. Word from the series director was that our program was "universally loved". Boast!

I also played marimba in the city-park sunshine, made my Higher Ground debut playing and microphone-singing at the marimba, and sweated behind the kit at Permanent Wave's warehouse-based music fest. Completed my second sprint triathlon in unfortunate shoes and the only swimwear remaining un-chewed by my dog. I will never be speedy but I am certainly stoic. No audiovisual linkage for this -- the finish-line cheerleaders chanting "you're looking good!" were, frankly, big liars. 

The Autumn-Fall is shaping up to feature some interesting music -- as well as releasing and touring my solo album, I'll be doing more music theatre work here in Vermont, and learning a lot of brand new repertoire with the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble. Playing bones for hundreds of kiddos via the VSO's percussion trio outreach program is also on the agenda. 

Hope your summer's been great, 


marimba from 0 to 8 mallets

Concertino for Park Bench and Strings

June 30th, 2012 I was the concerto soloist in the premiere performance of 'Concertino for Park Bench and Strings' by Garry Jones. The bench is a public-installation marimba, made of untreated cedar that is weather-proof for 25 years. At Music New England's inaugural Event In A Tent,  I played the concertino under a huge marquee in the middle of a field (Brattleboro, VT). Live video is above, photos below:

 The bench had to be raised on four sections of log to be at a conventional marimba-playing height.

 The natural notes of the marimba are a bench you can sit on; the accidental notes (black notes on a piano) were made especially for the performance so there could be a chromatic range.

The dark-brown knobs are a striking mechanism for the natural notes.

In the afternoon, I practised at the Harmonic Forge workshop.

The bench marimba has a range of just under 3 octaves -- each individual note is significantly wider than on a typical concert marimba.

 Loaded into the back of a trailer for transport to the event.

The morning of the concerto I went for a dirt-road run and stopped at this bench by the river. It was flooded with sand.

Still scenic, however -- it's Vermont.

The Event's Tent!

marimba mail july 2012

Hey marimba friends...

A lovely Vermont summer -- it's raining cats and dogs -- so my planned outdoor marimba performance in Burlington today has been rescheduled to July 19. Meantime, I believe rainy weather is good for practising...

~~~Concertino for Park Bench and Strings~~~
Saturday June 30 in Brattleboro Vermont, I'm premiering the 'Concertino for Park Bench and Strings' by Garry Jones. The park bench is a public-installation marimba, the strings are drawn from the Windham Orchestra (conducted by Jacob Mashak) and we will all be performing under a giant circus tent on a Southern Vermont farm. More information is at and you can see the marim-bench being built at I'm pretty excited about this and would love to see you there -- 1pm on the nose.

~~~0-8 mallet marimba album in progress~~~
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: thank you so much to my Kickstarter backers for making this project a reality. I've started focused work on the 0-8 mallet marimba album, with recording sessions tentatively scheduled for late July and early September. Jacob Mashak has written me a really intricate new solo for one mallet; Lucas Guinot has already sent me a lyrical yet contemporary Tango commission for 6 mallets. Both pieces are great, and tough to play! I have a CostCo membership and bought a tub of BandAids (plasters) the size of my torso to aid the recording process. It's all happening!
Thank you: Russ Bennett, District Drum CompanyMcVeigh Skiff, Emilie White, Linda Fraser, Kelly McCracken, Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, Paloma Bruce, Meredith Yayanos, Toonuva Games, Chris Boxall, Mikey, Rebecca Scully, Alia Thabit, Roberta Hickman, Nancy Weber, Peter Pein, David Drexler, James Stephenson, Thomas Negovan, Wesla Weller, Lesley Boxall, Raph Worrick, Steven Klimowski, Dean Sanders, Matt Grix, Holly Deitchman, Samantha, Rich Palmer, Quez, MisterEM, Jerry, Michael Desilets, W. Wright, Don P., John Boxall, Alan Z. and Andy Eldridge.

~~~July schedule~~~
MAGLIANERO ~ 18 July (Wed) @ Maglianero, Burlington VT
4-6pm: Coffee-shop set. Also performing: the loops/tapes/vocals of Nuda Veritas, the homemade electronics of Apocalypso (MA). Free, all ages.

MARIMBA IN THE PARK ~19 July (Thu) @ City Hall Park, Burlington VT
12noon-1pm: Free lunchtime performance in the park

RAGTANGORAGTIME ~20 July (Fri) @ Salisbury Congregational Church, Salisbury VT
7.30pm: Back by popular demand! A ragtime and tango program with pianist Rose Chancler. Music from Milhaud to Joplin to Albeniz to Guinot to George Hamilton Green.

In between hitting things, I'm sectionally hiking the Long Trail. Hope you're all getting outdoors too!



marimba from 0 to 8 mallets