The Oregonian did both a preview article and a review for my RiverProject show with Third Angle, called One Mississippi. it was a totally wonderful experience to work with Ron Blessinger and the band, and I’m seriously considering a Columbia River project now. Why not?!?!
I’ve been away for a while being sick with what felt like an endless case of bronchitis, and I am better now, for which I am totally totally grateful, but the good part is I pretty much stayed home and played around in music-land the whole month of January, which was a very fun thing to do.
So here’s a little taste: a piece I’ve made out of a recording of the sirens in Plaquemine, LA. I had heard the monthly warning siren test when I was there with Mac in December 2009, but I only caught the last bit on my recorder, so I got Bill Kelley, a fine engineer and musician based in Baton Rouge, to record it for me in December 2010, and it’s inspiring lots of siren pieces.
Some of them will be part of the Archives of Exile project with Richard Steadman-Jones that’ll be going happening in Sheffield in July, but of course they are part of the River Project as well, so I hope you enjoy this taste of The Sirens of Plaquemine.?
(I think you might want to listen to it softly: these particular sirens aren’t warning you, exactly…)
(The siren bowl pictured above is at the University of Mississippi, how cool is that?!?)
Mary Rowell and I have been talking about putting together a band for a while now, and we spent a few days together at Montalvo in late March developing more rep for that project. Along with new work that’s still in progress, we made new versions of It Happens Like This, which you can listen to here, and Landscaping for Privacy, which I will post soon as well.
On Good Friday, when H. C. Porter and I were wandering around the almost-ghost-town of Rodney, we came upon a man named Jerry, who was fishing in the swamp on the edge of town. The water in Rodney is even higher than it was around Thanksgiving, when Mary and I visited there the first time. The river has moved about three miles west of where it was during the Civil War, orphaning the town in the woods. You can’t actually get to the river without a boat, because the intervening land is flooded most of the year.
Jerry is one of very few residents of Rodney — there are perhaps three families actually living here — and he lives off the land. While we watched, he was catching brim at the rate of about one a minute: hooking a worm, throwing in his line, pausing a moment, pulling the next fish in, taking it off the hook, and beginning the cycle again. Some guys we met later in the day told us that they had asked Jerry how many fish he caught and the answer was “Brim.” Jerry is a man of very few words, and it is possible he was answering a different question — what kind? rather than how many? — but of course the bucket was indeed full. Jerry was on his way to Lorman, walking the ten miles of back roads as he does several times a week to sell his fish at the market in town.
Mary and I have agreed that the name of our new band is Brim.
I’m posting a couple of versions of this first piece I’ve made since embarking on the River Trip. It’s called “I am really a very simple person.” I’m not entirely sure where it came from, but I’m really glad it showed up!
I made the keyboard version in early January. It goes like this:
And now I’ve made a sort of shape-note choral version by overdubbing myself singing all the parts. It goes like this:
While I like things about each version, I feel like perhaps the piece has something more to say that I’m not quite grasping with either of these recordings. So I am really open to finding out what you are hearing in the piece; perhaps your comments will help me clarify where it wants to go.
If you’re a musician and want to play with the piece yourself, you can download a draft score here.