Switchboard and Beyond

Greetings from 2015!

What can I say…it’s been a while. This cursed/blessed (individual mileage may vary) radio silence is largely a function of the fact that recent progress has been mostly under the radar or non-public-facing, if you will. We had a gig fall through last minute in November and, due to my conscientious and/or foolhardy gig-scheduling policy, got left in the lurch with 2 months and change of downtime between gigs. Thankfully, this gave me an opportunity to spend some additional time writing and refining a lot of new music specifically designed for our 2-drummer format, some of which was debuted at a very fun show at Oakland’s Studio Grand in January. But that was then and, if there’s one thing I seem to dimly recall learning from the unnamed reanimated ’80s Stockbroker Guy’ in that one episode of ‘Futurama’, we should be sharks and sharks don’t look back because they have no necks. Heavy.

Hence, Looking Forward, an inspirational exercise in 2 non-rhyming parts:

1. SWITCHBOARD FESTIVAL

On April 4th, I am deeply honored to be bringing an expanded version of my band to this year’s edition of the vital Switchboard Music Festival, at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. This festival has made an incredible contribution to the bay area scene since its inception and it’s humbling to see our names on a bill with so many amazing ensembles, performers, and colleagues. The festival starts at 2 pm and we’re on around 4:45, playing a set of new and recent music (heavily focused on work featuring our recent double-drummer lineup).

The band I’m bringing to this gig is a true embarrassment of riches:

Kasey Knudsen: alto sax

Phillip Greenlief: tenor sax, clarinet

Marcus Stephens: tenor sax, clarinet

Aaron Novik: bass clarinet, clarinet

Sam Bevan: bass

Jon Arkin: drums

Jason Levis: drums, glockenspiel, percussion

Nathan Clevenger: guitar

This is our first ever gig as an octet, and everyone other than Phillip is either a long-standing member of the group or a regular guest star. I must say that it’s particularly thrilling to have Phillip on board to help us weather Cory Wright’s absence – Phillip is not only a great long time friend but also a true mentor and inspiration, going back to my first real encounters with the local music scenes as a green 20 year old, and the man behind a staggering amount of the best music and best live music curation the bay area has seen in recent decades. We’ve played together a couple times over the years, but this is the first time he’ll be joining us for a full set of my music. Scary. Thrilling. Scarilling.

Don’t miss this show!

Tickets

More info

Me gabbing about the gig on a podcast.

 

2. STAFFING

A little over a year ago, we started adding a 2nd percussionist to the band for most of our gigs – either Jordan Glenn on vibraphone/percussion or Jason Levis on 2nd drum set/percussion – making us an ever-more-impractical but, I daresay, more-mighty-than-ever juggernaut. Or ensemble, depending on your taste for grandiose verbiage. This experiment (not to mention the people involved) has completely reinvigorated me as a composer, and we plan to continue to work with this format for the bulk of our forthcoming gigs and recording projects.

In less positive personnel news, Aaron Novik, our dear friend and founding member dating back to 2003, recently relocated to New York. While we’re fortunate to have him back for the Switchboard gig (and hopefully whenever schedules permit going forward) we’re left, again, with the unenviable task of replacing a great relocating member of the core sextet (it’s a proud lineage: Ches Smith, Tim Bulkley, Mitch Marcus, Sylvain Carton, Evan Francis, Aaron Novik). I’ve decided that, for the time being, we’re going to play the field, so to speak, with the 3rd ‘horn’ seat. The core quintet of the band will remain Kasey Knudsen, Cory Wright, Sam Bevan, Jon Arkin, and myself, supplemented with either Jordan Glenn or Jason Levis on most gigs. For the foreseeable future, this core will be joined by a different member of the ostensible ‘frontline’ for each gig. It could be almost anyone: a violinist…a vocalist…a vtrumpet player… I hope that this variety will be as enjoyable for audience members as I know it will be for me as a composer. Stay tuned! For the first post-Switchboard gig, we’ll be featuring the extraordinary clarinetist Rachel Condry! Rachel is a master musician and it’s really exciting to get to welcome her into our musical world in June.

That’ll do for now. I hope to be back with updates on our next recording project and more gigs soon…thanks for sticking with us. Important note: no matter how much the ‘News’ section here may languish, rest assured that I update the Gigs page immediately, whenever we confirm a gig. It is never out of date.

Best,

n.c.