Daily Archives: December 17, 2010

R.I.P. Captain Beefheart, 1941-2010

The cover for Trout Mask Replica, one of Captain Beefheart's most bizarre and memorable images.

Captain Beefheart in the Mojave Desert, 1980. (Photo by Anton Corbijn)

Captain Beefeheart, born Don Van Vliet, died on Friday, Dec. 17, less than a month short of his 70th birthday.

He reportedly died of complications of multiple sclerosis.

He was a bizarre and influential musical genius. Here’s Pitchfork‘s bio:

Van Vliet collaborated with Frank Zappa before adopting the Captain Beefheart persona and forming Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, his constantly shifting backing band, in 1964. On the strength of the blues-rock single “Diddy Wah Diddy”, Beefheart and his band signed to A&M. After the label rejected their debut album, Beefheart and co. re-recorded many of the songs and eventually released them as the classic 1967 debut album Safe as Milk.

After signing with Zappa’s Straight Records, Beefheart released the legendary 1969 double LP Trout Mask Replica. Following that surreal masterpiece, Beefheart recorded and released more albums, seesawing back and forth between euphoric bizarreness and more conventional rock. Beefheart retired from music after 1982’s Ice Cream for Crow, retreating to the Mojave Desert and focusing on his visual art. Though his art career was quite successful, he disappeared from public life, reportedly suffering from multiple sclerosis.

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New York City’s preparing for an Unsilent Night

Composer Phil Kline hands out tapes to Unsilent Night/NYC participants in 2005.

New York, it’s time to get ready for Unsilent Night!

This musical happening, composed and orchestrated — in every sense of the word — by Phil Kline, returns to its roots in New York on Saturday, Dec. 18. It kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village.

This is the 19th year for Unsilent Night in New York, where it all started in 1992.

It’s an amazing experience in which every participant is responsible for part of the music by carrying a boombox or other speaker-equipped music playback gadget to sent Kline’s ethereal composition through the cold night air.

There’s nothing specifically religious or sectarian about the music or the event, but it generates a warm, holiday spirit for most participants.

Be sure to arrive early and bring your own boom box. Dress warmly and prepare to have a great time!

You’ll save time and be better prepared if you bring your own CD or MP3 file to play on whatever system you’re using. Click here to download your part. CDs will also be available at the start.

Here’s  this year’s instructions, direct from the Unsilent Night website:

On December 18 at 7:00pm, Phil Kline will lead a massive chorus of boomboxes from the West Village to the East Village in the 19th annual holiday presentation of Unsilent Night. People will gather in Washington Square Park, and less than an hour and mile later, end up in Tompkins Square Park.

In NYC, it is recommended that participants arrive by 6:45 pm at the arch in Washington Square. 
Phil Kline will hand out a limited number of boomboxes—and cassettes and CD’s for those who bring their own players. The public is strongly encouraged to bring their own boomboxes and hold them high as they play the music. Mp3 downloads of the individual tracks will be available on this website after November 27, so pod-docks and other sound-blasters can be carried . People have even brought their laptops hooked up to large speakers mounted on a wagon.

“Unsilent Night was designed in 1992 to withstand the unreliability, playback delay and occasional quavering tones of cassettes, “ said Phil Kline in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner. “About 90 percent of people have CD players now, so I make CDs available as well, but there’s something about the twinkling, hallucinatory effect of a warbling cassette tape that I enjoy.”

The event is free, and will be held rain or shine.

Participants can e-mail unsilentnight@gmail.com for information.

The growing list of U.S. cities presenting Unsilent Night this year:
Asheville, Baltimore, Boulder, Charleston, SC, Charleston, WV, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Traverse City and beyond the U.S.:
Hong Kong, Oxford, UK | Cambridge, Ontario | Vancouver, BC | Fredericton, NB.

More cities to come!

Great news: As predicted, Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival returns to MASS MoCA in 2011

When Wilco arrived at MASS MoCA last summer, the band even took over the museum's sign. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Fantastic festival can only get better

We don’t like to brag (well, okay, sometimes we do), but Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? predicted that Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival would become an annual event — even before this year’s inaugural gathering wrapped up.

Wilco HQ announced the news with an email this morning:

Greetings and Happy Holidays. We’ve got a last bit of news before heading home for the break. The big story here is that Solid Sound 2011 is officially ON and happening the weekend of June 24-26, once again at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. if you were there last year, we know you’ll be back. If not, well, this year you should know better. Ticket information and more will be announced on January 18. So keep an eye and ear out.

Safe travels and sweet holidays to you all. Thanks again for another great year in Wilcoworld. We’ll see you in 2011 with what will undoubtedly be a whole bunch of news regarding Wilco tours, records, the festival and so on. Cheers.

the HQ Staff

This years three-day event was held  in mid-August. It gave thousands of fans of all ages the run of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in the Berkshires town of North Adams, Mass. Participants got to hear lots of music from Wilco, the side projects of band members like Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, their friends, and got to sample comedians and films along with the spectacular art on the gritty former factory campus. It was well run, well curated and surprisingly chill.

The music was great, the scheduling tight without being overwhelming, the facilities were superb and the food and drink never seemed to run out. Everything worked together to make it one of the best and most memorable festivals around.

Wilco perfoms on the main stage in Joe's Field at MASS MoCA.

Museum management was thrilled to have as many as 5,000 well-behaved patrons on site at once, and obviously saw the festival as something worth bringing back. Museum Director Joe Thompson was singing the praises of the event all weekend, and made no secret of the fact that he supported the idea of doing it again in 2011.

And Cline brimmed with excitement about the festival when we spoke with him at Joe’s Pub in New York City, where he and fiancee Yuka Honda were checking out Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl‘s new project, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Next year’s festival is earlier in the summer — June instead of August. So save the date and stay tuned for an update in a month.