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Showing posts from January, 2016

All Good Things… MOFO, Part 6 of 6

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Here's a final look at my experience at MOFO. I started writing this in the airport in Hong Kong on my way back, but haven't had a chance to finish it until now.

I'm now in Hong Kong, on my 2nd of 2-8 hour layovers on my way back home (I just came from Sydney, where I enjoyed the airport hospitality for far too long). MOFO seems like a lifetime away, although it's only been a little over 3 days ago. I've been able to relax and process the experience, feeling good about everything.

As promised, I'll now take a look at some of the others artists that I managed to see in between my own performances. Like similar festivals, the sheer number of performances is overwhelming. Many are at the same time and spread out around the host venue, MONA, and even back in the city of Hobart proper. Fortunately, many artists played multiple times, so if I couldn't catch one performance, I was able to catch another. Let's look at some (I've tried to get links for everyon…

Towards A New Harmonious Universe: MOFO, Part 5 of 6

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Another early rise and long day. I caught the 9:30am shuttle bus to MONA for my 1st performance at 10:45. I was invited by Taiko drummer, Yyan Ng, to join his session. Fantastic! We went through everything from ambient soundscapes, to rhythmic pulses, and finished with a fury of double drumming. It took all my stamina to keep up with Yyan. 
 Gongtopia meets Taiko
After our performance, with Yyan Ng
It was really interesting to explore such diverse rhythmic territory. Both of us started out as drum set players before branching off into our own things. So there was a common musical language between us. I found it easy to sync up with his playing. And as we played, the music flowed, often with both of us shifting rhythms at the same time. We're already planning on working together in the future.
I then had a little over 3 hours before my next performance, so it was great to get out and see some other artists. This year's MOFO featured drums and percussion and they had an amazing arr…

Freefalling: MOFO, Part 4 of 6

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Here I am, day 2 of the festival. What started out to be a day where I could sit back and relax, watching many of the other artists, became an endurance test. Things once again started off in the barrel room. I still can't believe the sound in there. I'd love to come back and do a proper recording here someday. The session was great. I got a lot of nice comments and feedback from people. It's really gratifying to be able to reach people on such a deep level, but that's the affect the Gongs have.


In the Barrel Room
After packing my gear to be moved to the next stage later in the day, I headed off to catch some of the other musicians. It wasn't long before I was found by Shelley, the executive producer. One of the artists had cancelled and she wanted to know if I'd be up for playing in an improv group on the main stage. Of course I replied, “Yes.” I then headed off to the Main stage to meet my gear and the other musicians.

I ended up playing in a version of the Aust…

Taking the Leap: MOFO, Part 3 of 6

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The Sublime

After 2 days here in Hobart, I finally got the chance to perform. While it was nice to have time to just hang, I came here to play, and playing was on my mind. I'm usually not much of a breakfast eater, but I went down to the hotel restaurant and had a big breakfast. I had the feeling I would need the energy. When playing festivals like this, sometimes it's impossible to grab a decent meal during the event.

Because I had been out to MONA yesterday, I was familiar with the layout, which made things so much easier. The transport shuttle dropped me off at the green room, where I grabbed some needed bottled water, and then I made my way to the Barrel Room, the sight of the day's 1st performance. This was the time I also got to meet the Gongs I would be using. Between the Gongs Paiste had so generously provided, and the Gongs from Brian Ritchie, the festival's curator, I had a nice selection to choose from. This was both a rarity and a delight. It was so great not…

Looking Over The Edge: MOFO, Part 2 of 6

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A day off here, but I was busy. I went over to MONA FOMA, the museum across the bay where most of the musical activities will take place. I was given the tour of where I'll play and then toured the museum by myself, checking out the art. It's quite an incredible place. The 2 rooms there that I'm playing in are completely different, so this will take different approaches with the music in each one. I always love a challenge and am up to this one.


The Nolan Gallery, one place where I will perform.
The Barrel Room, where they age the wine made on premises. I get to play at some amazing places.
Later, I checked out the ferry terminal back in town, where I'll also play. This presents a completely different set of acoustics and possibilities.  Another aspect of this is that I've yet to check out the borrowed gear I'm using. This presents it's own challenges. Thus is the life of an improvising percussionist. Now all that remains is to work out a set list for tomorrow&…

Standing at the Precipice: MOFO, Part 1 of 6

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Alright, there's nothing quite like flying for over 30 hours to make your day, or days. I am now here in lovely Hobart, Australia, to perform at the MOMA FOMA (MOFO for short) festival. The headliners are The Flaming Lips, but the theme this year is percussion. So there are a lot of great percussionists on the bill, including Dame Evelyn Glennie and Antonio Sanchez, who tonight will be performing a live soundtrack to the film, Birdman. This is a must see!

There are some fantastic Australian percussionists who I look forward to seeing and possibly playing with some of them. I'm doing 6 performances: 4 solo and 2 duo. I have a duo set with Melbourne trumpeter, Scott Tinkler. Check him out on YouTube. He's got some really cool ideas where he plays foot pedal percussion while playing trumpet. Oh, by the way, he's an amazing trumpeter! My final performance is an open one where I can invite other festival artists to play, so we may have some sort of percussion thing happening…

The Zazen of Sound

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Searching For Silence

There is something mysterious about silence. Silence represents the unknown, because it is empty, but any type of sound can appear out of it. Silence is also feared, because we now live in a world so filled with sound and noise, that we don't know what to do without it. Try to imagine what it was like to live 150 years ago, before the mass industrialization, and all the machines and electronics we have today. The world was much quieter and silence reigned.

Today, is there ever really silence in our lives? Think of our homes, there are always appliances humming, buzzing, beeping. And outside there is traffic, planes, trains, heavy machinery, even things miles away making loud enough noises to intrude on our lives.


There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot. ~ John Cage

Enso, the Zen symbol for infinity, enlightenment, void
The primary practice of…