We're having a serious drought in California, so when it rained here in Pasadena last Saturday most everyone was pleased. The only possible exceptions were the members of Newtown, a local alternative arts organization, who had gone to a lot of work to plan an outdoor fundraiser for that day.
True Pasadenans will immediately associate the name Newtown with Oldtown, the local trendient shopping and eating district, more properly called "Old Pasadena". Newtown's motto is a persistent weed in the garden of art. The fundraiser was called Feed the Weed.
Since music was a large part of the offering of Feed the Weed and since I was likely to see a number of friends, the rain didn't stop me from attending.
Of course I took some pictures. And if you hang on to the end of this post, there's even a video of the Repercussion Unit!
The setting was a large already-well-watered yard of a Newtown supporter's home. Various fruits were strewn on the grass for anyone who wanted to play melon soccer or possibly citrus lawn bowling. Eventually the rain lessened. The sun made a brief appearance - for like five minutes. The show went on, more or less as planned.
Richard Amromin, whom I have known for nearly 40 years, is the out-going artistic director of Newtown. Richard was involved with the Independent Composers Association back "in the day". You can see several more pictures of him in the MM post Second Second Story Series - Portraits by Robert Jacobs, one of several articles about the ICA from 2008.
The musical events at Feed the Weed included the group Non Credo, fronted by Kira Vollman and Joe Berardi. There was also a tribute to Arthur Jarvinen performed by Jack Vees, Miroslav Tadić, and M.B.Gordy. Pianist Irene Gregorio-Stoup also performed some of Jarvinen's Serious Immobilities plus other works by Rima Snyder and Eric Satie.
The remaining musical ensemble of the afternoon was the Repercussion Unit. I've written twice about the R-Unit: one was in my obituary for long-time CalArts percussion teacher and Unit founder John Bergamo and the other was about A Tribute to John Bergamo held last year at CalArts.
At Feed the Weed the Repercussion Unit consisted of three founding members Larry Stein, Gregg Johnson and James Hildebrandt plus newcomer Amy Knoles. They dedicated their performance to Bergamo and to Lucky Mosko, another Unit original member who passed away in 2005. The performance started with instrument building. Each player constructed their own cajon. (Cajons are wooden boxes that people who are impervious to pain sit on and slap with their hands.)
I happened to shoot some video clips of their carpentry work and also most of a performance of Wake for Charles Ives from Four Pieces for Drum Quartet by composer James Tenney. Tenney was another respected CalArts composition faculty member who died in 2006.
I assembled the video clips into this:
At 2'03" of the video there's a short cut-away showing Robert Fernandez and Dee McMillan. She's the one in the red hat. At the very beginning of the video you can hear Bob's voice saying "At least my wallet stayed dry." Bob and M.B. Gordy were featured in this recent post.
Another participant in Feed the Weed about whom I've written here at Mixed Meters is Susan Braig.