Every two years in St. John’s, there’s a week-long summer event that sounds like bliss to my ears and gives meaning to the music I craft — Sound Symposium. If I’m not participating as an official artist on the program, I usually make a point of attending some featured performances and ASSUREDLY get to The Ship Pub for the featured Night Music events. This was the case for my immersion into Sound Symposium XVII, and it began with a scorching free show at Harbourside Park by fusion trio Big Space, with a repeat engagement for the evening’s Night Music. Anyone unfamiliar with the later bar show should know it opens with a set by the featured act, then follows with improvised jams including other musicians in attendance. This is where I like to include myself, and where I switch up my choice of instrument I select to bring each night. Circuit-bent Sound Machine, Spider-Man Voice Changer, Mattel Calliope, Roland sampler and Thingamagoop 2 were the choice standouts for certain! The Symposium is the only way for me to hear anything — sound poetry mulcher Chris Tonelli and Leatherback, jazz versions of Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love” (and nods to Barney Miller) by Curtis Andrews and Friends Like These, the exotic sounds of Boujou Badialy Cissoko‘s kora or Bart Hopkin‘s fascinatingly-built experimental instruments — and still get to freely chat and share company with those taking part in it. The Friday, July 11th Night Music was the tops with local sax quartet Ouroboros with special guest Jessica Lurie, and fuelled a frenzy of jamming afterwards, mostly with prepared guitar mangler Bill Horist. What a spirited (hic!) time had by all, and some friendly music-making made!
The following night was spent a little differently, yet evoking even stronger camaraderie. Back in 2002, my friend Chris Driedzic gathered some musician pals together in an improvisational collective called Sound Circus to play at Sound Symposium that year. I noticed Daunt Lee, in for a surprise visit from Japan, at a recent Night Music and he told me about the Saturday night get-together at Chris’ studio with old cohorts Andrea Monro, Kyla Squires and Andrew Draskóy, to jam some old faves. It couldn’t have been a more fitting close to my Symposium week, as the friendship I found originally with Sound Circus was the start of my enduring relationship with improvised music. Thanks, gang, for the fun times.
I’m going to finish up this post with a new improv electronic piece I just tossed together…and it utilizes snippets of a Harbour Symphony (Sound Symposium composition for ship’s horns) that I recorded this year on my sampler, as well as some Thingamagoop 2. Both got some heavy use at Night Music. We could all enjoy a little more heaviness, among other sounds, so keep your summer dreams alive and free.