Date: March 31, 2011 Venue: Highline Ballroom (NY)
Concert review by Jim Hoey
The Residents still baffle and riddle their audience with questions of identity: Who are these freaks? Where did they come from? How do they turn out such twisted songs? What their fans DO know for sure is that they’ve been around almost as long as the Rolling Stones or Black Sabbath, have put out over 60 albums, and they came out of some swamp or dark lair of Louisiana, before heading to San Fran in the late 60’s. The rest is just hearsay. Although they did release Meet The Residents in 1972, (a parody of Meet the Beatles more in line with Zappa or Captain Beefheart), since that time they have been popping up in different incarnations, with consistently demanding and challenging punk, gothic, and noise releases over the past 3 decades.
Inspired by Ornette Coleman’s Primetime, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Moroccan Gnawa music, and Stanley Turrentine, we will be playing my original compositions, featuring improvisations by some of NYC’s most creative groove players. Avram’s Electric Kool-Aid featuring: Kenny Wessel (Guitar), Dave Phelps (Guitar), Chris Eddleton (Drums), Todd Isler (Percussion), Stuart Popejoy (Electric Bass) and Avram Fefer (Saxes and Composition).
The Japanese shamisen in the west has a number of images associated with it: the delicately robed geisha entering a quiet chamber, seating herself before the patron, and setting the instrument gently on her body, plucking strings with the bachi (plectrum, or pick) and singing before moving on to other diversions; there’s also the image of the blind shamisen player in black and white films playing for money on a doorstep or in a Yakitori-ya (a tiny Japanese restaurant specializing in yakitori, or skewered grilled chicken meat) with yakuza nearby harassing them or while the manic, soft, or melodic strains of the instrument ring out as background music and the patrons grow wild with drink, passion and despondency before succumbing to oblivion.