Monday, June 20, 2016

What They're Saying About the Chamber Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists Performances in the Midwest

Chamber Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists
2016 Midwest Tour
Minneapolis MN, Madison WI, Chicago IL

Audience Feedback

Re Madison, from a friend

Hello league pals - just a quick note to say, WOW. The concert you put on in Madison completely exceeded my and my local friends’ expectations. The use of the guitars in that room, the exciting improv, the sound of the instruments approaching & leaving the space re-defined for me what a concert experience can be. Playing parts of pieces bunched together then fanning out - incredible. The 30-D soundscape you all created was unique and marvelous, and brought me to tears several times. Thank you so much for that gift - the sounds and sonics you made in that space will remain unforgettable in my music mind. Bravo, and hope the rest of the shows are awesome for you. Safe travels, and thanks again! It was great seeing you all.
Email from Westwood Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
Dev – 
Thank you for the kind note. Of all of the ensembles we have hosted recently at Westwood, none has been more thoughtful and considerate of our space than yours. We are grateful! And I am so glad to hear the concert went well. I heard amazing reviews from some of the Westwood folks who were there. 
If the recording made last night become public, please do let me know as I would enjoy listening. 
All my best,
Email, re Minneapolis
Wow, I really loved the show last night in St. Louis Park, MN! I got to wondering if it was the audience that controlled the lengths of the songs and wondered if we should not clap until the guitarists removed their hands from the necks of their guitars. Very memorable performance!
Email to Curt Golden, re Chicago
hi, Curt - I wanted to send a note of thanks for the performance last night by you and the rest of the Chamber Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists (and if you could pass it along - you’re the only one who’s email I have!)   It was incredibly powerful and a testament to artistic commitment and excellence,, joy, and a truly generous offering to all of us in the audience.  I was pretty much moved to tears during the opener and the sense of amazement didn’t cease the entire time.  I know a program like that takes time and effort and I appreciate all that went into it. 
I actually took a New Standard Tuning weekend course you taught in 2005 in Atlanta. I loved it and it made me realize the kind of dedication the guitar needs and I’d probably have to give up my other instrument to do it. So, I put more effort into harmonica, my 1st axe (we also exchanged emails a couple of years ago because I’d heard & liked your blues band featuring your harmonica work). I also wanted to mention that I showed up to that course in 2005 very dissonant and ignorant, not just about guitar but other things. I see it now that I’m studying to be a Zen Buddhist teacher. People show up to beginning courses that I assist with sometimes with that same twitchiness. They don’t know better but we’re taught to harmonize with them without judgement and you did the same for me during the course, which I didn’t realize til now but really appreciate.
Overheard at the Merch Table:
“You guys should go to the White House to play.”
Email from First Unitarian Society, Madison
Hi Dev, 
I hope you travels are going well. I just wanted to thank you for choosing FUS as your Madison venue. I was really impressed and fascinated by the organization of all your members and your ease of communication. I caught part of the concert – so refreshing, and interesting – a real audio experience. 
FUS Facility Coordinator
Email to Curt from a (skype) student (OST) in the Chicago vicinity:
re. Robert Fripp & The Chamber Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists - you were right. My mind is blown. Bravo to you and all your cohorts! 
One interesting thing - after the multi-lingual introduction/announcement and before the start of the concert the whole room became quite still. I felt like the stillness was an actual physical thing and then two guys sitting behind me started commenting on the silence and somehow broke it. I felt a disappointment at that point. 
With respect to the performance: 
Pretty amazing. I didn’t expect it to be more than music but it was movement (is that stuff choreographed?) and the space itself. It occurred to me that the only way to experience the performance was to be there, in the middle of it. No recording, even video, could do it justice. Still, I did procure a copy of the DVD on sale at the merch table (but haven’t watched it yet). 
Where does that music come from? I mean, I know where Red comes from, but all the other stuff? Is it improvised? I guess the classical piece that you played up in the balcony is written out. 
Also, I noticed that you all appear to “pass” a note from one to another with a gesture to the “recipient” but sometimes there was just the gesture and no note - what’s that about? 
All in all, a great show from my point of view. I really appreciated the opportunity to be there.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Robert Fripp and the Chamber Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists, Westwood Lutheran Church. It was a surreal combo of performance art and sonic immersion. The 30 guitarists made sounds similar to piano, harpsichord, whales and bees.
Facebook Comments

  • “Thank you for blessing us with your music this week! It was wonderful to have some behind the scenes rehearsal performances :)” – Westwood Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
  • “The performance was so full of joy -- thank you for bringing your wonderful music to Minneapolis!”
  • “Incredible web of mystery bliss” – Madison
  • “What an amazing concert this was! I am still thinking about it and can hear the incredible sounds. Thank you for coming to Madison!” – Madison
  • “My favorite shows are always the ones that might me want to go right out and play music.

    Tonight’s show was something else entirely though. Changed the way I see approaching performances, the use of the space and interplay of all the performers was just mind blowing. I think it’s going to take a few days for this one to sink in. Thanks to all the crafty guitarists tonight for a truly incredible show and feeding me a ton of inspiration.” – Chicago
  • “Thank you for the memorable show! It was amazing!!” – Minneapolis
  • “Still trying to recover from last night's experience. I experienced synesthesia for the first time and I wasn't even looking for it. Add to that the fact that Robert Fripp played his guitar on my ear. And when I mean on my ear, I mean I could rest my head on the guitar. Jaanus had to pinch me afterwards just to assure me it actually happened.

    Music coming from everywhere, communicating from one end of the venue to the other. Players upstairs and downstairs. Conversations in music triggered by non verbal language, plus a couple of classics thrown our way. Painting the room with musical colors.

    I can go on, but I think you get the point that I can't really put the experience into words.”
  • “Midway into the show, seven crafty guitarists appeared in those seven arches and stayed there for a good 10 or 15 minutes in a musical volley with the group across on the other balcony by the organ. The whole evening was visually stunning, but that was the moment I would've most like to document with a quick picture.” – Chicago

Chicago show review from Facebook
Robert Fripp and his Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists were absolutely incredible, one of the most unique and interesting performances I can recall in many years: Twenty nine acoustic guitar players, I believe, including their fearless leader, all dressed in black and completely unplugged (more shiny black Ovation acoustics with a cutaway than I've ever seen in one place, and some very nice Taylor's and otherwise, too), fully mobile, moving in circles through the chapel in groups and subgroups, suddenly appearing in balconies for extended hymnal jaunts, or six inches behind your head with a tiny chromatic lick just for you before moving on down the row. There was literally no barrier between the band and the audience, it was all one space throughout. They traded riffs across the room and ran rhythms and chords around the building in bidirectional circular waves. It sounded at times like a gigantic modular harp which could divide and subdivide itself on a whim. It was the quietest and most observant audience situation you could possibly imagine. King Crimson popped up a couple few times to great effect among extended segments of angelic twinkling, mathical headbanging, and lots of other moving musical motifs and blends for which I have no proper terms. R. Fripp himself was far from the spotlight for most of the night, entering and exiting the group quietly throughout the performance, and slowly taking more direct control as they neared the encore, which he conducted in real time after mostly observing large portions of the set from a close vantage in the shadows. The humor, humanity and openly joyful nature of the production only complemented the stupendously disciplined musicianship and perfectly executed group dynamics on display for the entire 100 or so minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The OCG Meets Frank Ocean, or Not - Part 13

Sunday August 23, 2015 – Part II
Seattle, WA

9:48pm – the home office

I had a 10:15am lobby call. Having done most of my packing yesterday and before I went to bed last night, I took it easy in the morning. Breakfast, a long shower, writing, final packing, and checking out of the room. The van, courtesy of Frank Ocean, arrived on time, and we loaded the first LAX-bound wave of OCGers – the Seattle Six, plus Leo, Tom, Marian, Jon, and Jacopo – heading home. For the Seattleites, a couple of hours to kill at the airport, so we piled into a restaurant at the airport to pass the time. Flight on time. I slept most of the way. Everyone home safe and sound.

Mostly packed, and ready to say goodbye to this carpet

Melvin says "welcome home you bastard."

The OCG Meets Frank Ocean, or Not - Part 12

Sunday August 23, 2015 – Part I
The Hotel, Burbank, CA

1:54am – my inside office

Home from the gig, and a lovely end of project dinner with the entire team. Packing as much as possible before I fall into bed. Out the door at 10:30am.

It was really a splendid gig. The stuff that that was shaky going in, was shaky in performance, but it was a lot of fun, and the audience was completely with us. The two When Ready, Begin’s were the real deal; played with authentic gusto and good humor. In the second one, out of seemingly nowhere I felt the impulse to get the team into motion, and they went for it. Wonderful. No one was expecting it. We had done nothing with this practice in rehearsals. But it was totally great. I pulled us out into the room for the middle section of Asturias as well.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The OCG Meets Frank Ocean, or Not - Part 11

Saturday August 22, 2015
The Hotel, Burbank, CA

9:50am – my inside office

We have a long free morning to go with yesterday’s afternoon and evening off, so I stayed in bed a bit before heading down to breakfast. Met with Hernan and Mika at 9am to work through the set list for the show this evening. Our schedule for the day:

1:30 – Lobby Call
2:00 – Uber to Venice
3:00 – Arrive, move in to assess the space, sound check and set-up
6:00 – Quiet time
6:30 – Doors open
7:00 – Showtime
8:30 – Final meeting
9:00 – tbd


Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists
August 22, 2015
Full Circle, Venice, CA

Entrance – Procession Chords in Bb Major
Bb Major Cascades

When Ready, Begin

Circulation – A Minor
Eye of the Needle
Lunlunta in C Hexatonic
Razor Whip

When Ready, Begin (with the Orchestra in motion, led by Curt in the moment)

Circulation – Dotted-Fret Magic Chord Notes ending with Quiet Chord
Circulation – C Harmonic Minor
Voices of Ancient Children
Driving Force


Asturias (Orchestra in motion for middle section, led by Curt in the moment)
Exit – Procession Chords in D Minor

Encore – Free Circulation into Vrooom Coda
Encore – Whizz Until The World Is A Better Place

Second Encore - Calliope

With Erin, greeting the Orchestra as they arrive at Full Circle

Friday, August 21, 2015

The OCG Meets Frank Ocean, or Not - Part 10

Friday August 21, 2015
The Hotel, Burbank, CA

5:00pm – my inside office

Scheduled half day.

We began as usual, with breakfast and a 9:45am lobby call to walk down to the dance studio we would be using for today’s rehearsal. The Logistics Team met at breakfast, primarily to look at tomorrow’s gig transportation, but it became instantly clear that there was some kind of mixup in our reservation for the rehearsal space. I excused myself to go work on the repertoire list, confident it would all work out, which evidently it did.

The rehearsal was 10am-2pm. Mostly we ran composed repertoire for final assessment and timing. “When Ready, Please Begin” called from time to time, to keep us on our toes. Discussion kept to a minimum. At the end, a quick meeting to discuss the Gig Day schedule, and then most of us were off for the afternoon and evening. I had a short meeting with Mika, Hernan, and Dev, to talk what would happen after the gig tomorrow night – the final meeting and dinner.

Many headed out to get out of Burbank and explore the more interesting side of LA. I opted for a long nap, supper by myself, a bit of reading in the hotel bar, passing the time with members of the team as they returned from their adventures.

Twinkling In Motion (courtesy of the owner of the dance studio)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The OCG Meets Frank Ocean, or Not - Part 9

Thursday August 20, 2015
The Hotel, Burbank, CA

8:00pm – my inside office

A day utterly devoid of drama. I barely know what to do with myself.

Like yesterday we Ubered over to the rehearsal space. I opened the rehearsal with a review of the Guitarist Inside collected state exercise, and then ran the team through a 30-minute warm up designed to settle into the hands as well as working with very directed listening within the circle. We spent the rest of the morning reviewing the work we’ve been doing, with an eye to what might be useful for the performance. After the lunch break, I talked a little about what “When Ready, Begin” requires of us, and some strategies:

  1. If you feel you have something to contribute, do so with conviction, without fear, and without asking for permission. Go for it without hesitation.
  2. If you don’t have anything at the moment, trust your neighbors and teammates in the circle – join them in what they are doing, or respond with something that compliments it. Watch for circulations, conducted chords.
  3. If you have nothing to contribute, contribute nothing, but with active and responsive intent.

For this session I asked people to call out any piece of repertoire that they felt might have a place in the performance. We played them with very little comment, simply to hear them, and to get a sense of what stage of performability they were. From time to time throughout this session I would without preamble simply call out, “Orchestra, when ready please begin”, and then we would go for it. Once established I generally cut them off. It was the “begin” part of the challenge that I wanted to address and revisit. I also occasionally checked in to see if my neighbors (a Pozzo to the left and another to the right) were paying attention, and initiated circulations out of the blue.

At this point, it was getting to be a long day. The next session was some much needed AT work with Erin.

For our final hour, we looked at “processing” (as in, engaging in a procession – Crafty-speak), and then talked through the pieces we had played after lunch, offering observations and comments, without delving too deeply into analysis. Hernan and I will sit down and have a look at which pieces we feel are both appropriate for the gig, and ready to be performed.

Practicalities, and then home. Some are going out to be treated to dinner by a local friend. I’m going to stick closer to home.

The Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists - Rehearsal at Center Staging

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The OCG Meets Frank Ocean, or Not - Part 8

Wednesday August 19, 2015
The Hotel, Burbank, CA

8:25pm – my inside office

Today and tomorrow we are in the rehearsal studio. This involves a 10am lobby call and an Uber caravan. Not totally dignified, but more or less functional. Dev and I, however Ubered in the opposite direction, heading down to the Shrine Auditorium to settle some final details with Ocean’s tour management team. During the ride, a call with the hotel, as we needed to transition from Ocean’s tab to our own beginning tomorrow. An inexplicably more complicated transaction than one would think. Arrived at Shrine and headed back to the offices. Saw the last of the stage set being loaded into road cases and stacked for an afternoon load out. Our contact, while always professionally cheerful and amiable, looked decidedly bummed and generally bedraggled. The Production Manager was on the phone trying to explain to someone why the gig had been canceled. I sensed this was a conversation he was having often. Concluded our business, although there remain several practical (code: money) matters to be completed before we can say this is all over.

Next on our agenda was another Uber ride, this one down to Venice to meet Erin and visit a potential venue for an Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists gig on Saturday night. The Full Circle. When I saw the name of the venue, I was pretty much sold right there. Met the owner and a number of his people. Totally the right place. Walked through all of the necessary questions.

At about 3:30 we headed north, this time with Erin chauffeuring, to meet with the team at the rehearsal studio, confident that we had found the right place. Arrived at the studio at 4:30. The team was on break. For the next period, Erin took the lead with some AT exercises while Hernan, Steve, Dev, and I, put our heads together on the gig. All agreed, it’s a “go”. Began making confirmation phone calls.

I was feeling a little toasted at this stage, and elected to sit outside the circle for the final rehearsal session from 6pm to a little after 7. The team sounded great, right from the beginning. No shortage of things to attend to, but a group I would love to hear, and even more love to be a part of. Oh yeah, I am. Took advantage of this rare opportunity to get inside the circle for several pieces, and it was wonderful.

Quick meeting to announce the gig as well as a few practicalities, and then back to the hotel. Dinner is desperately needed.

Checking out Full Circle.