Thursday, October 02, 2003

21 Grand

21 Grand is not actually on Grand Avenue, nor is 21 its address. It is actually on 23rd Street in Oakland.

I played a gig there last night which was completely satisfying. Not only did my set go well (even though the sound board refused to accept my effects, which was frustrating), the other opening act, Glass Bead Game, played an intriguing and slightly deranged set of their own. Front-being Cera was charismatic and riveting with a kind of Joan Osborne-esque voice restrained to suit the taste of the songwriting. She played understated rhythm guitar. The rest of the band, "her boys", as she put it, backed her up on drums, upright bass, and violin/alto clarinet.

The headliners were Carla Kihlstedt's Two Foot Yard, a trio with Carla Kihlstedt on violin, Fred Frith on guitar, and Wu Fei on the "grandfather of the koto". Their set was such a treat. They employed looping and effects, but it was never the focus of the show. Of the three jams they did I enjoyed the second and third the best. Carla's combination of violin and voice during the third piece was haunting. Fred Frith's guitar work was so enjoyable to hear and watch. What fun to open for someone I learned about in grad school. :)

The blurred edges among the colors of all three stringed instruments made for a subtle and complex texture. The beginning of their second piece, when Fred Frith and Wu Fei called and answered each other slowly and tenderly, was very beautiful.

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