Monday, September 10, 2012

Blazing Guitarist Meets Visually Enhanced Soundscapist

Framed by a ceramic sculpture, guitarist Steve Nolan plays Sunday evening at ROTA in downtown Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Sept. 9, 2012

"OK, kill the lights."

Words not favored by a photographer using available light.  Across the ceiling the bright array of fluorescent lights snapped off; darkness prevailed except for a digital slide show illuminating a portable screen.

But it's the performer, not the photographer, who calls the shots during a gig.  Understandably so when darkness is needed to set the scene.

At least the first performer this Sunday evening, local musician Steve Nolan, played with all the lights on, making it relatively easy to image his presentation.  ROTA Gallery And Studios billed Steve's show as "blazing guitar work over retro midi backgrounds."  With the help of a laptop computer he rendered some impressive instrumental compositions, including his own riff on a theme by Vangelis from the movie soundtrack of "The Bounty."

Steve Nolan performs one of his compositions at ROTA.

Then the visiting musician, Kevin "OK, kill the lights" Greenspon took to the ROTA stage.  His show was billed as "beautiful soundscapes and visual projections," his instrumentals involving some guitar work mixed in with tape collages.  The visual part of the show enhanced his presentation, a stream of abstract images floating in the blackness.

But how could I image his performance?  Forget flash.  Too rude and distracting.  Flash would've wrecked the ambience, blinded the musician-composer, and washed out the slide show.  And maybe my ass would get kicked.

Fortunately I was sitting in a stable folding chair.  Not as stable as using a tripod but bracing my arms and holding my breath while carefully pressing the shutter might work.  So I snapped away, seeing on my camera's preview screen I was getting some interesting images of Kevin silhouetted against the background visuals, the outline of his eyeglasses.  Mission accomplished.

Kevin Greenspon, lights out.

Hanging around the merch table after the show -- Kevin has produced a variety of EP vinyl, cassette tapes, and CDs -- I was able to speak with the musician/composer who hails from Los Angeles and has been touring across the county by car.  He said he had racked up 7000 miles on his vehicle so far and estimated by the time he was done the total mileage would be around 13,000.  His ROTA performance marked day 40 of 81.

Kevin described his works as improvising upon "micro-parts," as if barely hearing music in the distance and taking what he could discern as inspiration for his own compositions.  He also described his creative process as getting the gist of an interlude in a song and then building upon that.

In case you're wondering what he really looks like, here's Kevin Greenspon, lights on, prepping before his show. 

For more info on Kevin Greenspon and his works:
 and .

As for Steve Nolan, he plans this winter to record his compositions in his home studio.  Details to be announced when his project is completed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said.