3 Weeks Out – A Countdown to Life as an MFA candidate at NYU

My dad tells dad-jokes, terrible puns. Consequently I tell dad-jokes and even more terrible puns. Say I get electrocuted in a freak accident involving a beard trimmer and end up in ICU. I can see him standing over my hospital bed. He would start with, son, when I heard the news I was shocked. Terrible. But I’m his son so I’d counter, you always told me my smile could light up the room.

We Mills can still be serious men. For example, my dad becomes Byron-status romantic about passion. If he had a god it would be Dionysus and he would stay up all night with him drinking wine on deck staring out over the purple waves contemplating the ways in which emotion inhabits flesh.

He ends his birthday notes to me with a quote from Emerson, hitch your wagon to star.

Music is that star for me. To engage with sound in the face of the void is the rebellion which I call living. I’m Camus-status-serious about that. When I say music I also mean the music within language.

Three weeks from now will be the night before my first class as an MFA candidate in poetry at NYU. Several of the poems and excerpts printed, taped and yellowing on my wall were written by my teachers to be.

I’m ready to labor over these poems and craft a performance with which I hope to tour my ass off.

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The Machinery of Funk – Werewolf Torso

“If you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn.”

-Charlie Parker

When I first began collaborating with Stephen Fleg the summer of 08, we first had to have a very important meeting. In his basement, flooded with thousands of records, I could barely find a patch of carpet to take my next step. In this vinyl lair, the first order of business concerned our philosophies.

Some people just want to be good, they want to be famous, they want a full nights sleep. He tells me before his eyes go wide and I get kinda nervous, I want greatness. I had to stop and think hard about what kind of life I wanted. Monk and Mingus look down on us from the wall.

You can’t fake pain, he says, puts on an old blues 7″. The throaty guitar warbles to life and a deep black voice takes over room. The way I remember, it was as if the lamp light was slowly sapped to a dim glow by this voice. When the song finished we both sat there, quiet and in awe.

This awe is the starting point for artists like Fleg. From here you have to build on what came before you, something many experimental artists neglect.

Over the course of the next few years, Fleg and I won grants and collaborated on three theater shows. All the while, Fleg was working on his own first release. A sound that he could call his own. During our midnight rehearsals I’d always wonder what I would walk in on coming down the basement steps. He was always hunched over doing something weird.

I’d find him playing an acoustic-electric kalimba; mic’ing up a broken organ of some sort so he could capture the whirring sound it made starting up or pitch shifting his voice on an antique Casio.

Its been over a thousand nights in the making but today I was finally able to buy his debut, The Machinery of Funk and it all makes sense now. Whatever was conceived from an old spare blues song has flourished into a vibrant sonic realm.

Listen to it. Can’t you hear the chirping keys in the upper reaches? The melded synths holding together a canopy? The fluttering organ, rhodes in middle, korg beneathe that and deeper still, the micro-korg in the sub-bass?

In the tradition of Flying Lotus and Portishead, or is it Chuck Brown and Miles Davis? –How do we talk about music like this? Do we have to use creative language?

The Machinery of Funk is a lush and complex album, both meditative and kinetic. An old piece of equipment rediscovered in 2012, TMF “clicks” on at 0:00. You hear this rusty generator lurch and wake before the drums drop. What follows is a series of tightly wound gyres, each spinning into the next.

Candace Jackson’s voice is coated in honey on How High Do Bees Fly? and Richard Trent brings magic to Pointillism in the Sun and validates my opinion that this album should be considered sci-fi fantasy in the track, Rocket.

If you’re reading this and you already know Stephen as DJ Fleg, one of the leading break dance battle DJ’s in the country, part of the Lions of Zion bboy crew or as the DJ Fleg that founded 4 Hours of Funk, nominated best dance night in Baltimore or simply as Fleg, the weirdo in the basement. Its time for you to meet Werewolf Torso.

Buy Machinery of Funk, let it fade and begin.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/machinery-of-funk/id576991415

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State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream – Wednesday September 26th 6:30pm-8:00pm

On Wednesday September 26th I will be performing as part of the State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream ft. Jeff Biggers. This event is being organized by Teaching for Change, a bookstore and resource center for progressives. If I ever teach, and I hope too, a History of Latinos in the America class, this would be the first place I would go for materials.Image

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Voyage In Coma – We Made a Pact (Summer Tour Demo)

Voyage’s first tour began with a janky ride up, Big Mountain Rd. somewhere in southwestern Virginia. We almost turned back because of a storm. Don’t tell anyone.

When we got there, our host had built a stage out of lumber. There were kids tripping balls, howling at the moon and generally having a good time around several fire pits.

Everyday was an adventure. The lows weren’t that low and the highs were fantastic. Some kids knew our lyrics out in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and where singing along!

The hospitality of strangers towards us was humbling. I hope I can return the favor to all of them. I mean that.

Before we left we wanted something new to give to people. Our guitarist Jon Knobel recorded us in our practice space. We came up with these three new songs.

Image

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Bueno Crusher at Gala Theater

Found this on youtube recently. Its a little late but I thought I’d still post it. Right now, Colin and I are figuring out what we are doing for the fall. We don’t have a serious plan to put out another release or tour just yet but we are committed to writing new music when we can. Hopefully we’ll be able to play some more shows this fall and winter.
Most recently we played a benefit for Scramble Skateboards and our good friend Dylan Ubaldo’s tour kick off at the Bell Foundry in Baltimore. Kids went nuts by the last song. We got our first circle pit going! Bout time.

Dance instructor: And what do we say to the god of death?

Ariya Stark: Not today.

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August 16, 2012 · 9:37 pm

Blackburn Fest 2.5


15000 Blackburn Rd. Burtonsville MD

Every time one of these shows goes down, its always one of the best you’ll see all year.

Facebook Event

WE WERE SKELETONS ( PA )
http://bandcamp.com/tag/we-were-skeletons

No underage drinking.
No drugs.
$5-10 dollar donation for touring bands.
Show starts at 7:30pm sharp!

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Dance Place Artland Temporium: Latino Arts Series

I was invited to curate the Latino/a section of the Artland Temporium in NE DC by Dance Place so I got to book my favorite poets from around the DC area, Jose Ballesteros, Quique Aviles and Sami Miranda. Today I’ll be performing excerpts from two of my solo shows, Helicopters and Vultures and Underwater Poems. There will be a Q & A. Event starts and ends sharply between 6 and 6:45pm.

It’ll be the first full length set I do since last August.

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM

12th Street Gallery

3500 12th Street NE

Washington, DC 20017

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