Busy in Boston

August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s been just over a year since I moved to this fair city of Boston. It’s hard to believe so much has happened in just one year. Here is a quick update on some of those projects.

I put a lot of time into my project Not-So-Silent-Cinema this year, my project of writing and performing new scores to old silent films. The time I put into booking and promoting really has paid off. My score to Nosferatu did its first tour in October of 2011, playing some really fun venues in Philly, Boston and Maine. I launched a new score in March of Buster Keaton shorts featuring Kyle Tuttle on banjo and Andy Bergman on clarinet.

I did another program of Buster Keaton shorts with the New River Ensemble over the summer. And the Zorro quintet played some really hip theaters in the greater Philadelphia area this summer. With the hard work of a fantastic new booking agent Patrick Coman we are gearing up for a significantly more sophisticated Nosferatu tour for October 2012. I’m quite excited about playing venues like the American Film Institute in DC, the Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center in Rockport MA and the Bethlehem Alehouse Cinema in PA. I’m also looking forward to my first chances to play along with real reels of the film! This fall I am launching a monthly solo piano and silent film series at the Armory in Somerville called “Not-So-Silent-Sundays”. Our first show is Sunday Sept 16th where I will be launching a brand new solo piano score to Buster Keaton’s ‘The General’.

Speaking of the piano. It is a lot of fun to play. I’ve particularly been shedding my stride piano technique. A trip to New Orleans around Mardi Gras time was particularly inspiring. I’ve been getting a chance to play this style in my Buster Keaton film scores and also in the traditional jazz group Easy Winners, that I play with here in Boston, led by drummer Phil McGowan:

That’s me playing a really great Steinway upright from the early 20th century. Speaking of Steinways, I bought a 1912 Steinway A this year and had it rebuilt. Here is me showing it off to the world in my pajamas:

This has completely changed my life. It’s also allowed me to teach the Taubman Approach with further precision. I am now engaged in the process of becoming certified as a Taubman instructor with the Galandsky Institute. My private lesson schedule has been filling up and I’ve been collecting some really fun and talented students.

I’ve been excited to work with some really diverse and talented rock/pop bands here in Boston. I’ve been doing a lot of playing and arranging for Samantha Farrell, an up-and-coming songwriter from the area. She has released three singles this summer that I’ve put a lot of work into arranging and we have begun discussing an upcoming string-heavy full-length album.

I’ve been playing a lot with John Colvert and the Great Brighton Fire, a New-England based Americana rock band. That has been a fun group to rock out with and I am looking forward to the upcoming EP we are mixing. John Colvert also organizes the annual New England Americana Festival, which I’m looking forward to playing this Fall.

This summer I continued my annual stint at Friends Music Camp, directing the choir and jazz band, composing a lot of music, and playing with the New River Ensemble. I wrote what turned out to be a very popular and well-received piece for the choir and cello ensemble:

The New River Ensemble did a lot of conspiring about our plans for the next few years. We are looking into a potential January tour in the North Carolina area, focusing, among other things, on playing our program of Buster Keaton scores. We also did some recording. Here’s one tune we worked on, a variation on the old fiddle tune Whiskey Before Breakfast (the B part’s a little different):

That’s me on the banjo. Speaking of the banjo…. there are a lot of really awesome banjo players in Boston. They’ve all been really kicking my butt. I’ve recommitted myself to my quest to figure out RH banjo technique. I find it so different than my piano technique that I’ve always had a really hard time figuring out how to play with the precision and fluidity that I’d like. Having a lot of great players around to observe and talk to here in Boston has really been a help. In addition to descending into the dark depths of the weekly Cantab jam session every Tuesday in Cambridge I’ve also been attending Banjo Trek, a monthly gathering of banjo-nerds who sit around and play compositions and etudes, discussing, critiquing, and sharing ideas. It’s been quite inspiring to be a part of. I’ve contributed a lot of material to the group though I don’t always feel like I can play it as cleanly as I’d like.

A banjo trek gathering:

Speaking of great Boston banjo players, here are some duets with me on piano and Kyle Tuttle on banjo:
Chinquapin Hunting

You and the Night and the Music