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Speed Mullet duo in Knoxville, TN

My buddy Jon Brumit and I convened for two TN improv shows in late October in support of our touring Swiss colleague, Phil Zuercher. We played a special trio set in Chattanooga with Jon’s son, Otto, now 14, and the next night as a duo at the Pilot Light’s improv series in Knoxville.

The good folks at Knoxville Community TV film, record and post every show but unfortunately, my guitar isn’t well represented in the audio. This video fixes that. I recorded the set from the stage and mixed the audio in with good results!

Lea Cesira Menegon

Lea Cesira Menegon, 93, of Branford, CT (formerly of Old Greenwich, CT) passed away on Tuesday, August 22nd.

Beloved wife, mother and grandmother, Lea was born on March 3, 1930 in the small northern Italian village of Tramonti di Sopra, the daughter of Giacomo and Angela Facchin and sister to Amalia, Rosina, Bruno and Adelchi. Lea met her life’s love and soulmate, Ben (Benito) Menegon, as a young child in Tramonti, and they would become childhood sweethearts. Their lives were altered by WWII and they both left Tramonti to find work – Ben to America; Lea to Rome.

Lea was incredibly creative. Whether designing and sewing clothes, knitting, crochet, or any type of needlepoint or embroidery, she made the most wonderful things. While in Rome, she was most proud when her employer manufactured her design of a double-breasted sweater for boys, which became very popular. She eventually relocated to Paris where she studied French at the Sorbonne and put her formidable sewing skills to use in a boutique dress shop.

Though time and distance kept them apart, Ben and Lea never forgot one another – they always had a place in each other’s heart. They reunited and were married at the American Church in Paris in 1962 and traveled back to America to start a new life in Greenwich, CT.

Always generous with her time, Lea volunteered at numerous school events, at Greenwich Hospital for 13 years as a ‘candy striper’ and then for an astounding 37 years at the Rummage Room thrift shop in Old Greenwich, where her sharp eye for clothing merchandising and pricing was highly valued. Her greatest pride and joy were her three children – Lucio, Lynn, and Lisa. A loving mother and wife, she held her household together with incredible cooking (the children’s friends speak to this day of her pancake feasts) and much happiness. She was diligent about exercise, especially her brisk daily walks to downtown Old Greenwich and back (some called her ‘the walking lady’) and later around the Linden Shores area of Branford, where Ben and Lea relocated to be closer to their grandsons – Spencer and Sam.

She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Benito Menegon; her son Lucio Menegon; her daughters Lynn Menegon and Lisa Menegon Lovejoy (Ted) and her two grandsons Spencer and Sam Lovejoy. All who came in contact with Lea adored her. She was the light of Ben’s life, and a kind, gentle soul who will be dearly missed.

A memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich (108 Sound Beach Avenue) on Saturday, September 30th at 10am. There will be a livestream of the service will for those not able to attend.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Lea’s honor to The Rummage Room/First Congregational Church of OG.


Back in the year 2000, Ramona the Pest released its second album, Little Knives. Crash was a secret unlisted track that could only be heard after 20 minutes or so of silence that followed the last song on the CD (ala Nirvana’s original Nevermind CD release).

Crash was one of the first songs Val and I recorded together back in 1993 with just acoustic guitar and voice. I had always wanted to produce a sort of Bo Diddley rave up version and finally got the chance with Toby Hawkins on drums. Toby is an incredibly creative and talented drummer/percussionist, but rarely ever gets behind a kit. The only time I’d had the pleasure to experience it was on Gunnar Madsen’s fantastic Power of a Hat record we did together in 1997.

Toby had been over at the warehouse studio doing a djembe overdub when we three got to talking about the old days and had a little jam. For Crash Toby jumped on the always mic’d up red sparkle WFL kit, adjusted a few things to his liking and we were off. Tracked live with Val on acoustic and vocal, myself on electric guitar and Toby on kit with a few backups added right after. Val is spot on as usual and I was happy with the guitar work. Check out Toby’s hi-hat work and the hoodoo groove he came up with – really interesting. And when the chorus hits it really swings!

Recorded 100% analog on my dearly missed 1969 3M M23 1″ eight track open-reel machine and Soundcraft Series II board. My guitar chain was completely analog at the time, so the echo on the guitar (and on Val’s voice during the mix) is a Maestro EP3 Echoplex through my trusty ’65 Princeton Reverb. I love this track, hope you do too!

Circular Rescue

This is a project I had started working on for my Joshua Tree visual artist/collaborator Diane Best. She’d been messing around with mountain timelapse stuff and the idea was for something super sparse. I had this recent demo lying around and flew it in to try something different (not sparse). The way it synched up with the break was erie. It wasn’t the right match, but it is cool.

Walking in the Sand

Remember (Walking in the Sand). The Bodice Rippers was one of the coolest bands I played in/founded during my Oakland, CA time. Megan is a star of a singer and my buddy Chris writes great songs. This classic is, of course, not one of them but a band fave tracked at one of our early recording sessions in 2010 and recently mixed. I did a sort of dark Steve Cropper thing on guitar (which I’d be happy to do all night long). The video became a 2020 Pandemic project, made from old footage I captured in Rhinebeck NY, Storm King Art Center and Bombay Beach, CA

In the Pines

In The Pines. This was recorded in my friend Nina’s living room in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2019. Our mutual friend Eva is the singer for Tabu, the biggest pop band in Slovenia and this is one of her favorite songs to sing. I was messing around with a spacey ebow version of the chord changes when she grabbed a djembe and just went off. I made the video after escaping the desert for the mountains and pine trees above Palm Springs sometime during ‘lockdown’ in 2020.

Virtual Mentors

(this is a repost of an original blogspot post i made in 2007)

I got into studio recording, engineering and production after purchasing a Tascam Porta One four track cassette recorder from Manny’s in New York City in 1985. Because recording has always been a process of trying to maintain ‘right brain’ musical integrity while not over-using the necessary ‘left brain’ engineering side, the musician/engineer must avoid reinventing or perhaps even fully understanding the wheel. A intuitive shortcut is needed, something to fully grasp only what you will initially need and actually use. One way to achieve this is to have a great mentor. Two SF Bay Area people were key mentors in my progression: great audio tech, friend and fine musician Lawrence Fellows-Mannion has saved me countless hours over the years with his advice and guidance, and high end audio gear engineer/specialist Steven Jarvis is another person who helped so much when I made the leap to the professional.

Of course, good mentors are usually very busy, so you gotta have some virtual mentors too. Pete Townshend was one. Besides his great musicianship, Pete was one of the first to grasp the advantage and power of the home recording studio. His Scoop ‘demos’ LP was an early inspiration – especially the tantalizing gear pics and recording details in the liner notes.

Nowdays, we have the internet and look what I found today! An amazingly detailed interview (sadly EQ magazine is offline) with Pete about recording that covers his many studios and methods from the early monophonic to the present polyphony. If you ever wanted a superchared version of the Scoop liner notes, this is it. The snippet below is some of the best advice that could be offered to anyone concerned with making a better studio recording at home:

For the composer, computer tools present a dilemma. For most people, creative ideas emanate and are nurtured on the right side of the brain. However, technical matters are dealt with on the left. So one immediate problem is that before we can get creative with a computer we have to do things like organize our tracks, create a file, make sure we have somewhere to store it, etc. Being able to just run a tape machine (analog or digital) on a whim, always set up and ready to go, is a good thing to have in your life. Or you could have something like an Edirol R09 digital recorder handy. Try to stay in the right side of the brain until the music is properly shaped. Computers (and compact microprocessor controlled digital studios) are wonderful to arrange and modify what you have composed. For me, tape machines offered a way for me to compose, not to record great music, but merely to ‘write it out’ as I had no other way of doing it.

Of course those people who work entirely within the computer environment, using loops, MIDI, samples and reflex-driven software like Ableton Live, can get used to making very frequent jumps from one side of the brain to the other. But the music they make tends to sound a little different to the kind of music most of us feel reflects something of the heart. There are many exceptions. This is not a rule, but I often urge musicians I meet who love to work with MIDI software to ‘try some of the old methods out’ however, getting a decent tape machine is not easy, nor is it cheap.

So remember, start with a good sounding space. And if it sounds bad, fix that first. You may just have to deaden it right down. Next, buy at least one truly great microphone. Next, buy at least one truly great mic preamp. If you can, buy a single module from some old board, an API, a Neve, or whatever. If not, buy a new ‘classic’ channel, or something as good as you can afford. Next, pick your recording medium, and use your brain. If you start with tape, use nothing less serious than a reel-to-reel Revox, TASCAM or Fostex of some kind. If you start with digital hard disk, try some test sessions at different sample rates and bit depths – you may be surprised that your system sounds better at lower quality rather than higher because it doesn’t have to work so hard. So, use your ears if you can when making these assessments; pretend to be one of those old jazz guys who could really hear. I would recommend using a single pair of earphones for some of these kinds of tests. Pick the ordinary ones used in studios. Use your speakers just for playbacks of these tests and checking detail. If you can afford none of these things, buy a small tape Portastudio. Four tracks will sound better than eight. Remember that what you are doing is using a medium, not a modifier.

So cool. now you know why i bought a 3M M23

big city show, small town audience

photo by michael z

photo by michael z

The Overdub Club, a live film projection and music performance group I have been a part of since it’s inception in the early 00’s, were asked to present an hour long performance at the new state-of-the-art Kanbar Auditorium inside San Francisco’s recently relocated Exploratorium on Pier 15. The new Explo is one of SF’s crown jewels and a wonderful setting for interesting science and fun.

We were given full access to the theater the day before, had a luxuriously long rehearsal and sound check, our needs and requests were covered by a staff genuinely excited for the show. The Exploratorium exhibit hall was packed and our closing segment of the evening was SRO. It was hands down the best show we’ve done. The moving images of Thad Povey, Al Alvarez, Rock Ross and Diane Best were given a full live audio score by myself (guitar, electronics), Suki O’Kane (drum kit, electronics) and Wayne Grim (guitar, electronics) and the ninety-nine speaker Meyer Sound Constellation array had sounds flying all around the room. We were told it was the happiest, most attentive crowd to date at the Kanbar.

So here we have the best of all worlds. A city that invests in itself, a classy venue that commands a respectable admission price (GP $15, members free), an attentive satisfied audience – and all the artists (and workers) got paid. This helps. A lot. Thanks to San Francisco, The Exploratorium’s Liz Keim and Sam Sharkey and to the audience that helped make it the success it was.

Note: This is a companion piece to my last post and perhaps will illustrate the variance in my and many musicians performance experiences.

Sponge Bath

It was hot in Cambridge’s Weirdo Records last night. Here is a descriptive review of the show from Flash Notes

Your savings account zeroes risk we will enjoy it and you will feel it and it will be painful Lucio on banjo eking out eerie high strung sounds like a wine glass being rubbed Dave running the smallest cymbal over the snare drum head Lucio now with a violin bow rubbing the strings beyond the bridge now it’s melodic a carousel organ with children riding up and down on the horses and it may be a fox hunt with trumpet over the country gardens now Lucio with his spanking black electric guitar and the sounds are strafed and echo Lucio in his straw pork pie hat and beige suit and tie is dashing Dave gets mosquito squeals out of the snare Lucio sly with pick in his mouth Dave getting buzzing alarm sounds out of a bow against the rim now low tones drones hums very quiet as echoes rise

Lucio stands up and strums what goes up must come down what goes down must come up so buy low sell high rocking out on electric strings both of them mad it’s a jungle or a country pond with the flora and wildlife waving in the wind Lucio takes rock star stance scritching and scratching sounds getting wilder rings on the strings clown balloon sounds at the circus wild and fun times balloon gets big it is clear gray and the guitar hums like an engine very quiet slight clicks of lips on bubble

Martha Colburn & Ramona the Pest

Today I found several very cool items in my pile of old show posters. This being a prime example:

Ramona and the Pest by Martha Colburn

Ramona and the Pest by Martha Colburn

Back story: Ramona The Pest was a band I played in/produced with my longtime friend and collaborator Val Esway in the late 90s and early 00’s. Martha Colburn, then an underground artist based in Baltimore, was pals with our film friend Keith Arnold (who now programs the Castro Theater in SF). They wanted to get a show together when she came out to CA, I think in late 1997 or 98. RTP played and Martha screened some of her films at the Starry Plough, our local watering hole on the Berkeley/Oakland border (which was a tad dodgier back then) to a small but rowdy audience. I definitely remember an early version of possibly Skellavision – lots of skeleton bodies and flames shooting out of porn star heads.

Martha made up this cool poster for the show. She either heard it wrong or was playing with the name of the band – not the first or last time that happened. Ramona and the Pest is probably a better name. Awesome stuff.

Avant! Guitar! Haiku

Sandy Ewen, Avant! Guitar! Night! May 2013

Sandy Ewen, Avant! Guitar! Night! May 2013

Colleen McCarthy sent in some haiku written at the most recent Avant! Guitar! Night! (with Terrence McManus, Nick Didvkovsky, Andrew Smiley and myself aided and abetted by Catherine Sikora, Jessica Lurie, Kate Pittman, Josh Sinton and Jake Henry). While the last three NYC based events have been musically stellar, it is somewhat dispiriting that attendance has been so meager. That it inspired some haiku helps (more art!). It is often the little things that keep us going…

here’s a warm-up haiku:

For those who speak in
Iambic pentameter,
this will blow your mind

soloists, quartets,
travelers and locals mix
tune up, blare, and rest.

Plants grow majestic
to this improvisation,

Surrender your ears!
Listen with all your organs.
Avant! Guitar! Night!

Prepare to embrace
the noise, the shock arrangements.
They can be trusted.

An Ode

My dear friend, Heather Davison (of Loretta Lynch) composed this little birthday poem for me:

An ode to our dear Lucio,
Who loves to travel, to and fro
From Brooklyn’s streets to Europe’s dives,
His friendship’s constant in our lives.
As he travels, place to place
(His peeps, the entire human race)
His music leaves no stone unturned –
Divine, experiment – axes burn.
And as if in a desert dream
We hear his reverend fingers scream.

New Joe Rut CD gets a nice review…

…and they gave me a little nod. It was inspiring to play a packed house at SF’s Great American Music Hall – a really great show as the live CD confirms.

Musically, Rut has never had a better band than he did on this night, and highlights abound. Danny Allen’s echo-drenched slide solo on “Monkey Boy” oozes and crackles like a brick of firecrackers stuck in molasses, and Lucio Menegon’s reverby Telecaster excursion on the touching “Hole in Space” perfectly carves that hole before the band slams back into the almost Pink Floydian bridge, “I like now/now is enough/now is the only time we have to love.”

Tree-forts of sonic fun

Check this nice show review of a set performed with Rob Wallace in Bowling Green, OH this past February. The set was part of a film/music series Rob co-hosts called, Other Musics: Four Free Films on Free Sounds, the focus of the write-up, but receives some considerable attention:

Lucio used his entire instrument in service of his art, pounding the body, sliding a magnet along the frets, even pouring lighter fluid on the neck (which I will admit made me wonder if we were in for a Jimi Hendrix moment), to achieve the just-right tone he was going for. Wallace used his whole body as well, kneeling in front of his smorgasbord of sound, sometimes using both hands and his mouth, each on separate instruments, to accompany Lucio’s play. Any attempt I might make to capture the tonal qualities of this musical performance will surely fail. Suffice to say, I was transfixed, smiling like a loon at the sheer whimsy of it all. This music is “play” in its purest form. Both musicians are professionals and well-trained (Wallace is steeped in musicology and quite a good tabla player), and they certainly needed that foundation to build their tree-fort of sonic fun upon.

tree-fort of sonic fun is my favorite new description. Totally awesome. This is why small town such gigs are worthwhile – you just never know. It is also perhaps the reason Jack Wright likes to play them.

Geometric Clam

I wrote this piece yesterday in a Little Skip’s cafe in Bushwick. Mark Growden is in town from New Orleans and I wanted something new to present the set at Goodbye Blue Monday this coming Friday. He, myself and Bernd Klug will perform it then.

The piece is for three low pitch instruments (double bass, bari sax or accordion and detuned guitar) and each part is to be played as one continuous note, moving in microtones to the indicated pitches (+/- 3 whole steps) over time (5-6 minutes).

In musician slang, a ‘clam’ is a reference to a misplayed note (reference the infamous Buddy Rich tour bus tapes on the Touring Companion), so this piece will be one…giant…clam.

Roaming Residency, anyone?

Rabbi Mos' stage art, Carrboro NC

The recent IT BREAKS south east US tour with David Grollman and Brendan Landis was really great. Not a bad show in the lot and we met so many cool folk. Thanks to all of them for putting on shows, telling friends and offering hospitality. We recorded every show and got video of several of them and are processing the results now.

I have a few more NYC area shows in late April/early May, after which there will be a performance hiatus thru late July. The occasional show will surface, but for the most part I’ll be roaming around the east, scoping out possible places to buy an affordable little fixer upper and to test out the ‘Roaming Residency Program’ idea.

Roaming Residency: rather than one night tour stops, the idea is to stay (or be based) in a one place/area for a few days to a couple weeks, getting to know and play with locals, work on music, composition and recording!

So if you’ve got an extra room for me to work in or need a visit this summer, lemme know. I’ll be bombing around in Gertrude, aka the Emergency Music Response Team Vehicle (my 2002 Ford diesel E350 re-purposed ambulance) with gear and a ready made place to lay my head if necessary.

Anything is possible. Anything.