Fire Museum brings Sameer Gupta and Ross Hammond to Fishtown

Sameer Gupta
Sameer Gupta | photo courtesy of the artist

Upward, the new duo album by 12-string guitarist Ross Hammond and tabla player Sameer Gupta, isn’t a coming together so much as a circling back. The two men both grew up in California, where their first collaboration was in their mid-90s college years when they were part of what Hammond describes as “a very electric, groovy jazz group.”

At the time, Hammond was focused on electric guitar and Gupta was solely a drum kit player. It was only in the intervening years, after Gupta relocated to Brooklyn, that both embarked on separate but parallel paths to discover their roots. For Hammond, that meant the country blues and Appalachian folk music of his native Kentucky; for Gupta, it entailed a look even further back into his heritage with an immersion into North Indian classical music and the tabla.

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Fire Museum Presents brings Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot to the First Banana

Titanium Riot
Titanium Riot | photo via Facebook

Toronto group Titanium Riot will perform at Fishtown’s First Banana on May 15th.  The Lina Allemano-led project is a free-jazz quartet of synths, bass, drums and trumpet, improvising musical phrases in a style that is both experimental and primal. At the core of Titanium Riot’s repertoire is an ability to explore each instrument’s individual capabilities while tapping into a hive-mind of greater expression. Their songs were captured on last year’s Kiss the Brain LP; watch a performance of “Nose Coloured Glasses” below and get more information about the May 15th concert with Bhob Rainey / Michael Szekely Duo and Devin Hoff / Julius Masri / Travis Woodson Trio here.

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Kuupuu straddles the sonic and visual worlds at The Rotunda on Wednesday

Kuupuu | Photo via Facebook
Kuupuu | Photo via Facebook

Finnish musician Jonna Karanka, who performs solo as Kuupuu, is also a visual artist with a fondness for crafting environments from dumpster-dive recoveries and found treasures. In that sense, her sonic world is not that different from her visual one. On the countless recordings she’s released as Kuupuu, there’s a sense less of song forms than of handmade environments, as if each piece was a field recording captured in a fantasy land of cardboard, yarn, and discarded baby dolls.

Karanka is an active member of Finland’s neo-folk scene, having worked with a number of groups including Hertta Lussu Ässä, Avarus, The Anaksimandros, Kukkiva Poliisi, Hockey Night, Olimpia Splendid, Way Of The Cross, and Trio Jäätelö. Traces of that activity carry over into Kuupuu in the meld of electric and acoustic sounds and the occasional incursion into hazy psychedelia, but Karanka’s solo work is more mysterious and evocative, an accumulation of taped and improvised elements that conjure the squall of a half-intercepted radio transmission here, a warped ‘60s exotica album there. She’ll perform at The Rotunda on Wednesday night on a Fire Museum-presented bill alongside fellow Finnish experimentalist Tsembla (aka Marja Johansson) and the debut of a new duo featuring Fursaxa’s Tara Burke and composer/multi-instrumentalist Rosie Langabeer.

Kuupuu performs at The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Wednesday June 18th at 8 p.m. Tickets to the all-ages show are $6 to $10 (sliding scale), more information can be found here.


The Fire Museum presents: “The Last Hurrah at the Highwire Gallery” with Marshall Allen and Sonic Sphere (happening on 12/14)

Marshall Allen | Photo by Alan Nahigian


We knew this day was coming, but it still pulls at our heart strings. Following last month’s announcement that Fishtown’s Highwire Gallery would be closing and halting The Fire Museum Presents residency indefinitely, The Fire Museum has announced the Gallery’s final event, appropriately named “The Last Hurrah” happening on December 14th.

Sun Ra Arkestra director and famed alto saxophonist / multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen will be gracing Highwire Gallery with jazz, world-fusion, and afro-futuristic compositions with the support of Sonic Sphere, a group consisting of members from Sonic Liberation Front. The highly talented and multi-faceted Keir Neuringer will also be performing at the event, providing solo saxophone improvisation with acoustic and electronic inclinations that aim to bring socio-political concerns to the forefront in an artistic and meaningful way.

The event takes place at Highwire Gallery on December 14th at 8:00p.m.; tickets and information can be found here.  Watch Marshall Allen (center) perform with Milford Graves and Henry Grimes below.


Fishtown art space Highwire Gallery announces plans to close; Fire Museum Presents series halted indefinitely

Arborea performs at Highwire Gallery in 2010 | Photo by Derek Moench via

Philly exhibition hub Highwire Gallery, home to the experimental and wonderfully strange Fire Museum Presents concert series, has just announced that it will ease operations at its 2040 Frankford Ave location, citing a substantial rent increase. It has no immediate plans to relocate.

Highwire Gallery is the home of Highwire Artists, Inc., a non-profit initiative centered around hosting artists who are fully responsible for the vision and operation of their work, from curating to collaboration and exhibition. Operating in Philadelphia for more than 25 years, largely without a permanent gallery space, the Highwire cooperative has consistently sought new and unconventional spaces in order to connect art with community. Highwire Gallery has  resided on Frankford Ave. since 2005.

The Fire Museum Presents series has been presenting eclectic sounds and events at Highwire Gallery since 2009. The series has staged more than 170 events focusing on experimental, psychedelic, “avant / world noise” music, and has featured incredibly dynamic musicians in jazz, funk, world music and more. Steven Tobin, curator of Fire Museum Presents, wrote in a newsletter email that the series is on hold beyond its current lineup.

“My gratitude goes out to the members of the gallery for allowing us to use their space – and at a price that allowed us to give 100% of the money made at the door to those performing,” Tobin writes. “Currently we are mulling over various possibilities as to our next move. I used to always admire the folks that ran regular event series, while thinking they were somewhat crazy for doing so. Now I know I was right.”

The series will continue through November 17th, with multiple performances at Highwire Gallery before it is set to close. Next up is Little Howlin’ Wolf, Mitch Esparza and N Colyar P on Wednesday, November 6 at 7:30pm. The performances will fuse blues, folk, calypso, electronic and more, and promises to be quite literally indefinable. Tickets are $6-$8. For more information click here.

See a full list of Fire Museum upcoming events here.