When he’s not slinging his six-string around the world with Wilco, guitarist Nels Cline can often be found participating in one or more avant-garde music projects. The latest is a rare collaboration with Detroit/NYC drummer Gerald Cleaver and and San Francisco saxophonist Larry Ochs, which will perform for two nights at Johnny Brenda’s in December.
Ars Nova Workshop presents the Nels Cline / Larry Ochs / Gerald Cleaver Trio at Boot & Saddle tonight. Cline, perhaps best known for his role in Wilco, spent a large part of his career as an exploratory and experimental jazz musician. Just last year he released a collaboration with NYC avant garde outfit White Out called Accidental Sky, which received nods as one of 2015’s best experimental albums. Tickets and information for tonight’s trio performance can be found here. Watch Cline perform a song at Johnny Brenda’s for Out of Town Films below.
Buck, Brownstein, Hitchcock, Stern, Timony, and Cline. On Friday I added the final of this list of great guitarists to my list of whom I have seen on the small stage of my favorite Philly venue, Johnny Brenda’s. (And in case first names are necessary, they are Peter, Carrie, Robyn, Marnie, Mary, and Nels.) With his oddly named crew in tow — Nels Cline Singers — 120 minutes or so of experimental jazz and rock crackled and popped among the packed audience.
Hanging on Cline’s every guitar flourish, the crowd was certainly mesmerized. From six strings to twelve, Cline employed his guitars with unexpected twists and turns. With pedals, knobs, metal apparatuses galore and even some plastic box he blew through into the guitar, Cline kept one’s ears and eyes startled with his techniques. The rest of the Singers belted out notes from their varying instruments to further build on the texture. Trevor Dunn played both the upright bass and bass guitar with expertise, while two percussionists had a blast — drummer Scott Amendola and toybox and triangle soundsmith Cyro Baptista.
Vocals did appear in minor spurts, even from Cline himself, but they played a backing role to the cacophony of aural information. By the end of the encore, the Philadelphia audience’s applause also became a common piece of sound that Cline will never be a stranger to.
Acoustic folk trio Nickel Creek are riding high on the success of their new album A Dotted Line, which arrived last month and coincided with their 25th anniversary as a band. Tonight they bring the excitement to the Tower Theater stage. Mostly folk but at times leaning toward bluegrass, their music, which rests on the band’s intricate musicianship and harmonies, has a raw quality that’s soulful at heart. Watch them perform “Rest Of My Life” live on Soundcheck below and get tickets here.