Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some poetry scores for Three Fried Chamber Players

So, as I was saying, a few of us here in St. Louis are putting together a new live band called Three Fried Chamber Players.

As the band is shaping up, half the material will come from Heidi Dean. Heidi writes amazing songs, but I think the words are her own; no Poetry Scores angle there, though she does sing on all of our records.

The other half of the setlist will come from me. You know I'll be singing some scored poems. Here are some I'm thinking of bringing to rehearsal Monday night.


"My son is a queen"

This is bona fide Poetry Scores material, from our score to Blind Cat Black, performed here by Three Fried Men (an earlier iteration of the chamber players). Poetry here by Ece Ayhan, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat.

The last working version of Three Fried Men played this song I wrote from a tiny scrap of lyric I sculpted from the ponderous Charles Olson epic Maximus Poems. This is from a songwriting tape, when I was still doing the sculpting.

My setting of a very great poem by the martyred Salvadorean revolutionary Roque Dalton, recorded here by the band Eleanor Roosevelt at the now defunct Undertow Studios in downtown St. Louis.

My setting of an Orhan Veli poem, translated by Murat. Three Fried Men has recorded many scores to Orhan Veli poems. This one has Heidi singing with me and Tim McAvin playing guitar, perhaps fifteen years ago - amazing that we are all still/back together in the chamber players.

I have been playing this song for almost half my life. It's one of the first songs I wrote on my own on guitar. The lyric adapts two Lakota songs recorded, transcribed and translated by the great musicologist Frances Densmore. This is a version by Eleanor Roosevelt from our record Crumbling in the Rain.


The picture (by Roy Kasten) is of Richard Selman playing mbira with me on guitar at about the time most of these songs were being written. Unfortunately, we won't have Richard in the chamber players unless we can spring him from Birmingham. We will have Tim on drums, Josh Weinstein on bass, Adam Long on cello, Dave Melson on lead guitar and mandolin, and Heidi and me on guitar and vocals.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Introducing: Three Fried Chamber Players

Mick Jagger, one of the London School of Economics' wealthiest alumni, once memorably sang, "What's a poor boy to do but sing in a rock & roll band?"

Which begs the question: what are aging rock & rollers with day jobs to do but reframe their non-rock-non-band as a chamber music project?

Introducing: Three Fried Chamber Players.

We used to be Three Fried Men. That's a long story. Three Fried Men grew out of Eleanor Roosevelt, which was a less bawdy retitling of Enormous Richard. That's a longer story.

Three Fried Men still exists as a band name on Poetry Scores recordings. The creative core that persisted through the two iterations of ER now use that name when we set parts of long poems to music. Good for us!

We are dispersed between four states, however, and as such are not a gigging band.

Yet and still, enough of us remain here in St. Louis that we could do gigs, if we were to revise our expectations and scale our sound down to an acoustic trio, or quartet, or chamber orchestra. And that is where Three Fried Chamber Players come in.

We are, or will be: Heidi Dean, writing strumming singing; Chris King, writing strumming singing; Adam Long, sawing cello; and Dave Melson, thumbing bass. More often than not, we also will include: Tim McAvin, drumming writing strumming singing. Sometimes, Geoff Seitz: a'fiddling. And who knows who all else.

Why do this to ourselves? With so little evidence that anyone else will care?

For the occasion. The occasion of Richard Byrne coming to St. Louis to help raise funds for Taffety Punk Theatre Company. They are producing his new play, Burn Your Bookes, in D.C. in April/May. I have seen a snippet of this play performed in a stripped down production, and it's something I'd do anything I could to support and promote.

So, there.

And what is this doing on the Poetry Scores blog? You see, most of the songs I write and sing will be scored poems. So, there again.

More, later, about the Taffety Punk Theatre Company benefit at The Tap Room. March 4 or March 11, we are told. Either/or.


Pic is of Three Fried Chamber Players Chris King and Adam Long sharing some fish pepper soup during a break in producing rebel radio for the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. Back in the night. In the day.