Archive for the Nick Didkovsky Category

THE $100 GUITAR PROJECT

Posted in 100 Guitar Project, Biota, Chuck O'Meara, Dr. Nerve, Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, Keith Rowe, Nels Cline, Nick Didkovsky, Thomas Dimuzio with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2011 by candymachine

It’s the time of year when most music magazines and websites have been revealing Top 10 lists for the year’s best recordings – a dubious undertaking to say the least, but one which I myself cannot resist indulging in.  But I’d like to propose another kind of Top 10 list, one that takes as its theme interesting and novel ideas which turn into fun and imaginative activities, then snow-ball into one of the coolest projects you’ve come across in a long time, and all of which takes place on the sidelines to the day-to-day business of recordings and gigs and writing new music. Now, I agree that’s quite a theme for a Top 10 list, but if such a list was put together, surely the $100 Guitar Project would be sitting somewhere at the top of that chart.

Nick Didkovsky, the mastermind of Dr. Nerve,  and Chuck O’Meara, who some might remember under another last name as the President of the Avant Garde and from his band Forever Einstein, bought a no-name electric guitar for $100 without even hearing it. It called their names, so to speak, and they followed their own charmed impulses and bought it. What happened next? They shared the joy with another guitar-playing friend, who shared it with another, who shared it with another…until the guitar took on a new life of its own, far removed from the life it had up to when Mr. Didkovsky and O’Meara found it sitting in the fateful instrument shop.  It eventually passed from the hands of one musician to another, until plans were laid for 40 of these musicians (!) to record their encounters with the travelling guitar for a proposed 2 cd set.

The list of musicians who have received, played and passed along the guitar is a rich one. It includes the likes of Elliot Sharp, Nels Cline, Jeff Tweedy, Amy Denio, Fred Frith, Biota, Henry Kaiser, Tom Dimuzio, Rhys Chatham, John Shiurba, Manuel Gottsching, and a host of other known and lesser known names.  The guitar has its own Facebook page and there is a great website which documents the history of the project, which you can go to directly below. The website even includes a map outlining the travels of the guitar across the USA. Best yet, the site features some video footage of some of the guitarists playing the $100 guitar, including Keith Rowe playing it in his customary table-top fashion, but start with the Didkovsky video. It’s a very cool piece unto itself!

Check it all out: www.100dollarguitar.com

HUGH HOPPER / THE GIFT OF PURPOSE

Posted in Bone, Cuneiform Records, Hugh Hopper, John Roulat, Nick Didkovsky, Soft Machine, The Gift of Purpose with tags on December 6, 2010 by candymachine

Hugh Hopper died on June 7, 2009 from leukemia. According to a google search, one of the symptoms of the disease can be a feeling of fatigue, which makes me wonder if the doctors got his diagnosis right, because if The Gift of Purpose’ is any indicator he was far from fatigued nearing the end of his life.

Hopper left behind quite a legacy.  He is undoubtedly best known for his bass work in the groundbreaking and hugely influential Soft Machine, but he had an illustrious career beyond Soft Machine as well. A listing of his solo work and collaborations with others over the last 30 years would fill this blog, but a good place to start investigating would be Hopper’s own website.

Which brings us to ‘The Gift of Purpose,’ recently released on Cuneiform Records. Though ‘The Gift of Purpose’ is billed under Hopper’s name, this is definitely a Bone CD. Bone was Nick Didkovsky (guitar), Hopper (bass) and John Roulat (drums) and this recording dates from a Feb. 16, 2008 performance at Orion Sound Studios in Baltimore, Maryland. The band is soaring and searing for the most part. Didkovsky, always bionic, and perhaps best known from his bionic band Dr. Nerve, is…well…bionic here as well. There’s lots of screaming lead guitar played over Hopper and Roulat’s improvised bedrock.

There’s also a 15 minute bonus track, written by the one and only, and always trippy, Daevid Allen, to his life-long friend. It features Allen on vocals, Yves Duboin on soprano sax, and Colin Marston on guitar, alongside Didkovsky and Roulat. A nice piece with more space which acts as a ‘cool’ cool-down after the smokin’ Bone performance.  In inimitable Allen style, the end of the piece has the words ‘Thank you’ morphing into ‘Thanks Hugh.’ 

Which brings us again to the gift of purpose.  All of the monies collected from sales of this CD are going to benefit the Hopper family, who are bearing a financial burden, as well as emotional stress, following Hugh’s passing. Steven Feigenbaum of Cuneiform Records and Nick Didkovsky paid for the manufacturing costs of the CD from their own pockets. If you buy this CD direct from Cuneiform / Wayside Music, or from Downtown Music Gallery (in NYC), you can be assured that every cent goes to Hugh’s widow, Christine.  So, not only do you get a superb set of music from a bone-crunching progressive power trio, you can give something back in return to a musician who has contributed to the listening pleasures of anyone who has ever listened to progressive rock. Hyperbole? Just imagine what this part of the musical spectrum might sound like today if there had been no Hugh Hopper.

In the liner notes of the CD, we find this suggestion: ‘Listen to this record extremely loud and in one sitting. Open your windows so your neighbors can hear it too.’  Sounds like a good start.