Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Performing Arts

The other night the Crowley Theater and Marfa Live Arts presented a program by the Performing Arts Japan program. "Minor Musics Japan."

The drive to Marfa is only 26 miles or so west of Alpine. You leave our little valley and go through a few miles of jaggedy mountain teeth, a few bends in the road, and if you are truly lucky, you will see a train with multicolored cars meandering eastward on the train tracks north of the highway.

Occasionally I find myself driving over to Marfa because my eyes need a treat. A distraction.

This Sunday early evening I found myself driving over because of ancient ties. Well. Not too ancient, but somewhat related to my personal past.

I lived in Japan with my late husband and little baby Thomas back 21 years ago. I don't have the opportunity to speak Japanese much these days, but the things I learned in a Japanese kitchen still influence my cooking on a weekly basis. And the heart skills I learned from studying Japanese Tea Ceremony for two years definitely influence my spirit, even if I don't make special tea as often as I like.

You never know what kind of avant garde program will be thrown our way via the innovators at Marfa Live Arts.

I guess I figured it wouldn't be "Sakura" on the playlist, but was ready for anything.

After greeting a few acquaintances, I found my way to a folding seat in the middle of the audience. The lights dimmed and the group of performers approached the stage. Maher Shalal Haz Baz opened with a group of local performers. I am acquainted with a few, but didn't know they could play so beautifully. The pieces were largely improv, very jazzy, and whimsical. I laughed frequently.

After the guest performers left the stage, the group played another piece or two. Proof of their goodness lay in the buckets of giggles and chortles that erupted from the younger part of the audience. The pieces were highly symbolic and meaningful, but the best part, they were funny! Perhaps they weren't really that deep at all. Perhaps the artists wished to inspire giggles and laughter, and the children in the audience got it.

The next performer was A qui Avec Gabriel. Aki was the performer and Gabriel her accordion. The first thing she did upon taking seat in her chair on the stage was hug her accordion, more sweetly, tenderly than a child. She and that accordion danced, performed, spoke volumes as her songs resonated through the hall. Perhaps the music wasn't to all tastes. But to me, it was like a walk through a museum, so many senses were touched as her hands moved spiderly up and down the keyboard, then more like little birds, and her feet danced up and down like a fairy.

Her voice was so lovely, I wished she would not stop her singing. I couldn't even understand if she were singing words or just intoning decorations like the flight of a butterfly. Her red hair swung and it was like a part of her instrument.

Yes, at a couple of points, I began to grow quite sleepy, I think I was coming down with some kind of bug and was tempted to go home, but thankful I didn't because the show got even better!

Che Shizu took the stage. A group of four folks, playing improv folk, in Japanese. A drummer, two guys on amplified guitars, and a woman, playing some kind of electronic violin sort of instrument and a piano.


I don't think I realized how hungry I was for art.

This performance reminded me. And filled me nicely.

Some of the pieces were lovely. And right about the time you might settle in to thinking that this was cool, otherworldly, but not that far out music, they would turn you on your head. Or rather, turn their instruments on their head. Or turn themselves on their head. Which they did on one of the most moving pieces I have ever seen.

At one point, it seemed like someone let a few very ADD kids out on to the stage, as they played around with their microphones, their instruments, the drummer even started to play whistles with his nostrils! And then the picture became clear. A guitarist took the panel off the bottom of the piano and began to pluck out a song, upside down. Another guitarist played his guitar with a violin bow. The drummer played himself, his shoes, his chairs, his drums, his whistles. The beautiful lady, with the resonant voice walked around, looking, listening, and then joined in the piano duet from the keyboard side.

I wish I could review this performance justly. My words fail me and I must get kids to bed.

But this piece moved me so deeply, I had to at least pencil in a thought or two. I felt inspired. Encouraged. Motivated to open my eyes to the different ways that surround me.

These performers were in Los Angeles, here in Marfa, on to Detroit, and then to Brooklyn.

I was tired, and didn't really feel like getting out alone on a Sunday night. Walking around the loop and watching a dvd with the kids would have been more relaxing. But I am trying to practice being single. I have plenty of friends I could call, but there seems to be something rich and good about getting out on my own. Scary. But okay.

And while this might not be everyone's cup of "green tea,": I was filled deeply. And thought about the songs from each of the performances well into the night.

PS Sakura is an old Japanese folk song many kids can play with one hand on the piano. But not at all like any of the pieces that were played this Sunday evening!


paul s said...

"My words fail me..."
No, your words do not fail you. Your description of the performances is artful. You have a talent for writing.

CountryDew said...

I hadn't visited your blog in a while; it is a beautiful and wistful vision of your life. I hope things are going well for you, that you're healthy, and filled with love.