You’re walking past El Tapatio on Grand Avenue and need a place to rest your feet. Outside. The options are slim: sitting on the sidewalk, or trying to snag one of the limited spaces by nearby Christopher Columbus Family Academy.
Just as you’re ready to give up, you spot a new, pint-sized urban oasis: tables and chairs, tree-like sculptures, long wispy grasses and a dainty fence around the outside. All small enough to fit inside two parking spaces.
For New Haven-based musician and sometimes promoter Rick Omonte, music is a contagion. “It’s like a parasite or a bug,” he said in an interview last week. “You might walk by a window and hear something, and then it’s in your head. And then you hear it on the street, and it’s another crumb. And then you hear someone playing it, and you say, ‘excuse me, I don’t know you, but what’s that song?’”
Omonte’s big ears and curiosity led him, sonically speaking, to the West African country of Niger. Next Tuesday, he’s bringing Niger to New Haven, represented by celebrated guitarist Mdou Moctar, who will play Lyric Hall in Westville at 8 p.m.
Asked what performances from the Uncertainty Music Series’ 10-year run came most memorably to mind, musician Anne Rhodes recalled one by Canadian duo Not The Wind Not The Flag. “They’re such flexible, unpredictable musicians. I think Brandon [Valdivia] can do five different beats with four different limbs, and as a duo they play off each other really well,” she said. “And for me this comes up over and over again with improvised music, but they’re people I’m really happy to see.”
But she also remembered a performance by composer Brian Parks. “He did a 40-minute improvisation on virginal,” an instrument in the harpsichord family. “It was all overlapping polyrhythms … and most of the people there, because they were coming from Yale and used to a little bit more of a concert music setting, and a contemporary classical idiom, were super uncomfortable and some of them were actually really mad.” She chuckled. “And it was so good.”
In my 12 years writing stories for the Independent, I’ve covered, no surprise, many issues dealing with parking, and parking lots. Too many. Throw in a few more stories over the years about parakeets, and specifically little monk parrots, nesting in United Illuminating transformers at City Point and other locales that occasionally erupt into flames.
Add a note or two floating in via the remembered fictional voice of Bernard Malamud, a pinch of cranky musings about the Jewish High Holidays, upcoming, mix it all up, hope you’re lucky — and that’s how the following fiction story, “High Holiday Parrot,” emerged.
They stood beside a sparkling display case holding folded and inked paper in organic-looking crumples, side by side with a small rectangle of superconducting aluminum that knows how to catch a single photon and once did.
The physicist said the crumples reminded him of hard to visualize quantum fluctuations. The artist said she wanted the papers to remain just as they are, slowly unfolding, or changing shape, being both what they are and something else they had just been. Or, as she put it, “multiple universes.”
“Yeah, I don’t know, I mean, I got to think about it,” says the voice at the beginning of “Fruitloopville,” the opener to noise-rock band Grizzlor’s latest release and its first full-length album, Destructoid. The voice is lazy and comical, and doesn’t prepare you for the heaviness that follows. The riff that drives the song is just three notes in chromatic descending order, but it’s more than enough. It comes down like an anvil, again and again, through the singer’s snarling vocals, and keeps going underneath a guitar solo that ladles out the sludge by the gallon.
It’s a fitting introduction to the rest of Destructoid, which finds one of New Haven’s hardest bands digging further into the sound it developed three years ago — one that marries thick slabs of noise with a wicked sense of humor.