Tag Archives: stork club

Orr-Allen-Guarino Trio at The Stork

So I’m a bit behind with my recap of Art Murmur, which (hopefully) will continue on Thursday and Friday.  But in the meantime, I’m throwing up a video I took at last night’s show at the Stork Club.  I mentioned it in my post yesterday… an experimental improv jazz trio informally known as the Orr – Allen – Guarino Trio, consisting of two drummers and one very loud sax player.  My friend who is one of the drummers said they need two, just to keep up with the sax, if that gives you any idea…

Now I know this isn’t for everyone… but I happen to think it’s quite excellent.  And one of the things I love, and have always loved, about the Stork Club is that they provide a home to all kinds of music.  They like to rock it, but that’s not all they do, and some of the most interesting avant-garde bands I’ve seen, were at the humble Stork.

The video clip below is approximately 12 minutes long, and this isn’t even the full song… I started the video a bit late.   This is no KCSM, no bee bop, no smooth jazz, and certainly nothing your mother would like. But the thing that makes it so cool, is that it’s completely free-form.  There’s very little structure they conform to… no verse, chorus, verse, chorus, refrain, verse chorus playbook.

That playbook’s all well and good… it gives the listener something to hold on to… or resolve as Orr refers to it.  My concept of resolve, and please keep in mind I am not an experimental jazz musician, is that it’s what one expects to come next in the song… what you can predict because you’ve already heard the first two minutes and understand the structure that’s been set up.  Like the blues, for example.  Almost anyone can sing a blues song, can even make up the lyrics as they go, because it’s so damn predictable.  That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being predictable, but what makes the blues interesting, is not that predictability, but rather the feeling imparted to the song within the confines of that expected chorus-verse structure.

What this trio performs is something else entirely… it’s wide open.  It’s unexpected.  It’s experiential because there’s no possible way of predicting what will come next, so you give up even trying and just experience each combination of notes and beats as they come.  As Orr explains it, “The trio will be improvising non-idiomatic free music. For those not familiar with that term, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_improvisation.”

And what’s more is that they play their instruments in unexpected ways… extracting every possible sound imaginable.  From throwing cymbals into the audience to bowing cymbals to scratching fingernails on the snare head… this is one wild ride!

For those as dorky as me, there’s another performance though slightly different on February 23rd at the Stork.  That show will feature Orr on drums, Allen on saxophone, and Ava Mendosa on guitar.  If you have an open mind, or don’t but want to have yours blown wide open, go check them out.

Here’s part 1 (about 9 minutes long)… part 2 to come later…

Here’s part 2…

Pinball Throwdown at the Stork Club

I hadn’t been to the Stork Club in about a hundred years. I am too old for bone-crushingly loud music in tiny venues these days… but back in the day, the Stork was one of the only cool clubs with an unbelievably eclectic roster of live music that friends and I used to frequent… I saw my first Idiot Flesh show there… it was mind-blowing! The Stork Club has been around for as long as I can remember  – it’s an Oakland institution.  Though in a different location now, and without all the Christmas creepiness (it used to be Christmas all year long), they’re still rockin’ the East Bay hard!

Stork Club Oakland

Stork Club Bar in Oakland

I stopped in Saturday night to witness the Pinball Throwdown hosted there between rival gangs, Oakland Pinball Mafia and Radio Pinball Union.  My friend Ryan clued me in to this event with a hilarious article from the Oakland Tribune: Night Owl: Oakland Pinball Showdown…

Here’s the flyer for the night…

Oakland Pinball Showdown flyer

The idea was that the two rival pinball gangs would compete on three vintage machines in the Stork Club’s back game room… high score takes the title.

The pinball fanatics were out in full force… and the folks from Lucky Ju Ju didn’t disappoint, bringing their full fledged pinball museum on wheels – Lil Ju Ju. Created by multimedia artist Michael Schiess, the museum houses four vintage pinball machines (though sometimes as many as six) in a 1947 Spartan Manor, rebuilt with hydraulic leveling system, reinforced frame, and upgraded suspension. What’s even cooler is that play on the machines is FREE. That’s right folks. It’s the same premise that operates at Lucky Ju Ju’s prime facilities in Alameda… make a donation – no quarters required.

1947 Spartan Manor Pinball Museum

Lil Ju Ju Mobile Pinball Museum

Lil Ju Ju Mobile Pinball Museum

I had to leave before the end of the evening so I don’t know who won the throwdown. Anyone?

There were three live bands… Cleve-land, Straggler, and VIR. The lead singer from one of the latter two bands (sorry, not sure which one) performed in a full batman get-up. Awesome! He had some serious pipes too.

Music at Stork Club

Batman performs Stork Club

In addition to all the pinball fans, there were some proud members of the The Church!: Elvis Underground, representing and proselytizing. I love these guys!  And how could you not when their philosophy is so simple and pure:

“To continue and further the Work of Elvis Presley, The King, toward uniting all species in universal rhythm and harmony.

Amen to that brother!

Check out their website… it’s full of fantastic and fun tidbits, not to mention some serious principles.  I’ll post The Eleven Commandments of Elvis here, because they’re just that good:

  1. Follow That Dream
  2. Don’t Be Cruel
  3. Love Me Tender
  4. Shake, Rattle, and Roll
  5. Do the Clam
  6. Treat Me Nice
  7. Don’t
  8. It’s Now or Never
  9. Return to Sender
  10. Viva Las Vegas!
  11. Wear My Ring Around Your Neck

You can read the more detailed scriptures on their site… Elvis Underground.