LOLA concert series kicks off tonight

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Not the Wind, Not the Flag

Gazette File Photos

YOU MIGHT EVEN CALL IT A LOLA-PALOOZA. Tonight LOLA’s spring concert series kicks off with performances by Canaille, Not the Wind Not the Flag, and Muskox .

It’s never too early to start thinking about the London Ontario Live Arts festival, which was held last September for the third time. This year, the LOLA festival is supplemented with a spring concert series that kicks off tonight at Museum London with three new-age jazz ensembles: Muskox, Canaille and Not the Wind, Not the Flag.

Michael Smith is the creative visionary of Muskox and bassist in Canaille. He loves playing in London, stating, “[LOLA] is a really great festival. It’s a pleasure to be invited back again.”

All three bands are based out of Toronto where they form an artistic community that thrives off of one another. Smith is eager for the opportunity to share his unique sound with new audiences.

“Toronto has a strong experimental music community and it’s exciting to share that with people who aren’t directly involved,” he said.

Lead member of Canaille, Jeremy Strachan, explained how collectivist group dynamics affect his musical output even though Canaille has a set lineup of musicians.

“There are always opportunities for ad hoc groups to get together. You’re always learning from playing with someone new. You absorb their approach to music,” he said.

Muskox

Based on the variety of approaches these three bands take to making music, there is plenty for Strachan to absorb.

Muskox combines its members’ formal jazz backgrounds with country and folk, all while maintaining a minimalist approach.

“I’ve always listened to a lot of folk and country music. We achieve the wooden sound with the banjo components,” he said.

Canaille’s sound has roots in Strachan’s previous experience in the influential punk band, Rockets Red Glare.

“There has always been a connection between punk, free jazz and improvised music,” he said.

The duo Not the Wind, Not the Flag draws heavily from world music and they embrace instruments unfamiliar to many North Americans including the bouzouki (Mediterranean), ney (Persian) and guzheng (Chinese). The duo’s use of multiple instruments from other cultures leads band member Colin Fisher to proclaim, “We’re chameleon-esque!”

Fisher is fascinated by improvisational means of performing and he takes that experimental approach to heart. Not the Wind, Not the Flag spontaneously changes its performance with every show, sometimes even during a show.

When asked what the audience can expect tonight at the launch of the LOLA concert series, Fisher simply suggested to “expect the unexpected.”

Tickets are $10 in advance at Grooves Records or $12 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m., the concert starts at 8:30 p.m.

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