August 2017


By Grisha Shakhnes

The only time I was invited to play abroad was in Poznan, Poland. Piotr Tkacz and Patryk Lichota invited me along with some other musicians to their FRIV festival. The more memorable set of the two I played was with Piotr and Mateusz Loska when Mateusz, who was the bassist, quit mid-set because he thought me and Piotr were efficient enough without him. I think Piotr was a bit angry. I was just feeling a bit ashamed. I hadn’t even noticed he had stopped. But I shouldn’t have felt ashamed, I don’t remember us being that busy or loud. I also played a rather good set with Jeff Gburek, but it wasn’t nearly as memorable. Neither set was as memorable as Polish craft beer, either. I also remember playing LAS, one of the nicest venues I ever played, not that I played many, with the best sounding fan in the toilet to boot. And walking in the woods and taking a tram with Boris. I also remember Paed Conca, a great musician and a real gentleman.

I played in NYC in 2012 when I was visiting there. It was a good concert. A bit routine maybe, but effective. I liked the venue, which was a part of some shared apartment, I suppose. The trains were passing some 50 meters away, you could see them from the windows. I remember some girl coming up to me to tell me she liked my set. I suggested she buy my CD and she looked disappointed. I remember KeroaƤn’s set which was fun though I felt the light show could be more engrossing. I remember a set by a group of some instrument builders which I hated. I don’t remember much from C. Spencer Yeh’s set. Meeting Billy Gomberg was probably the best part of this affair. We had a very nice saison called Pipaix. We had a nice conversation and I borrowed his mixer.

I played in Berlin in 2010 when I was visiting there too. I played at Madame Claude. It was easier to organize things in Berlin because I was staying with Valerio Tricoli and I could use his stuff. The PA was shitty but I think I handled it rather well. Valerio called this set “elegant”. We forgot to turn on the recorder. I was pretty eager to use my drinking coupons so at Valerio’s encouragement I drank vodka. At least two glasses I think. After that I went with some other Valerio’s visiting friend, an Italian, to fetch a mattress from another Italian friend of his. He in turn offered us some grappa, the only sight of which almost made me puke. I haven’t got that drunk since. I remember recording at Valerio’s place. I remember the results being pretty good but i don’t have the recording. I hope he still does. Hanging out with Valerio and his Italian friends was a lot of fun, though.

I think I’m done with the playing during visits thing.

I first met Valerio when he was in Tel Aviv for one of Zimmer’s tape fests and stayed at my apartment. He did this very nice schtick with a TV set and magnets. I played a rather long set at the end of which I put a very nice bit recorded straight from the radio and just sat and did nothing. The bit was a good deal longer than I remembered and it was probably a bit uneasy for the audience. Valerio thought I should have pretended to move some knobs like I’m doing something. I wasn’t sure. I went the other way and just put it on a recording of mine, “it’s something, but it’s not tomorrow”. It worked beautifully, as Brian Olewnick’s review can attest.

I recorded the radio bit from the back seat of a car when riding back from Jerusalem after a concert with Jerome Noetinger and Ignaz Schick. Jerome and Ignaz stayed in Jerusalem. We rode home. I played solo. I don’t remember much, but I remember how Jerome reminded me of Jean Reno in that shitty version of Godzilla when he put a flashlight on his head to look at a map. And I remember how there was almost no audience in the club Uganda when we played.

There was almost no audience in Jerusalem when Jason Lescalleet was here, either. There were some student girls who were discussing their studential problems very loudly. I played first so I started even louder with a recording of a tree full of chirping birds. It was very effective in cleaning up the room, yowza. I finished with Lou Reed’s”Sad Song” because I have this cassette of “Berlin” and I wanted to use it for a long time. A few days before that in Tel Aviv I finished the set with Cure’s “The Walk” but it’s only because the very quiet field recording was using came to an end to reveal a dub of “Standing at the Beach” which was there before that, rather too loudly. Somehow nobody guessed that it was unintentional. Some did think it was a bit too loud. Aside from that, I’m very thankful for the chance to hang out with Jason. Some of the most constructive conversations I ever had.

I remember posing for a picture with a Sudden Infant t-shirt, twice. I remember Joke. I don’t remember my set.

My favourite set I ever played was the first time I played with Lior Ashkenazy. Everything just clicked. My least favourite was my second ever set. It was awful. The first one wasn’t nearly as bad.

I never seem to remember much about my performances. I do remember the people. People are the best part.

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