Like the French fur trappers of the 17th and 18th centuries, The Tape-beatles have
completed a tour that took them around the U.S. Upper Midwest. Although it could be
argued that neither was there anything new left for them to discover nor was their
object in this itinerary the capturing of fur-covered beasts, the cornfed composers
nonetheless racked up an impressive list of gigs, leaving the region reeling.
We talked a bit about the first half of our tour in last month’s only update;
in this month’s, we will take you down the list of things done on the remainder of
the tour. After the red-carpet treatment we received in Minneapolis from
Nate Johnson and the other Sound Unseen organizers, followed up swiftly by the
(comparatively speaking) over-the-coals raking we got in Chicago, we enjoyed a two-week
respite from the travails of the road, Lloyd taking up residence in his mother’s basement,
and John at the home of his brother. Then we embarked on a journey which took us to
the following places, which come next.
Normal, Illinois. On the evening of 24 October, we presented our Good Times
at the Center for Visual Arts at Illinois State University. We were given a warm welcome
by show organizer Shari Zeck, who has been and is a long-time fan in good standing of our work.
After being interviewed by a representative from the student newspaper, and being
fêted with punch and carry-out pasta, we ran through our show in
the gallery to an overfull audience who sat not only on the provided chairs, but also on
the floor and steps behind us. Alas, there were a few noticeable technical mistakes in our performance,
and so the viewer experience was, shall we say, somewhat imperfect. No matter, though: the crowd
response was a round of applause, followed by a question and answer period. The next morning we
(somewhat literally) blew out of town, with winds that day gusting up to 50 miles per hour.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Tape-beatles are proud holders of the honor of
performing in 1991 at the opening evening event of CSPS, a renovated 19th-century meeting hall
built for Czech immigrants, and now turned into an alternative arts center, situated
in the heart of Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village district. Some ten years later, on 27 October,
we came back to present our Good Times there, before a crowd of supporters,
well-wishers, and Grady, the CSPS cat. We breezed through the main course of our set,
and topped it off with the now de rigueur dessert of discussion afterwards. It’s becoming
an easily-anticipated pattern, but not a rut, since every space is different and has its
own demands. Here: a canvas drop unfolded and hung just behind the proscenium for our
projections, and a partial row of seats in the back removed to make way for a riser from which
we could project. In addition, the audio seemed to deteriorate as the set went on, so some adjustments
to the mix were made on the fly, with limited success. Nonetheless, the audience responded
warmly to our efforts and hung around afterwards to offer comments and to buy t-shirts and CDs,
much to our delight.
Menomonee, Wisconsin. It was ceramics professor Kate Maury who brought us to the
University of Wisconsin-Stout, and to her we must tip our hats for the success that
this engagement brought. We repaid her organizing efforts by presenting our work and ideas before
two classroomsful of students, and on the Big Night (30 October) delivering a show that was
technically nearly perfect. We have to admit that presenting in such a small town has its
advantages, in that the chances that something else equally interesting happening on the
same night would be limited, and so the attendance was quite good. On the other had, showing
work in a lecture hall required extensive re-jigging
of the sound system (set up for mono) to deliver our audio in all its stereophonic glory. Given
the huge white wall that we had to project upon, we had the feeling that our show looked as
good as it ever had. A penetrating Q and A session followed, in which we were permitted to
belabor our ideational agenda at length. What more could you ask?
Spillville, Iowa. Although we didn’t perform or present in Spillville, we did
make a pilgrimage here to connect with a place that served as residence to Czech composer
Anton Dvořák during the time he was working on his New World Symphony.
This tiny spot on the map brought together three thematic ties for us: Iowa (where we’re
from), Bohemia (where we live and work), and music (what we do). We stopped briefly
at the Bily Clock Museum, formerly the residence where Dvořák stayed, to get
a few pictures and take a break from the road. Unfortunately, the place was closed when we
got there, and had to eke out a few exterior shots in failing daylight. Eight miles up the road,
in a hamlet named after the Czech town of Protivin, we stopped for a buffet supper — and
were delighted and astonished to find an elderly woman cook, born and raised in Iowa, who spoke
fluent Czech. It’s all just part of the poetry of the road.
The Tape-beatles would like to thank the following groups and individuals whose organizational aplomb and technical assistance helped make this series of presentations possible.
Shari Zeck and everyone at Illinois State University
Mel Andringa, F. John Herbert and all our friends at CSPS
Kate Maury and everyone at University of Wisconsin-Stout
Photos, from top to bottom
CSPS, Cedar Rapids IA
Illinois State University, Normal IL
John sorts loops at UW-Stout, Menomonee WI
Lloyd, Kate, and John at UW-Stout
Clock and placard from Bily Clock Museum
The Tape-beatles in Spillville IA
Our current update brings you information on two scintillating items that have
recently caught our attention; one related to the recent Sound Unseen gigging
recently completed, the other item just wandering in at random from the engulfing
Item 1. See your cultural heroes bowling! Steev Hise has posted a selection
of views of The Tape-beatles, John Oswald, Escape Mechanism, himself and others taking
advantage of the lanes at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. See their form, see
their skill, see their scores.
Item 2: Today’s Reading. Steal This Essay: Content Is a Pure Public
Good by Dan Kohn. An unusually clear laying-out of the issues associated with
intellectual property. Particularly useful is the grid he lays out for rival and nonrival,
exclusive and non-exclusive, goods and services.
• Plunder bowling
Pictures from the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis
• Content as a Pure Public Good
By Dan Kohn