Next Wednesday, the Menlo Macfarlane Studio Theatre in Grass Valley will host a night of music and poetry featuring two duos, Aquabluezamboo and the Pull-String Duo. This is the second event that artist Macfarlane and musician Randy McKean have hosted at the studio, located on the third floor of St. Joseph’s Cultural Center.
Lindsay Dunckel, fresh from her participation acting in the 24-Hour Plays, the recent instant-theater production that benefited Miners Foundry Cultural Center, will read her original poetry, accompanied by guitarist Ross Hammond, himself still buzzing from producing the sixth annual In the Flow festival of jazz and improvised music in his hometown of Sacramento. Dunckel and Hammond first performed together as a duo in October 2011 when McKean, Dunckel’s husband and frequent bandmate of Hammond’s, asked them to perform for a concert.
“Ross had just become a parent, and all his music at the time was celebrating the arrival of his daughter,” said McKean. “Motherhood and family are one of the big themes in Lindsay’s poetry. There’s a real lyrical side to both of their work, and I thought it would be a great match.”
The set was a success, both of them playing off of each other’s performance, Dunckel shuffling and adjusting the order and cadences of her poems as Hammond improvised a shifting musical soundscape influenced by her words.
“They connected on such a deep level. It was exquisite,” said McKean.
They’ve christened themselves Aquabluezamboooo after a line in one of Dunckel’s poems.
The first half of the evening will feature the Pull-String Duo with violinist Matej Seda and guitarist David Dvorin, another frequent collaborator of Macfarlane and McKean and a former Nevada City resident. During his time here, Dvorin collaborated with Terry Riley and the Nevada County Composers Collective, taught at Sierra College and worked at the music software company eMagic. Dvorin now teaches composition and electronic music at California State University, Chico, where he met and began working with violinist Seda. A native of the Czech Republic who had recently moved to Chico, Seda was looking for new situations beyond the Gypsy jazz and swing he was playing at the time and connected with Dvorin, who had renewed his focus on the guitar after a long stretch of composition projects.
The two discovered a mutual interest in a wide array of sounds, including 17th century viol music, modern jazz, rustic blues, American and European folk music and avant-garde chamber music. For this concert, Seda may even sing a Moravian folk song and McKean plans to join them on bass clarinet for a tune or two.
For his part, Macfarlane is transforming his intimate art studio to complement this diverse offering. And, in addition to his role of Master of Ceremonies, Macfarlane will raffle off artworks and CDs during the evening with the aid of the Black Valley Spin Wheel.
Macfarlane and McKean hope to host future events at the theatre.
“I guess you could call it a concert series, but we’d like to think of it as a series of unique collaborative happenings,” said McKean.