captain beefheart electricity

media shows


music project various artists * FAST 'N' BULBOUS the captain beefheart project
started europe 21.10.2001 usa 09.02.02

2001 - THIS is 2002 - later - track lists - review - albums

saturday 9 february 2002 USA the knitting factory, new york (ny) captain beefheart tribute night 21.00 h

after the three shows in europe, a performance was scheduled in beefheart's home country. for in 2002 the hotbed of alternate music, the knitting factory, celebrated its 15th anniversary, and one of the parties was a 'captain beefheart tribute night'. the 'fast and bulbous' musicians played the 'main space' in new york, usa, in a program which also included the showing of the bbc documentary the artist formerly known as captain beefheart and anton corbijn's film some yo yo stuff. also present was mike barnes, who read from his book captain beefheart for reason it just had been published in an usa edition.

usually the knitting factory puts the concerts live on the web, but in this case they forgot to broadcast it. thus, people who weren't able to attend the show have to be satisfied with two reviews:

from THE VILLAGE VOICE 'the sounds of the city' section 130202 usa
by richard gehr

The Captain Beefheart Project packed the Knitting Factory on February 9 with both curious beginners and bellowing geezers. The four-and-a-half-hour multimedia seminar - a sort of Don Van Vliet 101 - covered everything from his 1966 beach-party appearance on TV's Where the Action Is to the domestic debut of Fast 'n' Bulbous. The horntastic new septet arranged by saxophonist Phillip Johnston featured former Beefheart guitarist / manager Gary Lucas, who also served as the evening's reminiscing master of ceremonies.

Having retired from music to a quiet seaside life of painting and sclerotic infirmity, Don Van Vliet, the 60-year-old growling grandpa of arty alternarock, don't need no stinking tributes - but I bet he would have enjoyed this one anyway. Originally an intimidating rock-star wannabe, Beefheart mutated into an all-American original by pushing his love of the blues and avant-garde jazz to the limits of endurance - at least for his terrorized Magic Band members - on the 1969 masterpiece Trout Mask Replica. After a couple of dazzling Lucas solos and superfluous readings by Beefheart biographer Ken Barnes, the all-instrumental Fast 'n' Bulbous slammed into Trout Mask Replica's 'Pachuco Cadaver', replacing Beefheart's vaguely licentious Howlin' Wolf vocals with rich, brassy harmonies that illuminated the epigrammatic contours of the composer's earthy expressionism.

Fast 'n' Bulbous didn't try to replicate the Magic Band's unique deployment of parallel themes in differing tempos and keys. And while I missed John 'Drumbo' French's almost linguistic drum parts, I fell completely for the rampant party spirit that pervaded 'Veteran's Day Poppy', 'When It Blows Its Stacks' and 'Tropical Hot Dog Night'. The band's joyful noises did justice to Beefheart's nature-boy ardor for flesh and grit, in anticipation, let's hope, for some after-school specials down the line.

(many thanks, len nowakowski, for spotting it)

from VARIETY 140202 usa
by unknown writer

For the one-and-a-half decades that he spent as a recording artist, Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) was avant-rock's most iconoclastic figure. He fused surrealism with situationist thought, infuriating many and entrancing a cult following that would continue to pine for new work long after he left the musical world - and had chosen for a burgeoning career as a fine artist, due to physical infirmity. Guitarist Gary Lucas, who played in the last edition of Beefheart's Magic Band, and former Microscopic Septet leader Philip Johnston spent several months putting together the Fast and Bulbous Project.

Sensibly deciding to take an all-instrumental tack - Beefheart's multioctave growl being all but impossible to replicate - the septet reconfigured the material for a brass-centric universe and set sail. At first, it seemed as if the ensemble would fall far short of the mark it had set for itself. The septet limped through a version of 'Fast and Bulbous' (that's nˇt the title of any beefheart track, good person! - teejo) that was distinctly slow and smooth, devoid of rough edges  - as was a rendition of 'Pachuco Cadaver' that owed as much to Blood, Sweat and Tears as to the Magic Band.

But then, as if by magic, the musicians began to grow fractious and obstreperous, with the horn players tugging in opposite directions from the core of 'Abba Zaba', chattering and arguing like squirrels engaged in a turf battle. That sound, at once grating and charmingly nature-rooted, would have made Beefheart proud. The same could be said for the band's deconstruction of 'When Big Joan Sets Up' (a piece that's loopy even by Beefheart standards): braying, giggling and cajoling brass elements - and wiry contributions from a slyly grinning Lucas - converged, creating a veritable carnival midway onstage.

Then again, the principals didn't exactly make it easy on themselves, choosing to precede their performance with 90 or so minutes of rare film footage of the Captain himself. The video program went back as far as a lip-sync segment on a 60's tv program on which Beefheart was surrounded by frugging beach bunnies, but focused on wildly intense live footage that cast Van Vliet as one part shaman and one part slapstick comedian. Mike Barnes, whose simply titled bio 'Captain Beefheart' has just been published in a U.S. version, read passages from the tome between Lucas' solo essays on Beefheart compositions.

Presented inhouse.
Band: Gary Lucas, Philip Johnston, Joe Fiedler, Rob Henke, Dave Sewelson, Jesse Krakow, Richard Dworkin.
Reviewed Feb. 9, 2002. Reuters/Variety

friday 15 march 2002 USA tonic, new york (ny) 20.00 & 22.00 h

two months after the usa premiere in new york, in that same city a performance took place announced as 'encore', probably referring to the earlier show. but actually it were twˇ gigs, and also 'solo acts', i mean: without mike barnes (gone back to england to read from his book) and the videos - which, however, later would return as the opening act to the project's concerts in the states. more information very welcome.

saturday 15 june 2002 USA makor, new york (ny) 22.00 h

another so-called encore but preceded by 'rare beefheart video clips', most likely to be 'the bbc documentary with the annoyingly long title' and the don van vliet / anton corbijn film some yo yo stuff. more information very welcome.

sunday 25 august 2002 AUSTRIA festival, saalfelden 24th international jazzfestival 17.30 h
one day sander piek emailed me:

[intro about his beefheart background left out.] On your website you mention the 'Fast 'n' Bulbous' Captain Beefheart project. Since I live and work in the south of Germany for some time now, and sometimes visit other [than rock] concerts (mainly jazz), I knew that this group would perform at this three-day festival in Austria. Unlike the two past years I couldn't be there, but fortunately every year an Austrian radio station broadcasts nearly the whole festival, live or afterwards:

radio + web sunday 25 august 2002 AUSTRIA ÷1 (radio ÷sterreich 1) in the evening 'live aus saalfelden'

A live report from the festival announcing the forthcoming longer broadcast included the only track with vocals:
The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica)

radio + web monday 16 september 2002 AUSTRIA ÷1 (radio ÷sterreich 1) 19.30 hour aus dem konzertsaal - jazz

The main radio program contained:
Pachuco Cadaver
Abba Zaba
When Big Joan Sets Up
A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond (a bass solo by Jesse Krakow)
When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mummy
Evening Bell (of course by Gary Lucas on guitar, with explanation)
Sugar 'n' Spikes
Tropical Hot Dog Night

In-between the tracks introductions by Phillip Johnston, Gary Lucas and the studio presenter of Í1. The latter among other mentioned that Captain Beefheart's approach ('His name is legend') unfortunately hasn't been followed and that his music yet is well connected with the jazz.

(translated from dutch by the gorillacrow. heel erg bedankt, sander)


p.s. my review of the 'fast 'n' bulbous' project is mainly based on thÝs concert

friday 27 september 2002 USA walker art center, minneapolis (mi) sound unseen 20.00 h

a 'freewheeling tribute', again with the support of some moving pictures. more information very welcome, even afterwards.

sunday 29 september 2002 USA wexner center, columbus (oh) 19.00 h

same show but in another place. more information very welcome, even afterwards.

friday 22 november 2002 USA symphony space, new york (ny) 20.30 h

what did i say about irregularity? the one moment they perform twice a week, the next moment they don't play together for months! this performance includes the familiar videos. more information very welcome, even afterwards.



click clack back to other covers or return to the power station

captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo