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Marc Ribot@Sala Rosa 06/04/07

Posted by Jade / June 6, 2007

06062007-marcribot.jpg"That last one was called 'The Joy of Repetition'," Marc Ribot said Monday night to the crowd at Sala Rosa -- a crowd so respectfully quiet that you could hear floorboards creak as people shifted their weight. "I wrote it after I fired my therapist."

That got a good chuckle. But it occurred to me then that it might be instructive to think of the Suoni Per Il Popolo avant-garde music festival as a litmus test to see just how much crazy you've got in you.

Or maybe, more to the point, what kind of crazy. The thing with a musician like Ribot -- who's worked with Elvis Costello and Tom Waits, recorded an album of Haitian classical music, and pushed the boundaries of avant-garde jazz both with John Zorn and The Lounge Lizards -- is that you never know what you're going to get when he steps on stage. On one hand, that makes Ribot perfect for the festival. On the other, your taste for hip-jiggling Cuban music will probably be ignored. (I knew Ribot from his albums Y Los Cubanos Postizos and Muy Divertido, which are, just as the second title suggests, pure fun.)

Monday night was a sit-down-and-reflect show, more like this than this. Ribot played his songs crouched over his guitar, barely moving. A rendition of Sam & Dave's "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" was, though unrecognizable musically, heartfelt and haunting. A more straight-ahead blues played with some mutated rhythms showed traces of John Lee Hooker's DNA. But other songs were discordant, like the soundtrack to a surrealist art film. Metre disappeared, harmonies jarred.

In all, it was an interesting couple of sets. One out of every three songs really and truly grooved. The other two -- well, let's just say that crazy's a nice place to visit, but it's nice to step out into sober normalcy at the end of the night.

Photo by Yesbillymavreas.

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