Monday, August 12, 2019

Shane Parish & Wendy Eisenberg in Pittsburgh

Just got back from seeing Shane Parish and Wendy Eisenberg play at Acoustic Music Works, a music store in Squirrel Hill.  I've been intrigued by Wendy's playing since I first heard her albums The Machinic Unconscious and Its Shape Is In Your Touch last fall. (Read about them here.) There's a lot more that she's done before and since those two albums and I haven't had the chance to keep up with it, but that makes me all the more intrigued. So I was pretty stoked that she was coming to town on a night that I wasn't working. (She breezed through town in the Flying Luttenbachers a few months ago, and the only reason I found out was when some friends posted it on Facebook.)

Shane Parish's name is new to me but clearly these two work really well together and I wish I had been able to pick up both their duet album and a solo Wendy album, but I only had a enough for the latter.

Free improv guitar can get lost in the visceral qualities of the act of playing but these two really flowed well together. Tonight there were no electric guitars in sight. The duo's tour stayed in keeping with the name of the space. The set began with Wendy playing softly, with Shane joining her after a few seconds. They kept the volume low in these opening moment, prompting one Acoustic Music Works guys to turn off the air conditioner when it came on and threatened the muffle the sound.

The dynamics got louder as they played, not in a gradual build but shifting quickly when it felt right. Shane hit a loud chord but it was a pronouncement along the way instead of a cue to go someplace else. Even when they seemed to be playing in opposite directions, their guitars still worked together, making them almost feel like sounds in nature that do their own thing independently, while creating music together at the same time. Wendy stopped playing a few times to simply caress her instrument, getting sounds from the wood. Or maybe this is her way of taking a pause. Shane didn't quite do that, but he did tap on the instrument and got a similar feeling going.

By the end of the set, the ten or so of us that were there all forgot that the air conditioner had been turned off.

Eric Weidenhoff, Jeff Weston and Jim Storch opened the evening with a free improv set on cello, bass and percussion, respectively. Equally quiet and restrained for most of it, the music got pretty spare and open at times.

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