Thollem McDonas Stirs Things Up at Artlore Studios
Pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author, and teacher Thollem McDonas takes on Artlore
Friday, Nov. 22
Many labels could be applied to Thollem McDonas — including pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author, and teacher — but perhaps the one that fits best is "traveler." The 52-year-old Bay Area native has spent the majority of his adult life on the move, performing solo and in myriad groups, conducting workshops, and putting on clinics throughout North America and Europe. Rarely settling in one place physically or sonically, McDonas is a nomadic soul through and through. Next stop: Artlore Studios.
McDonas' playing restlessly explores the limits of musical possibility, rarely adhering to "the rules." Predictable chord progressions? Seldom. Easily identifiable key signatures? Not really, but you're welcome to try. This fearless experimenter has even been known to tinker with temperament, or the distance between tones (Western music uses 12 tones, seven naturals and five sharps/flats — microtonal music utilizes even tinier variations in pitch). Blues and classical music are often reference points in McDonas' work — indeed he can and has performed in these spheres —but it's all spun in an improvisatory centrifuge powered by free jazz spirit and punk rock attitude (indeed, he is the frontman of the Italian punk band Tsigoti).
Cumulatively, McDonas has recorded over 60 albums, performed in over 1,500 shows, and collaborated with hundreds of like-minded artists in music, dance, and film — while breaking an untold number of conventions along the way. Intrepid ears and open minds are encouraged to come along for what should be a hell of a ride. — Matt Swanseger
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. // 3406 W. Lake Rd. // $8 suggested donation // facebook.com/Artlorestudio