A wild night of music is in store as eight Vashon musicians display their eccentricities on everything from upright bass to Moog synthesizers to “improvised ethereal light-noise,” at the first Vashon Weird Music Fest, at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug 26, at Snapdragon Café and Bakery’s Black Cat Cabaret.
The Fest is the brainchild of islander Doug Sharp, who said his original idea for the title of the fest was “The Vashon Irritation Music Fest.” Prior to the pandemic, he’d gotten some local musicians onboard for the show.
There was a problem, though.
“For some strange reason, we couldn’t find a venue,” Sharp said. “We even considered doing a pop-up show at the skate park. A few months ago, it hit me that ‘Vashon Weird Music Fest’ was more marketable than ‘Vashon Irritating Music Fest,’ and indeed it has been.”
Sharp said he was grateful to Snapdragon for taking a risk on providing its stage, and that if the fest does well, it will become an annual event.
Players this time around include Bruce Phares, a noted bassist on the Seattle jazz scene who recently moved to Vashon. Michael Whitmore, also known locally for his love of jazz and blues, will contribute “guitar weirdness,” according to Sharp.
Other participants include Stan Ellefläädt, Dexter Casper Excalibur Middling, Andy James, Gaven Danger Dehnert, and Cyrus Morosoff.
Sharp, a sci-fi author who was also a best-selling computer game developer, will perform his own brand of weird music as well, of course — a genre he calls “droogcore,” involving an instrument called a Chaos Machine.
A press release lists the set order and more about the acts included:
Doug Sharp kicked off his career of infernal cacophony by torturing a Moog Modular in 1974. He likes to smash sounds together to see what happens. He’s an old fart of 70, and this performance will be his first since playing French Horn in his junior high band in 1965. He writes sci-fi (“Channel Zilch,” “Jeff Bezos and the Sweatshop in the Sky”) and is a bestselling computer game dev (ChipWits, The King of Chicago).
Michael Whitmore has been around a long time. He prefers nylon string guitars and tends towards the frayed edges of jazz — post-jazz, avant-jazz, free-jazz, abstract-jazz with a hint of outsider music. He also has a thing for torch songs and American primitive guitar stylings. He can catch him around town either playing solo or with his ensemble, Some’tet.
Dexter Casper Excalibur Middling ’s ear-piercing noises were sent from hell itself. Attendees must sign a pain waiver.
Palefina’s Labyrinth is Cyrus Morosoff playing ethereal “light noise” — slowly evolving soundscapes built on repetitive melodies drenched in reverb. Cyrus has been in a variety of bands, from the pop-punk, The Walk Home, to the doom metal, Beseech the Queen.
Acoustic bassist Bruce Phares’ composition “Ermahgerd!” draws from his deep love of Albert Ayler and Gary Peacock’s landmark album “Ghosts”. Phares can be heard fairly regularly Saturday afternoons at his “Jam In The Atrium” series where he duets with NW jazz luminaries.
The band’s tramp harbor’s music is heavier-alternative.
Ellefläädt will play his stuff between sets. His assorted chants, beats and caterwauls are cut and pasted from various disparate sources including field recordings, samples from obscure videos found online, spam calls, ineptly played guitar and other instruments, with the end result being the inverse of muzak, if you will. Think of ellefläädt as the soundtrack of the long process of a man going slowly insane.
Find out more about the show at tinyurl.com/yv5uvr89.