The hum drift at Pyramid Atlantic.

I had the great pleasure to perform a short ambient set at Pyramid Atlantic in Silver Spring, Maryland as a part of the Sonic Circuits Broken Mic Night for July 30th, 2012. I’d just come in from a long road trip, got home in time for the derecho storms that knocked out power and generally tore up the area, and made my way south the very next day, which was no mean feat, given that every traffic light in the county was out and lines at the gas stations that still had power were up to an hour long. There was a full house, the audience were cool and properly into experimental sound, and I had a great time.

I was a bit tense, though, and there was a hum in my gear I couldn’t quite shake, so I went with it. Essence of the moment.

See an annotated photo of the rig I used here.

Spinning more strands.

As the internet grows ever more complicated, I’m moving sideways to better connect with people who wish to follow what I’m up to at any given moment. I’m gearing up to add a lot of new content to this page, and related online sources, finishing up 12 Minute Travelogues #11, and working on a piece I’m planning to submit to the New York Times. In the meantime, I’ve added some new venues to my repertoire, including the following.

My interim outlet for ongoing writing projects and better pieces from the past:

My “fan” page at facebook:

And last, and least, my twitter feed:

As usual, thanks for following along and giving me the space to work.

Love and kisses, Joe!

Dredging up past projects

I’ve been reminded, in a bout of sudden and unexpected attention (thanks, y’all!), that I’ve had a few projects on the back burner for so long that they’ve fallen behind the stove altogether, and are now adrift in the dark realm of crumb-covered kitchen dust bunnies, lost bottle caps, and the nylon chew bone my previous dog lost under there a decade ago.

There’s the mosaic project at AVAM, for one thing. It’s odd how quickly you can forget a giant art project you worked on for a solid year, on a diesel high lift in the Baltimore skyline in blazing summer heat and the wicked, biting winter wind that blows in from the bay without a pause.

George Washington was a very small animal

I was just interviewing this dog for the 4th of July, and the very, very nice guy who does panoramablog took some neat pictures with this cool camera that’s like a little whirling ball on a stick. If you pan around (ignore the dork in overalls), you can get a nice view of the north face of the mosaic wall. Each of those panels is 32 x 50 inches, weighs about 90 pounds, and rode around the city strapped onto the roof of my Metro before coming back to be bolted in place from the wiggly platform of a lift. I think it’s pretty neat, but I’m hardly an impartial observer.

Working at AVAM, particularly on the Mosaic Project Phase II,  a huge community art project designed by the artist/educator Mari Gardner, built by kids in drug treatment, homeless shelters, and juvenile justice programs, and engineered by yours truly, was just hard to describe—emotional, frustrating, complicated, joyous…just lots of things at once. It’s always great to go back and see my work there (in the last crunch to get stuff built, I got to do some design elements, too, and the inclusion of the constellation Ursa Major was my own little intrusion) when I do my street theater gigs there.

Another go-round at the Hexagon.

Joe at the BEM Summerfest 2010

Had another great gig as part of the Baltimore Electronic Music Summerfest 2010, an annual 13 hour festival of electronic, DIY, and unclassifiable music at the Hexagon. Great company, great music, and lots of fun. Yes, I am dressed as a nun. When your particular musical style involves long stretches of near-motionless attention to a small black box full of gear, you need a hook, don’t you think? To hear the set, click the arrow on the player above.

To set the landscape buzzing

It’s a little late this year, but I’ve got all the bees settling nicely into their hives. Once they’re really working, there’s nothing quite like the kind of calm you get, just sitting there, on a lawn chair in front of your beehive, just watching them coming and going, bringing nectar in, sending foragers out, a whole world of perfectly-choreographed activity laid plain.

Springtime rolls in

Sister Euphonia Oblivion of the Microscopic Sisters of the Burning Calves

[AVAMKinetic Sculpture Race 2010 – photo by Nick Prevas]

What a busy couple of months it’s been! I’ve been working hard at my no-longer-new job with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, where I am facility manager for two of Baltimore’s architectural and artistic treasures, the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower and the School 33 Art Center. After three years of planning, grant-writing, engineering, and other detail work (much of which was done expertly before my tenure at the Tower, thanks to Kristin Grey, the brilliant staff at BOPA, and Azola and Associates), we restored the South face of the tower clock to full operation last month! Click here to watch a brief film of the project via Youtube (and please forgive my unusual state of awkward tongue-tiedness, as I was working with a bad cold that day, had been up since 3am, and wasn’t expecting to be on camera).

I’m happy to have been able to have the rents reduced at the Tower, so that our working studio spaces for artists now start at $320 (compare with studio spaces throughout the region—you’ll be pleasantly surprised). It’s a great place to work, and an honor for me, being able to be a part of such a cornerstone of the city. I also formalized the small performance space we have on the 11th floor of the tower, with the gracious and tireless work of our own Barbara Bryan, and the Studio11 Theater is heading into its sixth month now, hosting our resident troupe, Unexpected Theater, as well as a wonderful bi-monthly reading series by the Upward Spiral group. It’s just a room, right now, seating thirty in the city skyline, but we’re working on adding lighting, blackout curtains, and a screen for films to make a real little theater on the West Side, so we can host musicians, poets, storytellers, actors, filmmakers, and other performance-based artists.

Outside of the working world, I’ve been getting back to my music, writing, and performances after a bit of a break. I debuted my new nitro-glycerine Nun character at the Kinetic Sculpture Race at my alma mater, the American Visionary Art Museum, on May 1st, 2010, kicking off the race with my usual inspirational message and disco-dancing celebration of the joys of being on the outside of everyday life. This was my 12th year as the spiritual advisor to the race, and it’s been such a great ride, writing these little hit-and-run routines over the years. Besides, dressing as a nun and  riding a bicycle through the crowded city streets when you’re a husky fella with a mustache is just fun, and makes everyone smile. I could get used to this, but I don’t want to get in a rut, necessarily.

I’ll be performing a short set of spoken word/ambient electronic music from 6:30-7pm on Saturday, June 26th, 2010 at the Hexagon in Baltimore, as a part of the Baltimore Electronic Music Summerfest 2010 (admission $6 for the entire event). I’m working on some additional performances for the rest of the year and will post them here (and on a calendar page I’m building for this website). The manuscript for my essay collection, Scaggsville, is coming along nicely, after a stretch of frustrating inactivity, and I’m hoping to have a micropress edition available by the autumn.

Only three podcasts left in my ambient podcast, 12 Minute Travelogues, so sign up and enjoy! When I finish 12MT, I’m planning to create a remastered collection of the podcast, available on iTunes, Emusic, etc, and resume my older storytelling podcast.

Watch the skies, as they say!

Radio daze and other changes

I read a recent essay on WYPR 88.1 FM for their program, The Signal, and it airs at 12pm and 7pm today, 13 November 2009! If you’re not in the area, or if a radio’s not handy, you can go to the mp3 page at and listen online and/or subscribe to the program (which I heartily encourage—it’s a great show, and I’m not just saying that because I’m on it this week!).

It’s been a radioactive time for me, with two appearances on the excellent program The Falling Room on CFBU 103.7 FM in Canada in the last month. I’m a huge radio fan, and an enthusiastic supporter of both public radio and college radio, so it’s great to have people track me down to share my work on the airwaves. I’m really hoping to get even more airtime in the next year, on traditional radio and the new media, as well.

On that note, the next piece in my 12 Minute Travelogues podcast will be coming up soon, #9 in the series, and it’s going to be yet another evolution in the ongoing ambient experiment of the podcast. I try to do something a little different and find a new angle for each of these pieces, and if this one works out the way I’m expecting it to, it’ll be something else. Subscribe, if you haven’t already, and feel free to share the music with anyone you like—episodes of the podcast are released with a Creative Commonsattribution-noncommercial-share alike” license, which means you can share them with your friends, use them in your films and theater projects, and remix them for free, as long as it’s not for profit and you contact me and give proper attribution.

That’s it for now.