Guitar Trio Is My Life
Rhys Chatham
With a film by Robert Longo: Pictures for Music (1979)
To book G3 in a city near you, contact Regina Greene at Front Porch Productions. You can also reach Rhys by clicking here.
Rhys Chatham
Rhys Chatham is a composer from New York known for working with rock instrumentation.
The instrumentation ranges from the seminal composition composed in 1977 entitled Guitar Trio for 3 electric guitars, electric bass and drums, to the epoch evening-length work for 100 electric guitars, An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, composed in 1989... all the way to Chatham's recent composition for 400 electric guitars, Crimson Grail, which was commissioned by the City of Paris for La Nuit Blanche Festival in 2005. All these compositions are currently available on the Table of the Elements Records.
This disarmingly concise personal manifesto -- bellowed by an ecstatic fan at the top of his lungs during a 2006 Rhys Chatham concert in Cleveland (the de facto capital of rock 'n' roll, of course) -- pretty much says it all.
Written in 1977, Guitar Trio is Rhys Chatham's signature composition, and with good reason. With a single, repeated chord, Chatham permanently altered the DNA of rock by splicing the gritty, overtone-drenched minimalism of John Cale and Tony Conrad with the elemental fury of the Ramones. The amalgamation was inspired. It energized the downtown New York scene throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, and made Chatham a founding father of the notorious No Wave movement. The influence of Guitar Trio spread even farther as former ensemble members carried its shimmering swagger into the rock mainstream. When Sonic Youth are inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame (in, yes, Cleveland -- and you know it's gonna happen), listen for some G3 (Guitar Trio). It's there.
In 2007 Chatham returned To America (he expatriated to Paris in 1987) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of G3 by performing it on tour throughout the US and Canada. And we don't mean it's on the set list; it IS the set list. These were no ordinary concerts, and the ensemble -- pumped up to a formidable six-ten guitars at most shows -- was no ordinary ensemble. Chatham lead a band of all-stars in each city; with some of the biggest names in indie-rock participating. The concerts also featured the original visual projections created for the piece in 1977 by famed visual artist and feature-film director Robert Longo.
Together, Rhys Chatham and company demonstrated to a new generation of fans the amazing feats that can be accomplished with one chord, six guitars, a rollicking rhythm section and amplifiers set to "Liquify." The entire tour was also be recorded, with the choicest versions to be released on a G3-only CD. The title? It's obvious: Guitar Trio Is My Life.
To mount a performance of G3, Chatham comes to the city of the performance with fellow guitarist and band member David Daniell (San Agustin, Essentialist), both of whom teach the music of G3 in one rehearsal on the day of the performance to the local musicians.
G3 completed a North America 12-city tour in February 2007. In New York City, old friends and colleagues Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth were among the performers, along with Jonathan Kane (February, ex-Swans) on drums and Ernie Brooks on bass (ex-Modern Lovers). In Chicago, Doug McCombs, Jeff Parker and John McIntyre of Tortoise, and Adam Vida and Tod Rittmann of USMaple were among the guitarists, not to mention Ben Vida of Birshow and Robert Lowe of Lichens!
By working with a different set of amazing musicians that come from the city G3 is played in, a unique performance is achieved, highlighting the abilities of the local performers as well a bringing a fresh look at an influential piece of music.
Guitar Trio Is My Life is looking forward to coming to a city near you!
Photo legend:
Robert Longo, Wharton Tiers, Rhys Chatham and Jules Baptiste © Paula Court
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