A Hawk And A Hacksaw

A Hawk And A Hacksaw

Brother JT, Philadelphia Women's Slavic Ensemble

Sun, October 7, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm


Philadelphia, PA

$12.00 - $14.00

This event is all ages

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A Hawk And A Hacksaw
A Hawk And A Hacksaw
A Hawk and A Hacksaw began in 2000 in the small town of Saumur, France. Initially a solo vehicle for Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes, the main impetus of the project was to focus on the gray areas in borders of music and geography. The first album was released in 2002 by Cloud Recordings. Barnes met violinist Heather Trost in 2004 and the band became a duo. The pair has since released six albums, and toured extensively around the world. They have learned from and collaborated with some of the great musicians of Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. The duo has been invited to tour with Swans, Calexico, Wilco, Andrew Bird, Portishead, Of Montreal and performed at Roskilde, Pitchfork Music Fest, and All Tomorrow’s Parties. They also collaborated with Iggy Pop on the reworking of a classic sea shanty.

In 2011 the band started their own label, Living Music Duplication, releasing albums by the great Turkish clarinetist Cüneyt Sepetçi, Romanian village band Bahto Delo Delo, and also Mountains of Tongues (a collection of music from the Caucasus), Thor & Friends (Swans drummer Thor Harris’ minimalist project which Barnes produced and heavily features Trost’s violin) among others. You Have Already Gone to the Other World, an album inspired by the film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors was released in 2013, and the band toured art cinemas and film festivals playing a new score to the film. They were a featured act at the Transylvanian Film Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and also presented the film at the London’s Barbican and The Lincoln Center in New York. In the past few years, the band has focused on recording, composing the soundtrack to a hit Albanian TV show called Skanderbeg and the video game Forest of Sleep. They also recently completed a score for a new short by critically acclaimed film maker Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke of Burgundy). They were also featured, along with Bartók and Ligeti, for an evening of Eastern European art-music at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The BBC Concert Orchestra played AHAAH’s original compositions and folk arrangements along with the band.

Forest Bathing the new album, features ten original compositions. The Persian Santur, an ancient type of dulcimer struck by sticks, and played by Barnes, is a feature component along with Trost’s soaring and diving violin. The duo play nearly every instrument, but have some wonderful guest musicians on a few tracks- Turkish clarinetist Cüneyt Sepetçi, Hungarian cimbalom master Unger Balász, Chicago trumpeter Sam Johnson, who often tours with the group, Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich, and New Mexico bassist Noah Martinez of the band Lone Piñon.

The band will be touring in 2018 in support of Forest Bathing.

Press quotes:

“So ebullient and full of character that by the time it’s over you feel like you’ve caught a glimpse of the type of joyful festivity that always feels most rewarding after a long journey” - Pitchfork

“A cheerfully exuberant fusion based around Hungarian instrumental style, but including a bit of everything, from a Greek melody to echoes of Mexican Mariachi brass and what sounds like a rhythmic off-kilter funeral march that would impress Tom Waits” - Guardian

“Underneath all the noise and frenetic cross-fertilising of old and new, East and West, an obvious musical intelligence is at work. Happily, it also clearly recognizes the value of fun” - BBC

“…more than mere dalliance or faux goulash … it only takes about ten seconds of exposure to the opening track … to be overwhelmed by the evocative, aromatic, lovingly and closely simulated delights of this album” - The Wire
Brother JT
Brother JT, aka the enigmatic John Terlesky, has returned with a mind-palace of an album entitled Tornado Juice. To be released March of 2018 on Thrill Jockey, TJ was recorded at Magic Door, a new studio in Montclair NJ, by Ray Ketchem, who produced the Original Sins' Bethlehem album in 1996. This was a departure for the Brother, who hadn't darkened the door of a real studio since 2007's Jelly Roll Gospel, preferring the freedom of recording at his band's practice space and overdubbing at home. "When I heard Ray was opening a new studio I had to try it out," he recounted in a recent interview. "Aside from his sick mic collection there's a comfort level with Ray I'm not sure I could find elsewhere. He knows music and he knows me, and I think that comes through in the tracks."

True to form, however, after recording the main band parts JT took the files home and overdubbed vocals and guitar leads to his heart's content onto his refurbished Dell laptop. "I wouldn't want to put anyone through that kind of obsessiveness, much less a friend. And I wanted to put my little stamp of grime on it."

A prolific writer, often inspired by the titular Tornado Juice (that's LSD, kids), JT records on average 40 songs a year before narrowing the selection for an album. Often, it is the lyrics that come first, fast and furious - excerpts from one of JT's many notebooks can be seen on the LP inner sleeve. "It could just be my subconscious going off, but these sessions really feel like a form of spirit channeling. I hear voices, all kinds of voices, and basically take down what they say. It might seem odd, but I feel like I'm giving these beings some kind of outlet. It's like having a collaborator, say, Bernie Taupin, only from another dimension and much scarier."

From the raw material of those pages the artist then honed the more decipherable passages into song lyrics, drawing musically from a bottomless well of influences: gutbucket blues to power pop, classic rock to garage-psych, even modern sources. "I listen to new stuff, and I noticed that the structure is usually really simple, like the same 4 chords, but slightly different melodies on the verses and choruses. Probably came out of hip hop and loops and stuff. I really can get behind that--love the songs you can play even when you're hammered."

An example of that might be "Ponin", which contains a whopping 5 chords total and spins a deceptively upbeat tale of freedoms gone awry. Amidst references to kettle chips, Betty and Veronica, and Tastee Freeze, JT depicts his lackadaisical, small-town existence and the trend towards 'all god's chillun...doin' what they want now', concluding, 'I'd stop it if I could but I'll be damned if I should know how.' "It starts out kinda fun and jokey," he acknowledged, "but it's a slightly sad song ultimately. Like being stuck going through the motions of life, without much meaning."

The Brother elaborated on the importance of that balance of humor and darkness in his writing. "I always liked that Randy Newman song "Political Science." On the surface it's funny, but there's a darker ring of truth to the impulse it suggests. And it still works today." An artist who has sustained critical acclaim for over 30 years (The Original Sins' Big Soul was released in 1987 and listed by the NY Times as one of the 10 best albums of that decade) while commercial success has eluded him, Brother JT appreciates the need for a sense of humor. "Oh, you gotta laugh, especially these days, if you're in this business. If I took all this too seriously I'd have been out of commission a long time ago." Still, the brass ring of 'making it' remains a definite spur to the creative process.

"It's like a quest to write this perfect song," he mused. "I don't ever get tired of it because I'm absorbing new influences all the time and feel like I'm getting better as I get older. Had I hit it big back in the day I don't think I'd be so motivated as I still am. And not even to get a hit, whatever that is these days. Just to make some music that is sort of deathless, classic. Like trying to bowl a perfect game or get a hole in one, only using a guitar."

A guitarist inspired by the 'rudimentary guys' or more specifically Lou Reed, Ron Asheton and Bo Diddley, JT plays a pelham blue Epiphone SG with an alnico whammy bar through a Blackstar Stage 40. Some favorite pedals for this intrepid psychonaut are Halifax wah-wah and Boss distortion and sometimes Roland RE-20 echo. While critics have referred to his playing as "miraculously distorted guitar... that'll rip your mind to shreds" *, JT demurs "I don't really enjoy playing guitar. I'd much rather be just a singer, like Mick Jagger or Tom Jones, but I just don't have the hips for it. And plus, who'd play guitar?"
Philadelphia Women's Slavic Ensemble
PWSE is a conglomeration of ladybeasts in Philly who emit compellingly dissonant Slavic-style vocalizations from the mouthparts. We enjoy sparagmos but we can sometimes be placated with wine. Preferably red.
Venue Information:
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123