1. danielknox:


    It was around this time last year that John Atwood and I were getting ready to premiere our first collaborative project “Black & Whites” at 92YTribeca following our residency at The Watermill Center.

    The show was a milestone for me, focusing on my hometown of Springfield, IL by pairing music and songs with John’s imagery. Its premiere was a big undertaking utilizing full string arrangements, the horns of Ralph Carney, and the projection skills of Justin Dennis. When an opportunity came along to perform the show again, we jumped at the chance, but found ourselves presented with the challenge of staging the piece without the large group of musicians and technical resources.

    We had almost ruled out doing it (or talked about doing it solo or in excerpts) but as a musician I find choosing the things I want to do over the things I ought to do is generally the way to go. So we packed into a rehearsal space with a small projector and ran the show again and again, changing it on the fly with only a few moments supplemented by pre-recorded material from my Watermill demos.

    The small ensemble that joined me was made up of Jason Toth on drums and percussion, Paul Parts on electric bass, Jim Cooper on string bass (brilliantly comping parts night to night from the charts of my 5 piece arrangement), and John Atwood who was on hand to run the projector at each performance.

    Our first show was small but unique, held at the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft in Louisville. I performed on a beautiful Steinway built by artist and sculptor Wendell Castle called “The Caligari Piano” because it was made to resemble the set design of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. 

    We followed this with a regular concert in NYC at The Living Room with a set that weaved in and out of the “Black & Whites” material, and then drove directly to The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, DC. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the immensity of the place. We played the Millennium Stage which is located in a gigantic hallway with stages opposite ends. When we arrived stage crew members assembled a 9x16ft screen that was lifted above the stage. It all came together very quickly. I was especially proud of this show, not just because of how focused and expertly the band played, but because we were introduced by our good friend Brandon Wetherbee.

    The final show was in Chicago for a private arts organization where we were joined by our bandmate Chris Hefner and projection specialist Justin Dennis.

    It was a great experience for John and I to open up “Black & Whites” and see how it changes when things are added and taken away. I’m looking forward to workshopping the show even more this year and taking steps toward presenting it on a larger scale.


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