Toychestra: 20 Years, with Fred Frith and Dan Plonsey, & Friends

Ivy Room Presents

Toychestra: 20 Years, with Fred Frith and Dan Plonsey, & Friends

Peter Conheim, Myles Boisen, BORON (Dan Nelson), Members of ESKIMO (John Shiurba and David Cooper), New Zombies

Sat · March 4, 2017

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


Tickets at the Door

This event is 21 and over

Fred Frith
Fred Frith
Fred Frith is a songwriter, composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist best known for the reinvention of the electric guitar that began with Guitar Solos in 1974.

He learned his craft as both improviser and composer playing in rock bands, notably Henry Cow, and creating music in the recording studio. Much of his compositional output has been commissioned by choreographers and filmmakers, but his work has also been performed by Ensemble Modern, Hieronymus Firebrain, Arditti Quartet, Robert Wyatt, Bang on a Can All Stars, Concerto Köln, and Rova Sax Quartet, among quite a few others.
Fred enthusiastically records and performs all over the place with icons of contemporary music, younger players you may never have heard of, and everyone in between. He is currently leading the Gravity Band, Eye to Ear (his film music group), and Cosa Brava, whose second CD—The Letter—was released to critical acclaim in 2012.

Fred teaches at Mills College in Oakland California and at the Musik Akademie in Basel, Switzerland. He is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel’s award-winning documentary film Step Across the Border.
Dan Plonsey
Since 1978, Plonsey has written hundreds of works for large and small ensembles. He has received commissions from: The Jewish Music Festival (Berkeley), Dandelion DanceTheater (Oakland), Real Time Operai (New Hampshire), the Bang on a Can People's Commissioning Fund (New York), Theatre of Yugen (San Francisco), the Museum of Children's Art (Oakland), Milkbar International Film Festival (Oakland), the Berkeley Symphony Children's Concert Series, and New Music Works (Santa Cruz).

Most of Plonsey's work has been written without commission, deadline, or any significant outside influence for Daniel Popsicle, his 10-20 person ensemble of unfixed instrumentation. Plonsey terms this work "Music of El Cerrito," as it is impossible to identify by genre. Some pieces are short, such as the 99 pieces of "Color Music" and the 155 "New Monsters;" others are an hour or longer in length, including the Kingdoms Diptych, and the five "Seasons" pieces. Plonsey has also written many pieces for ensembles of multiple (3-13) saxophones; and for chamber opera. He recently began a series of concerti for "guitar and strange ensemble," the first of which being What Leave Behind for Fred Frith and Toychestra.

On a much larger scale, Plonsey is focused on a series of evening-long music/dance/theater pieces. The first of these was the opera "Leave Me Alone!" with libretto by Harvey Pekar (of American Splendor fame), which was premiered at Oberlin College, January, 2009. This was followed by "Dan Plonsey's Bar Mitzvah," a collaboration with Eric Kupers and Dandelion Dancetheater, which was performed at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco in July, 2010. Next in this cycle will be "The Geometry Teacher" which is about the many connections between math and music, the Pythagoreans, and about the agonizing everyday complexity of teaching. His music is now being recast as avant dance music by the large ensemble New Zombies.
Toychestra (Michele Adams, Angela Coon, Shari Robertson, Lexa Walsh, Corey Weinstein) is the all-women, all toy instrument ensemble based in Oakland, CA. Eerie vocals & avant-garde kitsch meet festive chirpy beats, all on toys!
Venues include gallery spaces, clubs, community centers and grammar schools. Highlights include the Lab's "Live Art Lab" festival, (S.F., Spring 2000), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts "Juvenilia" opening (S.F., Fall 2000), the collaboration with Dan Plonsey and Fred Frith (S.F. Bay Area, May 2003-May 2004), the "Musiques et Jouets" festival (Cite de la Musique, Paris, Winter 2004), and the recent commission for the San Francisco Silent Flim Festival to create a soundscape for Felix the Cat shorts. The group has five releases, three on Lyon’s S.K. label., and has toured Europe five times.

Toychestra is an all-women musical ensemble that plays toys. Some are actual instruments like toddler-sized pianos and xylophones and drums. Others just make great sounds, like the pink zoo train or Boo Megaphone or the acoustic, multi-sonic Activity Center. Still others are used for percussion, like the washboard, Don’t Wake Daddy, and woodblock. Each instrument is individually amplified with contact microphones and the collection is mixed live for a bigger electronic sound. This creates a sophisticated aural experience that is a far cry from a bunch of kiddies banging around.

Toychestra performs original compositions ranging from stark to upbeat, from percussive to melodic, to ambient, avant-garde and kitsch. In the past the band was known to do a few covers ranging from Dvorak to Kraftwerk to Black Flag.
The band started when former member Paula Alexander was asked to form a band for a women’s creative music festival at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco in 1996. She enlisted Lexa Walsh and Shari Robertson, who had worked with her in a performance group called Better Hose and Garters. “We planned to play regular instruments,” says Shari, “We thought we could be a rock-n-roll group. Lexa showed up at the first rehearsal with all these toys, and after jamming for a while, the toy tunes emerged as the clear favorites.” Toychestra plays in a wide range of venues- experimental music spaces, rock clubs, museums, as well as schools, community centers and half way houses.
Toychestra released its eponymous cherry red vinyl 7” in 1999, Live in Leipzig in 2000, Sassy Pony in 2002, What Leave Behind: Concerto for Guitar and Toy Orchestra in 2004, the result of an inspiring collaboration among the group and Berkeley composer Dan Plonsey and guitar legend Fred Frith. Also on Lyon’s SK records is the group’s newest release My Good Side, a collection of new songs and sound pieces as well as a remake of a Toychestra classic, incorporating new toys and turntables.
Peter Conheim
Peter Conheim
Peter Conheim is a multimedia artist who performs and records under the name The Jet Black Hair People. He is also the co-founder of Wet Gate, which uses only "found footage" and 16mm film projectors to create a live cinema collage performance, sampling the sound from the film tracks in real time, as well as Mono Pause, a long-running "situationist rock" performing group (and its Southeast Asian music spin-off, Neung Phak).

Additionally, he is a long-time member of the long-running "culture jamming" performance and recording group, Negativland, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group's adventures with copyright are legendary, most notably a fight with U2's music publishers in 1992. Since 1999, he has been bass-playing sideman for singer Malcolm Mooney (from the Germany-based music legends, Can), in Malcolm Mooney and the Tenth Planet.
Myles Boisen
Myles Boisen
Myles Boisen is a recording and mastering engineer, album producer, film and television composer, journalist, and guitarist/bassist. His resume includes hundreds of studio and live recordings for independent groups and labels with Grammy nominations (Tigerlillies and Kronos Quartet).

In addition to musical performances with Tom Waits, John Zorn, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Fred Frith, Eugene Chadbourne, Splatter Trio, and The Club Foot Orchestra, Myles has contributed to a number of independent film soundtracks, including David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” and “Wild At Heart”.
BORON (Dan Nelson)
BORON (Dan Nelson)
Boron is a music and sound art project/persona by the artist Dan Nelson. He was born on a chilly night in the modular Moog room at Mills College in Oakland in 2006 and has, since then, sought to explore and discover the world of sound that is called music on one end of the spectrum and sound art on the other, as well as the vague and vast territories in between.
Members of ESKIMO (John Shiurba and David Cooper)
Eskimo is a wacko rock band that often gets compared to Zappa, Beefheart, Residents, and other nastier things.
New Zombies
New Zombies
About New Zombies

Emerging from the Bay Area experimental new music scene, New Zombies is a 10-piece band playing original music influenced by Afrobeat, Afropop, highlife, reggae, and other energetic music. The band draws its name from Fela Kuti’s landmark album Zombie; its musical influences and inspirations include Fela, King Sunny Ade, James Brown, and Tom Tom Club, creating a new sound that takes international dance music in adventurous directions. Fronted by four saxes and propelled by a dynamic rhythm section, the band features musicians who can be heard regularly performing some of the Bay Area's most creative new music.
Venue Information:
Ivy Room
860 San Pablo Ave
Albany, CA, 94706