The Conundrum Concerts

The Conundrum Concerts
By Kim Barlow

This winter, Music In Communities Co-op is hosting a series of informal shows at Conundrum Press, exploring improvisation in different genres. Conundrum is the graphic novel publishing house run by Andy Brown on Front Street in Wolfville. On Sunday December 8, Conundrum Press will launch its latest graphic novel. Mohammad Sahraei and I (Kim Barlow) will play songs and improvise on banjo, guitar, and traditional Persian instruments including setar, dotar, kamanche, and tombek. This is a new collaboration. We’re excited to share the ways that folk and improvised music bridges cultures, history, and geography as we find the relationships that bring them back together. Corey Isenor will also play a set.

Improvised music is at its best when people are listening deeply to each other and responding immediately, using our diverse musical toolkits. It requires openness, spontaneity, and a willingness to think outside the box and embrace whatever comes into our heads. It’s very much like the art of having a good conversation – especially great when there is a spoken language barrier. Humour, inventiveness, a sense of play can make it very satisfying. Also, the ability to challenge each other without being adversarial, and to accept the challenges with a sense of camaraderie; we’re in this together. I find it requires a lot of bravery, too, and I have to persuade myself to take up space. From a feminist perspective, this is radical action. I have to get behind the sounds I make, put value on them, even when others around me might not. It pushes us all to come around to different approaches and find the merit in sounds other than those we generally place value on.

Corey Isenor, Mohammad Sahraei and Kim Barlow play Sunday December 8, 7:00pm at 112 Front Street, unit 225 (upstairs, east end), $15 or pay what you can. We’ll also be celebrating the Valley launch of the graphic novel The Cursed Hermit by Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes with a reading by the authors. Described as Nancy Drew meets David Lynch in a small rural Nova Scotian town, the first book in the series was widely hailed and nominated for multiple awards.

Watch for more shows in this series in January and February. We will feature musicians who play different styles and genres of music, and use improvisation in different ways within those contexts. After each show the session will be open to anyone who wants to play. Improvised music thrives on diversity, and all skills and musical backgrounds are welcome. Even if your improvising toolbox is small, fewer sounds that are well-placed can have just as much meaning and impact as the virtuoso’s flurry of notes and chord extensions. We hope you’ll share and build this creative space with us.