A few months ago, I stumbled onto a show called The End of the Dial Tone Radical Experimental Collaborative Music Band Band at the Gator Club. The ambiance of the old Florida room coupled with the spoken word poetry of Danny Jones and an eclectic blend of musicians in an improvisational performance stirred something inside of me. Fortunately, I had my camera with me and captured what I could of the experience, but the video did little to capture the magic of what it was like to actually be there. As Danny launched into the poetry and the band started following his cadence into a cacophony of sound and fury, I felt as if I was experiencing the rebirth of the Beats. It was sublime.
When I found out that Danny was heading to Alaska for the summer before moving to New York, I made it known to John Lichtenstein, the motivational force behind the endeavor, that I would be more than glad to provide words at the next event. Last Tuesday, I finally got my chance.
A very different performance space than the previous End of the Dial Tone events, the performance at Sarasota Vineyard provided something that the other venues did not. The Gator Club, Growlers Pub, and the Rusty Hook all offered natural settings for the experimental music show, all having a history of live bands that blow the roof off on a fairly regular basis. The Vineyard, however, usually offers more moderate musical stylings that end at a reasonable hour. But for this performance, we were starting after the Entertainment Ordinance cut off time of 10pm and we were playing on the back patio, sure to break the 85 decibel limit of the Noise Ordinance. Just as the show was designed to do, we were pushing the boundaries.
Procrastinating to the point of optimal preparedness, I waited until the morning of the event to write the words that I would use to start the show off… “This is the End of the Dial Tone… This is the End of the Old Ways…” I began. I got about nine stanzas in, talking about the end of industry, empire, and the slave trade, and the beginning of music, revolution, and collaboration until I finally wrote, “This is the beginning of Improv…” By definition, it’s impossible to write Improv so I figured that since all of the other collaborators would be improvising, I figured I should do the same. So after reading my prepared poetry from my iPhone and reaching that illustrious line, I launched into my first foray of impromptu poetry.
All things considered, it was quite effortless. The other band members, Sandi Grecco and EJ Porter on drums, Aimee Guerin on keyboards, Stephen Northup on bass, Ryan Willis and Matt Gunter on guitar, Jett Jettina adding vocals, and Lichtenstein banging on anything he could get his hands on, provided such and amazing rhythm, the collaborative nature of the event that John had been looking for seemed to just naturally bubble up into a first set just over an hour and a second set just under.
The amazing, wonderful, and truly jubilant part was that we didn’t get shut down by the police. John had warned us of the possibility days before the show, and there was a little trepidation over whether or not live music would thrive on a Tuesday night in downtown Sarasota. Fortunately, that night we moved a bit closer to becoming the city of vision that the people who came out that night are looking for. Adding fuel to the fire of the growing revolution of art, expression, music, and collaboration that has been building here for the last few years, The End of the Dial Tone, for those how have eyes to see and ears to hear, is definitely the beginning of something greater.