The Faces of Liquid Music's Adventurous Audience: Pt. 2 / by Liquid Music

by Karla Brom

At Liquid Music we think and talk a lot about the audience for new music. Our patrons inspire us creatively and in many ways shape our course. With this new blog series, we decided to go directly to the source and ask our audience members what draws them to new music, and especially to Liquid Music. In this second part of our series we talk to three fans who are involved with Liquid Music in multiple ways.

Read pt. 1 here.

Jon Oulman, LIQUID MUSIC Advisory Council Member, owner of Amsterdam Bar & Hall (a Liquid Music venue) and man about town

Jon Oulman pic 1.jpg

Tell us something about yourself
I'm very interested in how you can create communities with culture. Music is an integral part of, or way to engage, a community. 

When and how did you first hear about Liquid Music?  
I first heard about it when Kate Nordstrum and Philip Bither visited the Amsterdam scouting a location for Ben Frost. The Amsterdam had only opened recently and I was planning on presenting music but was still figuring out what types. I immediately liked the idea of Liquid Music, and was definitely interested by Ben Frost since I’ve been a big consumer of that kind of music since the 70s – had been listening to electronica and kraut rock. 

What appealed to you about the series?  
I liked everything about it, including the connections to the SPCO and Walker Art Center. See my comment about music and building community.

How many performances have you attended?  
Almost all of them!  Probably about 90%

What are some of your favorite Liquid Music performances and why are they favorites? 
I really liked that Ben Frost concert – it was “sheer noise” in the best sense. Dawn of Midi because they created an atmosphere – the music was hypnotic. Tim Hecker because it was written, arranged and produced to be sonically visual. Glenn Kotche because it was intimate – he got to show us how he saw music from a percussionist’s perspective. 

What kind of music do you listen to at home? 
I listen to a mix of contemporary electronic music, 70s-80s syntho pop, ambient music, some singer-songwriter stuff.  I like late 70s to early 90s kraut rock, Danish, Dutch, Belgian music… 

How did you find all of this stuff? 
It may have started with listening to Tangerine Dream, not sure. I like Robert Fripp, Eno, Bowie. When I was a kid my friends and I would go to these high end stereo equipment stores because we were really interested in hearing music on those systems, which we couldn’t afford (until now!).

What kind of music do you play for a party? 
It depends on who is there – I usually know what kind of music they like and sometimes I play the opposite kind of music, as a way to “counter” or provoke them. My parties always end with dance music.

What other kind of music do you go to hear live? 
I like listening to bluegrass live because it’s better that way. I used to go to Pitchfork all of the time because they promote independent musicians and curate what should be important. They also book acts that influence new musicians, so you get a live sense of where this new music is coming from.  They are educational and trend setting.

Do you also attend SPCO concerts?  Are you a classical music fan? 
I like some classical music, and go to the SPCO occasionally.  I prefer chamber music to big orchestral pieces – there is just too much information to process with those.  I can’t sit back and relax and let the sound wash over me – I like to hear the instrumentation and when there are 20 violins it’s just too much to track.

What upcoming Liquid Music events are you most looking forward to?  
All of them!  I really enjoyed last weekend's Devendra Banhart and Friends...

Follow Jon's upcoming happenings here:

deVon Gray, composer, Producer and musician

Tell us something about yourself: 
I’m a composer, multi-instrumentalist (keyboard, flute, sax, bassoon) and producer. I've been a keyboard player for 20 years in my band Heiruspecs. Favorite instrument (that I can play) – acoustic piano.  But I also love strings – viola and cello.  If I weren’t a composer I’d be a poet, but music chose me.

When and how did you first hear about Liquid Music? 
I’ve known [Liquid Music curator] Kate [Nordstrum] since her days at the Southern Theater when she was programming music. Adam Levy and I programmed a music festival there at the same time, called Southern Songbook, featuring local artists making their way through the American Songbook. Then we collaborated with Kate on the String Theory Music Festival. We’ve kept in touch ever since, and Kate has become a sounding board for me. When Jace Clayton (DJ/rupture) was coming to town for Liquid Music’s Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner she recruited me to be one of the keyboard players.

You’ve been gigging all over the world for the past several years – what are some of your favorite performances and why? 
I played at the Capetown Jazz Festival three years ago (right before the Julius Eastman performance). I was there with Brother Ali and we were in Capetown for a week but only had to play in the festival for a couple of hours. The rest of the time we traveled around, met great people and saw amazing things – I swam in a cage next to great white sharks!  That was all about the place and the people. Another great gig was with Chastity Brown in the UK – we met Damien Rice there and also connected with Jools Holland who liked us so much we ended up performing on his show.

What are some of your favorite Liquid Music performances and why are they favorites? 
The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, of course. That was two grand pianos and two acoustic uprights and Jace was managing the sound with a sufi plug in. We had two half days to rehearse and everything came together in the first few hours. That was a beautiful performance and the audience was great – such a diversity of people came out. I liked the Jherek Bischoff concert for its collaborative aspects and the variety of artists involved, including some SPCO musicians. The Reid Anderson collaboration at SPCO center was gorgeous – he had these amazing visuals. Most recently I really enjoyed [William Brittelle'sSpiritual America. I loved hearing Michi Wiancko's music and learning about Wye Oak and Bill Brittelle and I really like that venue.  For me it is the overall experience – setting, lighting, people, visuals, mood – that makes the performance, not only the music. I like the Liquid Music series overall because of that.

What other kind of music do you like or go to hear live? 
When I was growing up I compartmentalized my music experience. I liked classical music because I played the bassoon.  I liked jazz because I played the sax. I liked church music because of my mom. And my friends introduced me to whatever they were listening to at the time. Now I listen to everything all the time and accept it for what it is. 

Do you also attend SPCO concerts?  Are you a classical music fan? 
I do go to SPCO concerts. I have liked classical music since day one and everything else since day two.

Jayme Halbritter, Liquid Music fan and photographer

Tell us something about yourself: 
I'm a photographer and photojournalist.  I met Kate [Nordstrum] during university when we both worked at the Minnesota Daily.  I've also worked at the Boston Herald, and was in New York City for 9/11 and documented that in photos.

When and how did you first hear about Liquid Music
I’m a longtime friend and collaborator with Kate, and have followed her music curating since she was at the Southern Theater. 

What appealed to you about the series? 
Liquid Music has a knack for putting together artists that I’ve never heard of before, and I always like them. 

How many performances have you attended? 
I think I’ve been to almost all of them!  Mainly because I’m there working, but I would attend otherwise – I am super proud of what Kate has done with this series.

What are some of your favorite recent Liquid Music performances and why are they favorites?  Third Coast Percussion Wild Sound was fascinating – I’ve never seen anything like it before.  It was choreographed improv, visually and sonically awesome, a great mixture of performance and music.  I also liked Helado Negro's Island Universe Story at the Ordway; I liked the whole production, the use of the new Ordway Concert Hall space, the flow of the evening, his persona. The Dawn of Midi and Nils Frahm split bill was great too – such a contrast between the two performances!

What kind of music do you listen to at home? 
If I’m working I usually listen to electronica, something down tempo with no words since I find words distracting while I work. 

What other kind of music do you like or go to hear live? 
I think I was listening to alternative music before there was a genre called alternative. In the early 90s I was into the Grateful Dead and my musical palette has always been pretty broad – I like bluegrass, electronic, beats, Umphrey’s McGee – everything from punk rock skateboarder to metal.

Are you a classical music fan? 
I rarely listen to classical music, though I’ve recently gone to a few Minnesota Orchestra concerts and Schubert Club performances.  I really enjoyed Ashley Bathgate when she played for Liquid Music.

What other arts activities do you take advantage of in the Twin Cities? 
A little bit of everything, mainly off the beaten track. I’m into poetry and songwriting and there are some great local groups that organize around that. Outside of the Twin Cities, I’ve been to Burning Man several times.

Thanks to Jon, DeVon, and Jayme for telling us a little about their relationship to Liquid Music. Maybe you will be on pt. 3? 

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