Three Beats: A prepared-piano preview of A John Cage Festival | Three Beats | Chicago Reader

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Three Beats: A prepared-piano preview of A John Cage Festival

Plus: A posthumous party for incredible string man Sandy Bull, and an eighth-birthday bash for punk label Underground Communique

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FOLK | Bill Meyer

If anyone deserves credit for being ahead of his time, it's Sandy Bull. Equally handy on guitar, banjo, and oud, the late American multi-instrumentalist recorded three superb albums for Vanguard in the 1960s, blending bluegrass, jazz, rock, gospel, and Brazilian and Middle Eastern sounds into hypnotic, open-ended instrumentals that presaged both the panglobal fusions of world music and the drone epics of artists like Roy Montgomery and Steve Gunn. Bull's use of electronic rhythms and prerecorded backing tracks in live performance was quite rare at the time, but such tools have since become essential for pedal-reliant solo performers like Noveller.

Musician, artist, and Reader contributor Steve Krakow has just released Sandy Bull & the Rhythm Ace: Live 1976 on his Galactic Zoo Disk label (an imprint of Drag City), and this previously unissued concert recording adds "ribald raconteur" to Bull's curriculum vitae—he explains that the psych-swampy groove "Alligator Wrestler" is named after the masturbation technique of a roommate from rehab. Bull has been dead for 11 years, so the LP's release party at the Hideout on Fri 4/6 will feature Bull-themed sets by guitarist Jeff Parker and a duo of guitarist Matthew Clark and drummer Frank Rosaly; between them the organizers will present the second Chicago screening of the film No Deposit No Return Blues, a remembrance of Bull by his daughter, K.C.

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