French Immersion Complete

IMG_4978

If there’s a gap between theory and practice, No Territory Band is now the Coyote hanging between a parting landmass, somehow subducted by the Roadrunner.

In the supremely hitchikable Treignac, France–near what is perhaps one of the cleanest beaches imaginable, cows, British expats and everywhere the traces of a Vichy, Nazi, Résistance and Roman past–we found some materials and some rites and got busy in the ritual.

Space was made for us at 19th-annual music festival, Kind of Belou. Vibraphone and drum kit rental, lodging, food and drink for 7 were covered by the festival organizers, despite recent cuts in the festival budget. All we were expected to do was play…no excuses from anybody.

This was not a tour. If it were, it would probably be easier to list the accomplishments in chronological order. Immersion, though, makes it difficult to detail experiences, as recollecting might be compared to trying to count water. Or like composing an index of last night’s dream. Please take these fragments as a goodly attempt…

The performance was our best yet. The audience was very happy, and then they left. Some even bought the new record, There’s a Hole in the Wall in the Bucket, before going.

 

The camaraderie between bandmates, festival organizers, other visiting artists, my friends from the label Nato Disc and citizens of Treignac was the stuff you might try to build Utopia on. 

Stéphane Berland of Ayler Records made the nearly 5 hour drive from Paris to see No Territory Band, specifically. I think he left us all with a welcome bit of his infectious spirit. Cheers, brother Stéphane!

Saxophonist Nathan Hanson played a solo outdoor concert at a landmark called Rocher des Folles (Fools’ Rock)–resounding all over the village. No one jumped and then we had a lovely picnic.

Visual and performing artist Sean Smuda–whose work is featured on the cover of the No Territory_Debt 2new record–opened and closed the exhibition Universal Capital at a gallery curated by the lovely folks from Treignac Project. The opening included an impromptu parade through the village streets, on a day when villagers hosted a swap-meet. Some of you may have heard that Sean was among the artists who recently lost their studios and homes to a fire. No sweat. Sean found his way to Europe and, as serendipity would have it, is now a registered inhabitant of Berlin, Germany.

Did you know that No Territory Band saxophonist Nathan Hanson lives half a block away from me on the same street in Saint Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood? Well, Nathan hung around a couple days longer than the rest of the band and joined me and maestro extraordinaire, English pianist Tony Hymas, for what I am told was an exceptional performance for our friends a 30-minute drive away in Tarnac.

Nato disc organized a soundtrack recording session for filmmaker Lucie Viver whose beautiful new film Sankara is not Dead documents the recent political struggles in West Africa’s Burkina Faso, and reminds of President Thomas Sankara’s political heritage.

The thing is, among friends and despite being broke, if you hang around long enough, someone will feed you. In my case I had dinner under what seemed like all of the stars with young artists-in-residence at Treignac Project, an old thread factory that sits along a stream and creates a space for contemporary art happenings in the village. 

IMG_4995
Treignac Project by day

All said, I don’t think I will ever do this again without a road manager. Yes, the expectation for some time has been that, in addition to being an artist, you must be your own marketing team, development director, and entry-level administrator. Adding road manager to the mix is the drop that might give way the whole wet thing. 

So, what’s next? Finally getting the new record out to reviewers. Writing more tunes. Getting the No Territory Band understudy program for younger black musicians off the ground of my stated intentions. And raising all kinds of hell, especially in my home community where opportunities for creative musicians remain fragmented, fleeting and terribly underfunded.

Sincere thanks to everyone involved in helping No Territory Band get to France! Let’s not lose touch.

A special thanks to those of you who contributed dollars and euros to our “gofundme” campaign. If you would like to help as we continue to recover the cost of the trip, you can do so here.

Struggle well…

IMG_4976

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.