Ernie Paik has done his usual fine job featuring DfTaLS, who will be joining us at Barking Legs this Saturday, August 4. Follow this link or read on below, then come on down to the Legs for what should be an unforgettable evening.
Of Theremin And Lap Steel
Only one thing is certain about a performance from the Atlanta-based Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel: it will begin with the two musicians—Scott Burland on theremin, Frank Schultz on lap steel guitar—toasting each other with a generous swig of bourbon. Apart from that, everything else is improvised.
“There is not much that is expected when we tour or record,” said Schultz in advance of the Duet’s Saturday, August 4th performance at Barking Legs Theater. “The drive, the weather, the greetings, vibe of the club or mood we are in that day, all inspires the performance.”
Burland and Schultz began their collaboration in 2006 although they had known each other since the late ‘80s in Atlanta’s music scene, and since then, they have toured the eastern U.S. extensively, performed in England and France, and played events such as EtherFest, the Electro-Music Festival, the City Skies Festival and the Improvisor Festival.
Their last two years have been particularly fruitful—the duo’s fourth and finest album, 10, was released in 2016, marking the Duet’s 10th anniversary, and earlier this year, the twosome played three performances at the internationally recognized Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn.
Of the Duet’s three sets at Big Ears, Burland’s favorite was the unusual collaboration with glass sculptor Matthew Cummings and his crew at Pretentious Glass.
“For me, it was a perfect storm of light, glass, music and beer,” said Burland via email.“I think it opened our eyes a bit in terms of collaborating with other people, not necessarily musicians, but other creative groups,” said Burland. “For instance, we will be collaborating with Ann [Law] and Beth [Markham Herring], both dancers, at our performance at Barking Legs on August 4, and this, combined with film by Robbie Land, will be a lot for everyone to be affected by and react to.”
The duo met the Atlanta artist and filmmaker Robbie Land in 2009 at a holiday party and have combined their talents frequently since then; Land’s brother Ronnie created the vivid painting that serves as the cover art for the Duet’s album 10.”.
“While Scott is a devilishly good-looking young man, we don’t move around a lot when we perform,” said Schultz. “I think that Robbie’s film allows the audience to be able to relax and focus their eyes on some amazing film work, and that allows their ears to take in the music as a whole.”
“That is to say, they are not trying to figure out if the sounds are coming from the guy with his hands in the air, or from the guy working on the world’s most complicated coloring book,” said Schultz. “I think it helps them absorb the music in a way that they would not without the film.”
While combining the lap steel guitar with a theremin—an eerie-sounding electronic instrument played by moving one’s hands near its two antennas—may be an odd pairing, the two instruments are related because both do not used fixed pitches, allowing the Duet’s ambient tones to constantly drift and float.
Both Burland and Schultz use laptop computers running Ableton Live to process their sounds in real-time, and while the twosome has never used pre-programmed or pre-recorded work, apart from a few bird and cicada samples, some studio experimentation was done on 10.
“We actually did a couple of overdubs and moved things around via editing,” said Schultz. “We also converted some tracks to MIDI and had them run through virtual synthesizers, while the original tracks were playing.”
“This added some dimension and complexity that might otherwise be tough to do live,” said Schultz. “We were trying to stretch our chops in the studio.”Burland and Schultz strive to stretch their chops outside the studio, as well, with future endeavors.
“Our goals are pretty fluid, but include: soundtracks for film, collaborations with other musicians and artists, and finding and playing festivals that suit our music,” said Schultz. “To make meaningful musical and person connections and be able to keep pushing each other and the music.”
“My goal all along has been to play something that is unlike anything I have heard before, but I find comforting and enjoy,” said Schultz.
“We’re doing a ‘nine shows in eleven days’ tour in early August, beginning in Nashville, going as far north as Brooklyn, then finishing things up in Asheville,” said Burland. “Widening our friend and fan base and looking at different cities and venues are at once challenging and rewarding for us.”
Making compelling music, collaborations and friendships is what the Duet has done for twelve years and counting—and we’ll toast to that.
Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel
Saturday, August 4, 7 p.m.
Barking Legs Theater
1307 Dodds Ave.