Monday, October 12, 2009

The Arthur Russell Conference was a great success, and the performances were transcendental.
Thanks to all involved and all who attended.

It was especially touching that Arthur's parents, Chuck and Emily Russell, as well as his sisters and nieces and nephew were present. The evening performance at Housing Works ended with a performance by Rachel Henry, Arthur's niece and a promising newcomer on the NY music scene.

The panel discussions ranged from theory and analysis to personal recollections and eye-witness accounts of working sessions.

The late night club performance by Arthur's Landing was definitely hot.

I will try to post transcripts of papers and documentation as it becomes available.
Stay tuned.

And Tim Lawrence's new book looks great - "Hold On To Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973 - 1992" - copies hot off the press from Duke University Press, available shortly on Amazon:


Wednesday, October 7, 2009



Bios of Participants

9:30 - People can gather and drink coffee.

10:00a-10:30 Keynote – Tim Lawrence, author of Hold on To Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene

10:30-11:30 Panel 1: Musical Variations

Chair: Sukhdev Sandhu

Peter Zummo: "Pop and the Multi-Pentatonic, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Whole Steps and Minor Thirds"

Elodie Lauten: "Lesser-known Relationships: In the Singing Tractors Nexus, a Sense of Freedom and Exploration"

Ryan Dohoney: "The Experimental Assemblages of Arthur Russell and Julius Eastman"

11:45-1:15 Panel 2: Arthur Russell: Recording and Legacy

Chair: Peter Gordon

With Mustafa Ahmed, Bob Blank, Joyce Bowden, Gary Lucas, Bill Ruyle, Peter Zummo.

2:00-3:15 Panel 3: Arthur Russell and the World

Chair: Simon Reynolds

Joyce Bowden: "Impermanence and Non-Duality: Buddhist influence in the music of Arthur Russell"

James Thomas: "I'm Sorry, But This Is How I Learn" (Theme: repetition and language in Russell's collaborations)

Ernie Brooks: "Arthur Russell: Creativity and the Business of Music, Resolving a Pursuit of the Ineffable with the Need for Recognition in Worldly Terms"

Daniel Portland: “I Touched You on the Arm: Cruising as Epistemology in the Life and Work of Arthur Russell

3:30-5:00 Wild Combination screening and Q&A with Matt Wolf

5:00-6:30 Panel 4: Remembering Arthur Russell

Chair: Steve Knutson

With Alan Abrams, Ernie Brooks, Peter Gordon, Steven Hall, Elodie Lauten, Tom Lee

6:30-6:45 Wrap-up ¾ Sukhdev Sandhu


7:00-9:00 Solo and duo performances of Arthur Russell music plus book launch

Reception & book launch at Housing Works Café, 126 Crosby Street, NYC, with performances by Mira Billotte, Alex Waterman, Nick Hallett, Rachel Henry, Peter Gordon, Peter Zummo, Joyce Bowden, Steven Hall and others. Tim Lawrence will read from his new biography of Arthur Russell, Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene. $10 admission to benefit Housing Works, a nonprofit AIDS-service organization.

10:00–late Dance party with Arthur’s Landing at Public Assembly

Play It Loud presents Arthur's Landing (with Jerry Harrison) at Public Assembly at 70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Live dance music! $10 admission to benefit Gods Love We Deliver.


Alan J. Abrams is an independent producer, director, and writer with film credits including The Rook, Paradise Falls, Charles Bukowski’s, 900 Pounds, and Larry Brown’s Leaving Town. During more than 20 years in the industry has also produced Tibet, A Culture In Exile with Richard Gere and Professor Robert Thurman. His editorial credits include Academy Award nominees Never Cry Wolf, Blue Velvet, and The Mosquito Coast.

Mustafa Ahmed is a multi-faceted percussionist. Since the 1980's he has performed in concert throughout the United States and Europe with an eclectic group of composers, vocalists, musicians and dancers. He currently performs and records with the critically acclaimed gospel choir Total Praise, the jazz group The Phibes and Arthur's Landing.

Bob Blank has been part of the New York music scene since 1973, and from 1976 till 1987 owned and operated Blank Tapes Recording Studios, where he produced or engineered 19 gold records for artists as diverse as Sting and Instant Funk. Bob's music production company, Blank Productions, makes music for TV and film, and has provided music for shows as diverse as American Idol and Dance Your Ass Off. Bob also dances, and he and his partner Martha Estevez have been US Over 45 Latin Champions twice. He was also a principal dancer in the Nicole Kidman film The Stepford Wives.

Joyce Bowden feels lucky to have known Arthur and to have worked with him in the 1980's. Arthur was an unflinching mentor and wonderful friend. Working at Circle Sound in Raleigh, NC, turns out to be to be one aspect of a continuous connection. Recent musical involvement includes Arthur's Landing as well as the Goodnight Graces and Recent Memory (both on Moon Caravan Records).

Ernie Brooks is a bass player and songwriter. A member of Boston band Modern Lovers, he met Arthur Russell at one the group's last concerts in spring of 1974. Ernie collaborated with Arthur in various projects, including bands Flying Hearts and Necessaries. He currently plays in ensembles with Gary Lucas, Peter Zummo, and Rhys Chatham, and performs as much of Arthur's work as possible in the band/collective Arthur's Landing.

Ryan Dohoney is a music historian specializing in American music and culture since 1945. He received his PhD in musicology from Columbia University in 2009. He is currently at work two book projects; a critical history of the life and music of Morton Feldman and a study of the downtown music scene glimpsed through the work Julius Eastman and his collaborators.

Peter Gordon is a composer, musician and producer known for the Love of Life Orchestra (which featured Russell in the original lineup) as well as for music for performance and media. Gordon met Arthur Russell in 1975 and they developed a friendship through shared musical interests. Gordon’s performances and recordings with Russell include Instrumentals, "Clean on Your Bean", "Tell You Today", "Kiss Me Again", and the legendary John Hammond sessions. Gordon and Russell co-wrote the LOLO track "That Hat". Gordon is Associate Professor of Music at Bloomfield College.

Steven Hall was born in Scotland in 1957 and wore a kilt and played the bagpipes when he was a boy--he moved the the US at age 15--went to NYC where he met Allen Ginsberg and Arthur Russell at age 18--the rest is a blur...

Nick Hallett is a New York-based composer, singer, and curator working across a broad range of disciplines and genres. His music has seen recent performances at Joe's Pub, New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Stone, and ISSUE Project Room. He is composing the music for a theater collaboration with the artist Shana Moulton, playing at The Kitchen in April 2010.

Steve Knutson is the founder of Audika Records. A longtime admirer of Arthur Russell's work, and a music veteran of over 25 years, Steve Knutson, through his collaboration with Tom Lee has worked to bring the wide breadth of Arthur's musical imagination back to those that remember him, and introduce his music to a new audience.

Elodie Lauten, daughter of jazz composer Errol Parker, was born and educated in Paris. Moving to New York City, she graduated from NYU with a Master's in composition. She developed into a full-fledged composer with Lincoln Center credits, chamber and symphonic commissions, several operas, and 29 releases on more than 15 major and independent labels. She is on the faculty at the New York City College of Technology.

Tim Lawrence is the author of Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-92, new out from Duke. His first book, Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-79, was also published by Duke. He runs the Music Culture: Theory and Practice degree at the University of East London and is a member of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research.

Tom Lee is an elementary school teacher. He met Arthur Russell in the summer of 1978 and lives in the East Village, NYC apartment that he shared with Arthur since 1980. He is honored to be a participant in the enduring appreciation of Arthur’s musical legacy through the film, book, and articles and of course the songs that serve to remind him of a very special time in their lives together.

Gary Lucas is a guitarist, Grammy-nominated songwriter, composer and recording artist with over 20 acclaimed solo albums to date. He has been called "The Thinking Man's Guitar Hero" (The New Yorker), and tours the world relentlessly both solo and with a variety of ensembles including his longtime band Gods and Monsters. He is responsible for bringing Arthur Russell to the attention of both Rough Trade Records and Upside Records and getting him signed to both labels.

Daniel Portland is a conceptual artist and writer. He holds a master's

degree in arts politics from NYU and his research interests include queer time and space.

London-born but New York-based, Simon Reynolds is a freelance journalist and author. His books include Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84, Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture, Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews, and Bring the Noise: 20 Years of Writing About Hip Rock and Hip Hop. He operates a number of blogs clustered around

Bill Ruyle has been a percussionist/composer/collaborator for new music, dance, and theater in NYC and abroad since 1974. He has performed with the ensembles of Peter Zummo, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Bill Obrecht, Scott Johnson, Phillip Johnston, "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Bob Een, Naaz Hosseini, The Feetwarmers, The Manhattan Marimba Quartet, Last Forever with Dick Connette, Newband, Counter)induction, Arthur’s Landing, Compton Maddux and the Dirt Simple Band, and The Hudson Valley Philharmonic. He first met Arthur Russell while studying at the Manhattan School of Music.

Sukhdev Sandhu is the author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined A City (2003) and I'll Get My Coat (2005). His latest book, Night Haunts: A Journey Through The London Night (2007), has been developed as a series of site-specific performances and soundworks in collaboration with Scanner. He is the Chief Film Critic for the London Daily Telegraph, and Director of Asian/Pacific/American Studies at NYU.

James Merle Thomas is a San Francisco-based curator, writer, and researcher. He is currently completing his PhD in contemporary aesthetics and politics at Stanford University. His most recent curatorial project, “I’m Sorry, But This is How I Learn” explores the relationships between repetition and pedagogy in art and performance, and is touring Europe and the United States throughout 2009-2010 (Kunstverein, Munich; Artist’s Space, New York City).

Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His documentary Wild Combination about Arthur Russell was released theatrically and on DVD by Plexifilm and is currently airing on the Sundance Channel. He is finishing a documentary in collaboration with New York City Ballet Dancers about the landmark 1958 ballet Opus Jazz by Jerome Robbins for PBS Great Performances.

Peter Zummo is a musician focusing on the trombone, a composer of works and processes for interactive ensemble, and a band-leader, engineer, and producer. His work is informed by four decades of performing for other composers and band-leaders. He also collaborates with artists in theatre, dance, poetry, film and television.

The conference organizers Peter Gordon (Bloomfield College), Tim Lawrence (University of East London), and Sukhdev Sandhu (New York University) would like to thank Toriono Gandy (technical director) and Kit Fitzgerald (video documentation) for their help. They would also like to acknowledge the English Department at NYU, Bloomfield College, the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of London, the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYU, the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at NYU, the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at NYU, and the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis for their help in sponsorship and space to support the conference. Thanks also go to the New Media Department at Concordia College, New York, as well as the Creative Arts and Technology Division at Bloomfield College for additional assistance. This brochure has been printed by Categrafica at Bloomfield College.