Greetings and Salutations

From Altringen to Lhasa

In Concerts, news on September 28, 2012 at 5:56 am

Dear friends, here we go again. It’s been a long wait, but I’m happy that my Earshot initiative hasn’t run out of fuel and perspectives. This time, our love for music took us outside the city, in the tiny village of Altringen. It’s the smallest village in Banat region, but covered by a great vast sky. Although located some 50km away from Timisoara, on the 22nd of September it received its visitors. This charming landscape of gentle hills and rich forests was chosen as epicenter for our 3rd event.

The event gathered around 70 beautiful people on a magic starry night, with a purpose exceeding fun and curiosity.  Written on the back of a woodblock-printed Tibetan prayer, the evening’s program read From Altringen to Lhasa. Musicians for Freedom: Mike Altrin & The Slidekicks, Arc Gotic , The :Egocentrics. 22 of September, 2012. Not one, but three live concerts heartily supported a worthy cause:  the respect for human dignity and the freedom of worship for all inhabitants of Tibet.

Why? Well, there are a few things to say about this. First of all, Romania had its share of oppression and sacrifice. 50 years of imposed communism followed by less obvious but still dehumanizing regimes account for the country’s present situation, of a robbed entity trying to walk on jelly legs. Secondly, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting HH the Dalai Lama in India this February. The details of my journey there have no importance in this context. But the impression I got from this encounter, words cannot describe. The Tibetan’s rightful leader is a simple man, yet joy, love and serene power are passing through him like electricity through wire. Paradoxically, the tragedy of his people, which also led to his exile, benefited the westerners, who found inspiration and meaning in his Buddhist teachings. At their core, basic kindness is the most important. I wanted to be able to share even a tiny part of the happiness I felt while meeting this man, and spread the word about the hardships and injustice to which his people are subjected.

The Tibetan flag was set above the stage. As a host, I took on the responsibility to open the event with an announcement that all guests seemed pleased to back up. We were not there only for fun, but to generate good wishes and heartfelt compassion; for those who had to leave their beloved country and homes behind, for those who still burn on Earth for freedom and belief. We invited the bell to sound, and let our feelings be carried by the wind.

Shortly after 6pm, The Slidekicks, a band formed only one month ago, had its first show on the improvised stage behind Casa Altringen.  Offering his superbly reliable drum kicks, Hera proved to have a soul big enough for an entire band. He went through the whole set with ease and hearty style. At his side, Andrei aka The Super Rodriguez slid his hand effortlessly on the base, relaxed, often smiling and spicing the groove where needed. Vlad Sturdza, white shirt and strat, worked its magic with solid feeling and more than once looked like the band’s secret weapon.

The Slidekicks’ two guitars went through old tube radios, which brought a little something to their tone and the whole experience. I felt great hearing them play, even though I’m not sure I was in the sweet-point of their sound, and then got a little too busy turning knobs on highly complicated devices on the floor 🙂

Now, I’ve seen a few Arc Gotic concerts and I thought I knew what they were about: goth-romantic tales of castle ruins and specters, like old dusty sepia pictures. But I have to say I was surprised. Of course everyone experienced their performance in their own way, but to me, it was about the shadows of night that covered the garden as they played.

I very much enjoyed their sound, the dark-dreamy guitar, the haunting violin, the very inspired base sound. Cip, Relu, Borneo and Ciprian were smooth and their somehow reserved attitude on stage went gracefully with the setting and made the stars shine brighter.

The fire was lit in the garden – huge logs, to raise the flames for what was to come. As the evening was turning chilly, people were preparing for the last concert, my personal headliners. The :Egocentrics took the stage like a hurricane, with powerful riffs and merciless beats. Jess, Tavi and Brenn brought everyone close to the stage and fed them rock’n roll. The stone desert kind. And they liked it.

As Brenn’s guitar soared higher and higher, I just had to dance. Vlad joined the power trio on stage for the last piece. Going on and on without losing feeling and authenticity, it was a real treat.

As the concert ended, we knew to have witnessed a graceful evening. The Big Dipper bowed low. Wolves were howling in the distance, but the fire burned ‘til dawn. As morning light washed the garden, I was rambling around. A young couple in smoked crumpled clothes passed me by.  It was just a glimpse, but their eyes were like those of angels.

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(Mike’s Earshot wishes to acknowledge DeBoot’s generosity in technically supporting the event.

Big wide smile to all the invitees, whose involvement and spirit of adventure significantly contributed to raising awareness on the Tibetan cause and having a wonderful time.

More photos and recordings are soon to come 🙂

Within Mike’s Earshot: Dan Mitrofan

In Concerts on February 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Hi friends. It sure feels good to give an account of Dan Mitrofan’s Earshot concert. Not only because it’s our second success in a row of two events, but mostly because I’m happy to have experienced Dan’s music in more than favorable circumstances. Two hours after sound-check and stage-improvising,

at 8pm on this freezing Saturday evening, the 20 of us lucky spectators met in my apartment to get warm on friendship and music.

Dan – or Bozo, as we friends call him – approached the Earshot with a surprising set, straying slightly away from the kind of jazz he’s generally known for. I’d guess everyone admired his courage to experiment, as he swung  between standard jazz guitar, loops and overlaid processed sounds with balance, ease and a delicate sense of humor.

The great atmosphere that ensued was farther enriched by our VJ Flo’s projections and, fortunately enough, the show was captured and streamed live by my friend Dani, the Earshot’s earliest and most generous friend. Check out the recording of the concert at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12327421

Even if some of his ingeniously conceived pieces were deliberately left as sketches, Dan showed masterful playing and I was delighted to observe his subtle and watchful style.
However much I was transported by his own tunes, some moments I manage to recall: a remarkable rendition of So What, an unexpected improvisation on a Dead Can Dance theme.

The generous set of one hour and a half kept the public there and ended with Vlad (also present at Thy Veils’ Earshot show) joining his ol’ friend Bozo onstage for a very lively improvisational piece which had me at the first notes.

As this is written, I’m happy to see that Dan Mitrofan live @ Mike’s Earshot reached 200 viewers online and advances toward the attention it deserves.

MIKE’S EARSHOT PRESENTS: THY VEILS

In Concerts on January 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Thy Veils honored my bedroom stage on the 11th of December 2010, with a great performance that took the living room by storm. I couldn’t mean that in a violent sense, for it consisted mostly of ambient renditions of Thy Veils’ repertoire, complete with spectacular projections, all adding up to a skillfully designed atmosphere.

Dani, the band’s leader and founder and also a good friend of mine accepted my call with great enthusiasm and promptitude. I guess my Earshot invitees would agree upon his elegant ability to get things rolling and make an impressive show even in an unconventional space.

Daniel’s band-mates – Petre, Manu, Ciprian and Vlad equally rose up to the challenge, along with Atti and Tavi, who successfully undertook more logistical tasks. I believe Flo, the show’s VJ did a great job too, as I very much enjoyed the visual trip he helped setting up.

May I also say that Thy Veils played with contagious relaxation, while also managing to set up an intimate and contemplative mood throughout the concert; as the set-list ended and the audience asked for more, we knew this was a memorable Saturday night.

Friends, I invite you to listen to the recording of this Thy Veils Concert and send us whatever impressions you have about it.

http://soundcloud.com/thy-veils/thy-veils-live-at-mikes-place

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Thy Veils “Live at Mike’s Earshot”: Daniel Dorobantu (electronics, visuals), Petre Ionutescu (trumpet), Manuela Marchis (voice), Ciprian Costache (guitar), Vlad Sturdza (guitar), Attila Lukinich (sound engineer), Florin Fâra (visuals), Octavian Scurtu (PA). For those not yet familiar with the music of Thy Veils, here are a few enlightening links: www.thyveils.com, www.myspace.com/thyveils, www.facebook.com/thyveils Enjoy!

A video for Thy Veils at Mike’s Earshot, made by Daniel Dorobantu – is now online. Find it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJsregDyHls

I liked the video very much, as it recalls the beautiful float of the concert. Not to mention it’s very artistically done. Still, I secretly regret Dani’s absence in the footage, especially since Thy Veils’ music gravitates naturally around his star.