Fri. Jan 27th, 2023

Kafari. Picture by Ben Stas

There’s a present taking place Thursday at House in Portland that’s a major instance of how the venue typically provides distinctive, out of the peculiar performances.

Referred to as “Riffs and Lullabies,” it’s a collaboration that has been within the works for years – and was just lately bolstered by a grant from House – between a pianist and an animator/videographer, each based mostly in Portland.

Cincinnati-born pianist Kafari (Ahmad Muhammad) will likely be taking part in a group of latest songs from a forthcoming album that was particularly composed for this present, on a two-tiered instrument he calls a Junopiano (piano under, Roland Juno keyboard above). On the similar time, animator and videographer Dr. Scribbz (Jay Brown) will likely be projecting his work onto the stage.

Muhammad and Brown have identified one another since Muhammad was a member of digital band Jaw Gems between 2009 and 2018. Brown made a number of movies for the band, together with the jaw-dropping “Star Visor” launched almost a decade in the past. Muhammad is a large fan of Brown’s work, and the 2 have remained mates and collaborators.

Over the previous three years, they’ve shared music and movie clips as they labored to create the “Riffs and Lullabies” present.

Funding for this efficiency got here a number of months in the past from House’s Sonic Imaginative and prescient Fund. 4 awards of $2,500 got out for what House describes as “multimedia efficiency, collaborative art-making, and communal experiences, with inimitable visionary spirit.”

The present shares its identify with a pair of albums by Muhammad, the primary of which was launched in 2015. “Riffs and Lullabies Vol. II” got here out within the fall, and he’ll embody some songs from it within the present Thursday.

That album, which options piano and keys together with a tiny little bit of guitar and ambient sounds, was recorded over the course of 5 years with a Sony digital voice recorder, which suggests it feels such as you’re within the room with him, possibly kicked again on a sofa with low lighting. Tracks like “Afterhours” and “Sparks” are sleek and heat but additionally tender and evocative.

“Riffs and Lullabies Vol. II” isn’t background music, although it’s conducive to having some quiet time alone. These songs glided into my ears and swirled round, pollinating my senses with a sense of peace and safety from hurt.

Muhammad stated that on the House efficiency, together with a number of of the “Vol. II” tracks, he’ll play a number of new songs that can find yourself on an album he hopes to launch later this yr.

Animation nonetheless portrait of Kafari. Picture by Dr. Scribbz

What’s extra, Lisa/Liza (Liza Miller), a Wayne-based singer-songwriter with a dreamy/experimental sound, can even be performing. Muhammad gushed about her: “Her music is such a balm to me. Her genuine, heartfelt and unique performances push me ahead to me extra weak.”

On the afternoon of the House present, Muhammad and banjoist/songwriter CRYS will lead a workshop rhythm bones, an Irish percussion instrument. After a presentation in regards to the historical past of the bones, you’ll be guided by means of the fundamentals of holding and taking part in them. The workshop is open to everybody, and bones will likely be accessible to borrow for the session.

Muhammad stated he first grew to become conscious of rhythm bones when he noticed the Carolina Chocolate Drops on the 2014 Bonnaroo Music Competition. He ordered his first set whereas he was nonetheless there and continues to play them day by day. You’ll hear them in the course of the House present.

In case you don’t make it to House, you’ll be able to catch Muhammad usually at The Jewel Field in Portland, the place he has a Monday residency (7:30 p.m. to midnight) that he’s been doing since 2019 (minus the pandemic shutdown). These reveals are an enormous a part of his general objectives.

“My function on planet Earth is I wish to create magical performances, and I wish to see how far I can take that,” he stated.

Kafari and Dr. Scribbz presents “Riffs and Lullabies” with Lisa/Liza
8 p.m. Thursday. House Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, $12 prematurely, $15 day of present.

Rhythm Bones Workshop
3:30 p.m. Thursday. House Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, free to $25 sliding scale.

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