Music fans won’t find anything fresher than Monday’s ‘TimeStamp’ show
Some music fans might be disappointed at a concert where the band doesn’t play a single track from its album. On monday, at Brendan Burn’s “TimeStamp” show at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, that’s the whole point.
Although the performance celebrates the release of a collaborative project and album called “TimeStamp” recorded at the theater in February, the 15 musicians on stage will be collaborating live on something completely new.
“It’s part of the concept,” Burns told Ken Field, host of WMBR-FM’s “New Edge” program, during a Tuesday appearance with musician Tony Leva. “The album was about who we were in those three days in February. The concert is who we are in November.”
To create “TimeStamp” — also a documentary film by Alexia Prichard of those days in February — Burns brought in friends and colleagues with whom he has been playing and improvising for years. Many had been part of the Bent Wit Cabaret, which performed regularly at Oberon in Harvard Square and kept Burns busy learning and transcribing music as well as arranging it for the rest of the band, resulting in a real-world master class in communication among musicians. Some band members would get a full score written out for them, he told Field, and others get by with a blank piece of paper.
When the show ended, there was a vacancy in Burns’ life. When his work as a music teacher paused last winter, he gathered the musicians he knew best for an extended return to that easy collaboration. “We didn’t know at the end what each performance would be, but by design I wanted to get everyone creatively involved,” he said. “It was a very important part of the whole project to get people together to maximize our strength and creativity.”
Since graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 1998, Burns has taught, performed with several bands and composed for the theater. But in all that time, he said, he never led an ensemble quite like this: six ensembles playing his compositions as well as group improvisations and crossing musical genres — an eclectic range of instrumental music spanning alt-country, post-rock, free-improv and the ethereal — to result in what Burns calls “an audio photograph of Boston’s musical community.”
Monday’s show is also a musical reunion for many of the performers burned out of their Central Square home early Aug. 23, and many of the musical instruments to be used are those rescued by firefighters who, even amid intense heat and flame, recognized the unusual number of musical instruments in the house and moved them to safer areas, saving them from fire, smoke and water damage, said Burns, who has resettled in Davis Square.
After the fire was under control, the firefighters carried out more than a dozen instruments — from a harp to upright bass, a banjo and several guitars. “We lost our home, our clothes and our stuff, but we had our instruments and our ideas,” Burns said.
As a gesture of gratitude, Burns offered Cambridge firefighters and policemen free admission to the concert. “They saved our instruments while battling a fire,” Burns said. “That is an extraordinary thing, and something they didn’t have to do.”
Tickets for the 8 p.m. Monday “TimeStamp” show are $15 and available here. The pre-show at 7:30 p.m. will feature the Kristen Ford Band — and maybe Burns himself. “I don’t know what my emotional state will be,” Burns told Field.
For now, Fields’ interview with Burns and Leva, tracks from “TimeStamp” and their in-studio performance can be streamed from the archives on WMBR-FM’s website.
This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.