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Robert Rich at the Gathering

I went to the Gathering last night.  Seven simple words that carry a lot of
weight.  The Gathering isn't just next door or down the block.  It's over 
hour's drive away... and requires travel on the Schuylkill ("Sure Kill")
Highway.  But the trek is always worth it.  Driving a mere 80 miles for an
interstellar trip is a very worth while endeavor.

Last night's space trip was captained by Robert Rich.  I arrived early, 
the sound check.  All the equipment seemed to be in place.  Jeff Towne was
getting the lighting programs in order while Robert was fighting the 
gremlins.  But the most noticeable feature was the MOTM modular synth all
patched up and ready to go, lights a-blinkin'.  Art was at the sound 
helping Robert and Chuck was off on an important errand.  At this time of 
St. Mary's stained glass windows provide little light making it somewhat 
inside.  But, astonishingly, they are also rather equally lit and quite 
taking.  Perhaps this is a portent of things to come...  After a few 
hellos, I
trotted off for my ritual dinner at Wan's.

On my return, I brought Robert his order of take out to ensure the 
flight was fully fueled.  The line outside the door was already several 
long and then the doors opened.  People flooded in.  I set up my portable 
in my usual spot in front of the first row of pews, right of center.  I'd 
to be closer to the center, but then the footrest on my chair would block a
vital path needed by other campers.  A few moments to meet and greet with
familiar faces, catching up on each other's lives.  Gatherings are full 

John Diliberto performed MC duties.  Golly, I'd pay good money to have 
such a
wonderful speaking voice!  Silver tones is too cliched of an expression.  
or platinum are still too cliche and merely approach reality 
asymptotically at
best.  Then Robert fired up a sequence on the MOTM modular.  Engines full
throttle, we have lift off.  The first set consisted of new material 
played on
synths (the keyboards, rack modules, and MOTM) and the slide guitar.  As 
Robert's processing and looping drove the raw sound sources to other 
dragging along an enthusiastic and receptive crowd.  Here words fail me as 
fail all but the most eloquent.  Robert's rhythms are sexy and the sounds
superb.  Not so glurpy this time, more oozy and fun.  Like a kid playing 
in a
mud puddle, I wanted to get dirty and squish the music through my fingers. 
watched every movement and must point out that, unlike many synth-playing
spacemusicians, Robert actually PLAYS keys.  It was also a gas to watch 
use a nut driver to simultaneously pitch and stimulate the high string on 
slide guitar.

During the short intermission, I had the opportunity to talk to more 
friends and
acquaintences.  John returned to signal the start of the second set.  
started off with Animus from Propogation.  This is perhaps my most favorite
track from my most favorite Rich CD.  In addition to all the gear used in 
one, Robert added his various wooden flutes.  I love watching a person play
music (when I'm not playing music myself).  There was the usual comment 
later about performing to MIDI backing tracks.  I'd like to point out that 
key portion in that sentence is the word PERFORMING, not the words MIDI 
tracks.  Without growing 20 more pairs of hands or hiring a lot of 
musicians and
holding months of rehearsals, there is no other way to bring some of 
material to a concert setting.  I can only direct the attention of critics 
sublime moments of the concert such as when Robert sat at the slide guitar,
playing harmonics, looping rhythms, and soloing above it all.  The light of
Robert's music lit the entire audience.  A standing O brought Robert back 
for a
quick encore and the show was over.

Chuck, Art and Jeff pulled off another great event.  Then I wandered off 
some friends to stretch out the evening at a nearby watering hole.  I plan 
see Robert again at the Space for Music Festival in Nashville in April.  A
little more than 80 miles away from my eastern Pennsylvania home.  But it's
still an easier drive than Alfa Centauri, which I attended last week in the


Bill        billfox@fast.net           http://wdiyfm.org/programs/emusic
Host of EMUSIC, an electronic, ambient, and space music show.  Thursdays at
11 pm on WDIY 88.1 FM, Allentown and Bethlehem and 93.9 FM in Easton and
Phillipsburg.  Email me if you wish to submit music for airplay 
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