From the Other Side


Last night, Mazie hovered in the dark in a squatted campsite and pulled eerie sounds out of her violin. Her companion was Mark Risius, he crouched on the ground, his guitar illuminated by a headlamp. These two musicians had just met and had unpacked their gear right there in the pitch where they happened to be. They didn’t know no notes, they didn’t know no theory. Right then it was about giving voice to that strange sound busting inside them.

Mark is a full instrument.  He’s classically trained and knows his stuff.  But for now imagine a guy tooled up with a can opener, three rubber bands, an old apple box and a saw. But imagine that all these things are in fact a guitar. He sets it on his lap and plays percussive on the body and the frets doubled capoed as if he’s trying to pull as many different kinds of sound out of the box and let it be a channel for his ADD or autism, I don’t know which.

He plays with his whole body as if palpating the sound itself. You can actually see it.  Something writhes inside  him as if it’s trying to come through from the other side and it senses his body as a portal. He picks up his guitar, and then Bam! This thing – part physical, part sexual, part something else – bursts out and is loosed free upon this world.

Marks an interesting guy. And for a lot of reasons. Clinicians might call it ADD. But it might also be remaining present with whatever is directly in front of you at that moment.

I bump into Mark again this morning – he’s on his way to class because, well, class really is the most important thing. But now we’re together and we’re talking about their jam session and now our conversation becomes the most important thing. We talk about Tangle Eye. We talk about Tom Waits doing a slap down to Mick Jagger in the Oakland Coliseum because that also is the most important thing.

Stay tuned.  Mark, I sense, is a live wire, an antenna to the world, and in his thoughts and receptive hands, invisible currents will soon be made apparent.

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