Frantasia 2010, Still Maine's Largest Festival of "OUt" Music

   Just a day before Frantasia 2010 was to begin, I called curator Fran Szostek to tell him Offset Needle Radius would not be performing.  With my hands still battered from a bicycle accident on June 23rd, I was not prepared physically or mentally to perform.  My spirit was damaged in that crash, debilitating my hands, making everything I do difficult or impossible.  After six weeks of physical therapy the hands have improved, at least the right hand has.  The left is still not much better than it was soon after the accident.  Self pity aside, I do feel lucky that I still have five fingers on each hand and they each can do at least a little something.
    I was rolling into Livermore Falls at about 6 on Friday August 19th under grey velvet skies.  I love turning the corner and crossing the bridge into Livermore Falls, the lonely little town seemingly unaware of the annual festival that takes place here, drawing talented performers of fringe music from all across the Northeast. 
   At Fran and Kathleen's house, I found Walter Wright, Joe Burshio, Kathleen, Noel Walsh, as well as meeting a few new people on the walk down to the Livermore Falls public library that would host this year's festival.
   Nights full of a wide range of music, primarily consisting of experimental free improv, New music, performed by exceptional musicians dedicated to this fringe form of creative expression.  Crank Sturgeon Andrew from Skinny Vinny, Audrey Chen and her son Ivan, Walter Wright's Apocolypso Trio with Id M THeftable, all Friday night, here in this small auditorium beneath the library, just off the main drag in this small paper mill town.
   Inside there are sounds created in the moment, some that will only be heard in this fleeting moment.  People sit quietly in folding chairs witnessing this performance carefully watching, noting how these objects sing when in the hands of the performers.  Each year returning performers return with further reaching, intentional depth learned from the previous year.  We come and learn how to be free from the confines of popular music.  We come and share the results of our work, to show how far we have come in twelve moths. 
   Outside dimly lit by a street lamp, below street level parking lot tucked behind the post office and library, walled in by a jungle of overgrown August weeds and trees.  People are talking, catching up, reuniting after having not seen each other since last year's Frantasia.  They are missing something happening inside, or watching through the open door to the stage.
   One can not or at least shouldn't try to absorb every sound wave emanated in a night, over-taxing one's ability to really hear what is happening.  Breaks and rests are necessary to recharge.  There is too much going on in each moment to take it all in. My ears take in the masters, performing sets I wouldn't want to miss for anything, live music that will be unlike anything I've experienced.  Other sets are performed by the learners, the listeners, studiers, still finding their sound, still learning how to hear, not quite having yet learned to let go, to channel.
   Showing up a day late to the beginning of this year's Frantasia leaves me feeling not quite fulfilled at the conclusion of the weekend.  Where as last year I was present for the entire event, this year I felt as if I could have benefited from just a little more.
   Spending those three days together at meals, workshops, nightly performances, a feeling of belonging to a sort of extended family sets in.  Sharing a devotion to and appreciation of fringe sound has found us together each year here at this unlikely venue.  Frantasia is a festival, a musician's retreat, a family reunion, brought together by a special person Fran Szostek with the help of his wife Kathleen.  For more information and sign up, follow link HERE>>>