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Matt Valentine and Erika Elder: Ragas & Blues

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Matthew Valentine

The author in his element

Matthew Valentine’s Child Of Microtones imprint was one of the first labels to fully explode the CD-R format, combining deluxe packaging with exploratory psychedelia and extended rural glam. He was the brains and the conceptual clout behind Brattleboro’s legendary Free Folk Fest in 2003, an event that was pretty much ground zero for the contemporary underground and that gathered alla the emergent tribes in the same spot for the first time. But really MV has been a key player since back in the day, with Tower Recordings being a central component of Siltbreeze’s first wave while his editorial duties on the sadly-defunct Cock Displacement buzzed a whole bunch of brains. But it’s his work with partner Erika Elder that has best brought together his various obsessions, minting a recording process known as Spectrasound that exposes the most sidereal aspects of the jam while fusing Dead/Allman Brothers-style improvisations with free jazz, raga, folk and blues in order to mint a visionary take on underground modes. MV is free folk. He’s also a wordsmith par excellence, an inspired writer (check out his first novel, Small As Life & Infinitesimally As Pure) and filmmaker (The Temptation To Zoology) and an active proponent of the up country good life. We’re lucky to have him. Here he’s reminiscing about the April 2010 No Floor Tour in anticipation of his headlining shot at VT’s Subcurrent 2010 fest. Look out for the winner of the top ten middens….

“no floor tour” road memories

it was an indian winter inverted, we’um were livin’ the good life on the road known as the “no floor tour”, ceilings all around. rollin’ as a double bill with the flower/corsano duo it was a solid core spirit, ergonomic vibe/ethos. no crew, no nonsense…everything in house except the booking agent. that would be VAL-COR, a new contender in the pie game. our merry bands were rich in spirit and the belts were loose and tight, just like the jams. we were pure entropy, and good ol’ VAL-COR seemed to have a grip on the routing, guarantees, door deals, backline elegance and muscle. go figure. it was a rocket out of the gate as we managed to be too heavy for ‘grey matter books’, shutting that joint down for future live gigs as well as sending a long time valley impresario to the hills to recover and collect his collective unconscious. this was the first hoot, primary stage. foundation/grounation of MV/EE/MICK FLOWER/JOHN MOLONEY with J MASCIS hookin’ up for the environments jam. t’was super fine that J just happened to have some extra amps around as somehow the vocal PA blew up, yeah that kinda energy loudly floatin’ around. loudly. so captain Tim grabbed the hi-watt and we sang like angels, more tube glow than afterglow. from there we sailed into the rustbelt via the silent barn, g. lucas crane hooked us with late night taco knowledge and when zuma ate some kinda ear on the sidewalk with the tortilla as his plate after the show i knew we were onto somethin’. a night i’ll never forget playin’ with meg baird and nonhorse. did the nocturne corridor out to pocono air and continued further at daybreak to the sweet oberlin. awesome hang with the dilloway tribe and one of the top ten middens i’ve ever had the privilege of lying in, but alas, still no floor. then came the sweet slow glare toward the big D. hooked up in grand motor city style with old buds and heads, greg baise layin’ out the great book and JC layin’ out the great RA and late night bar. we raised one for sure intergalactic. cruised agave, positively jammed even got to hook with ben hall at his most beautiful eatery. long may he serve a plate and bang on.

guitars continued skyward when coasting thru the border, and i mean we practically did not even stop. 6 dudes, a pooch and a van with tattooed carburetor. was kool and a positive moodbox. we almost took a wrong turn and got to try it again just for kicks, but we didn’t wanna push it or hold it back like fernando saunders so we rolled to the boat. TO and the (don) valley of parallel worlds..ahh good ol’ toronto. got peeped, got to jam the first of two with DOC and good ol’ eric chenaux even took some time out from rat drifting to sit in and blow some mean harp. an awe inspiring port with or without storm. of course we had a late night hang with senior back at the rodeo ranch, always feels like a home game away.

did the long ball the next mornin’ out to montreal where we were greeted by relief only montreal and steve/mauro and the sala can pitch. VAL-COR got gone with the habs and royal mountain treatment. even had mojitos delivered backstage…minty set and amps sounding way better than tube screamers.

comin’ back down again is always a trip and crossing somewhere out in the boons gave good ol’ USA a chance to really tear into our meat. i guess mick tasted hip cos they got a mouthful of candy but couldn’t even find nectar to hold us. so long so long…we waved our flag, flew the free folk and jettisoned some more rearview miles to be hugged warmly once again by saratoga. always nice to see the tapers pit loud and proud and the springs bouncing inside the amps. another sweet night with some great home cookin’ and vibes. baptized with ol’ sulphur all the way but didn’t have to bet too much soul at the track. super yankee, ayup.

we headed out after a colloquial breakfast feast toward boston’s chinatown. rollin’ into that metro with mo’low giving an impeccable guided tour is always a turn on for the synapses. still no FLAW. you can literally HEAR the distinction between boroughs/towns. i was beyond proud to jam in the nom d’artiste loft, turned out it too would ramble into the realm of past tense shortly after. an UNBELIEVABLE night with fireside hospitality provided by poon village/forced exposure kristin. the embers stared deep with humility, dogs ran kinda free and we slumbered underneath the volcano.

the gigs were done but the jams were certainly continuing. thanx to nature mick was sequestered out in our open arms and we had a summit to attend. this months elixir was whiskey outside of the kentucky limits. non bourbon. we laffed it up and hit blue ribbon for road sustenance. called ahead to clear mick as a guest and from there all we did was some home comfort restoration with the soundtrack of our lives, bed ins all around. who woulda thought zuma would let it rip in FE near the court and the YOD space in the same day. no deposit, no return –  redemption in so many ways.

matt “mv” valentine

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