Phillip Bimstein "Larkin Gifford's Harmonica" CD Released by Starkland

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The "alternative classical" composer Phillip Bimstein reappears on his new Larkin Gifford's Harmonica CD from the new music label Starkland. The release suddenly has unexpected relevance. The piece The Bushy Wushy Rag features a delightful beer vendor who, for 40 years, worked at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, the newly crowned World Series champs. The CD echoes Bimstein's Starkland Garland Hirschi's Cows recording, which was lavishly praised, triggered hundreds of calls to hip radio stations throughout the country, and was called "a cult classic" on National Public Radio.

Phillip Bimstein, an "alternative classical" composer and politician, is featured on the new Larkin Gifford's Harmonica CD released by Starkland. The recording follows his very popular Starkland Garland Hirschi's Cows CD, which was widely praised, generated hundreds of calls to radio stations, and was anointed "a cult classic" on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

Read more about this CD and listen to excerpts at: http://www.starkland.com/st214/index.htm

With the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series, this CD suddenly has special relevance. Bimstein's piece The Bushy Wushy Rag focuses on the charming beer vendor Robert Logan, who calls himself "Bushy Wushy the Beer Man." For more than forty years, Bushy Wushy sold beer in Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, and he clearly loves both baseball and the fans. The piece deftly combines Bushy's recollections, baseball sounds, and a performance from the St. Louis-based Equinox Chamber Players.

In addition, this piece includes Jack Buck's call of a famous home run by Ozzie Smith, with the fabled words, "That's a winner!" along with "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!" Bimstein also tosses in fragments of Scott Joplin's Mapleleaf Rag (written in St. Louis) as well as St. Louis Blues. Bimstein remarks, "I hope that the music and Bushy's voice combine to tell a story of how a community comes together to celebrate baseball in St. Louis."

Pulitzer and multiple-Grammy winner John Adams wrote the CD's warmly enthusiastic Introduction, stating: "Like their composer, the pieces on this album communicate a generous and good-natured spirit that is tempered with wry wit and a special sense of the western landscape and culture that he so loves."

The title piece Larkin Gifford's Harmonica does in fact feature Utah resident Larkin Gifford and his harmonica. Bimstein writes: "I recorded the delightful Larkin playing old tunes on his harmonica and relating his stories about growing up in Springdale in the early 1900's. I then deconstructed and reassembled these materials into new music which retains the character, tone, and patterns of Larkin's playing and storytelling."

In Casino, Bimstein takes a similar approach by interviewing the philosophizing dice-caller Tom Martinet discussing Las Vegas and his fascinating collection of gambling lore. The piece shuffles together Martinet snippets and various gambling sounds such as slot machines, poker chips, and the big wheel, all of which accompany a woodwind quintet, performed here by the Sierra Winds.

Regarding these three musical depictions, Adams notes that "Bimstein has an enviable knack for choosing spoken narratives that reminds me of the filmmaker Errol Morris."

Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa emerges from Bimstein's fascination with the rich sounds of the natural environment surrounding his home near Zion National Park. Along with oboist Stephen Caplan, the listener hears co-mingled manipulations of singing tree frogs, howling coyotes, chirping crickets, and the churning Virgin River. The work has been performed at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

Finally, Rockville Utah 1926 draws on melodic material from Bimstein's beloved Garland Hirschi's Cows work. Garland is a rancher whose cows roam and moo next to Bimstein's home, and the title is the place and date of Garland's birth. Rockville is performed here by the Abramyan String Quartet.

Adams concludes: "Listening to this album of Bimstein's compositions makes me feel like I've taken a slow drive through a western landscape, meeting along the way everyone from Georgia O'Keeffe to Tony Hillerman, Mark Twain, Neal Cassady, Raymond Scott, Kurt Weill, Aphex Twin, and some of those grizzled geezers that populate the novels of Annie Proulx."

Bimstein's previous Garland Hirschi's Cows CD elicited some highly enthusiastic reviews. Stereophile wrote that "Bimstein is... brilliantly original... outstanding in his field… a talent to watch." Stereo Review praised the CD for its "immediacy, wit, and inventiveness," and Wired deemed the CD "quirky and thoroughly engaging."

Read more about Garland Hirschi's Cows at: http://www.starkland.com/st205/index.htm

About Phillip Bimstein:

Bimstein resides in Springdale, Utah, where he served two terms as mayor, prompting Outside magazine to call him "America's only all-natural politician composer." His "alternative classical" music combines acoustic instruments with found sounds and voices to paint portraits and tell stories. Bimstein's music has been performed at Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can, and London's Royal Opera House. In addition to his studies of theory, composition, and orchestration at the Chicago Conservatory and UCLA, Bimstein led the new wave band Phil 'n' the Blanks, whose albums and videos were college radio and MTV hits. For more, visit: http://www.bimstein.com

About Starkland:

The Starkland label releases compelling, engaging recordings of new, experimental, and alternative classical music. To view Starkland's complete catalog, visit: http://www.starkland.com/catalog/index.htm

Previous recordings have received over 150 favorable reviews, including those in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Sound & Vision, and the Village Voice. All of the music on the label's Immersion DVD was commissioned by Starkland exclusively for high resolution surround sound. It is now recognized as the first such recording in history, and Immersion has often been the #1 bestselling DVD-Audio at Amazon.com. Read more about Immersion at: http://www.starkland.com/st2010/index.htm

The label's releases have been featured on such national radio programs as NPR's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. Other recordings present Charles Amirkhanian, Tod Dockstader, Paul Dresher, Aaron Jay Kernis, Phil Kline, Guy Klucevsek, Kronos Quartet, Merzbow, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Turtle Island String Quartet, John Zorn, more.

For more, visit: http://www.starkland.com

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