Artist Talk and Demonstration
Friday, March 9, 2017 6-9pm
6pm: The reception opens with lots of schmoozing and the chance to see the display of Darrell’s instruments in the Window Gallery.
7pm: Music and more, featuring George Brooks, Emily Klion, Sally Davis, Jim Zeno, Megan Bierman, Kim Epifano, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Steve Shain, and additional guests. There will be barimbas, bamboo flutes, bootoos, windwands, film canister bird flutes, saxophone, piano, bass, voices both speaking and singing, and dancing.
About the Artist
Darrell DeVore (1939-2005), also known as Dr. UM, was a musician, instrument maker, graphic artist, wordsmith, philosophizer, and an inspiring and uplifting presence for all who came in contact with him.
Darrell grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri. He taught himself jazz piano and as a young man made a place for himself in the Kansas City jazz scene. In 1967 he moved to California. He found the jazz scene here a bit less fertile; dipped a toe but not much more in San Francisco’s psychedelic rock scene (including a stint with The Charlatans); and then gradually set about creating a musical world for himself that was more uniquely his own. The music became freer, more exploratory, and more rooted in a peculiarly DeVorean philosophical and spiritual perspective. He became, for a time, a fluteman (his word) – making, playing and selling bamboo flutes on streets, in parks, and wherever else the passing people might enjoy them. In addition, he began turning out a range of other musical sound makers. None of them were high-tech; many were made of gourd or bamboo, but he also made good use of scrap metal and Styrofoam. All of them reflected an abiding interest not only in the notes of music, but in sound itself. He connected with an evolving array of like-minded allies (again, his word) in free-music assemblages including Pygmy Unit,Moire Pulse, Lingua Quartet, and others. He also continued with his own idiosyncratic and visionary jazz practice, focused on piano. And it wasn’t music alone that engaged him: Darrell’s inner and outer perspectives manifested themselves in page upon page of prose in a rather beautiful handwriting that was somehow both unfussy and elegant, and in a very personal graphic style which looks sometimes like biological forms, sometimes like coded messages from another world.
All this seemed to come from a philosophical outlook that flowed through and informed everything he did. This perspective was expansive and free; not easily described. It had an animist quality in recognizing the spirits within things and places. It had a deep feeling for a human nature that abides outside the influence of civilizing forces. It reflected a great faith in the power of sound and, most importantly, of listening, to point to essential truths and ways of being in the world.
Eventually Darrell settled in Petaluma, where for many years he practiced Sound Magic with children in the Petaluma School District. His later years were spent mostly in Studio UM*, the rambling chicken shack in the midst of an unmown field on the outskirts where he built and played. Within it and around it there appeared an evolving array of bamboo structures and accumulated sound objects. Music people from the Bay Area and beyond made the pilgrimage to join in music sessions and take in the world that had been created there. People wanted to be part of it because Darrell had a profound impact on those around him. Different people no doubt were drawn to different facets of it, but central for most, I think, was this: Darrell had a deeply transformational way of dismissing the unimportant stuff, and opening the space for what is essential about music, about listening, and about being alive.
In this exhibit we have gathered a sampling of DeVore instruments, graphics and writings. Our thanks for instrument loans and generous assistance go to Oma DeVore, Trane DeVore, Cain DeVore and Cecily Axt; George Brooks, Will Combs, Sally Davis, Kim Epifano, Karen Ezekiel, Rasa Gustaitis, Emily Klion, Gary Knowlton, Mike Knowlton, Kevin Lambert, Tom Nunn, Steve Shain, Sara Winge, and Jim Zeno.
*In the DeVore lexicon, UM stood for Universal Music.