Shelly Blake’s Violencestring in the mix

Baltimores Shelly Blake and Reality Prod Corp are working on the mix of The Violencestring a musical work combining story-telling, voice-acting, and free-improvisation to retell a 19th century ghost story written by a Victorian eclectic most remembered for writing a reference book on werewolf lore and penning Onward Christian Soldiers.

Blake assembled an international array of free-improvising musicians to take on the task of transforming Sabine Baring-Goulds short story Little Joe Gander into a musical smorgasbord of double bass driven free jazz grooves, airy avant-folk phrasing, and irony-laden piano rolls accompanied by horns, strings, and even a vocal chorus. The core group included Stockholm-based double bassist Joel Grip, Baltimore reedman John Dierker, Parisian phenom Eve Risser, Swedish trumpeter Niklas Barno, Nautical Almanacs Carly Ptak and Twig Harper, Houstons Susan Alcorn on pedal steel, Baltimores Human Host, NYC guitarist-cum-journalist Lawrence Lanahan, Relugious Aaron Henkin on banjo, avant-garde violinist Ryan Dorsey, and drummers Lyle Kissack and Ben McDonald. Among the singers and voice actors are Blake in several roles, Baltimores Ian Nagoski as a diabolical church usher, Harper as an ascetic violin-builder, Maines Jessica Riefler in the role of the poor-little-rich-girl, Jenny Graf Sheppard as a manic step-mother, Lanahan as a creepy toystore owner, and Ptak guiding the narration like a free-improvisational Burl Ives.

Joel Grip served as musical director on the album. He and Blake have a long history of inventive collaborations, most recently being 2006s 48 Hour Show in which the duo played for 48 hours continuously with no breaks as a charity event for Public Health Music, a non-profit that uses music as a means of helping homeless children.

Blake and the RPC team will be spending the next several months mixing the opus from recordings completed in December and January. They are hoping for a release date in the late fall of this year. All profits from the sale of the album will go to charity.

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