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Thollem McDonas bringing music and media to the Modbo 

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click to enlarge Thollem McDonas rests up for his 'onslaught of punk-world, noise-blues, and avant-Americana' at the Modbo.
  • Thollem McDonas rests up for his 'onslaught of punk-world, noise-blues, and avant-Americana' at the Modbo.

With spring officially here, wherein all things become new again, an upcoming evening at the Modbo offers something unmistakably contemporary. On Thursday, April 6, you can catch an exciting pairing of music and film, as Californian keyboardist/vocalist, composer and educator Thollem McDonas, perhaps better known simply as Thollem, performs his new show, Hot Pursuit of Happiness.

The event has been described as an "onslaught of punk-world, noise-blues, and avant-Americana," and backdropped by a sped-up screening of Thollem's documentary/art film Who Are US 2016, which records a trip across the continental U.S. in collaboration with filmmaker ACVilla. The program also promises "songs about the bittersweet existence in twenty-first century America, always somewhere between being pursued and pursuing."

If that sounds like heady stuff, it's right in Thollem's wheelhouse. The genre-hopping musician has spent the past decade regularly touring North America and Europe, collaborating at any given time with an array of fellow artists. Projects have included Tsigoti, an overtly political anarcho-punk band featuring Italian musicians, a duo with contrabassist Stefano Scodanibbio wherein Thollem played works by impressionist composer Claude Debussy on the last piano Debussy owned, and collaborations with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Minutemen bassist Mike Watt and Half Japanese guitarist/vocalist Jad Fair.

Indeed, Thollem's prolific collaboration takes on a local flavor at the Modbo, where he will perform with flutist and composer Jane Rigler, one of the main minds behind local experimental music collective Peak FreQuency. A live EP of Thollem and Rigler performing together in Colorado Springs in 2016 is currently available at Thollem's Bandcamp page.

For something a bit more traditional in the world of art music, the acclaimed Veronika String Quartet will perform a concert titled Expressing the Sublime, featuring the works of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, at the Fine Arts Center on Sunday, April 9. The quartet will be joined by Sergei Vassiliev, the principal clarinetist of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and the concert will be preceded by a lecture from Mark Arnest.

Speaking of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the local ensemble itself is branching out with some perhaps lesser-performed symphonic fare. On Saturday, April 15, the Philharmonic performs Paul Hindemith's 1934 symphony Mathis Der Maler, a tribute to medieval painter Matthias Grünewald. Hindemith, one of the leading members of the German avant-garde in the 1920s and '30s, ran afoul of Adolf Hitler, who preferred more nationalistic operatic fare and designated his works — along with those of Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky and Louis Armstrong — as "degenerate art." So, if you're looking to take in a bit of culture while also thumbing your nose at fascism, here's an excellent opportunity.

Send news, photos and music to reverb@csindy.com.

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