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My Castle of Quiet
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wmmberger on 01/01/2012 at 11:16PM

FUN Go! America! Celebrates New Jersey, on My Castle of Quiet, 12.18.2011

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

FUN—as I've come to know the Philadelphia-based combo, its sounds and membership, I realize how truly appropriate the name is for what they do. FUN are able to apply clever, inventive, fresh ideas to their improvised music-making, minus all the beard-stroking and pretentious, high-minded, music-conservatory-based conceptualization and back-patting that often accompanies similar activities.

For their FUN Go! America! tour, a 50-year project that involves one performance a year, each in a different state, on the very date that that state was inducted into the Union, FUN came to New Jersey on December 18th, to WFMU's Studio B, to render two unique, smartly conceived and individually distinct long-form improvisations. The concept of the tour alone is staggering, and relies upon FUN's members having access to interstate transportation, and living long enough, to execute the mass concept in its entirety.

Backed by an American flag, adorned with their name in silver duct tape, and a host of gear ranging from plastic soda bottles to radically modified electric guitars, Mat and Jonny donned Kennedy and Nixon masks ("lifelong enemies") to render their first set, which begins with the delicious sound of carbonated-beverage-pouring, and takes flight from there. Set two, entitled "A Stroll In Jersey City," involved a studio-stationed, close-mic'd cel phone, into which they called in, while walking around the neighborhood of WFMU's building, making music from whatever they encountered on their walk.

Engineer Bob Bellerue and myself certainly had a great deal of FUN, recording the sets and watching the action put forth live and in person. These sets were broadcast the following Friday a.m. on My Castle of Quiet, though it was critical to the concept that they were recorded on Dec. 18th, the very date of NJ's 224th anniversary of statehood.

Thanks again to Mat, Jonny, and their friend Kevin, all of whom were present for the rendering of similarly intriguing sets on the Castle on the last day of December 2010, that material also resulting in a dynamic set of remixes, aired on the show the following February. Thanks as always to Bob, for his invaluable, sterling engineering skills, and to Tracy Widdess, for once again rendering my performance photos into art.

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