Live: Sandy Ewen at Homegrown Press Studio & Gallery (Lexington)


There was a convergence of compelling music and intriguing locale in Lexington, KY Thursday night.  Sandy Ewen is currently on tour, and the guitarist played a solo set at Homegrown Press Studio & Gallery.  Ewen’s improvisations aren’t your typical display of guitar virtuosity, and her technique for harnessing the distortions and effects of the instrument don’t lead to a song structure.  Laying the guitar across her lap like a pedal steel, she utilizes tin bells, steel rods, scouring pads, sets of keys, metal ephemera and dollar store electronics to generate sound streams.

Her music was the sound of the earth opening up and revealing the secrets of the soil, the sound of an album played between radio station frequencies, the feedback loop of a synthetic heart breaking.  It was pretty strange.  None of it was ordinary.

Ewen played one long, continuous piece, an improvisation that lasted a half-hour.  Maybe it was an hour. I forgot to check the clock.  It was an immersive experience, and it’s likely no one in the room was keeping track of time.  It’s the kind of thing you just have to hear live in person.  Ewen has albums available on her Bandcamp page, but nothing will ever live up to the impact of being there when it all goes down.

For this particular show, it all went down at the Homegrown Press Studio & Gallery.  Owned and operated by artist John Lackey, it was a nifty spot for this show… both acoustically and visually.  I’ve commented before on this site my preference for seeing shows in galleries and museums… anywhere that the music is accompanied by a view of artwork.  Lackey’s spot on Lexington’s north end at 6th and North Limestone suits that need quite nicely.

As mentioned earlier, Ewen is currently on tour.  Here’s the upcoming shows, beginning with tonight’s in Chicago.  Most links will take you to a Facebook event page.  I highly recommend checking it out.

Nov. 4th, Chicago, Illinois
Nov. 5th, Oberlin, Ohio
Nov. 6th, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nov. 7th, Toronto, Ontario
Nov. 11th, Burlington, VT
Nov. 12th, Portland, Maine
Nov. 15th, Cambridge, MA (Blue Bag Records)

Check for updates on Ewen’s artist site and Facebook page.

Worth nothing that in addition to her band Weird Weeds and her collaborations with an all-star line-up of experimental and avant-garde musicians, Ewen contributed to Chris Schlarb’s Twilight & Ghost Stories, which most readers of this site will recognize as an album dear to my heart.