For this episode of Conversations Jack Livingston interviews “Sound Mechanic” Neil Feather

Edited by Jack Livingston

Neil was born in Sharon Pennsylvania. After attending graduate school in Montana, where his main focus of study was ceramics, he moved to Denver and began performing music. In 1985, Neil moved to Baltimore where he quickly became a central figure in the experimental and improvised music scene. He was a key participant in the regular performances held at the seminal Red Room, the hub of Baltimore’s burgeoning experimental sound scene.

In 1999 Neil joined longtime friend and collaborator John Berndt in founding the High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music, a large annual improvised music festival. Neil was awarded the 2014 Sondheim Art Prize and the 2014 Trawick Art Prize. He was included in a major exhibition “Art or Sound” in the 2014 Venice Biennale. In 2016, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Currently he has a number of new projects in the works which include aspects of performance and incorporating all of his instruments as an orchestra.

In this interview, Neil discusses his early days in his small hometown as a motorcycle enthusiast and his musical start in local sixties garage bands. He addresses his early study of ceramics and his eventual turn to making singular instruments that led him explore the experimental sound and performance that informs his groundbreaking work today. Along the way he revisits the early days of the the Baltimore avant sound scene, including the Red Room and the High Zero Festival.

The interview was conducted in Neil’s Baltimore home in the summer of 2016. Listeners will occasionally hear police sirens in the background which we have kept in the audio as a nod to the artist’s sound improv art practice.

This is a video of nonlinear short clips culled from a recording of “The Music Myth —A Musical Allegory” by Neil Feather. A hour long performance for 20 instruments and 5 performers from Feb 12, 2016. Featuring: Andrew Mars as “Music”, Neil Feather as “Humankind”, Bob Wagner as “The Bringer of Light”, Eric Franklin as ” The Department of Redundancy Department”, and Rosie Langabeer as “Truth.”

rube-golberg-variations-1Hit Machine 1trawick-bigamist-1

pythagatone thumbsnake
neilfeather03_webNeil Feather

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Early Photos
NFandDadxmas1958Neil Feather and Dad Chrismas 1958 (Photo by Freda Feather)

moterhead_neilfeatherNeal and Landis Feather on motorcycle circa 1995neilfeather_druidparkwithnoseNeil Feather at home 1996. (Photo John Berndt) neilfeather_melocycle-sporadica-3Neil Feather as Professor Hillbilly on melocycle, vibulum and rails.  Artscape circa1990
(Photo by Catherine Pancake)

neilfeather_soloatinfesthatNeil Feather at the Trocadero Philadelphia circa 1995
(Photo by Catherine Pancake)
neilfeather_jasopnrecordingsessionNeil Feather at recording session for THUS with John Berndt at Jason Willet’s  studio Baltimore circa 1994 (Photo John Berndt)

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