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MP3 Michael Castro & Joe Catalano - Endless Root

Performance poetry with improvised music.

7 MP3 Songs

As a composer and performer, Joe was primarily concerned with drawing the listener''s attention to long time structures, forms occurring in the natural world, and the archaeological record. He wrote music for the concert hall, theater, film, and gallery spaces, using various instruments including keyboard, electronic drones and harmonics, piano and harpsichord, harmonic singing, the didgeridoo, and an instrument he invented, The Spirit Stick, as well as many others. He was also a member of the Didgeridoo Ensemble, and the Strawberry Creek String Band, where he played guitar and didgeridoo. Much of his recorded work can be found at deeplistening.

Castro & Catalano became friends in the early 1980’s when both lived in St. Louis. The relationship continued to grow after Joe moved to the Bay Area. Many of Catalano’s innovative approaches to sonics are evident in his musical arrangements for Castro’s poetry.

Michael Castro is a widely published poet and translator who, since the late 1960’s, has collaborated in performance with a wide range of musicians in the United States and Europe. He founded the literary organization and magazine, River Styx, in 1975, which still are going strong more than thirty years later. River Styx gave Castro the unique award, Guardian Angel of St. Louis Poetry in 2000, for his work with the magazine, the Duff’s Poetry Series (in which Catalano performed), and the Poetry Beat radio program (1989-2003). In 2005, he was named Warrior Poet by Word in Motion.

Some notes on the poems: Freedom Ring, dedicated to Martin Luther King, was first read publicly at a meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Council in Birmingham, Alabama shortly after it was written in 1981. Castro was there as part of the “Freedom Tour” he had helped organize, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights Era. The Ants is dedicated to the Chinese-American poet, Arthur Sze, who had suggested Castro visit the Anasazi ruin near his home in Santa Fe that inspired the poem. The Spirit Stick, Joe’s invention, is featured on this piece. Them addresses the anonymous “they” or “them” we often blame for our problems. Joe plays didgeridoo on this one. Deep Mirror surreally celebrates the life of Katherine Dunham, diva of stage and screen, anthropologist, innovator of modern dance, and community activist and teacher in East St. Louis. Imagery of “serpent sun,” “endless root,” and the “loa” or spirit entities who possess dancers, are all drawn from the Vudun religion that informed much of Dunham’s work. Chump Change is dedicated to the late trumpet player, band leader, and educator David Hines, and is a poetic account of an actual experience involving him. Heraclitis Got It Right is a response to the massive flood of the Mississippi River in 1993. Joe’s arrangement is based on a Tibetan folk melody.

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