The O-town Scene

November 11, 2010

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Music People New York City’s Consider the Source is back in town this weekend to play at the Black Oak Tavern on Friday. Guitarist Gabriel Marin took time to talk about the band’s Indian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European influences, playing at the Oak and the art of improvisation. How long have you been playing together, and how did you all meet? We've been togther about five years. John and Justin grew up playing together and I met Justin at a party where we jammed and really hit it off musically. Where are you all from originally? I am from Manhattan and they are from Queens. All born and raised in NYC. What's one of the most memorable shows you've played? There are so many amazing memories I have from play- ing with this band. Musically some of the most memorable experiences have been in the smallest, most intimate shows where the three of us were really communicating with each other and discovering new things. But opening for Victor Wooten at the Highline Ballroom back home was something we'll never forget. Have you ever played Oneonta's Black Oak Tavern? If so, how was your experience? We've thrown down there on one or two occasions. It’s a fun place to play because the crowd is right there on top of you. Also, we’ve always had a big soft spot for Oneonta as it was one of the first places out of NYC to really embrace us and make us feel like home. In your words, what's the difference between playing shows in NYC and smaller venues out of town? I mean, that’s a deceptively hard question. For us, NYC is home, so re- gardless of where we play it just feels special to us, espe- cially now that we are always on the road. Our 16 O-Town Scene Nov. 11, 2010 friends and family all come out, and we have a big fan base that has seen us many times; both of those are an added pressure and very calming at the same time. It’s a double-edged sword (although everything is a double-edged sword). Your sound incorpo- rates a lot of world music influences, how did you develop your unique music? One of the things that really brought me and Justin to- gether at first was our shared interst in Indian music, as well as Turkish music and other Middle Eastern music. I think being from NYC we were just always exposed to different cultures, so it never really seemed that odd to want to get into various other cultures’ musical traditions. Our sound came naturally to us; we never forced it or even really discussed it. We grew up playing rock and metal and then got into jazz and all these other things, and I think our sound is a natural reflection of that. The three of us are all into and have studied various tradtions in different capac- ties, so whatever knowledge we gain from those experi- ences we bring into the group dynamic. For example, John has studied with a South Indian percussion master, and that has shaped the way he ap- proaches bass just as Justin and my studies have affected our styles. And our individual styles all influence each other and then the overall sound. Being impro- visational musicians, it seems natural to study these traditions because they have systems for improvisation that date back hundreds or thousands of years, which is something we don't have in the West. In the West we have a great tradion of composition and orchestration but our views on improvisation only really go back a hundred years or so. We have done lots and lots within that time, but there is something attractive about musics that have given such time and weight to improvi- sational matters. When did the group travel to India and why? Justin and I went a few years ago to further our knowledge and apprectiation of Indian classical music. It was an amazing experience that taught us a lot. We’ve always had a big soft spot for Oneonta as it was one of the first places out of NYC to really embrace us and make us feel like home. That being said, our mu- sic isn’t strictly a blend of North and South Indian music with our Western influ- ences. We incorporate just as much Eastern European and Middle Eastern elements as Indian ones. Does spirituality play any part in your music making? It does, but in different ways for each of us. That’s one of the beautiful things about this group, the fact that we are three really different people with differing views on most things. How I spiritually approach this and how each of them does would be very different, Consider the Source includes Gabriel Marin on fret-less double neck guitar, John Ferrara on bass, and Justin Ahiyon on drums/percussion but we all hold the aspect of communication to be the most important thing; com- munication between the three of us musically and emotion- ally and with crowd. That’s what allows us to re- ally be a group that functions totally as a democracy both compostionally and improvi- sationally. If someone gives an idea that seems foreign at first, we all have the trust for each other to run with that idea. CTS is an established and respected jam band. What advice can you give to newer musicians who favor improvisa- tional performances? Practice both as a band and individually, and be honest. Learn new things, don’t just play what you know. There is a huge differ- ence between jamming and improvising. Remember dynamics! Listen to John Coltrane, es- pecially the later stuff. Most importantly, improvisation can be as deep as you want it to, and it’s a life-long thing. As you grow and feel as a person, you have to let that inform your music. Being in your own world while impro- vising is bad; listening and communication is crucial. Just be yourself, who you really are. _ Cassandra Miller

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