Michael Evans was an improvising drummer/percussionist/ thereminist/composer whose work investigated and embraced the collision of sound and theatrics. While his primary instrument was an unconventionally altered drumset, his work with unusual sound sources included found objects, homemade instruments, the theremin and various digital and homemade analog electronics.
As an active and versatile New York City musician, he worked with a wide variety of artists of all sorts including Ron Anderson, Jeff Arnal, Audio Artists, Claire Barratt, Samm Bennett, Jac Berrocal, Carla Bley, Naval Cassidy, James Chance, Martha Colburn, Combustible Edison, Lol Coxhill, EasSide Percussion (ESP), Roger Ely (the Devil’s Chaueffeur), Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Ken Filiano, Fast Forward (Gobo), Chris Ferris, Michael Gira (Angels of Light, Swans), Gisburg, Gilbert Godfried, God Is My Co-Pilot, David Grubbs, Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten), Susan Hefner, Steve Horowitz’s Code Ensemble, Jarboe (Swans), Pamelia Kurstin, Skip LaPlante’s Music for Homemade Instruments, Zach Layton, Gen Ken Montgomery, Neil Leonard, Aimee Mann, Karen Mantler, Sean G. Meehan, Donald Miller, Eric Mingus, Gordon Monahan, Joe Morris, Michelle Nagai, Anders Nilsson, Evan Parker, Andrea Parkins, Maxime De La Rochefoucauld, William Parker, Yvette Perez’s Birdbrain, Yvette Perez’s Mitra Sumara, Gino Robair, Lary Seven, Elliot Sharp, Moe! Staiano, LaDonna Smith, David Simons, Jesse Stewart, the Talking Band, Toronto Dance Theatre, Stephen Vitiello, Christopher Walken, Jason Willet, Peter Zummo’s Noisy Meditation Band and John Zorn. The links page more comprehensively describes Michael’s orbit.
He toured internationally with God is my Co-Pilot in the 90’s, performed solo percussion at Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven, Netherlands, with Gordon Monahan in Munich, Germany, and in an impromptu series entitled “Purgatory”, presented by Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten) in Berlin, Germany. He toured Japan with percussionist Samm Bennett in 2005, went to Sweden with Anders Nilsson and “Fulminate Trio” in 2006, and performed with Fast Forward in “Music a la Mode” at Sophiensaele in Berlin in 2010.
His work with the theremin varied the quality of its sound through set-up and technique. On the theremin he performed with dancers and in group settings playing experimental, jazz, rock, ersatz lounge and chamber music. In 2000, he was photographed playing a Moog ether wave theremin for the front of Bob Moog’s Big Briar catalog. He performed in multiple performances of the NYC Theremin Society’s concerts 2005 – 2012 at Issue Project Room and at Joe’s Pub.
He was selected for a composers fellowship to Music/Omi 2001, part of the International Music Colony @ the Art Omi International Arts Center, in Ghent, N.Y. During the summer of 2003, he participated in Baltimore’s High Zero Festival, an ongoing, yearly improvisational festival featuring musicians from the USA and abroad. Every August since 2006, he happily taught percussion workshops to children, performed as a musician, and often times helped out by cooking meals at the Electric Eclectics festival (Festival Of Modern Music And Irritainment) in Meaford, Canada presented by Gordon Monahan, Laura Kikauka and Chris Worden.
In the duo MESH with choreographer Susan Hefner he co-created subversively zany work in a unique performance vocabulary of sound, movement and theater. Domestic objects, junk and the instruments themselves became symbols, sculpture and objects of theater, and the dancer/musician roles are often blurred. Their sound/movement performance work was previously produced at Roulette, The Chocolate Factory, Experimental Intermedia, Improvised and Otherwise, Dixon Place, Music with a View at the Flea Theater, Jack the Birmingham Improvisation Festival, and elsewhere in NYC and in Europe. The duo also presented salon performances at their home studio, MESH.
He collaborated with: Bed of Daddle (with Gordon Beeferman and James Ilgenfritz), Fulminate Trio (with Anders Nilsson & Ken Filiano), Peter Zummo’s Noisy Meditation Band, Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood (with David Grollman and Andy Haas.)
Recorded examples of his work can be found on EasSide Percussion’s s/t “ESP” cd release on Avant records, “MESuperstar” cd release on A.T.M.O.T.W. records, Karen Mantler’s “Farewell” and “Pet Project” cd releases on XtraWatt records, “Just Drums 2 – The Project” (a compilation of 35 drummers) cd release on Fever Pitch records, “MEJA” (Michael Evans/Jeff Arnal) cd release on C3R records, Fulminate Trio’s s/t cd release on Generate Records and its “Triangulation” digital download only release on Unseen Rain Records, Deviant Shakti: Ladonna Smith and Michael Evans” cd release on Trans Museq records, “An Optimist Notes the Dusk” cd release with David Grubbs on Drag City Records and both the s/t Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood and its 2nd release, “for” on Resonant Records.
He studied movement/sparring/drumming with Professor Milford Graves, drum technique with Joe Morello, tabla with Misha Masud, kanjira with Ganesh Kumar, Haitian/Afro-Cuban hand drumming with John Amira and frame drumming with Shane Shanahan. He studied musicianship with Helen Hobbs Jordan, composition with Richard Cameron Wolf, Blue Gene Tyranny and the theremin with Pamelia Kurstin.