Stick Men

If you don't scour YouTube for mid-'80s King Crimson vids, or read guitar magazines, you'd be forgiven for not knowing about the Chapman Stick. The Stick, revered for nearly 40 years in string-bending cognoscenti circles, consists of a wide guitar-like fret board tapped with two hands. The hands are able to roam free of each other, allowing for a wide range of rhythm, embellishment, and harmony. King Crimson's Tony Levin and session man/instructor Michael Bernier have been longtime boosters of the Stick, reveling in the instrument's unconventional sonic toolbox. Performing as Stick Men (with Crimson percussionist Pat Mastelotto), they lay out a technically stunning, cheerfully indulgent program on their latest, Soup. There're some charming nods to prog's wooly past (Stravinsky's "Firebird," anyone?) and some channeling of Crimson bandmate Adrian Belew's word-association vocalizing on the title cut, but there are also bracing instrumentals to tempt the open-minded, like the undulating, plaintive "Inside the Red Pyramid" and the busy, crushing "Relentless." All ages.
Sun., May 16, 7 p.m., 2010

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