Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Andrew Olmstead - February 12th, 2012


I’ve played piano for about ten years, but more recently started learning guitar. By removing previous technical facilities developed on keyboards, I find myself oddly more capable of connecting to my music. Plucking strings and sliding around the fretboard, music feels different through the electric guitar. The instrument is no longer stationary, it moves with me, and I can feel it vibrate. This new interface is restructuring my mind. My goal this week is to encourage you to restructure yours.

For some portion of the jam session, please limit yourself physically in an effort to “relearn” how to play your instrument. The goal is to discover new musical choices, rather than shredding out music via muscle memory. Basic examples:

  • Play with only one finger, hand, or arm
  • Limit yourself to a set of only a few pitches or drums
  • Only play notes of a certain duration and volume level
  • Try playing piano for the first time

“Linguistics” is a piece I wrote for this session to map my previous musical experiences to a new instrument. It has a simple form, two composed sections connected by free improvisation. The first section consists of a unison line influenced by the music of Lee Konitz and George Russell. The ending section is actually influenced harmonically by the kind of music I was writing two years ago. While “Linguistics” does not mark a compositional development in my style, it has certainly helped me relate to music in a drastically new way. Joining me will be Ray Larsen (trumpet) and Thomas Campbell (percussion).

Big thank you to T&C musician Jared Borkowski, who I’ve been taking guitar lessons from. Check out his legit website if you’re interested: northseattleguitarlessons.com

Amazing local artist Fritha Strand painted my guitar’s pickguard! Her art has been blowing my mind ever since I moved to Seattle. See above for a sneak peak.

By the way, this video is the result from my previous Racer Session: vimeo.com/30707299


Past Session: