75 DOLLAR BILL
Rick Brown: plywood crate, maracas, shakers, bells, a drum
Che Chen: 12 and 6 string electric guitars, bass, shakers
with guest musicians:
Carey Balch: floor tom
Rolyn Hu: trumpet
Cheryl Kingan: baritone & alto saxophones
Andrew Lafkas: contrabass
Karen Waltuch: viola
At last the European release of one of 2016’s most acclaimed albums. 75 Dollar Bill’s second full-length crashed onto many of last year’s most prestigious “Best Album” lists: The Wire, Uncut, The Village Voice/Pazz & Jop (and more). The NYC based duo of Rick Brown and Che Chen, creates hypnotic, pulsing music that weaves an ecstatic line from raw electric blues, Arabic modes and entrancing folk minimalism back to the streets of New York.
« I feel very lucky to have wound up playing in 75 Dollar Bill with Che. I’ll take some credit for the early setup, as I pursued the idea of us jamming together for a few years before we actually made some music together. But when it comes to focusing our sound, putting together a good set- list, imagining how to expand the group with guests and designing almost all of the visual/package aspects, Che has taken the lead. Obviously, he is responsible for his own parts and playing and his interest in the Arabic modes of Mauritanian music has marked our sound quite a bit but I have brought some things, too. The plywood crate I play is a big factor, defining, by its positive qualities (a nice warm “boom” sound) as well as by its simplicity, what we’re likely to do in the percussion realm.
WMPPRR, this new record, differs quite a bit from the previous one, notably in the rhythmic “tone.” Wooden Bag (released in 2015 on Other Music Recording Co.) was all forward momentum, stomping and shaking, but the new record explores a long-standing interest of mine: odd and “compound” meters. In most of my previous musical activities, I’ve convinced my partners to delve into this, but in 75 Dollar Bill it has just felt natural and I believe Che’s modal investigations and melodic/harmonic tendencies enhance (and are enhanced by) this combination.
The current record differs from the last in another big way: reinforcements! Over our few years together, Che and I have frequently had friends play with us at some of our gigs. There have been all sorts of permutations of instruments and some great friends/players who don’t all appear on this record but here we are lucky to have a bunch of them: Cheryl Kingan (of The Scene Is Now) on baritone and alto saxes, Andrew Lafkas (of Todd Capp’s Mystery Train) on contrabass, Karen Waltuch (of Zeke & Karen) on viola, Rolyn Hu (of True Primes) on trumpet and Carey Balch (of Knoxville’s Give Thanks) on floor tom. 75 Dollar Bill’s plans for the future involve much more playing with these friends and others in bigger and smaller combos – as well as me and Che stripped back to the core guitar and crate duo.“ – Rock Brown