A collective endeavor which engages in rhythmic typewriter manipulation combined with elements of performance, comedy and satire. BTO aims to entertain the masses while providing an outlet for the creative urges of its members. *BTO promises to protect customer confidentiality with the utmost vigilance while remaining irreverent at all times.
Everyone tells us that newspapers are dying. That the printed word isn’t printed anymore, it just flashes by in moments on LED screens. But the word is still around and occasionally there are tales of journalists that still do the bulk of their work on an old Underwood. In Boston the spirit of the old hardscrabble reporter hunting down leads (and filing FOIA briefs) exists in the form of the Boston Institute for Non-Profit Journalism.
Now why that might sound like an overly serious group that spends their time thinking about overly serious topics, it seems they do know how to party. Inviting us to come play at a brewery in Somerville is precisely the right way to approach things. So come and enjoy the day and we’re gonna play somewhere sometime in the midst of the mayhem. If we get a more precise read on things, we’ll let you know, but you know how journalists are, they do want all the information for themselves and love to push deadlines….
Weirdly there was more color on the leaves of southern New Hampshire than there were in the still verdant Green Mountains, but aside from the lack of crayon box foliage, we had an awesome time. Along with Martha Barnette, we were able to have a standing room only event to benefit the Burlington Book Festival.
Plus we did find good places to stop along the way.
You know how Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees? That’s sort of like what’s going on here as we’re in the opening slot of the centerpiece, Saturday night benefit concert at the Livak Ballroom at the UVM Davis Center. We’ll be warming up the crowd for Martha Barnette of the public radio program A Way With Words.
Somehow it’s taken more than a decade for it to happen, but BTO is finally getting the last check mark to complete the New England states where we’ve played concerts. We’ll be in Burlington, Vermont on Saturday, September 17 as part of the 12th Annual Burlington Book Festival. Apparently these people didn’t realize that we don’t actually type words when we bash away at our typewriters, so don’t tell ’em until afterwards and we’ll see just how much fun we can have. And seeing as this is Vermont, we’ve even worked up our first bona fide Jam that we’ll be premiering at the show.
Sure, as the Boston Tpewriter Orchestra our sphere of influence is generally focused on the East Coast, having never ventured further than Washington DC for a live performance. Thankfully, one of the joys of making music in this era of technology is that recordings and videos can be seen and heard anywhere at all.
Now I’m not sure exactly how Doug Nichol came to hear of us, but he brought his cameras in and recorded us performing a few years ago. That footage has finally surfaced in the midst of his new documentary California Typewriter that debuted at the Telluride Film Festival this past weekend. While the film focuses on a shop in Berkeley, Jay and Chris both (separately) stopped in there with Doug while they were on vacations in the bay area.
For now all we get is that trailer, but we’ll keep you informed once it’s gonna be showing on this side of the country.
It used to be that the summers were the time to stop going to dark theaters to watch the latest Hollywood fare, and instead get a group of friends into the biggest car and head to a drive-in. These days those outdoor theater viewing options are getting more and more limited, with only Mendon, Leicester, and Wellfleet offering such a chance in Massachusetts.
A bit further west, just past Albany at the northern tip of the Catskills, the Greenville Drive In is like an art house cinema outside. They have invited us to come join them in celebrating the joy and magic of the machines that we use to make our music as they host the 1st Annual Typewriter Arts Festival on June 11. In addition to our performance, and an open call for the community to bring their own machines to show off, there will be screenings of a couple of typewriter-related films, The Typewriter (in the 21st Century) and Populaire.
So whether you are in the upstate New York area, or are up for a weekend trip, come out and join in on all the fun so we can make our drive out there fun and worth it for everyone involved!
Technology has got the better of us again it seems. This time our desire for expanded promotional efforts has brought us to the world of Instagram. After learning it was not an app that provided grandmotherly advice at the drop of a hat, we decided to give it a go. So we tested things out with this tried and true logo.
If you click on that picture it will take you right there. We’ve also added some visual effects on the sidebar over there >>>—————————————————————–>>>
One of those follows our pictures, the other pictures tagged with us… so if you want to show up on this website, just tag your selfies #bostontypewriterorchestra and take over that feed.
People often ask how it is that we do what we do. In an age where the only QWERTY most people interface with is on a tiny touch screen, hitting manual keys in sonic manipulation is unfathomably archaic. While the concepts of rhythm rarely enter into most people’s concept of typing, with an ensemble that doesn’t produce any paper artifacts, that is the most integral part of what we do. For those interested in joining our ranks or setting up satellite branches of our orchestra in their own city, the key is to learn your basic typing methods and practice, practice, practice.
I guess half of the songs we play do have words, so the fact that we’ve been invited to perform at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, isn’t completely ridiculous. But I’d be shocked to find out that more than a small handful of the other participants in the festival have a typewriter in their apartment that serves anything more than ornamental function. Truth be told though I am gonna try to get Charles Simic to come and solo on a song with us if I can find any way to get close enough to him to propose the idea.
The Festival begins on Friday, but our performance is scheduled for Sunday morning at 11:30am in the auditorium of the Peabody Essex Museum. We’re hoping to make a fun show of it all and have a couple new songs that we plan to debut on stage as well. Hopefully we won’t have a lynch mob waiting at the edge of the stage ready to dunk us in water to see if we float when we’re finished.