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.
We have certainly done things in our past that have earned us varying degrees of infamy, but this effort might just be the most ignominious of all. Somehow we have been tapped with the opening slot for the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Awards. While Folks are filing in to one of the most acoustically sound spaces in Cambridge, we’ll be on stage typing and tapping away in an effort to divert them from being able to decipher seat and row numbers. If you’ve never heard of this before, well, it’s like the scientific equivalent of the Razzies. Certainly not Nobel prize worthy, this awards people for genuine scientific achievement of preposterous premises.
While ticket prices are a bit prohibitive to a casual science dilettante who wants to see us play for 20 minutes, the whole thing will be broadcast on the Improbable Research web site and should be up on their You Tube page after the ceremony for us to share.
For some reason people seem to think of porches as a Southern thing. Maybe it’s the fact that our cold New England winters render them irrelevant for such a large portion of the year, but the fact is they are an architectural feature that is prominent even in the streets around Boston. Our region has such a love for the porch that a bunch of the towns around the city have set out to celebrate them specifically. For the second straight year, Brookline is on board with such a venture and this year we are joining in on the fun and playing a set at Brookline Porchfest. While some spots are hosting bands throughout the day starting at noon, we’ll be playing a set at 4pm at a house that backs up to the Emerald Necklace right along the Riverway
Last year, we were invited to the inaugural take at a Typewriter Arts Festival, with a type-in, typing poets, typewriter displays, and both a film and a documentary about typewriters being shown on a Drive-In screen at the north edge of the Catskills. We had a blast, and this year they are expanding to two days across this beautiful expanse at Drive-In 32 in Greenville NY for QWERTY: The Second Annual Festival of Type and the Letter Arts.
While we won’t be playing until Saturday, the festival begins Friday on World Typewriter Day Friday with a 10th anniversary screening of Gary Hustwit’s documentary Helvetica and a live performance from Brian Dewan, who did the cover art for our new record. On Saturday evening, we’ll be followed by screenings of Ink & Paper and Doug Nichol’s new documentary California Typewriter. Both evenings will host a gathering of typewriter poets, typewriter and letter art and a type-in hosted by Eric Molbach. People are invited to bring their typewriters or use one of the free typewriters provided. The USPS is even setting up a remote mailing station so you can type a letter and send it from the Greenville Drive-In.
After performing in the auditorium earlier in the year during the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, this time we’ll be right in the atrium for everyone to see and hear as folks gather for their Signals event. It’s a celebration of Samuel Morse and will include a camera obscura and lots of code-breaking fun.
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….
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.
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!
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.
OK, so the truth of the matter is that our typewriters are used for their sonic properties and aren’t loaded with ink or paper when we perform. However, we’ve been invited to participate in a night called “The Art of Paper” at the Portland Museum of Art on February 26. The museum is free on Friday nights, so all Mainers are welcome to join in and check us out, but we’ll be on early so come right after work as they’re showing Lori Anderson’s documentary about her dog at like 6:30.
So weird thing is when we play outside of our fine home state, people actually seem to come out to see us play and actually enjoy us. So much so that sometimes they ask us to come back. New Hampshire is getting an encore performance as the Currier Museum in Manchester has given us a curtain call. We’ll be back playing the Currier After Hours on September 3, with 2 sets nestled between somewhere 6 and 9 pm.