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.
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.
UPDATE: We’ve posted the music so you can hear what we did sans Perry
back to the original story……………
Everyone knows the degree of geekery that it takes to create a crew of people who set out to make music on manual typewriters alone. Ok, maybe not everyone, but hey something about what we do intrigued you enough to come visit this site, so you probably are too. While Boston may be the only place that’s produced a group like ours, other crews of people have gathered together for similarly ludicrous enterprises. Among those is the group responsible for the seminal internet video series Yacht Rock that put a name to a specific brand of smooth music. Now they have resurfaced with a great new podcast, Beyond Yacht Rock, and this week we have contributed to the mayhem by adding bumpers to help announce each step of their countdown.
If you are a neophyte and need to catch up with the past, Hunter Stair (Kenny Loggins) has HD versions of all of the Yacht Rock episodes on his YouTube channel. Start here and don’t stop until you are done. It’s an hour that you won’t regret wasting online.
Before we had the magic of manual keystrokes to guide our love for sound, members of the typing pool have dipped their toes in various musical waters. For Jeff, his first genuine venture beyond some high school dalliances was working as a college radio disc jockey in the middle of Missouri. While for most those efforts peak with an overnight shift ornately crafting musical themes that are sent via the airwaves into space, he made a real splash working with a friend and booking an on-campus spring concert. That’s not generally such a big deal either of course, except these efforts brought about the reunion of one of his favorite bands, and led to a compact disc release of that very performance.
Today, for Record Store Day, that concert has been revisited by Sony Legacy recordings and is being restored to it’s full glory, putting in lost performances, appending the entire encore, and replacing banter, including an introduction where you can hear Jeff’s voice calling the band to stage. If you’re heading out to brave the geekery of RSD lines and folks elbowing their way to bins, this album is the best use of your time and money of those new titles available.
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.
With wrapping paper crumpled by tree skirts without care it seems that Christmas day is already here. While today’s apparel in Boston brings shorts and T’s, we hope no matter the weather that you have fun and do as you please.
We’re ramping up for a fun 2016, with a Kickstarter in the works to make a real record of sorts and shows shaping up both near and far (today’s weather makes me warier for how it may be in Maine during February), we bring you this piece of festive holiday cheer that we worked up for Chandler Travis’ Holiday Extravaganza that raised over $14,000 for the homeless (and that was just the Boston show). Feed the world, or at least enjoy some holiday goose.
Our practice space is in East Boston. We gather there weekly to see what magic the typewriters can make us conjure from them. It’s Jay’s place and he grew up in the neighborhood with Richie. While initial dreams were only the hope to play a single public performance, things have obviously lived far beyond those aspirations. Now there’s a new book from Eastie native and Rutgers journalism professor Dr. Regina Marchi, Legen-
Sol Lewitt at Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH
-dary Locals of East Boston. Among profiles of JFK’s dad and governors John Winthrop and John Bates, and the world’s first female clipper ship navigator Mary Patten, women’s suffrage activist Judith Winsor Smith, and the first Civil War nurse Armeda Gibbs is the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. How do you like that?