Steve Jobe has just spent the morning securing a van that can transport his giant hurdy gurdy. “it’s not hard to get it through doorways; it was designed to fit sideways, but the length can be a problem…Looks like a couple rows of seats will have to come out.” The ten-foot “Bosch Hurdy Gurdy”, modeled after the massive instrument visible in a section of the Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, is on its way to upstate New York. It will be featured in a performance by the Jobe/Redfearn Ensemble slated for Kingston, NY’s Festival of the Arts coming up Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.
It takes two to three people to operate the Bosch Hurdy Gurdy. “A hurdy gurdy is more or less a mechanical violin,’ says Jobe. “where the wheel replaces the bow, vibrating strings, but it’s also a one man band, with melody, rhythm and drones, all in one instrument. The Bosch is a real contra-bass version of the traditional instrument.” He believes it is the largest such instrument ever built. Steve commissioned a huge, carved boar’s head in wood to grace the large peghead of the instrument, emblematic of its ferocious soul and sound.
The Ensemble brings together the aesthetics of two contrasting but complementary, award-winning composers: Rhode Islanders Steven Jobe and Alec Redfearn. Jobe spends most of his time writing operas, his current work being "The Legend of the Fairy Melusine." Redfearn, leader of the heralded band The Eyesores, and key participant in several more, is recognized on both sides of the Atlantic for his prolific originality, “falling somewhere between psych-folk revival and free jazz, constructed from a diverse and unfashionable set of instruments including accordion,” commented a writer for Splendid magazine. Both composers are recipients of RI State Council on the Arts Artists Fellowships and numerous other project grants.
Besides the giant hurdy gurdy, the effect of which Jobe describes as “a primal hypnotic wave, Jobe/Redfearn features intriguing and colorful instrumentation -- accordion, violin, viola, cello and percussion. In addition, two guest vocalists, Ellen Santinello, with a background that includes opera, early and art music, and Gillian Chadwick, whose vocals range from rock to folk styles, will round out the absorbing, eclectic, impossible-to- categorize sound. Selections range from a dreamy art-song melody by Jobe entitled "Chartres," to a characteristically accordion-infused extravaganza by Redfearn, "Amoebiasis". Completing the ensemble are noted New England instrumentalists Rob Bethel, cello; Matt McClaren, percussion; Laura Gulley, violin, and Bosch crew, Chris Sadlers and Rachel Rosenkrantz. Their experiences include classical and experimental music, instrument making and rock bands.
Jobe/Redfearn Ensemble performs Saturday August 30 at 4 pm at the Old Dutch Church for one show only at the Kingston Festival of the Arts in Kingston, NY. Tickets are $20 and are available on line at http://kingstonfestival.org/buy-tickets or at the door. The Festival runs August 21 to 31.
Artist contact: Steven L. Jobe, 401-345-4320 (phone interviews welcome)
Kingston Festival Contact: 845-331-3261
Article by Laura Travis, WRIU-FM, Kingston, RI