Weasel Walter: Exit, Stage Right

On the site for his ugExplode record label, you can see that Weasel Walter, who’s been a Bay Area resident for the past few years, is up and moving to New York.

Sad news for us.  It was nice having him in town, playing in bands and in pickup improv ensembles, stirring the pot to create regular live gigs at places like The Uptown, releasing CDs that make apartment neighbors call the police at 2:00 a.m.

But like so many other musicians from so many other places, Weasel (I’m using his first name here, as if we’re best buds) hears the call of NYC. He’s leaving next week.

It’s the natural cycle of the Bay Area music scene — and it’s the same in hundreds of other places, I’d imagine. It takes a lot of work to keep a scene going when the economic returns are slim, when alcohol-serving venues are reluctant to host oddball music, and when local authorities are downright hostile to DIY events.

(Sure, the letter of the law requires permits and fire exits, but for some of these shows, you’re talking about 40- and 50-year-olds sitting in chairs listening intently to quiet, crystalline music.  The legal codes set for punk/metal fire-and-brimstone acts shouldn’t have to apply there. Granted, Weasel’s stuff  isn’t exactly quiet most of the time, but his free jazz doesn’t draw a pit-warning crowd either.)

The good news: Weasel will be able to work with NYC artists more regularly, including trumpeter Peter Evans and guitarist Mary Halvorson, both of whom he’s recorded with recently.  As an ongoing, working trio, they’ll be immense. Radio WFMU got a taste of the possibilities earlier this year.

Best of luck, Weasel!

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