WEATHER »

Gove County String Quartet at Center Stage Theater

Bassist and Composer Jim Connolly Premieres New Recording


As the musical force behind Lit Moon Theatre and the Gove County String Quartet, bassist and composer Jim Connolly strolls around town like a long-haired Clark Kent, tuning people’s pianos and then slipping off to his boat, where presumably he makes the change into his superhero identity of master musician and band leader. The concert at Center Stage Theater on Saturday night was named It’s Only Gravity That Makes Wearing a Crown Painful, after one of the pieces Connolly has composed, and it began with Connolly and his chief collaborator, Anna Abbey, onstage to present a dozen short pieces that he calls “Tea Lights.” It’s a clever name for a genre at which Connolly excels. He packs more ideas into some of these “Tea Lights” than many would-be Liberaces can get out of candelabras. The instrumentation for these pieces, while relying largely on Connolly’s bass and Abbey’s piano, nevertheless ranged as far afield as melodica and toy piano, both of which were used to great effect. At times, it sounded as though Augustus Pablo had booked a studio session with Gavin Bryars.

Jim Connolly (second from left) brought his Gove County String Quartet and a night full of tunes to last weekend's Lit Moon World Theatre Festival.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Jim Connolly (second from left) brought his Gove County String Quartet and a night full of tunes to last weekend’s Lit Moon World Theatre Festival.

After the consecutive performance of the “Tea Lights,” which appear as interstitial “palate-cleansers” on the new Gove County CD, Abbey and Connolly were replaced onstage by the Gove County String Quartet proper, which features Sally Barr and Laura Hackstein on violins and Nick Coventry on viola, in addition to Connolly on bass. Connolly has made something of a specialty out of adapting familiar tunes for string quartet in surprising and charming ways, and this night was no exception. His “Why Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a set of variations on the theme to the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood program from PBS, and it’s a classic of its kind, full of sneaky twists and turns. Other highlights for the quartet included the eloquent “Bobo Is Hungry” and a beautiful piece called “There Are Some Things Even a 500-Year-Old Tree Has Not Seen.” At one point, Connolly grabbed his bass and scrambled up the aisle of the seating platform to play from the back of the audience, but soon enough he was back onstage, plucking with verve, and even jumping in with Barr and Abbey to make a third at the piano. Throughout the 12 short pieces and the seven quartet pieces, Connolly kept up an amiable and droll commentary on the whole thing, sharing with the audience the joy and friendship that’s at the heart of his tunes.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

School Shooting Threat to Santa Maria Schools Made via Facebook

Further investigation revealed that suspect did not have access to firearms.

Celebration of Life Ceremony Scheduled for Mark “Marky” Meza, Jr.

The 21-year-old former Carpinteria resident was killed in the Borderline shooting.

Jennifer Doudna Talks Gene Editing

She's confident the controversial technology will be used for good.

Phone Scammers Target Businesses

Pretend to have a delivery that just needs some cash or a wire transfer.

Former Ataris Bassist Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Scam

Michael Davenport faces up to 30 years in prison.