In Mill Hill Park

On the Stage

At Joe’s Mill Hill

At Mill Hill Playhouse

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This article was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 9, 1998.

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TAGFest VIII — At the Crossroads

The annual Trenton Avant Garde Festival, an irreverent,

artist-driven extravaganza familiarly known as TAGfest, returns

Saturday,

September 12, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s not only free to the public,

but all its participating artists all work for free. Most activities

are at Mill Hill Park, along the Assunpink Creek, on the corner of

Front and Broad streets in Trenton. Musical performances are featured

at the nearby Joe’s Mill Hill Saloon, and this year’s poetry is at

the Mill Hill Playhouse.

Founded in 1990 and having improvised its merry way through seven

successive seasons, this may be TAGfest’s last year in its current

form (or formlessness). Volunteer, musician, and visual arts

coordinator

Wilbo Wright says some members are considering breaking up the one-day

festival into a series of smaller, year-round events. TAG already

runs several events each year, including the George Antheil birthday

concerts; TAGFest is just the best known.

Some vocal members of the community want to retain the current all-day

extravaganza. With political acumen worthy of the state capital, this

year’s artists and visitors are invited to cast a vote on the matter

at the festival’s "misinformation booth."

Wright is among the TAG members pushing to restructure TAGfest.

"The

festival is so all-consuming, timewise, it’s presenting problems,"

he says. "Because we’re not paid to set up the festival, and we’re

now in our eighth year, it becomes more and more difficult to take

something like eight weeks of uncompensated time to organize a single

event. A variety type performance series would offer TAG the ability

to set up shows as needed, on a smaller scale." Such shows would

be managed and motivated by the artists involved, he explains, and

such a format could also responding to traveling troupes that he

characterizes

as "a whole national and international community of artists who

work without a home."

TAGfest originally moved outdoors as a direct response to city

censorship

of its New Variety performance series that it presented at Mill Hill

Playhouse in the late 1980s. The move was a successful one in

liberating

performers and performances, says Wright, who adds that, ironically,

Mill Hill Playhouse is now restored as a TAGfest performance site.

"There are no paid stars at TAGfest — which is not to say

there are no stars," says Wright. "But we very consciously

set up our by-laws so that nobody would be paid. This way we get a

great range of work, from the well-known — even famous — to

young people starting out. We are truly encouraging people who are

trying new things. TAGfest standards would still apply in a

performance

series format and would continue to get young people involved."

Arguing against the restructuring — some might say dismantling

— of TAGfest, are some long-time contributors from outside the

area such as the artists’ contingent AS220, of Providence, Rhode

Island,

who will perform again this year. The group is enjoying success in

its hometown, but also singles out TAGfest as a valuable and unique

destination, a regional forum that should not be abandoned.

In the meantime, the result of roughly nine months of volunteer blood,

sweat and tears, this year’s TAGfest highlights include:

Top Of Page
In Mill Hill Park

Artists performing throughout the day include: David Sherick’s

`Musical Hunchback’ one-man percussion band with another one-man

gizmo that processes audience sound through a laptop computer.

Michael Hopkins, `Bubble In Sound,’ a giant walk-through

installation

that is, well, a big bubble. Kemp Herbster, painting break-ups

and sculpture. Catherine Boucher and her dance troupe. Robert

Grant paints in the park before his evening’s "Radical

Barbies"

performance. Charlie Moleski, creates temporary text in chalk.

Steve Perlsweig returns with his latest variation on the one-man

band. Claude Noton (a.k.a. Dimitri Rotov), a Trenton-New York

commuter, offers a snapshot survey of railway bridge graffitti.

Musician

Wilbo Wright undertakes an aquatic installation in the park

creek. Brad Hoffer, Cranbury housepainter by day and creator

of monolithic-like installations of toxic and/or expelled materials

by night.

Top Of Page
On the Stage

At the Amphitheater

Noon. Invasion of Time. Jim Speer and Paul Mimlitsch

return

with percussion to augment their Chapman stick extravaganza as they

provide the soundtrack for the opening of the festival.

2 p.m. F-Hole. This Lambertville bass/guitar/percussion

trio features former Ween bassist Matt Kohut.

3 p.m. JFK’s LSD UFO. This duo from the Jersey Shore

combines

audio collage work with current topics.

4 p.m. Virgil Moorefield Ensemble. New York composer

Moorefield,

now teaching at Princeton, has played with Swans, Damage and Glenn

Branca to name a few. His quintet — violin, cello, synthesizer,

baritone sax, and guitar — blends minimalism, microtonal tunings,

and improvisation.

5 p.m. The Car. Bill Milbrodt drove his 1982 Honda Accord

into the ground and still could not bear to part with it, so he turned

it into a family of instruments. With Wilbo Wright, Alan Mallach,

William Trigg, Mary Schmidt, and Eric Haltmeyer on auto instruments.

5:30 p.m. I Will I. This group explores the reaches of

Apocalyptic soundscapes. Their albums include the 1997, "The

Pope’s

Ring is Made Out of Stolen Gold."

6:30 p.m. Edgar Allan & The Poettes. Stan Heleva of TAG

Spoken Word fame brings his semi-big band of angular wordsmiths and

musical malcontents.

7:30 p.m. Suran Song in Stag. Features Suran Song in a

bass and vocal duo that combines agit pop songs with projected art

action images in a larger-than-life multi-media show.

8:15 p.m. Ausdruchstanz. Amphitheater finale by the

well-known

Philadelphia ensemble of dance, theater, and visuals.

Top Of Page
At Joe’s Mill Hill

Saloon

On the Composer’s Stage: 2 p.m. Bill Zola, a bass and

cello player, and Janey Dean, painter/sculptor.

3 p.m. I’m In Control Now, Deirdre McGrail’s solo

accordion

and analog synthesizer collage.

3:30 p.m. David Beardsley, self-described minimalist

composer.

4 p.m. The Nannies, a piano and synthesizer duo heard

on the new release, "Droppings."

4:30 Untitled, trombone meets electronics in this Stanley

Schumacher ensemble.

Upstairs at Joe’s: 8:30 p.m. The Synapse. This trio

combines

monologue with music, dance and slides.

9 p.m. Robert Grant. New York City artist who claims to

have endured "ontological oneric existence rather than actual

life," with his "Radical Barbie Dolls."

9:30 p.m. Open-Minded Men. A trio of guitar, theremin,

and drums.

10:30 p.m. The Meicht Group. Meicht brothers perform a

bass-less form of improvisatory music.

11:30 p.m. Mystery Finale.

Top Of Page
At Mill Hill Playhouse

Continuous poetry, film, and spoken word coordinated by Robert Salup.

Featured poets: Eric Ortiz, Christine Ortiz Doug Dilks, Sharon

Mitchell,

Radimir Luza, Jonathan Allen, Yusof Rastafari, Loud Black Voices,

Edwin Long III, Cy K. Jones, River Huston, Ian Summers, Denise

Collins,

Felicia Sanzari Thomas, DJ Cola, Michael Angelo, Chris Marchetti,

and Robert Salup.

TAGfest ’98, Trenton Avant Garde, Mill Hill Park,

Broad and Front streets, 609-777-1770. Raindate is September 13. The

most up-to-date schedule can be found at www.trentonnj.com/tag.

Free. September 12, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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