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“Inuksuit is meant to be played by nine to 99 players dispersed in a large outdoor area, using an incredible array of instruments including conch shells, air raid sirens, gongs, bells, shakers, drums, cymbals, and glockenspiels. It is the ultimate environmental piece, designed to heighten our awareness of the sights and sounds that surround us every day and to energize our experience of our own environment.”

As part of the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, Inuksuit will be performed on the fest’s final day, Sunday May 25th at Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons at 2 pm. The performance is free and open to the public and I want to thank Pittsburgh native and the studio album producer Doug Perkins for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?

I think it was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. I remember that one in my room as a kid. The first time I remember going out by myself with my money was Metallica’s “And Justice for All”. I walked to the local record store and bought it without my parents knowing. I remember hiding it under my bed…

Your last album bought?

Haim “Days Are Gone” (a record full of Thrilleresque production).

Favorite album of all time?

Hmmm… Probably the Nonesuch recording of Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians”. That one was a game changer in my life. Favorite track on a record is Michael Gordon’s ‘Industry’ from the Bang on a Can All-Stars record, “Industry”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

Tough call. I can’t point to one but, as a rule, I love when people go for things and take chances and don’t like records that are pandering to audiences or that are mailed in. I want to love everything that U2 does but cant. In my line of more classical music work, I get sad when people are too fast to make cheap crossover “indie-classical” or condescend to their audience. I LOVE when people reach for greatness even when they fail.

First concert attended?

I must confess that my first concert was Kenny G at Heinz Hall… My mom got us tickets in the orchestra pit (right up front) and I was into it! I must have been in the 4th or 5th grade. My first rock concert (also with my mom) was the Rolling Stones at Three Rivers Stadium. Living Colour opened up and KILLED IT! We were on the field and it was awesome. I remember it was the same night that Living Colour won Best New Artist on the MTV Music Awards and they accepted live from Three Rivers.

Last concert?

The last concert I saw was my friend Noam Weinstein. He is a great and confessional singer/ songwriter from Boston. I saw him at the Elbo Room in Chicago last week.

Favorite concert ever?

Two answers – In classical music, it was the premiere of John Luther Adams – Strange and Sacred Noise. I never experienced music that was that viscerally powerful (and it helped inspire my life in percussion music). The other was U2 at Heinz Field two years ago. As a former Pittsburgher, it was just great to share that event in my hometown. When U2 came through for ‘Zoo TV’, I had to miss it because I had to play a show with my high school band at the Electric Banana (RIP). I was happy to make good on seeing them in the ‘burgh.

Least favorite concert?

I was once really let down by seeing a poorly prepared concert by someone whose career I admire. They played a sold out recital and got up and largely faked through the music. When we go to shows, we deserve to see people giving everything they have to try to communicate their music as completely as they can! Good concerts don’t have to be played by virtuosos. Good concerts are when people share their music with honesty and intention.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

I LOVE Pittsburgh! I grew up in McKees Rocks and the city is in my blood. I have so many great memories of going to Pitt at Pitt Stadium with my family as a kid, making my first musical sound at Volkweins (when it was in the building that is now the Warhol Museum), skipping school and going to Eide’s for comic books, hanging with my girlfriend at the Point and the Beehive, getting to study with my first (and supremely great) percussion teacher, Jack DiIanni out at Carnegie Mellon. I had a pea green Pontiac T 1000 and drove it all over town. I learned to be curious and adventurous in Pittsburgh. I now travel all over but my favorite trips are to Pittsburgh. I CAN’T WAIT to get back next week for Inuksuit (and to hang with my 6 year old in town). In addition to the show, I am hoping to take my son to a baseball game and Kennywood, for sure! Pittsburgh is soooo great!

Thanks, Doug. Can’t take the Pittsburgh out of the boy, huh? Sounds like roots run deep, as they should!

Doug Perkins Website / Pittsburgh Festival of New Music

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