Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog
April 3, 2022 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm$25
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Arden is excited to welcome that most innovative of rock guitarists, well known for his crucial work with Tom Waits and Elvis Costello: Marc Ribot and his explosive trio, Ceramic Dog.
By May 2020, Marc Ribot had begun to find being depressed depressing. The guitarist and his Ceramic Dog trio—bassist/multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith—hadn’t played for months. With precautions in place, the trio headed to Ismaily’s Figure 8 Recording studio in Brooklyn and set about capturing eight originals that reflect the era’s uncertainty. “Originally,” Ribot says, “we were going to call it Better Luck Next Time, but that felt… somehow unnecessary.” Throughout Hope, Ribot flexes minimalist storytelling skills to sketch life’s ennui—a kind of pointlessness that goes far beyond existentialism. “This record, versus that last one, has more of the effects of political burnout,” he says—and the overriding passion that drove Ceramic Dog back into the studio is palpably audible on every track.
Marc Ribot’s trio Ceramic Dog previous LP has Ribot howling in anger at corruption, tyranny, life in general, and nothing in particular. Ribot certainly isn’t the only one piling-on, but if you’ve got a serious case of outrage fatigue, Ceramic Dog’s explosive cocktail of balls-to-the-wall abandon, chameleonic disregard for style constraints, political commentary, and absurdist humor is just the shot in the ass you might need. In fact, Ceramic Dog’s previous album — titled YRU Still Here?— directed in equal parts at themselves, the previous commander in chief, and the listening public — arrived just in time to remind us that it was a moment when anger is not only necessary, and unavoidable, but also good for house plants . Thanks in no small part to the fire, brimstone, and dextrous facility summoned by kindred spirits Shahzad Ismaily (Secret Chiefs 3, Will Oldham, Ben Frost) on bass and drummer Ches Smith (Xiu Xiu, Secret Chiefs 3, Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant), YRU Still Here? comes to the table armed with more than just sloganeering rhetoric. By way of stylistic explanation, Ribot comments: “Yes, we too are subject to the post-modern condition, but we see it as a kind of psoriasis.” Alongside his monumental career forging his peerless guitar style with the likes of Tom Waits, John Zorn, the Lounge Lizards, etc, Ribot has also worked for decades as a tenant union and artist rights activist, where he master ed the agit-prop skills used to such dazzling effect on hits such as “Fuck La Migra” and “Muslim/Jewish Resistance”. As much as it is a rallying cry, though, YRU Still Here? also further consecrates Ribot’s bond with Ismaily and Smith, referring to them as his “musical conscience” and to the band as a “family…although not always in a good way”. “After all the playing I’ve done,” Ribot explains, “there’s just something about this group that still manages to shock me.”
Ceramic Dog’s sophomore album, Your Turn, landed on several ‘Best of 2013’ lists including PopMatters, Alarm Magazine, and Something Else. PopMatters writes: “The scary thing about Marc Ribot and his new(ish) band is that all of these styles and quirks are pulled off so convincingly… with their first album well behind them, they are even fiercer than before… 8 out of 10 stars.” All Music calls the album “an absolute scorcher… this band can do nearly anything,” and Robert Christgau says “Ribot’s new hard-rock album with Ceramic Dog ranks amongst his most daring,” in his review on NPR’s All Things Considered which can be heard here.
“…when it comes to Ceramic Dog, his agit punk trio with Shahzad Ismaily and Ches Smith, Ribot mostly eschews nuance in favor aggressive funk, deconstructed flamenco, and scathing punk.”
–Aquarium Drunkard 2018 Year in Review
“Guitarist Marc Ribot’s wildest project doesn’t mess around. The guitar legend, with bassist Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Ches Smith, merges funk backbeats with the taut chaos of Sonic Youth and flashes of Woodstock Santana.”
–NY Magazine, 2018
“Ceramic Dog’s bark is just about equal to its bite on the trio’s pissed-as-punk new YRU Still Here? … The music snarls and snaps with self-awareness, righteous fury, and, inevitably, cynical detachment.”-Village Voice
“Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, whose style is experimental…though much more pleasing on the ears, was one of the best surprises of the festival.”
– AV Club review at All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival 2011 curated by Portishead
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