Where the ebony, ivory, oils, and canvas meet

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

There’s the art of music. And there’s the artistry of painting.

Typically, if the two meet, it’s a case of inspiration.

For example, a piece of art may inspire a piece of music. Think Mussorgsky’s classical composition, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” which was inspired by the work of the 19th century composer’s friend— artist and architect Viktor Hartmann.

And a visual artist may pop in a favorite album to help create flow and movement for the brush across the canvas.

Typically, the two rarely meet in a face to face session… live musician in the same room with a painter at work. And just as typically, you rarely find the duo simulatenously working on their respective art before a live audience.

But the Connecticut-based duo of Pocket Vinyl is not your typical ensemble.

Pocket Vinyl is pianist Eric Stevenson and visual artist/ painter Elizabeth Jancewicz.

Yes, they’re a pianist and a painter.

When Pocket Vinyl steps up on to the stage, Eric performs on his instrument. Meanwhile Elizabeth paints on a canvas. And when the last note sounds, Elizabeth’s work is complete and ready for sale to an audience member.

Pocket Vinyl is on tour. And thanks to the Desultory Theatre Club, Elizabeth and Eric make a stop at Bare Bones at 156 School St., Bristol?

The journey of Pocket Vinyl didn’t necessarily begin with the idea of melding music and art. It actually began with the emotion that binds two lives together, explained Eric via Facebook.

“We fell in love first and started dating,” explained Eric. “Then, when I was going on my first tour, it was going to be just myself. Of course, we wanted to spend more time with each other, so we looked to one of our favorite bands: Cloud Cult. They tour with a full band and two on-stage painters. We just kind of figured ‘Why not give it a try so we can hang out together more?’”

The idea worked. For the band and its audiences.

“Most people haven’t seen (the combination of live painting accompanying a live musical performance,” said Eric. “Having that visual aid helps the audience keep focused, we’ve found. In fact, knowing this, I consider it a challenge for me to be as lively as possible at the piano to fight for the audience’s attention.”

The biography for Pocket Vinyl explains that Eric used to be in a band and the solo thing is a relatively new venture in the course of his musical endeavors.

“I miss playing with a band,” said Eric. “But honestly, I mostly just jammed in practice spaces with friends before Pocket Vinyl. We hardly played live, so most of my live training has been solo.”

However, Eric said, “I never want to play just by myself. Even though I’m the only one on stage making noise, I couldn’t do it without Elizabeth there. I kind of use her as a mental shield. I think it’s because if I’m up there alone and I’m sucking, I just feel lonely and depressed. But if we’re both there and give a bad show, we can laugh it off, move on, and not feel too bad about it. I could never do this by myself.

What will audiences hear when Pocket Vinyl strikes up the band?

Eric describes the music of Pocket Vinyl as “me banging away at a piano. But I’d be hesitant to call it ‘Piano Rock.’ It’s hard to describe, but to me that term suggests a kind of music that is much different than ours… I like using a lot of different chords. I jump around in my piano seat a bit, and I travel all over the dynamic perspective. I guess that’s the best way to give you an idea of what the music is like. Listening to it is always a preferred way to study it.”

As far as what inspires the music, Eric bristles a little bit at the thought. “To narrow down what inspires someone is incredibly impossible. I mean, Elizabeth, nature, movies, books, other music, friends, weird sounds, mirrors, feelings….the list never stops you know?”

But, then Eric continues, “More recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about death. Not in a negative way, but more in a contemplative way, like how it feels, what happens after, when it will happen, how, etc. In fact, the next album might be one centered around the idea of death. For whatever reason, I’m just so interested in it right now. But not in a depressing way. And I promise the music isn’t depressing either.”

As for how the live setting inspires the art work, Elizabeth explained, “because of the speed at which I have to work, I can’t really say that the music directly affects the subject matter of a live painting. However, experiences together on the road, as well as our collective feel for the venue, audience, other bands, etc, often have a big impact on the mood, color scheme, and overall feeling of the finished painting.”

As for the style of painting that Elizabeth brings to the stage, she explained it is full of “bright and bold colors, whimsical, child-like, abstract-figurative; the kinds of illustrations you might find in a children’s book.”

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