"a little bit of a homecoming"

glenn kotche, right, in a new york performance with bang on a can all-stars percussionist david cossin. photo by stephanie berger.

glenn kotche, right, in a new york performance with bang on a can all-stars percussionist david cossin. photo by stephanie berger.

In discussing his preparation for a brief winter tour with the Bang on a Can All-Stars that brings him back to Lexington, Glenn Kotche outlined the inspiration he finds in collaborating with an ensemble that has, in turn, worked with such diverse artists as Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman and Thurston Moore.

“Every time I play with them, I have to be on top of my game,” Kotche said.

Come again? Has there been an instance when the world class drummer has returned to his alma mater – specifically, the University of Kentucky and the stages of the Singletary Center for the Arts where he gave his student recitals – and not been anything less than in peak creative form?

Take his last outing here, a 2006 program of solo percussion presented on a split bill with guitarist Nels Cline, who just happens to be a bandmate of Kotche’s in an industrious Chicago-based pop unit called Wilco. For that performance, he utilized drum sets jury-rigged with springs and strings along with an orchestra of “cricket boxes” to bring the Hindu Monkey Chant to life.

A few years before that was a Singletary evening with the mighty Wilco itself, then in the final stages of recording A Ghost is Born. That night we heard Kotche bashing merrily about on then-new works like the Neil Young-ish At Least That’s What You Said and coloring the now classic I Am Trying to Break Your Heart with devilish percussion color.

Back up a mere two months before that and Kotche was at the Singletary again, reteamed with UK professor James Campbell for the school’s annual Day of Percussion. The culmination was a display for eager students of how complete and compelling the sounds on a solo drum set could be when removed from the usual arena of rock clichés.

“It’s very comfortable coming back again,” Kotche said of playing UK tonight with the Bang on a Can All-Stars. “I know the stage. I know the people. I know the town. So all of that is really nice. But for me, it is also a little bit of a homecoming that puts things in perspective.

“When I get onstage there, I can’t help but think of the Percussion Ensemble concerts there, my senior recital and what my frame of mind was like then. The world was wide open. It was like, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to make a living in music when I graduate in two months?’ These are the same insecurities any music major would go through.

“Now it’s comforting to come back and go, ‘I’m doing OK. Just keep it up, keep doing what I’m doing.’ It’s nice to check in and get back to that feeling and just take stock of everything.'”

“Everything” these days amounts to a very full artistic plate for Kotche. Once his concert run with Bang on a Can concludes, he will be back in the studio with Wilco. Then comes a March tour of Japan with On Fillmore, the duo he fronts with bassist Darin Gray that released one of 2009’s true sleeper albums, the wonderfully atmospheric Extended Vacation. He may also squeeze in some recording work of his own on a follow-up to his 2006 solo album Mobile before roadwork with Wilco recommences in May.

The Bang on a Can collaboration stems back several years to a meeting with ensemble co-founder Michael Gordon. That led to more direct work with Bang on a Can percussionist David Cossin and, eventually, the commission of a Kotche composition for the group’s progressive chamber-meets-rock sound.

“This is an amazing ensemble that has been all over the board as far as collaborators go,” Kotche said of Bang on a Can. “Everybody from composers like Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley to jazz artists, noise artists, you name it. These are all world class players as well.”

The All-Stars will go it alone during the first half of tonight’s concert, performing works by Eno (a daring ensemble variation of his groundbreaking ambient work Music for Airports) along with music by Gordon and Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. Kotche will join the ensemble – especially percussionist Ian Dinge, who is subbing for Cossin on this abbreviated tour – for the title work from Mobile, two Reich works (Clapping Music, which is also featured on Mobile, and Music for Pieces of Wood, arranged, of course, for two drum sets) and his original composition commissioned for Bang on a Can (Snap).

If juggling the Bang on a Can Tour with Wilco duties and his myriad other projects wasn’t enough, Kotche also became a dad for the second time earlier this winter.

“It’s a lot of disparate things, for sure. But they’re all really challenging, which is what I like. It is sometime difficult. Like last week, I was in the studio with Wilco until Friday. Then I’d come home, feed the kids, get them to bed and practice three to four hours to get ready for the Bang on a Can program. So I just have to budget my time well to find that balance between work and home life.

The four hour practice sessions were requirements, Kotche said, in remaining “on top of my game.” When it was suggested that being anything less than on top was unlikely, given his work ethnic and love of performance, Kotche broke into a laugh and politely dismissed the compliment.

“No, really… I have to make sure.”

Bang on a Can All-Stars with Glenn Kotche perform at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Tickets are $25, $28, $32.

Bowling Green, Ky., merchants fight battle against counterfeit money.

Daily News (Bowling Green, KY) July 13, 2005 Byline: Rachel Adams Jul. 13–A customer hands a store clerk a counterfeit $20 bill.

The clerk doesn’t notice it’s counterfeit, and places the bill in the cash register drawer. The next customer through the line receives that counterfeit $20 bill as change, and uses it to pay for something else at the store down the road.

It’s a vicious cycle, one that many people don’t realize they’re perpetuating: passing counterfeit money.

“It comes in waves,” said Barry Pruitt, public information officer at the Bowling Green Police Department. “We may go for a long time and not see any, and then all of a sudden they pop up and we’ll get several bills in one afternoon.” From June 30 to July 9, three counterfeit bills — two $20 and one $5 — surfaced at Bowling Green businesses. Two went unnoticed until routine cash register drawer checks, while the third was passed by a man who said he didn’t know the bill was fake. bowlinggreenkynow.net bowling green ky

“We feel that some of the recently confiscated bills were ones that were put into circulation a few weeks ago when an arrest was made,” Pruitt said.

Most of the counterfeit money in the United States and Kentucky is computer-generated, said Jim Cobb, special agent in charge of the Louisville Secret Service District. When counterfeit money is compared to real money, it’s easy to tell the difference: computer-generated money does not show the same fine lines as real money, the images may be blurry and lack depth, and the paper isn’t the same.

“The main problem in this state and throughout the United States is computer-generated counterfeit currency,” Cobb said. “A lot is generated by teenagers and lots of it is tied to the drug trade. (Counterfeiters will) mix counterfeit with genuine currency in narcotics transfers.” Money is actually printed on cotton fibers, Pruitt said. A lot of the counterfeit money he sees in Bowling Green is printed on regular copy paper, so it’s easy to tell the difference.

“Typically, the bills that we get here locally are of very poor quality,” Pruitt said. “If merchants would just take that extra second or two, we could really curtail this. You look, you feel, it’s a whole process, but it only takes a second.” The Secret Service has a nationwide web that catches 99 percent of counterfeit money before it hits the streets, Cobb said. However, it’s still a good idea for merchants and customers to familiarize themselves with their money.

An easy way to do that, Pruitt said, is to count change like bank tellers do — lay each bill on top of another.

“Counterfeit money really stands out when you do something like that,” he said. “It should pop up immediately.” Another solution for merchants is to stop relying totally on the markers used to test bills, Pruitt said: They can give false readings. go to web site bowling green ky

Education is the best defense against counterfeiters, though, he said. Most counterfeiters will try to pass the bill with a stack of other bills, during a busy time period, when a clerk is distracted, or at a cash register with a younger or inexperienced clerk. It’s important employees know the difference between counterfeit and real money and are trained to respond when one is discovered.

Merchants should act wisely when encountering a counterfeit bill, Pruitt continued. If the person passing the bill is acting nervous, it may be safer to get a description of the suspect and a license plate number and call the police after the suspect has left. It’s also important to remember that not all people who pass a counterfeit bill realize that it’s fake.

“Some bills get into circulation and it may be somebody who has no idea,” Pruitt said. “There’s no standard (course of action) for that. You really have to use your best judgment.” Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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