In These Boxes Featuring Dudley Saunders

Dudley Saunders

While a lot of people think of avant-folkie Dudley Saunders as just an alternative singer-songwriter, his musical roots actually developed in two unexpected places: performance art and AIDS activism.

And in the Los Angeles area premiere of IN THESE BOXES, his live-music/video art performance piece at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock on July 20, brings both of these aspects of his work to the fore.

Like the 80s artist David Wojnarowicz, both Saunders' activism and his art work is focused on bringing ignored and forgotten people back to life.

"They are both about resurrection, but of a kind that comes from our own actions, rather than religion," he says. "Which is something I helped make happen in AIDS activism then and I try to make happen now in my music and art. The songs and videos are containers for the dead, to keep them from disappearing."

A kind of sequel to his MURDER MUSIC (presented at CFAER, 2012), IN THESE BOXES will feature Saunders performing his story-songs live in front of original video projections, many of which feature Saunders’ himself (“Cindy Sherman-style,” he says). As with MURDER MUSIC, the video pieces were created by Saunders with his collaborators Barry Gray and Dean Carpentier.

In performance art, Dudley Saunders is best known for award winning collaborations with Heather Woodbury on WHAT EVER and TALE OF 2CITIES: AN AMERICAN JOYRIDE ON MULTIPLE TRACKS, and with John Kelly on THE ESCAPE ARTIST. His last solo piece, DEATH BLUES, was named by New York Press as the years Best Musical.

Last fall, Saunders released his fourth independent record MONSTERS - another “container for the dead” that he recorded with veteran Americana producer Ed Tree (David Serby, Spencer Davis Group). Frequently compared to Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell, Saunders combines harshly poetic lyrics with unusually complex folk melodies to make what New York Press calls “a new kind of American balladry.” He began his career as part of the band Suck Pretty, who were signed to Knitting Factory Records back in the day. His past three projects have been released on alternative co-op label Fang Records. Monsters is available on iTunes and Amazon via his own Strange Troubadours imprint.

An out gay artist, his last record The Emergency Lane won “best album” at the Out Music Awards in 2009, in addition to his recent 2012 nomination for "best soundtrack song." That soundtrack single "What I Won’t Do" (also on MONSTERS) is featured in the new documentary "United In Anger: A History of ACT UP." This award-winning film film about the birth and life of AIDS activism, recently made its broadcast premiere on KCETLink on June 26.

$7.00 - $10.00

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A multimedia piece combining live music performances of story-songs with video art projections, IN THESE BOXES explores the human need to keep the dead from disappearing by holding on to their things.  12 boxes, containing the detritus of 12 lives, open up to reveal their hidden stories and bring the dead back to life again.

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In These Boxes Featuring Dudley Saunders

Saturday, July 20 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock