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Expect the unexpected from improv musician Adam Arritola

 Adam Arritola

Playing 54 shows in 55 days is an ambitious goal, even for the most dedicated of musicians. But that’s exactly what Rochester-based improv artist Adam Arritola has lined up for the next couple of months.

Arritola launched his east coast tour this week with stops in Buffalo and Rochester, and he’ll play Ithaca Friday night at Sacred Root Kava Lounge and Tea Bar on a bill curated by the ElectroZone, “Ithaca’s salon for electromusicians and experimenters.”

The show also will feature locals Flose, Wraith, Stinkmeat, and Psionic Octopus; “to close out the show, all of the acts will band together to create special collaborative magic.”

The curator behind Miami Psych Fest and Rochester Experimental Week, Arritola describes his sets as “free improvisation performances” in which he musically responds to his surroundings.

“It's totally all improvised – every performance will be completely unique from one another,” he said. “There's no prepared material, everything's going to be based completely on the setting – the venue, the audience, how I feel that day, and who's performing with me all will affect the performances.”

Taking that approach to live shows can be challenging, nerve-wracking, and rewarding – all at the same time.

“It's definitely one of those things where it can go really, really, really well,” he said. “Or it can be one of those things where for you as the performer maybe it didn't feel so good but the audience loved it, or it can be something where you loved it and the audience didn't.

“It’s such a free-flowing thing that really just varies,” he continued. “It’s truly unique in the sense that everybody who’s experiencing it is kind of feeling however they interpret it, as opposed to when you're listening to music that may have a certain context or lyrics that invokes a certain feeling. It's left up to the interpretation of the listener.”

On this tour, Arritola will be collaborating with an eclectic range of musicians and delving into various styles, including Americana, electronic, and hardcore. “It would kind of be ridiculous to go down the list,” he said. “But needless to say, there will be many, many genres.” At the Ithaca show, he’ll be freely improvising with Syracuse's Caleb Crittenden, who runs the Cruel Symphonies label.

Arritola is bringing a variety of instruments – synthesizers, guitar, bass, and drums – and he also sings. “I won't be doing all those things at once, like a one-man band would,” he said, “but every night will truly be unique in the sense that nobody, including myself, will know until that day what's going to happen.”

 Adam Arritola

Born in 1995 and raised in South Florida, Arritola has been curating events for more than a decade. He said his love of improvisation comes from “a life of intensive music listening and exploration” that dates back to when he was a child and “banging on pots and pans and driving my parents crazy.”

“I've just always been intrigued by different sounds and different genres,” he said. “I largely attribute that to the internet and video games, which helped me to get further out into different realms that I may not have been exposed to otherwise.

“The ability to access anything at my fingertips at any moment has led me to extremely extensive listening that brought me deeper and deeper into the more outside realm of things,” he continued. “And the more immersed I became in that, the more it just totally consumed my whole being. I still do listen to more traditional music. But I definitely have become far more intrigued with improvisational sound or just exploring new ideas.”

That leads back to his live shows, at which Arritola promises “a night full of mystery and surprise.”

“Listeners should go in with an open mind,” he said. “They may love some of it, they may hate some of it. But at the end of the night, they can say that they'll remember that night for a long time to come.”

If you go

What: The ElectroZone presents Adam Arritola, with Flose, Wraith, Stinkmeat, and Psionic Octopus

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Sacred Root Kava Lounge & Tea Bar

Cost: $10

Event Info

Jim Catalano covers the Finger Lakes music scene for WITH (90.1 FM in Ithaca, and its affiliates.