On Thursday, the North Carolina experimentalist shares the stage with D-Town Brass, Anteloper, Luke Stewart, Tashi Dorji, and Savage Knights
As far as Hopscotch veterans go, few can out-fest Bob Pence. The multi-instrumentalist, who has gone by the name Crowmeat Bob for as long as most can remember, has played nine of the ten festivals in Hopscotch’s run. While he rebuffs the idea that he’s an authority on the subject—“I have my own perspective, just like everyone”—the impact Bob’s had on Raleigh’s experimental jazz scene is undeniable. Case in point: This week, he’ll play saxophone in three out of the four bands on the lineup at Neptune’s. Ahead of his gig with Savage Knights, D-Town Brass, Luke Stewart and Tashi Dorji, and Anteloper on Thursday, September 5th at 9:00 pm, we spoke to Pence about his long, winding roots in the Raleigh music scene.
What’s your personal history with Hopscotch?
Crowmeat Bob: I didn’t play the first year. I was a spectator, thanks to a friend who hooked me up. And then I’ve played either in the evening or in the day time at every Hopscotch since.
What is your favorite Hopscotch memory?
I think it was the second Hopscotch [where] The Necks played, and they were great. Charlemagne Palestine, doing a solo piano performance a few years ago. I got to play with Thurston Moore in 2014 in the group Enemy Waves. He sat in with us, and that was exciting for me because I love Sonic Youth from way back.
Tell me about the bill you put together for this year’s festival. Why did you pick these artists specifically, and what sort of commonalities were you looking to highlight?
When Hopscotch first started, there was a big presence of more experimental and jazz-oriented music. There’s never been much jazz, really, but there was more stuff that leaned in that direction, so I wanted to make sure to get some of that in there. I wanted to get Jamie Branch, the trumpet player down here, and have her do whatever she wanted to do. So she’s bringing her newer project Anteloper with drummer Jason Nazary, who drums in Little Women. Then I’m playing in the other three acts, which are, Savage Nights, D-Town Brass, and an improvised quartet with Tashi Dorji and Luke Stewart and Thom Nguyen.
What do you love most about being an artist in North Carolina?
That it’s still reasonably cheap to live here. A lot of great musicians come through on their way to bigger and better places. There’s also a lot of overlap between different kinds of things that people are doing. I get a lot of opportunities to be a hired gun or a sideman in various kinds of bands. I’ve done who knows how many sessions or shows of that nature. I suppose if I was trying to do that in a bigger city, there’d be more sax players that people would want, could turn to. I don’t often get asked to play guitar, ‘cuz you could throw a rock in this town and hit a guitar player.
How does living here influence the music you create?
I have some friends who are metal-heads—that’s definitely an influence. Punk rock is a big thing—there’s a big history here, and I think it’s rubbed off on me a little bit. I was into free jazz before I was into real, straight-ahead jazz, but I’ve gotten more and more into the history of it. There’s a lot of good noise around this area.
– Aly Comingore