There is an old Zen proverb that you may have heard: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” I like to imagine that the organizers of Basilica’s famous 24-Hour Drone Festival feel similarly about the agency of drone-based music: Those with the least patience for it are those who need it the most.
24-Hour Drone is a roving, international series presented by Basilica Hudson and Le Guess Who? featuring musicians and sound artists in many traditions and with many tools experimenting within the spectrum of drone. While it would seem to be the domain primarily of electronic musicians, this is not the case; drone as unifying principle and aesthetic value quite predates electricity, and can be expressed via many modes.
As if to prove the point, this year’s 24-Hour Drone includes the Shaker Museum, which will host an endurance reading of the 1816 Testimonies of Mother Ann Lee. The illiterate daughter of a blacksmith in Manchester, England, Mother Ann Lee was the visionary founder of the Shakers. She placed gender equality, pacifism and a profound sense of community at the core of the Shakers’ beliefs. The Testimonies, a compilation of her statements and the memories of those who knew her, are a foundational Shaker text.
Other 24-Hour Drone participating artists include Russian-based musical collective and performance group Phurpa, singing Tantric, guttural songs from the depth of the throat; the wailing voice and harmonium of Shilpa Ray; Ben Shemie (SUUNS), returning to Drone with a solo piece; Roddy Bottum (Faith No More, Imperial Teen) delivering tonal meditations via synthesizer and vocal choir; internationally renowned sitarist and composer Veena Chandra; and very many more.
24-Hour Drone fills Basilica Hudson on Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30. Tickets cost $32. For a complete list of performers and visual artists, as well as information on food offerings and how best to take in the Drone, visit http://basilicahudson.org/24-hour-drone. Basilica is located at 110 South Front Street in Hudson.