Thirty-six years after Walker Art Center co-promoted Sonic Youth’s first local gig – a twofer with Swans at First Avenue – and 18 since it headlined Rock the Garden, the pioneering art-rock band’s co-leader Thurston Moore is returning this weekend for a one-of-a-kind two-night stand that’s essentially the Walker’s 60th birthday present to him.
Titled “Moore at 60,” the Friday and Saturday night programs in the Walker's McGuire Theater will offer an amalgamation of guitarists, horn players, poets and filmmakers. Foremost among the scheduled guests are Nels Cline of Wilco, Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine, James Sedwards of Guapo and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth – all hand-picked by Moore.
“Thurston really was heavily involved, calling up most of the participants and inviting them himself,” explained Doug Benidt, associate curator of performing arts at the Walker. “It speaks to his status and reputation that most of them agreed without even knowing what it was going to be.”
Moore has since sketched out a plan for the improv-heavy shows, but Benidt said the crux of the Walker's relationship with him is to “always keep it a little mysterious and adventurous.”
Some of the other participants in this weekend’s activities include: New York sax and clarinet player Daniel Carter; Lightning Bolt bassist and video-game musicmaker Brian Gibson; poet Anne Waldman and her musician son Ambrose Bye and musician nephew Devin Waldman, and filmmaker/artist Eva Prinz (also Moore’s girlfriend). Local names on the lineup are musician/artist Dameun Strange and poet Danez Smith on Friday and then poet Sun Yung Shin on Saturday.
Showtime for both Friday and Saturday is 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 ($24 for Walker members) and are available at the box office, 612.375.7600 or walkerart.org/tickets.
Since Sonic Youth's abrupt end in 2011, Moore has continued touring and producing albums with the Thurston Moore Band, which also regularly features Googe, Sedwards and Shelley. He also played a well-received solo-acoustic set at the Ballentine Uptown VFW in February. In any case, he doesn't play tunes by his old band nowadays.
Moore's appearance this time comes just days after the formal announcement of a new Sonic Youth online live archive. It also precedes a newly announced local appearance by his former wife and bandmate Kim Gordon. She's due back in town March 4 and 5 to perform her own genre-mashing artistry at the American Swedish Institute's gorgeous home, the Turnblad Mansion in south Minneapolis, a pairing with choreographer/dancer and CalArts dean Dimitri Chamblas.