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Y2K9 Musician Biographies











Considered by many to be one of the best Kalimba players alive today, Kevin Spears aka 'KalimbaMan" astounds audiences with his blend of World music and live electronics utilizing Jazz, Rock, Latin and Funk that moves your feet and touches your soul. In addition to his own performances, KalimbaMan has worked with and/or opened for artists such as Victor Wooten, Col. Bruce Hampton, J.D. Blair, Arrested Development, Eric Benet, Bill Summers of Herbie Hancock fame, Vinx and India.Arie. Witness The Artistry of Kevin KalimbaMan Spears.

Michael Peters



For more than 30 years, Michael Peters has explored the world looking for new sounds. Most of his musical output veers from the mainstream and has been difficult to categorize. The renowned WIRE magazine has reviewed two of his albums in their "Outer Limits" section, which says it all.

Michael's main instrument is the guitar - he studied with Robert Fripp and also is influenced by David Torn, Eivind Aarset, and Fred Frith. He extends the guitar using electronic effects, midi, and livelooping techniques. He has played in avant rock and open improvisational groups.

He also has experimented with sampling and cutting up random FM radio broadcasts to use as elements in live improvisation. By the same token, he has become more and more fascinated by using more stuctured compositions, using the computer as a musical instrument.

For anyone with open ears, the world of sound outside of regular music is also full of wonder. Michael loves to record interesting environmental sounds (field recording) and then recontextualize and sculpt them using digital tools such as granular synthesis, incorporating the results into musical compositions and soundscapes.

From time to time, Michael Peters has also been active as a programmer and visual artist in the field of abstract computer graphics. He is an avid photographer and has designed his own websites as well as the one for the Chain Tape Collective.

In the year 2000, he started an ambitious project called MY2K where he created an all original 10 second piece of music for every single day of the year. In 2008, he hosted the 1st International Livelooping Festival in Cologne, featuring ten livelooping soloists from Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria, and USA.

Michael Peters lives in a village east of Cologne, Germany. He loves to sit on a bench outside, listening ...

Jim Thomas



Jim Thomas is the the Lead guitar player for the critically acclaimed instrumental band, the Mermen. He has been “Looping” audio for 20 years or more. He has composed all the music and produced all of the Mermen’s studio recordings. A resident of San Francisco for 20 years, he now lives in Santa Cruz and owns a recording studio near Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. His great love is surfing and all things ocean.

The Mermen are an all-instrumental band from San Francisco whose sound harks back to surf music of the 1960s, but is altered by a blues-psychedelic neurosis a` la Neil Young and by devastating spasms a` la Jimi Hendrix, thanks to guitarist Jim Thomas' flights of imagination. Their first full-length album, Krill Slippin' (Kelptone, 1989), went by unnoticed, and for a few years the band was banished.

Food For Other Fish (Kelptone, 1994) marked the beginning of their mature phase. Thomas' vision had blossomed into something completely unknown, an odd association of surf music, country music, progressive-rock, hard-rock and psychedelic-rock. Thus the instrumental sound of the Mermen bridged several decades and several generations.

The album does not lack impressionistic vignettes such as Raglan, shows of dexterity such as Drift, and romantic fantasies such as Bondage Of The Sea (the kind of pieces that one expects on instrumental collections) but its artistic and philosophical core is elsewhere. The seven-minute epics Be My Noir embodies the spirit and the praxis of their art: atmospheric guitar, soothing melody, solemn pace, sudden bursts of energy, occasional discharge of noise, echoes of sunny landscapes, languid soliloquy and introverted self-analysis. The centerpiece of another seven-minute piece, The Silly Elephant Who Stomped To Tea, is a convoluted gallop through a landscape of cacti and hallucinations, surf music on speed. The melody of My Black Bag gets warped, deformed, distorted by a fury that belongs to hardcore. Honeybomb evokes honky-tonk music and syncopated square dances but also plunges into ugly hells of dissonance. To add substance to an already intense program, the album closes with two eight-minute pieces that are also the most pensive: Pull Of The Moon and Dancing In Her Sleep. The former is a slow, tortured dirge that flows towards controlled cacophony, while the latter is a somber, colloquial meditation.

Live At The Haunted House (Shittone, 1994) grants the leader maximum freedom to show off.
I Mermen sono un complesso strumentale di San Francisco il cui sound parte dalla musica surf degli anni '60, ma viene percorsa da una nevrosi blues-psichedelica alla Neil Young (a tratti persino Jimi Hendrix, grazie ai voli del chitarrista Jim Thomas). Il primo disco, Krill Slippin' (Kelptone, 1989), passo` inosservato e per qualche anno il gruppo fu relegato al circuito minore.

Food For Other Fish (Kelptone, 1994) metteva gia` in mostra i tre aspetti che vengono fusi dalla loro musica: la musica surf degli anni '60 (Drift), il progressive-rock degli anni '70 (The Silly Elephant Who Stomped To Tea) e l'hardcore degli anni '80 (My Black Bag).

Live At The Haunted House (Shittone, 1994) diede sfoggio soprattutto del virtuosismo del leader.

A Glorious Lethal Euphoria (Toadophile, 1995) finds a miraculous balance between revival and experimentation. The album opens with the lightning-speed instrumental dervish of Pulpin' Line, a tour de force of Thomas' guitar and Martyn Jones' drums, but the real delicacy is the intrepid rambling of The Drowning Man Knows His God and Under the Kou Tree, pieces that are much more complex than they sound, bordering on John Fahey's East/West fusion and on jazz-rock. Even conventional songs in the atmospheric "beach" style such as Scalp Salad, satanic rave-ups such as Lizards and frantic square dances such as Drub are riddled with countless detours and variations, that turn them into metaphysical psalms.
Three nine-minute jams tower over the rest: Obsession For Men, a soulful blues that Cream and Jimi Hendrix would have killed for; Between I and Thou, that deconstructs a catchy country theme; and And The Flowers They'll Bloom, imbued with the majesty of renaissance music.
There is more than style in Mermen's music: there is an almost fanatical kind of genius.

Their best record could be the EP Songs Of The Cows (Mesa, 1996), a fantastic case of improvised rock. The four-part suite Brain Wash continues their ambitious program.

The more concise instrumentals of The Amazing California Health And Happiness Road Show (Source, 2000) prove that Jim Thomas ranks among the most underrated guitarists of the 1990s. The majestic, symphonic, twang-drenched ode Unto The Resplendent, colored with oriental and Hawaian tones, and the fervent, throbbing and ornate White Trash Raga are mystical pieces that achieve a pathos halfway between the Velvet Underground, a surf band, John Fahey, Indian classical music and the Grateful Dead. The closing, 17-minute Burn opens with a 3-minute introduction of free-form noises (in the tradition of Albert Ayler and Indian raga) and then intones a solemn hymn. Layers of keyboards, percussions and guitar sounds build up a dense texture. After five minutes of electro-acoustic dissonance, the vision-prayer is crowned by a two-minute celestial "mantra" for guitar and keyboards.
On the lighter, "comic" side, the laid-back country & western romp of Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South gets progressively faster and harsher, and the frantic, supersonic gallop of Little Stinky Kitty distorts guitar chords in abominable ways.
The vocabulary of Thomas' metaphysical surf music is impressive. Walking The Peach is a western piece that resonates of cavalry charges and Indian war dances but also of zen meditation; while Mike's Lush Beehive erupts with the energy and rawness of Joe Satriani playing a Who's anthem. Thomas experiments with several styles (even dub and calypso) and never loses the thread of his mental journey, even though a few tracks wink at the new age and soft jazz audience.

RICK WALKER (Y2K9 Festival Coordinator)

Percussion, Found Sound Percussion


Composer, multi-instrumentalist and master percussionist/drummer, Rick Walker has been on the cutting edge of music for the last 25 years. One of the original founders of the World Beat movement, and now an influential performer and promoter in the emerging international live looping movement, he incorporates a vast array of world music and pop styles in his repertoire combining instruments from the most primal to the most modern with state of the art digital looping and signal processing instruments.

An exceptionally versatile and sensitive musician, he is eccentrically creative, finding rhythm and melody in hundreds of everyday objects.

He is also the founder of the Y2K_ International Live Looping Festivals, the largest international live looping festival series on the planet and has been responsible for producing or directly inspiring 35 live looping festivals in 15 countries around the world as well as producing several creative new music festivals in Northern California (the Festival of Found and Invented Sound, The Festival of Voice and Electronics, the 1st Bass Looping Festivals, the Festival of Emerging Santa Cruz Electronica, the First Woman's Live Looping Festival, the Spirit of Africa and many more).

He has also performed, toured and recorded with many master musicians from around the globe, collaborating and backing artists like Bob Brozman (USA), Debhashish Battycharya (India), Martin Simpson (England), Djeli Moussa Djawara (Guinea), Babatunde Olatunje (Nigeria), Amel Tafsout (Algeria), Rene Lacaille (La Reunion), Ali Farke Toure (Mali), Hamza El Din (Nubia),Takashi Hiryasu (Okinawa), Pajoe Amissah Aidoo (Ghana),Massimo Liverani (Italy) Familia Valera (Cuba), George Pilali (Greece), David Hidalgo (Los Lobos/USA), David Lyndley (USA), Michael Manring (USA), Steve Lawson (UK), Per Boysen (Sweden), Matthias Grob (Switzerland/Brazil), Ile Aye (Brazil), Olodum (Brazil), Luca Formentini (Italy), Sunao Inami (Japan), Phantasmagoria (Japan), Paul Marshall (Northern Ireland), Bernhard Wagner (Switzerland), Luis Angulo (Mexico), Andreas Willers (Germany), Andre LaFosse (USA), Titos Sompa (Congo), Abdoulaye Djakite (Senegal), Krispen Hartung (USA), Jeff Kaiser (USA), Henry Kaiser (USA) and many others.

He has opened for acts such as Los Lobos, Santana, the Neville Brothers, Huey Lewis and the News, Cher, Kenny G, Todd Rundgren, the Residents, Youssou NDour, Thomas Mapfumo, Sly and Robbie, Steel Pulse, Wailing Souls, the Thompson Twins, Berlin and many others.

He resides in Santa Cruz, California with his wife, singer/songwriter Chris Wedertz, where he teaches, performs, records and releases original recordings as:

|()()p.p()()| (found sound/live looping), PurpleIHand (abstract electronica), nO thiN-g (dark ambient, noise, experimental), Ultra Violette (synth goth, industrial, ebm) and the RICK WALKER TRIO (modal acoustic jazz).

Rick also was the first recipient of the Gail Rich Award for Service to the Arts, the Calabash Award for Excellence in the Ethnic Arts and served as Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Cruz from 2002-2005.