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Early Show at Amnesia Music Hall 853 Valencia Street – 5-8:30 pm
JL Stiles Headlines Happy Hour Show:
Math & Blues JL Stiles is a unique animal who for the first time is bringing two totally diverse fields of truth-seeking together: ragtime blues and higher mathematics. Both of these disparate strands filtered through a lifetime on the run and on the search for a universal truth from psychedelic Brazilian forests to US college campuses and further into his own unique vision. JL Stiles has a ...mind that sees music in a similar way to how J.S. Bach saw music, however, Bach never played the blues. Fact # 1: JL Stiles is the John Nash of music. JL Stiles was born with hardwiring most only dream about, a brain that could look at the most basic picture and convert it to it's numerical basics. All through school in rural Connecticut it was clear where he was going to be, working at the cutting edge of mathematics, as he took to the abstract shapes and numbers as a duck would take to proverbial water, until, that is, a band wearing grease paint, Cuban heels, questionable body hair and several pints of fake blood rolled into JL's particular little town: Kiss. A 12 year old JL was hooked by the devils fishing rod that was rock and/or roll and when his brother brought home a terrible guitar from college and left it when he went back, JL had the tools to begin his assault on the world. He began fashioning songs using the simple chunking and melody of Jimmy Reed and sub-Rush lyrics about the challenging political world as seen by a 13-year old kid. Quick introductions to the lyrics of Bob Dylan, the power and message of The Who and the space-age ass funk of Parliament, shaped his musical balloon in new ways and JL, taking his John Nash brain and applying it to the one piece of equipment he had at his disposal, a useless dime store guitar, realized pretty quickly that he better maximize the algorithmic potential of the pathetic instrument by learning to pick each and every string independently and simultaneously with the dexterity of a perfect machine and the re-incarnated soul of a genius blind bluesman who strangely disappeared in the early 1930's. That blind genius would be the little known 20's & 30's virtuoso, Blind Blake, who JL heard by accident, floating in from the radio of his father while studying late one night on a mathematical problem involving fourier transformations. He rushed to the transistor just quickly enough to catch the name and his future was born. (He also finished the problem that night in case you wondered). Fact #2: JL Stiles is the freakiest white fingerpicking guitarist in this great country right now. Stiles carried on in his twin disciplines, learning Banach spaces and homology at college by day and wearing out his Blind Blake records at night, studying under the tutelage of the great Laszlo Fuchs, pioneer of abelian group theory, whilst writing hundreds of songs, each one getting gradually better than the last. Both strands were equal to him as he searched for the big picture in whatever way he could. But something began to happen; as the songs got better and began to get attention, especially from the ladies, and JL realized that, Fuchs aside, a lot of academicians can be big dicks with fragile egos, he began to drift toward the more standard methods of soul searching for a young guy in late 20th century America: LSD, pot and anything other. Hanging out in the blazing heat studying with Chinese Mathematicians, drifting into oblivion on opium and psychedelics, JL knew the music was more than a sideshow to a brilliant career in the outer reaches of theoretical math. It was, in fact, his calling, and one where he could teach the beauty of what is so perfect about math and blues, the abstract. Imagine a wild-eyed, half-crazed math prodigy with the most dexterous fingers on earth, channeling the spirit of a mysterious blind blues genius who unexplainably vanished, and you are approaching where JL found himself at this juncture in his life. Fact #3: The search for the fundamentals is the same in music as it is in math: The fingerpicking guitar opens up infinite possibilities But what would he do with this burden? He wasn't just a singer-songwriter with a cute heartbreak song and a big white smile; he was the walking soul of mathematical fundamental principles driven into the ground by the spirit of the blues. Where could a young boy like this go? To the home of voodoo, New Orleans. In an out of the coffee houses and clubs of New Orleans and Mississippi, JL spooked the audiences up and down and left and right, he cut a solo set of songs, just him and a guitar, that rang as clear and true as Blind Blake had 80 years earlier and he knew he had to get out there and spread the theory around. He traveled to Mexico and Brazil, Amsterdam and Scandinavia, he lived in the woods for weeks at a time, writing new songs and trying to define a unifying mathematical and musical theory in homological algebra, he went to the brink and stared at the abyss and then he came back with songs in hand to deliver the message back to us dear souls who hadn't made the journey. He found a spiritual home in san Francisco and immediately picked up on the musical community there. He played with Etta James in front of 6,000 in front of the courthouse in Riverside, he opened for the great Keb Mo, Leon Redbone, JJ Cale, John Hammond, he knew he was in the right place at the right time, and so, here he is. Fact #4: What JL Stiles is writing now is the best he's ever written and is closer to the fundamental truth of bringing the past together with the future into a musical singularity than he's ever gotten. Fact #5: JL Stiles believes he has come up with the algorithm for the pure heart of music. JL Stiles is a unique animal (as we have stated before), he believes that the soul of 1920's blues, c.400 BC Greek mathematicians and 21st century artists like Animal Collective (get ready for JL's incendiary cover of AC's "No More Runnin") can all be unified into his singular vision. Can he do it? With his head for numbers, I certainly wouldn't bet against him.