LIVE: MoonRyder @ Club Helsinki, 3/15/13

April 22nd, 2013, 3:00 pm by Greg


Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Tim Livingston

Led by the multi-pronged collaborations of C. Ryder Cooley and Lady Moon, it was a haunting, delightfully diverse evening of entertainment at the forward-thinking Club Helsinki in Hudson.

The female acoustic trio Pocatello – featuring Liv Carrow, Baby Willis and Sasha Pearl – kicked off the evening with a sparkling set that veered from old-timey to a cappella, warming up the large crowd perfectly.

C. Ryder Cooley – with her ever-present animal alter-ego Hazel strapped to her back – debuted a new configuration of her band, which featured percussionist Nkula Badila, guitarist Corey Aldrich and keyboardists Sara Ayers and Cameron Melville, as well as dancer-autoharpist Lady Moon. Throughout the evening, Cooley played accordion, ukulele, kazoo and musical saw as she led the band through a selection of songs from Xmalia: Songs of Extinction, a song-cycle that pays tribute to such now-vanished species as the Xerces Blue Butterfly, Deer Gigantus and Voluputus Dodo. And as it turned out the performance also served as the CD release party for both the Xmalia CD), as well as the accompanying illustrated book.

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Be Here Now: C. Ryder Cooley’s “Xmalia” @ MCLA, 1/25/12

January 24th, 2012, 12:00 pm by Greg

The multi-talented performance artist-musician C. Ryder Cooley is offering another performance of her mesmerizing theater/music work “Xmalia” on Wednesday night (January 25) at MCLA’s Venable Gymnasium in North Adams.

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LIVE: C. Ryder Cooley’s “Xmalia” @ Proctors, 7/15/11

July 20th, 2011, 5:26 pm by Greg
Lady Moon and C. Ryder Cooley (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Lady Moon and C. Ryder Cooley (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Last Friday for the Schenectady County SummerNight festivities, State Street in Schenectady was hot, crowded and loud. Inside, on the main stage of Proctors Theatre, it was someplace very different – Xmalia, a
graveyard haunted with the spirits of extinct animals.

This very strange terrain was brought into existence with a multi-media stage show including music, video, taxidermy and trapeze. The music by C. Ryder Cooley was as haunted as the graveyard – a mixture of Americana, world music and Laurie Anderson. Cooley sang and played a bowed saw and ukulele, backed by Lady Moon on autoharp and vocals, Pete Toigo (upright bass), Corey Aldrich (electric guitar), Axel Bishop (drums), Nkoula Badila (hand drums) and Carl Hackert (on Goldie, Proctors’ magnificent organ).

The story, comprised of an animated film and a series of songs, told of a traveling musician who departed a mystery train in Xmalia, a rural stop not on the regular route, which was near a cemetery filled with the graves of extinct animals. The musicians performed a series of songs titled for some of these animals, such as Xerces Butterfly, Tasmanian Tiger, Deer Gigantus, Raiatea Parakeet, Pyrenean Ibex and the Dodo.

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Real Good For Free: XMALIA: Songs About Extinction @ Proctors, Schenectady

July 13th, 2011, 2:30 pm by Sara

This Friday, July 15 is Art Night Schenectady, the third-Friday-of-the month citywide artswalk, and this one should be a doozie as C. Ryder Cooler brings XMALIA: Songs About Extinction to the main stage at Proctors at 7pm. And it’s FREE!

Cooley has been developing and refining XMALIA for a few years now, with recent performances at Club Helsinki in Hudson (you can read our review here) and 19 Holden Street in North Adams as part of the Solid Sound after-party.

The performance, which will also feature Lady Moon and Carl Hackert on Goldie (Proctors’ classic Wurlitzer organ), features songs about extinct animals such as the Tasmanian Tiger, the Pyrenean Ibex and the Xerces Butterfly. It’s hosted by a lonely mortician who summons the animals back to life for her Graveyard Cabaret, performed with taxidermy animals, trapeze, huge projected video and bitter-sweet songs on ukulele and singing saw. The evening will also feature an evocative portrait in dance, REBIRTH by the Northeast Ballet Company, under the direction of Darlene Myers.

And you’ll want to get there early, as Sampson Contompasis of Albany’s Marketplace Gallery has curated a Carnival Pre-show, running from 5-7pm, with installations, music and performances by a variety of artists including Chris Harvey, Rob Caldwell performing on hurdy-gurdy, sculpture by Patrick Hennessey and many more guest artists. And did we mention that it’s all FREE?


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LIVE: C. Ryder Cooley’s “Xmalia” @ Club Helsinki, 5/26/11

June 13th, 2011, 3:23 pm by Sara
C. Ryder Cooley (photo by Ed Atkeson)

C. Ryder Cooley (photo by Ed Atkeson)

It was a wonderfully strange and utterly captivating evening, to be sure. Describing it, however, is more than a bit challenging…

A musical episode of “Twilight Zone”?
An animal opera by the Incredible String Band?
A surreal mash-up of Charlie Chaplin and Cirque du Soleil?

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ArtBeat: C. Ryder Cooley’s “Animalia” @ MCLA Church Street Center, 11/18/09

November 16th, 2009, 4:01 pm by Greg

You may have seen the initial presentation of “Animalia: Stories of Collapse, Calamity and Departure” when C. Ryder Cooley and Todd Chandler performed it at RPI in Troy back in March of last year.

Since then the haunting “Animalia” has been seen everywhere from Proctors in Schenectady to Skybox in Brooklyn to the Mission Creek Festival in San Francisco.

At 7:30pm on Wednesday (November 18), “Animalia” will be performed at the MCLA Church Street Center in North Adams, Mass. General admission tickets are $12, and reservations can be made by phoning 413.662.5204.

Cooley describes “Animalia” as “an inter-species fairytale that combines theatrical movement with live music on singing saw, accordion and strings.” The backdrop of the 50-minute multi-media performance is a hypnotic collage of mesmerizing video and archival film.

Created by Cooley, the performance in North Adams will also feature Anna Jacobs (of LAVA and Wise Fool Circus) and Todd Chandler (Cooley’s partner in the musical duo Fall Harbor).

Following the performance, there will be a reception at 9pm at Gallery 51 in North Adams, where Cooley’s drawing installation, “Reliquary,” is part of the four-woman exhibit “Nest.” The exhibit runs through Sunday (November 22).

ArtBeat: “Sanctorium” @ CAC Woodside, 10/17/09

October 16th, 2009, 12:19 pm by Greg

“Sanctorium” promises to be an adventurous one-night-only exhibition of art, performance and sound at the Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside in Troy from 6-9pm Saturday, October 17. Admission is free.

The evening will feature two works:

sanctorium“Shortness of Breath and Other Ailments” by Stephanie Loveless:
This collection of works is composed of speakers handmade from paper cones, paper cups and bottles, a de- and re-generating song of longing from a 1937 Walt Disney film, documentation of attempts to speak the languages of wolves, birds, and crickets, and a performance art apothecary. Weaving together different modes of artistic thought explored over the last two years, the exhibit organized around a playful posing of the question, what can “art”, as a perspective, bring to personal and collective “ailments”? From invitations into self-contained aesthetic experiences to whispered instructions for performances to take place outside of the gallery walls, the works are linked in their exploration of intimacy, communication, and art as a space for re-thinking/seeing/hearing and imagining current states of being.

“Subsea” by Mary Cook and C. Ryder Cooley:
Mary Cook will create a life size drawing-installation that envelops the walls of the vestibule of a 18th century stone church. This graphite drawing depicts figures originally taken from film stills from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film “The Bitter Tears of Petra van Kant,” in exploration of the film’s connections between desire and power. Concerned with an energetic depiction of human form and its emotive qualities, this meticulously rendered graphite drawing is a representation of the push and pull between the sacred and profane with the emphasis on theatricality and a persistence of raw emotion. Submerged within this sub aqueous landscape of drawings and waves of string and fabric, C. Ryder Cooley will introduce sounds, projections and music within this nautical tableaux, further animating the environment. Viewers will find themselves in a place that can only be defined by their own imagination.

Real Good for Free: C. Ryder Cooley’s “Singing Tree” @ SUNY New Paltz’s Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, 8/20/09

August 17th, 2009, 8:51 am by Greg


C. Ryder Cooley
has been Nippertown’s most talked-about performance artist since, well, forever?

A while back she did “Singing Tree” on the lovely Troy campus of RPI – right next to West Hall. Cooley was perched on a swing dangling from a tree branch high above the ground playing musical saw. Other musicians – and some just plain old normal people – gathered around on the ground around the tree and began harmonizing with her with their voices or musical instruments that they had brought.

Not necessarily harmonizing in any traditional sense, but rather in the most primitive, most basic fashion.

It was beautiful.

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