Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
top story

Experimental Chicago drummer Tim Daisy starts concert and workshop series in Columbia

Second Home


Tim Daisy. Provided

Tim Daisy loves Columbia.

The Chicagoan has returned frequently since his first show here in 2001. And while it might seem counterintuitive for a renowned drummer making mercurial noise in the niche space of experimental/free jazz, Daisy’s first big out-of-town effort since emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic is to make his largest investment yet into his home away from home.

Starting this month, and continuing for at least the next four, Daisy will fly into town on a Friday. That night, he’ll play a show at Granby Grill with a different elite touring musician. Then on Saturday, he’ll teach a workshop for local drummers.

The idea was sparked by complications with traveling. It’s hard to be on the road when you’re the stay-at-home dad to a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old.

Daisy settled on the idea of jetting out for quick trips, but he needed an added element to balance the books.

“‘How am I going to make this work economically?’” he remembered thinking. “Because, you know, flights aren't free.”

After the epiphany that he could add a day of teaching to bring in some extra cash, Daisy said the first place he wanted to try his plan was clear.

“When we were touring a lot in the States, Columbia has always been one of the highlights,” he offered. “So many friends down there, so many amazing people, and people who are willing to take a chance on our music.”

Daisy pointed to folks like Ross Taylor, who booked his first local show at Hunter-Gather on Main Street — with Dave Rempis, the powerhouse saxophonist who will play with him here again on July 2 — and has continued to find places for free jazz musicians from Chicago and elsewhere to play successful concerts here. And he pointed to Wim Roefs, who owns if ART Gallery, and has hosted many of those shows in recent years.

“I see this as, in a sense, kind of a community outreach thing,” Daisy explained. “There is an audience for experimental music in Columbia. There isn't an audience for experimental music in other cities in America. There are in some, but other college towns I go to, there isn't. So for whatever reason, there's real interest in Columbia. So why not, you know, take whatever limited knowledge and experience I have in this field ... and pass on some of this.”

The drummers with the talent and determination to become great at the kind of music he plays don’t all reside in the Chicagos and New Yorks, he reasoned. Some of them live in places like Columbia, and such enclaves of excitement should be nurtured.

The idea to travel here and pair up shows and workshops should also prove a solid antidote to Daisy’s creative difficulties during the pandemic.

“I work well if I have a goal,” he said. “If I have a recording session coming up on July 9, I have a performance coming up on June 11, I work towards that goal. I read a new book of music, I start practicing hard for that. What this pandemic did was eliminate any real motivation for me to create. And that was the most challenging part of this for me.”

But then he played his first online concert, and felt the charge of performing for people again, even if they weren’t right there in front of him, and the joy of seeing the social interaction in the comments section.

Daisy began reaching out to other musicians, sending them audio files he’d recorded, and getting them to add their own parts. That’s how he managed to finish the transfixing duo album “Light & Shade,” which tangles his marimba, turntables and other texture-rich percussion with Ikue Mori’s invigorating electronics. And it’s how he made his two “Imaginary Rooms” collections of one-off collaborations with other artists.

But he said the connection he anticipates in Columbia, particularly during the workshops, should outstrip those COVID-limited experiences.

“When I'm getting back into it, I want to travel, I want to go somewhere where I know there's going to be somewhat of an infrastructure there and a crew of people that I know, but also new people that I've never met,” Daisy offered. “So for me, a huge part of coming to Columbia is the whole reconnection getting back into the swing of things.”

After performing with Rempis, he’ll return with guitarist Steve Marquette (Aug. 20) and bassoonist Katherine Young (Sept. 24), with duet partners for October and November still up in the air. Daisy said he’ll emphasize artists who are close enough to drive — like Young in Atlanta, or potentially guitarist Tashi Dorji in Asheville — to keep his costs down.

And when it comes to the instruction, he said he’ll get as much out of it as his students.

“When I'm teaching, I learn a lot about myself, about my own playing, because I usually get asked a lot of really great questions,” he reflected. “So that aspect of it for my own personal growth as an artist, it's really important.”

Rempis/Daisy Duo

July 2. 8 p.m. Granby Grill.