No Idea Festival first set: Aaron Russell, Kurt Newman; second set: Lê Quan Ninh, Jacob Wick, Steve Parker; third set: film screening; fourth set: Kjell Bjørgeengen, Chris Cogburn

Fri., Feb. 17, 8pm   get tickets

Museum of Human Achievement

Springdale & Lyons, 262/880-6982


In a festival-heavy town, Austin’s No Idea Festival remains a breed apart. This year featuring anarchist French duo Lê Quan Ninh and Michel Doneda, Mexico City installationist Arthur Henry Fork, homegrown sound naturalist Rick Reed in collaboration with Norway’s Kjell Bjørgeengen, guitarists Tom Carter, Kurt Newman, Aaron Russell, Lauren Gurgiolo, and more, the 14th iteration of No Idea celebrates collaborative free improvisation and experimentation like an alternative South by Southwest. “I’ve always understood this music exists in community,” explains NIF organizer and local percussion/electronics improviser Chris Cogburn at Jo’s Coffee. “This festival doesn’t have anything to offer your career.” Edited by Mexico City’s Andrea Ancira and instigated by Cogburn, new No Idea reader Ethics of Improvisation as Anarchic Utopia explores the philosophy behind the festival’s raison d’être. “All these people, they’re making artistic choices throughout their lives, and there’s an integrity,” he says. “I think that’s where the energy comes from, when musicians are invested in a real live moment that’s giving them valuable information. A lot of the writing in the book talks about that. What ethics do you hold to create the capacity for an important live experience that allows freedom?” Despite its high ideals, no one should perceive No Idea (www.noideafestival.com) as forbidding. “It’s not about being a specialist,” stresses Cogburn. “A lot of times people are like, ‘Oh, I just don’t get it. I guess you have to know a lot about it.’ It should be immediate, like punk. “It doesn’t necessitate prior knowledge. That’s why it’s like a lived experience. Whether it’s the rockingest free jazz or microtonal tuba, there should be some immediacy and urgency that’s accessible to everybody.” – Michael Toland


Chris Cogburn
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