No Idea 2011 pushes the envelope (into the paper shredder)

Up to bat: Vic Rawlings
Up to bat: Vic Rawlings

After eight years of showcasing sonic shapeshifters from Texas and beyond, the No Idea Festival has become its own social network for improv professionals.

It goes down Friday and Saturday at the Austin Art + Music Partnership (411 W. Monroe) with performances from Bryan Eubanks and Vic Rawlings, Texas left-fielders like Rick Reed and Sandy Ewen, workshops, and more.

With the fest coming up on a decade, I checked in with organizer/percussionist Chris Cogburn to get a feel for its momentum.

"I started the No Idea Festival eight years ago as a way to connect improvisers in Austin and Houston and to encourage further collaboration between artists in those two cities," Cogburn says. "Since that time No Idea events have occurred in nine cities throughout the region - Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, Marfa, New Orleans, México City, and Mérida, Yucatán.

"No Idea still serves its original function – to connect creative artists with one another, as well as to venues, curators and audiences that support and appreciate their work. In terms of growth, I see No Idea as participating more fully within a rhizomatic process already initiated by working artists, regionally and internationally.

"Artists who collaborate with No Idea have dynamic artistic practices that resist being situated within a static scene, genre, or aesthetic identity. In this sense, No Idea gives an instantaneous home for these practices to actualize within a multiplicity of settings and situations.

"In the coming years, No Idea aspires to help establish networks of movement throughout the Western hemisphere and is currently laying the groundwork for events in Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Personally, I couldn't be happier with how the festival continues to serve a function for artists and audiences interested in releasing aesthetic and idiomatic expectations to make room for contemporary music practices regionally and internationally..."

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