Jherek Bischoff

New York Times

April 1, 2016 by Jherek | Comments Off on New York Times

This week I am in New York City having a wild and rockin’ time! It started with a completely slamming evening of music at City Winery! I put together a wonderful string quartet for the evening, who were THE BAND: no drums, no piano, no guitars (for the most part). For the last couple weeks, I had been working on all new arrangements for the special guests of the evening and it was journey to say the least!
We started with a set of my music, with the incomparable David Byrne guesting on our song “Eyes.”


After my set, we did a set of Amanda Palmer’s songs, with the lady herself.


Then, we invited John Cameron Mitchell (HEDWIG!) and Lena Hall up for “Wicked Little Town.”


After that, I brought up the slayer, Anna Calvi… Have you heard her? If not, you need to hear her. She is an absolutely incredible guitar player, singer and songwriter. She blew people’s minds! Anna and David Byrne had previously collaborated on a cover of Keren Ann’s “Strange Weather,” so they graced us with a gorgeous performance.


As if that wasn’t enough music already, we then did all of the songs from our Bowie Strung Out In Heaven EP. Neil Gaiman did the countdown for “Space Oddity” on our cover version, but he wasn’t available to join us. Instead, legendary journalist, John Norris, very courageously joined us and counted us down to liftoff.


Finally, we wrapped with “Midnight Radio” with John Cameron Mitchell and Amanda, and a literal encore of “Heroes,” with everyone joining in onstage. What was to be a 2-hour show ended up a 3-hour marathon! Totally epic! I am still simultaneously exhausted and absolutely buzzed, a pretty lovely feeling!
The whole evening was livestreamed, and thousands of folks tuned in from all over the world. I should have details soon on repeat viewing online.
Huge thanks to Amanda Palmer, Anna Calvi, John Cameron Mitchell, David Byrne, Lena Hall, John Norris, Finnegan Shanahan (Violin 1), Josh Henderson (Violin 2), Nathan Schram (Viola), Andrea Lee (Cello), Kathryn and her team at VirtualArtsTV, and City Winery for hosting us so warmly the entire day.


While I’ve been in NY, I have had some exciting meetings about some absolutely mind blowing projects to take place a little later in the year, so keep a look out for more NY MADNESS!

The week is culminating in a show tonight at Radio City Music Hall for the David Bowie Tribute, where I will be performing my arrangement of “Blackstar” with Amanda Palmer, Anna Calvi and Kronos Quartet! What an honor! Sheesh. I just learned that Radio City’s capacity is a little over 6k and it’s sold out. It is also going to be livestreamed to anyone for a donation of $5 (going to charity), so this show is by far the most gigantic gig I have ever played! I am very excited. I hope that you can tune in! Click the image below for more details.


In the meantime, check out my arrangement of “Blackstar,” as well as the other Bowie string covers from my EP with Amanda Palmer.

All photographs displayed with kind permission of Geraldine Petrovic – Copyright 2016 Geraldine Petrovic/Murget-Royd Photography

On The Road Again

March 9, 2016 by Jherek | Comments Off on On The Road Again

Ahoy! A few exciting announcements today:

Photo credits: Mirah - Emily Zeitlyn; Jherek - Allan Amato

Photo credits: Mirah – Emily Zeitlyn; Jherek – Allan Amato

I am hitting the road with Mirah! We have a short tour lined up for the East Coast, and I am super excited to get out and play a bunch of shows again. It has been far too long! We will be sharing a band, and our band will be a string quartet! We will both be performing our own sets, and I will also be doing special arrangements for Mirah’s music. It is going to be a super intimate (yeow!) evening of music, and both Mirah and I will be debuting some new music, as well as some tried and true numbers, all arranged specifically for this tour! I have had the pleasure of arranging strings for Mirah in the past, and I look forward to digging into her songs, and making some really fun and surprising arrangements for them. Tickets go on sale tomorrow. We hope you’ll come join us, and please, tell a friend you think might be interested. It really helps a lot!

Fri, May 05 – Brooklyn, NY – BRIC House Ballroom
Fri, May 06 – Baltimore, MD – Creative Alliance
Sat, May 07 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
Sun, May 08 – Jersey City, NJ – Monty Hall
Mon, May 09 – Portland, ME – SPACE Gallery
Wed, May 11 – Kingston, NY – BSP Kingston
Thu, May 12 – Boston, MA – Cafe 939
Fri, May 13 – Burlington, VT – Arts Riot
Sat, May 14 – Providence RI – Columbus Theatre

And in case you haven’t heard, I also have a couple other shows coming up in the next few weeks:

Friday, March 11 – I will be performing two shows with the incomparable Kronos Quartet at the Strand Theater in San Francisco. We will be premiering a new piece I wrote for them, as well as playing some other songs I have written for them in the past. There will be two sets – one at 8:30pm, and one at 10:30pm. The 8:30pm show is sold out, but there are still a few tickets left for the 10:30pm show, so grab ’em while you can! More info here.

Tuesday, March 29 – As a warmup for our performance at the Radio City Music Hall David Bowie BenefitAmanda Palmer and I will be performing a very intimate concert at City Winery in New York City. We will be playing our recent collaboration, Strung Out In Heaven: A David Bowie String Tribute EP in its entirety with a string quartet, as well as some more tunes. We will also have some very special guest singers. There are only a handful of tickets left, so be sure to get your’s soon. More info here.

And last but not least, my good buddy Amanda Palmer just dropped a new track today: “Machete.” I posted a long blog about it earlier this year when we were working on it. She says it’s the first real song she’s put out since her last record, so it’s pretty exciting. I played bass, arranged the strings, and produced, mixed and mastered the track. It was a lot of fun to make, and I want to thank Amanda again for including me in her always exciting art making experience. The whole project was funded by her Patreon folks, so a big thanks to all of them as well!
You can listen to “Machete” here and read Amanda’s blog about the song here.

That’s it for now, but I will have a lot of exciting news to share with you a bit later this month.
Hope to see you soon!

Tribute to The Thin White Duke

February 4, 2016 by Jherek | Comments Off on Tribute to The Thin White Duke

Strung out in Heaven EP

I learned of David Bowie’s passing as I was walking on stage at The Smell in Los Angeles. I was performing with my old band The Dead Science at a benefit for the wife of a friend of the band who had recently passed away. Playing that night was incredibly strange. I could see the news spread through the venue while we played; one side of me found comfort in being with people, playing music, and the other side of me felt like putting down my bass and just giving up. I had never experienced that feeling of resignation before. Music has always been there for me, so that sensation emphasized just how deeply I was affected.

I am not a lifelong Bowie fan. I had only become intimate with his music in the past five years. Recently, I arranged “Life On Mars” for eight tubas to celebrate St. Ann’s Warehouse’s grand reopening. Breaking down that song and really dissecting it gave me an even deeper appreciation for his genius. I love when a song sounds natural on the surface, but when you look closer, you find all these amazing things happening: crazy chord changes, a missing bar here and there – things that, when you sit down to play it, it’s much more complicated than it first seemed. I fell deeper in love.

The day after he passed, Amanda Palmer and I were talking on the phone and kind of jokingly said, “we should do a Bowie string quartet tribute.” As the conversation continued, the joking slowly became plan-making. It just felt right. The thought of digging in to his songs, dissecting each one, and then making my own versions felt like a lovely way for me to honor him. We decided to do an EP strictly with string quartet and voice, and gave ourselves two weeks to get everything done.

It was an insane two weeks! I only had a day to arrange each song. I was literally printing music out five minutes before walking out the door to record the string quartet. I reached out to my friend, Serena McKinney, a fabulous violinist, and she put together one of the best quartets I have ever heard in my life (Serena McKinney on violin, Alyssa Park on violin, Ben Ullery on viola, and Jacob Braun on cello). We recorded in a fantastic studio in LA, and everyone was SO GOOD we finished recording in 3 1/2 hours! The whole thing! So insane!

Recording the string quartet.

Recording the string quartet.

Afterward, I sent the tracks to Amanda who was in Santa Fe, and the next day she recorded her vocals in a studio there. Then, we enlisted the lovely Anna Calvi to duet on “Blackstar,” and she recorded her vocals in a studio in London. I also wanted a solo on that tune, so Anna’s killer guitar playing was the perfect solution. She rocked it! We also got John Cameron Mitchell involved, (HEDWIG!!!) but everything was moving so fast, and we were running out of time and couldn’t get him into a studio, so we had him record vocals in his NY apartment into his cell phone! Everything was sent to me and I had three days to mix and master everything! I have done projects quickly before, but this was some next level quickness.

The EP was funded by Amanda’s marvelous fans who support everything she creates over at Patreon. I want to thank them for making it possible, and all of the wonderful musicians and helpers who took part in its creation. I also want to thank Amanda Palmer for trusting me to take the reigns and arrange these songs however I wanted. It was really fun. Most of all, I want to thank David Bowie for living and breathing his art, and inspiring others to do the same.

I present to you: Strung out in Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute

Album Artwork by Sarah Beetson

Album Artwork by Sarah Beetson

You can stream it over on Pitchfork today. It will also be available tomorrow via Bandcamp/iTunes/Spotify for $1. 54 cents goes to Bowie’s publisher, and the rest of the proceeds from the first month will go to the cancer research center at Tufts Medical Center (in Amanda’s hometown of Boston).

Love to you all, and hope you enjoy.