Blowing It

It was while dividing his time between school and working a weekly hip-hop open mike in Providence, Rhode Island, that Tim Barsky had his first major artistic epiphany. One frigid January night, when the usual assortment of MCs, b-girls, poets, drug dealers, and college kids had decided to stay home rather than attend the open mike, Barsky pulled out his flute and started jamming with the DJ. "I was looking at the window at the snow while we played," recalls Barsky. "And it just came to me. I was, like, man, you could beatbox on a flute." From that moment onwards, the Bay Area-based performer began transforming himself into what he terms a "battle flutist" -- very likely the first of his kind in the world. A woodwind-playing percussionist who treats his flute both as a pipe of peace and a war drum, Barsky lays down intoxicating sounds as gravelly and aggressive as they are mellifluous. Needless to say, you won't find a miniature drum machine concealed up the barrel of this musician's weapon. As part of "The Beatboxer's Mixtape," a season of hip-hop performances stretching through early March, Barsky presents a new solo show Over 9 Waves. Drawing on his work as an oral historian in communities as widespread as Oakland's "Murder 20s" and the Liberties slums of Dublin, Ireland, the production features a blend of beatbox flute, pedal harp, hip-hop theater, circus, and traditional Jewish storytelling.
Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 23. Continues through March 1, 2008

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