In addition to his solo work, Ken Stringfellow has played in The Posies, Big Star, and R.E.M.
What was the food highlight of your year?
Definitely my performance with my bandmate in the Posies at Mugaritz. We spent a mindblowing afternoon there, having lunch -- adjectives fail me. Edible 'stones' and grass, dissolving cutlery made of sugar...nothing was as it seemed upon first appearance. It wasn't all parlor tricks, though, it was just a delightful overturning of expectations. After lunch, we had a sold out show on the outdoor terrace, and Mugaritz did a wonderful job of taking care of the attendees, with wine and small dishes being presented out by their edible flower/herb garden. I was high on that for days...
What was the music highlight of your year?
I always count the Big Star "Third" performances as musical highlights of my life -- they bring together so many diverse strands from my musical life and weave them together around a body of work that I care so much about. We did them in Seattle, Chapel Hill, L.A., and Athens GA; each show was unique and incredible. But, I think, the most unexpected and therefore the most satisfying show was our performance at Sydney Festival in January. A beautiful venue (the Enmore Theatre), a great cast of Australian (Hoodoo Gurus, You Am I, The Scientists) musicians and international (Cat Power, Kurt Vile, Edwyn Collins) guests around a core band of some of my dearest colleagues in music -- Jody from Big Star, Mike Mills from REM, Mitch Easter, plus the incredibly gifted contingent of Chapel Hill based musos that organized this series of concerts (Chris Stamey et al)...that's a powerful cocktail indeed. People had been waiting a lifetime for that music to be performed Down Under and we did it and did it right. And then a few nights later, there was an aftershock performance at my sold out solo date in Sydney, where some of the cast was on hand to reprise some Big Star moments plus join me for my solo music. Hells, yes!
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
The Mugaritz experience was probably the top food + music experience fo the year. I do plan tours around restaurants, sometimes... we have some wonderful chefs and restaurateurs that are also great supporters of our music (Sergi Arola comes to mind -- we've had two band birthday dinners at his private table over the years. We did have a wonderful evening of wine and food on the eve of the Athens Big Star 3rd performance, at the home of Bertis Downs, REM's longtime counsel & manager, a dear friend, from my decade of performing with the band as a multi-instrumentalist. Catered by none other than Hugh Acheson of the 5 & 10, we also enjoyed some gorgeous wines from Bertis' collection. My relationship with REM, their crew & office, friends and family goes back to 1998 (and longer, having known Peter since the mid 90s and having been a fan since the early 80s), so it was a homecoming of great warmth.