Our regular listen to and look at living, breathing composers and performers that you may not know yet, but I know you should… And can, right here and now, since they’re nice enough to offer so much good listening online:
Beth Custer (b. 1958 — US)
Extra, extra!… Fearless woman seizes her day!…
Beth was born in South Bend, Indiana, raised in western New York, but has lived in San Francisco for for the last twenty-five-and-some years.
As if she wasn’t busy enough being a composer, performer, bandleader, clarinet teacher, and running a record label, she’s also a founding member of the notorious silent film soundtrack purveyors the Club Foot Orchestra, 4th-world ambient ensemble Trance Mission, the quintet of esteemed clarinetists Clarinet Thing, the trip-hop duo Eighty Mile Beach, and the Latin-jazz-rock influenced Doña Luz 30 Besos. She now leads The Beth Custer Ensemble (including long time collaborator Jan Jackson on drums, guitarist David James, iconic pianist Graham Connah, and New Yorker transplant bassist Mark Calderon).
Beth composes for film, television, installations and the concert stage (hall or club are both fair game). Recent commissions include A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005, a live outdoor cinema event by Melinda Stone produced by the Exploratorium; The Ballad of Pancho & Lucy musical for Campo Santo Theatre; and Bernal Heights Suite for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.
As the above might indicate, Beth’s music and monster clarinet chops are put in service of everything from the primal to the rarest air. Though seekers of the plain-and-pretty might have a hard time, the rest of us can enjoy a bit of all this at her extremely spiffy website, chockablock-full of MP3s, video, interviews and other info.