August 29, 2017
by Louis Harris
Last year’s Ear Taxi Festival put Chicago’s vibrant contemporary art music scene on display, demonstrating a deep and talented community of local composers and performers. One of the brightest lights of our scene is Third Coast Percussion, a quartet of classically trained musicians who specialize in hitting objects with mallets, drum sticks, hammers, hands, fingers—anything that elicits a rhythmic sound from another object. … Their music is not centered on bongos or a drum kit; rather, it features marimbas, vibraphones, bells, triangles, cymbals, chimes, gongs, and all manner of resounding objects.
The ensemble has now won their first Grammy, toured internationally, and completed their first collective musical compositions. In reflecting on TCP’s aspirations, Skidmore said, “To continue to reach new audiences is a big thing for us, and that means not just here in the States but also overseas. We’d like to do more international touring, including Europe, Asia, Africa, South America.” Summing it up, he said, “I think that the work that we’ve done so far is indicative of the work that we want to do. We want to continue to champion this music. It will always be new to somebody; it’s such a new art form. If we spent our lives playing concerts for people who have never heard of percussion concerts, that would be enough, that would be a fantastic idea to me.”
They are proud for these concerts to take place in Chicago, their starting point and still their home. “What we found about Chicago is that it is an incredibly thriving artistic scene,” explained Skidmore, “but it doesn’t come with the prohibitive price tag of New York, San Francisco, or certain other cities. To be an artist here, you can start young, really scrappy, just pulling together work here and there, and doing what you’re really passionate about. It’s hard, just as hard here as anywhere else. But there’s a support structure, there are other people who are into what you’re doing. … I think it’s an amazing place to be as an artist.”