Joe Szuecs

ONE MAN BAND — Joe Szuecs is the president of the board of directors at Chimera Arts and creator of the Maker Music Festival.

This event gives whole new meaning to the phrase ‘music maker’

On Saturday, Oct. 13, Sebast­opol’s maker space, Chimera Arts, will come alive with the sounds of music — and not just any kind of music — DIY music played by people who design, build, collect — and sometimes invent — musical instruments.

Joe Szuecs (pronounced “sooch”) is the president of the board of directors of Chimera Arts. He’s also an engineer, computer programmer and jazz guitarist.

“We are creating this annual festival to celebrate the county’s rich history in making, with a special focus on music makers,” Szuecs said “We’re a community of makers, artists, engineers and creatives of all types who love to share, learn and work together. This festival will bring our community together around something that is important to all of us — music!”

Chimera’s expansive studio space will be transformed into an exhibition hall, featuring music makers of all kinds, from traditional instrument builders to more experimental instrument designers. There will be lectures, demonstrations, exhibits, hands-on activities for children and adults, as well as performances throughout the day.

The exhibits will feature the work of several local music makers, including Tyler McCourtney, who performs as the one-man band Banjo Boom Box, and Travis Rinker, a guitarist and recording artist who combines a percussive fingerstyle with a Loop Station to create ambient, reflective instrumentals.

Szuecs himself has spent the last decade creating numerous sonic sculptures that use technology to bring instruments to life; his latest is Drummer in a Suitcase, which will be on display at the festival. Ditto for Jim Wheaton, Szuecs’s fellow board member at Chimera, who combines light and sound to make responsive LED instruments.

In addition to showcasing the talent of local music makers, Szuecs said he’s excited that the festival has attracted several giants in the field of experimental musical instruments, including Bart Hopkin, Pet the Tiger and experimental pianist and internet sensation Mauro Fortissimo (known for his viral video of the burning piano on the bluff).

Hopkin, who will be giving a talk at the event, has written many books on instruments and their construction. He is also director of Experimental Musical Instruments, an organization devoted to unusual instruments. (Hear some of them at

According to the Maker Music Festival website, Pet the Tiger is a San Francisco collective that “plays in a wide variety of idioms exploring new timbral dimensions through extended techniques, new instruments, xenharmonics and fringe acoustic phenomena.” They also host workshops on instrument building and have  a popular “Instrument Petting Zoo.”

See and hear all of these folks and many more at the First Annual Maker Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Chimera Arts, 6791 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol.

“We’re hoping people will make a day of it,” Szuecs said. “Come on down, hang out, explore, and hear some amazing music.”

Tickets in advance of the event are $15 for adults and $10 for youth (ages 4-18) at Tickets at the door are $20 for adults and $15 for youth.  Admission is free for children 3 and under.

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