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  • Pure Energy in Sound: The Music and Message of Arrington de Dionyso

    This saxophone kills fascists
    This saxophone growls like a panther
    This saxophone screams like an eagle
    This saxophone creates in the face of destruction

    Evoking the spirit of Woody Guthrie, these lines open Arrington de Dionyso’s “manifesto” for his latest musical project, This Saxophone Kills Fascists. Last March, he bellowed them out to a small but enthralled crowd at Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant and concert venue on an otherwise mellow stretch of Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. What followed was a storm of sound, wordlessly expressing frustration and hope, resisting conventions and boundaries—a kind of piercing, percussive protest song.

    Listen below for excerpts from the concert and an interview with de Dionyso about his early inspirations from Folkways Records, the merits of explicit versus implicit political art, and his motivations to create collaborative and challenging music.

    Interview with Arrington de Dionyso
    Arrington de Dionyso tour posters
    Arrington de Dionyso is also a visual artist, creating his own album art and concert posters.
    Photo by Elisa Hough
    Arrington de Dionyso tour tapes
    Along the way, de Dionyso sells cassette tapes of his current project and CDs from past bands, Malaikat dan Singa and Old Time Relijun.
    Photo by Elisa Hough
    This Saxophone Kills Fascists
    de Dionyso plays the Bromiophone, a musical instrument he invented named for Bromios, an epithet of the greek god Dionysus meaning “the thunderer” or “roaring.”
    Photo by Elisa Hough

    The concert was recorded live at Comet Ping Pong on March 27, 2017, and featured Luke Stewart on bass and Nate Scheible and Ben Bennett on drums. Download a transcript of the audio story.

    Elisa Hough is the editor at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She first met Arrington de Dionyso in his living room in Olympia, Washington, in front of a mountain of synchronized television screens.

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