John Shiurba on the 4th Annual Memorial Festival

it’s amazing to me that so many amazing artists show up for no other reason than to contribute to a sense of community and higher purpose; to pay tribute to not only matthew but to what it means to make art in a communal way. i know matthew would have loved that. this is the most clear and obvious demonstration of the fact that art and music can connect human beings and their communities to the upper partials of existence on this planet, and perhaps beyond. i know that i did my best as one of the organizers of the festival, to foster an atmosphere of appreciation and respect for each player, and to acknowledge the fact that the music of each of the participants expresses some meaning, the elucidation of which lies well beyond my capacity. my reflection on matthew’s life and work and life-force has inspired in me something beyond the obvious need to strive to be a better musician, namely to strive to be a better member of the community. in that sense i feel this year’s festival was a true success. and of course the music was incredible.

What Remains

Tom Baker writes:

I thought you or someone on the list might be interested in that I played on June 1st in Den Haag in Holland, where I played excerpts from my Requiem “What Remains” that I wrote for Matt and played on the first memorial concert in Seattle at Polestar. It went very well, and I had lots of questions about Matt and his work. The CD of the piece is at and there is more at and


Doug Theriault writes:

I have a new release with Matthew playing bass. It’s called:

Straw Dog Music 03/01
Improvised on June 16th, 2001 at “Are You Listening” Studio, Portland, Oregon.

Recorded and Engineered by Simon Widdowson.
Matthew Sperry: Acoustic Bass ‚ Mark Burdon: Percussion ‚ Doug Theriault: Guitar

It is available here: This release is meant to be a showcase for Matthew’s playing, nothing more. Only 50 copies are being released and 35 have gone out already to be reviewed (hopefully). That leaves 15 copies. This is not a fundraiser, and if anyone of you wants a copy (without artwork) I will send it to you personally for the cost of postage.

Matthew’s Bicycle, Amplified

Mallet On the second night of the recent Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival, cellist Theresa Wong played an amplified bicycle, in a performance that brought many in the house to tears. Wong, who studies performance at Mills College, had been playing the amplified bicycle prior to having known of Matthew or his passing. Scot Hacker had been storing the bicycle from which Matthew was struck in his garage for the past year.

After the performance, Hacker offered Matthew’s bicycle to Wong to use as her instrument (with Stacia’s permission); she accepted. After some cleanup and distengling of gears and brakes (the bike was in amazingly good shape, considering), the bicycle was delivered. Theresa found Matthew’s bicycle wonderfully resonant and full of surprising sounds. After a few minutes of orientation, she improvised a piece for Matthew in her Oakland loft. A wild dove had been hanging out in the loft for a few days, and we imagined it to be Matthew’s visiting spirit.

There are two versions of the performance here:

– An audio-only version of the complete performance (5:20, mono, 3MBs), captured directly from Wong’s amp (click to listen; to save, right-click (Mac: Ctrl-click) and choose Save.

– An edited set of video excerpts (including the dove), showing the bicycle being played. 2:48, 6MBs. Requires QuickTime.

Third Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival


The Third Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival
June 4-7
21 Grand Art Gallery and Performance space
416 25th St., Oakland, CA 94612

Two years ago on June 5, bassist and composer Matthew Sperry was killed in a traffic accident while bicycling to work. Since then his many friends in the Bay Area music community have organized annual performances in his memory. This year, the Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival spans four evenings.

June 4 is experimental music titan Anthony Braxton’s 60th birthday. To celebrate, the sixty-member Triaxium West Large Ensemble under the direction of John Shiurba and Gino Robair, will perform works spanning the four decades of Braxton’s career, including many rarities.

June 5: Matthew’s friends pay him tribute with music from many small groups, culminating with a performance by OrcheSperry. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Sperry family.

June 6: an evening of live electronic performances curated by Lance Grabmiller, featuring:

  1. Phase Chancellor (M.C. Schmidt from Matmos with Nate Boyce from
  2. Men Against Mountains and J. Lesser from Sagan)
  3. John Bischoff
  4. Kenneth Atchley
  5. Matt Davignon and Lance Grabmiller duet

June 7: Johannes Bergmark and Friends
Swedish musician and inventor, Johannes Bergmark, performs on a variety of unusual instruments with local improvisers, including Gino Robair and Tom Nunn.

All events start at 8:00 PM. Admission is $6-$50, sliding scale.


Matthew Sperry:
Anthony Braxton:
Johannes Bergmark:,
21 Grand:

The Ride Of Silence Will Not Be Quiet

Win Aldrich has added Matthew’s name to be commemorated at “The Ride of Silence.”

On May 18, at 7 PM across the country and around the world, cyclists will take to the roads in a silent protest of what they call carnage taking place on the streets. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, much of the motoring public doesn’t seem aware they are there.

Chris Phelan organized the first Ride Of Silence in Dallas in May 2003 after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was killed by a bus mirror on an empty road.

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Ghost Bike for Matthew

In June, we posted about Pittsburgh’s Ghost Bike project, in which activists memorialize bicyclists killed by cars. To create a ghost bike, an old bicycle is painted solid white and chained to a pole along with a sign designed to raise consciousness of passing motorists.

A couple of months ago, Stacia and I retrieved the bicycle Matthew was killed on from police storage, and discussed the possibility of making it a ghost bike. Then last week, passing through Emeryville, I discovered that someone had put up a ghost bike at the site of Matthew’s death. Asking around, I heard it had been up for a few weeks, but still have no clear idea who set it up.

Matthew’s ghost bike probably won’t last long – the city is bound to cut the chain and remove the monument before long. If you want to pay the bike a visit, now is the time.

And to whoever set this up: A heartfelt thank you from all of Matthew’s friends and family.



(Note: This is not Matthew’s bike – I don’t know where this bike comes from. Matthew’s bike is safe in my garage, spookily undamaged, or almost).

NYC Potluck/Performance Gathering

Andrew Drury writes:

Potluck/Performance Gathering for Matthew Sperry
September 3, 2004, 7 pm
NYC (Location TBA)

Dear family and friends of Matthew Sperry–

I had been working on organizing a performance/potluck in Brooklyn for Matthew on June 5 (the anniversary of his tragic death, of course) until I learned that if it could be scheduled for another date, Stacia, Lila, and others in his family could attend. So…they will indeed be here, and this memorial/celebration of Matthew will happen on September 3, 2004, at 7pm, at a location to be determined in New York City. You’re invited!

Basically I’d like to have a good time and create some beautiful energy (ie have a gathering with people, food, music, etc.) for Matthew and for everyone who has been thinking of him over the last year-plus-a-few-months.

Bring food, instruments, stories, photos, objects, dances, inspiration, etc.–anything that makes you think of Matthew that you’d like to share.

Feel free to email or phone me with questions, performance ideas, other creative ideas, etc.

Also RSVP so I can get an idea of how many people will be coming, and how to organize the performance aspect.

Finally, if you know anyone who might like to come, help get the word out and invite them or pass this message on.

Exact location TBA.


Andrew Drury
Brooklyn, NY

Second Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Concert

The Second Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Concert has been scheduled. Here are some details….

8 pm – Monday, July 12
2nd Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Concert
@ 21Grand – 449 23rd Street – Oakland
Tickets: $12 – $50 sliding scale
All proceeds (including CD sales at the concert) benefit Matthew’s family.

For more information, please contact:
Phillip Greenlief
c/o Evander Music
PO Box 22158
Oakland, CA 94623-9991
(510) 652-7914

Click link below for list of scheduled performances.

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