Local Current Blog

Drone Not Drones 2020 to feature Alan Sparhawk, Clarice Jensen

Alan Sparhawk of Low performs at Drone Not Drones 2018. Photo by Steven Cohen for MPR.

The 7th annual Drones Not Drones show has formally announced its dates and line-up. The 28-hour marathon of drone music — a philosophy of music that focuses on particular, extended tones rather than deliberate song structure — will take place at the Cedar Cultural Center on Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. The line-up will include composer/cellist Clarice Jensen, “ambient Americana” duo Saariselka, composer Lea Bertucci, sitarist/vocalist Ami Dang, violinist Jessica Moss, BCMC (Cooper Crain of B****in’ Bajas and Bill MacKay), Alan Sparhawk (Low), banjoist Paul Metzger, and an assortment of other acts to be announced.

According to a press release, Drone Not Drones “features one seamless, uninterrupted 28-hour drone with 50+ local and national bands, drone choirs, Indonesian gamelan groups, drone robots, throat singers, and many more acts rotating on and off stage and overlapping with each other.”

One of the night’s top-billed performers, Clarice Jensen, is a world-renowned composer and cellist who combines classical training with experimental, ambient textures. Jensen has collaborated with everyone from former Arcade Fire member Owen Pallet to the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. She has contributed to countless projects for prominent indie labels like 4AD, Merge, Matador, and Jagjaguwar.

Due to the event’s 28-hour runtime, the Cedar encourages Drone Not Drones attendees to bring pillows and blankets into the venue. The Current blogger Maia Jacobson attended the 2018 installment and wrote, “There were people strewn across the floor, curled in blankets and sleeping bags. Those near the edges of the room either sat cross-legged in meditation or stood leaning against walls, winter jackets still on, trying to look like they were at least a little comfortable with getting cozy at a show. The room was nearly totally dark except for the Dada-meets-psychedelia animation playing on the screen behind the stage.”

Musician Luke Heiken started the event back in 2013, responding to the unprecedented number of drone strikes carried out by the Obama administration. “I was playing around with an industrial sticker maker a friend gave me a few years ago. Later that night, Alan [Sparhawk] tweeted something about drones, so I sent him ‘Drone Not Drones,’ which he dug,” Heiken told City Pages before the inaugural concert.

Drone Not Drones has raised over $15,000 for Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group that provides life-sustaining supplies, emergency resources, and medical personnel to areas impacted by famine, weather disasters, and military crises.

“It’s really important for us to support our community. It takes a huge effort to put this on every year with the help of countless people. It’s a really unique artistic endeavor, and we’ve been proud to support this project for the past seven years,” said Alana Horton, who represents the Cultural Cedar Center.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 day of the show, and are available online, by phone, at the Electric Fetus, or at The Cedar during shows.