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Rockin' the Web

David Byrne and Brian Eno's latest CD, a product of e-mail exchanges, is out on its own Internet site

September 16, 2008|By Rashod D. Ollison | Rashod D. Ollison,rashod.ollison@baltsun.com

Throughout his 30-plus years as a musician, with and without the Talking Heads, Byrne has explored a potpourri of styles from opera to Afro-funk. Even in his artistic endeavors, the longtime New York resident finds music in the most unlikely places. For one of his latest exhibitions, Playing the Building, Byrne and his band programmed the Battery Maritime Building, a 99-year-old ferry terminal in Manhattan, to play music. He took the ornate building, which had been closed to the public for 50 years, and hooked the internal structure (pipes, heaters, pillars) electronically to an old pipe organ.

"It's surprising musical," says Byrne, 55. "There is some clanking, noisy sounds. It actually has a variety of sounds - flute sounds, deep bass sounds. There are not all these industrial noises."

The exhibit, which is free to the public, has attracted such visitors as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and eccentric pop artist Regina Spektor.

Byrne says his adventurous, left-of-center artistic spirit was shaped while growing up in Baltimore, where he briefly attended the Maryland Institute College of Art.

"I'd take the bus into town and hang out," he said. "It was exciting. The media spotlight wasn't there on us, so nobody was telling us what's not hot anymore. You kind of did your own thing."

Advances in technology may have made his musical and artistic processes smoother and faster these days. But for his tour, Byrne is keeping his show decidedly old-fashioned.

"I'm going out with a full band, singers and dancers. It's going to be more of a show than I've done in a while," he says. "People want to see that kind of thing, be out among other people at a show. That's something you can't get on your computer."


David Byrne plays at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $25-$50 and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 410-547-7328 or going to ticketmaster.com.

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