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Monday, December 29, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 16.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Carnival of Sorts isn't your average summer fair
No beer tent
Venice Gas House Trolley creates 'a culture of uniqueness.'
Venice Gas House Trolley creates 'a culture of uniqueness.'
Credit:Jess Pankratz

When Adam Gregory Pergament talks about his approach to art, he likes to use the term cross-pollination. It means the transfer of pollen from one plant to another. It's nature's way of promoting genetic diversity.

In his quest to further artistic diversity, Pergamente has been spreading spoken-word poetry around Madison music venues since 2005, first as a member of Stonefloat, and now with Venice Gas House Trolley.

So when Frequency owner Darwin Sampson recently gave Pergament a Friday night slot, Pergament proceeded to organize a one-night music festival that brings jazz, comedy and a percussion ensemble into a rock club.

"What's foremost in my mind is creating a culture of uniqueness," says Pergament. Enter Carnival of Sorts (A Fair of the Mind!). The event takes place this Friday, Sept. 3, at the Frequency.

The Isthmians of Comedy open the show. Pergament says that after he met Isthmian Nick Hart earlier this year, the two immediately started planning ways to bridge local comedy and musical performances. "His scene comes directly out of the Comedy Club on State Street," says Pergament. The Isthmians of Comedy includes Hart, Stefan Davis, David Leon and Ryan Casey.

Last month, Hart announced during a Comedy Club set his intent to run to be the mayor of Madison. "We are realistic," Hart told the crowd. "Our goal is 5% of the vote. Ninety percent of that 5%, you want the people to be good-looking, so that's where you guys come in."

Friday's opening musical act, Todd Clouser, encapsulates Pergament's idea of synthesizing artistic forms and styles. Clouser is a jazz guitarist who formerly fronted the Minneapolis rock band 4 Letter Man.

Like Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot, Clouser is a formidable jazz guitarist who doesn't shy away from playing other musical styles. There's no shortage of melody and 1970s-style rock-jazz fusion on his new album, Todd Clouser's A Love Electric. Clouser is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and currently splits his time between Minneapolis and Los Cabos, Mexico.

The evening's other musical acts include Luke Polipnick, a Madison-based guitarist who's made waves in the local jazz scene since moving here from Nebraska in 2009. Polipnick studied music composition at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. His works often blend guitar improvisation with electronic effects.

Maracatu Melhor is a local percussion group featuring members of the Handphibians. They play a style of percussion linked to northeast Brazilian parade music.

Josh Pultorak, who is a Ph.D. student in the zoology department at UW-Madison, will be busy throughout the night. Pultorak drums in Venice Gas House Trolley as well as the Handphibians and Maracatu Melhor.

The show's headline act is Pergament's own Venice Gas House Trolley. On its latest album, Synapse, Lapse and Reblast, VGHT blends poetry and ambient music to create a frequently dreamy vibe.

The show is sponsored by community radio station WORT.

"I've always been kind of stuck on refusing to be labeled," says Pergament. "The point of Friday's show is to promote an openness to all kinds of expression. We want to groove your body and groove your mind."

The cover charge for Friday's show is $7, but if you come dressed for the fair, you'll receive a $2 discount. How does a free-ranging artist like Pergament define a dress code for the show?

"We really didn't want to limit it," he says. "So, however you feel you should dress, do it. Just say 'I'm dressed for the fair' at the door and you'll get the discount."

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