Door County musician Craig McClelland’s band Skümbلàg performed original compositions at the March 27 opening concert of “Ensemble in Residence” at the University of New Mexico John Donald Robb International Composers Symposium. The band’s set included selections from McClelland’s original musical The Lubbock Lights, played before a standing room only crowd.
“It was a bit nerve wracking,” McClelland said, “performing for a crowd like that. The audience was full of some the heaviest contemporary composers of our time, from all over the world, and we were up there doing our heavy-metal vaudeville shtick. It was surreal! Still, they must have liked it – we got two standing ovations!”
The band, known for its use of theatrics and costumes – like dressing as bananas – performed in Door County last year as part of the Steel Bridge Song Festival. McClelland also plays bass and tuba for the world music ensemble, The Vespus Marimba Band, andis a member of the Links Ensemble, a group dedicated to the music of the American Experimental tradition of the 20th and 21st centuries. You can also find him performing locally with a variety of musicians.
Whether in the pit or on the stage, McClelland usually attempts to make all performances at least a little theatrical. He said, “music is great, but many musicians’ shows are honestly quite boring. Yes, the music should speak for itself, but it never hurts to spice it up with a visual.”
Even if that means wearing a banana suit.