Psychedelic Premieres

Texas' Longest Hammer Choir debuts Thursday at Jo's Coffee on South Congress

Texas' Longest Hammer Choir debuts Thursday at Jo's Coffee on South Congress

In November 2011, local artist Andy Rihn invited hundreds of denim-clad Texans to an isolated, otherworldly dirt farm to be a part of something strange: Texas’ Longest Hammer Choir.

Now, Rihn’s psychedelic denim brainchild will finally be premiered, as part installation, part film and part musical lullaby (entitled “Prelude to the All Night Dust Bowl”), in the Jo’s Coffee parking lot on South Congress Avenue on Thursday, Sept. 6. The event is free to the public and will feature live music from local band Woodsboss, complimentary Ambar Tequila and $2 Shiners for anyone wearing full denim.

 It’s an incredible sensation to sit inside the bizarrely blue bubble and watch the undulating line of dirt farm denim-wearers clang hammers together in time to the dreamy “Dustbowl” melody. 

Rihn, whose work is regularly featured in galleries, like the new Eleven Seventeen Garland, where some of his work is currently on display, will be setting up his custom hand-built, all-denim golf cart (which was used as a mobile film dolly during the November Hammer Choir), for a distinctly unique viewing experience. The event gets going at 7 p.m., but Rihn will wait until sunset to start the wild and wonderful film.

Guests are invited to climb inside the denim lounge — equipped with custom denim cushions, seating, even carpet — and watch one of two looped reels (one filmed from the front of the cart and the other from the rear) of the happily clanging hammer choir. 

It’s an incredible rolling sensation to sit inside the bizarrely blue bubble and watch the undulating line of dirt farm denim-wearers clang their hammers together in time to the dreamy “Dustbowl” melody.

It’s modern and psychedelic, but wonderfully atavistic at the same time, to see so many snapshots of the different participants — young couples giggling in between steely chimes, grandmothers pacing themselves by muttering the beat under their breaths, parents holding up their babies with one arm while they hit hammers with the other.

It’s one of those uniquely Texan art happenings that only come around once every blue moon. And, in this case, it’s one hell of a big, freaky, denim blue moon.

austin photo set: news_ramona_sept_2012_hammer choir
Texas' Longest Hammer Choir premieres at Jo's Coffee on September 6 Photo by: Alexandra Valenti
austin photo set: news_ramona_sept_2012_hammer choir
Courtesy of Photo by: Alexandra Valenti