Influential guitarist Kelly Churko remembered

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The PuSh International Performing Art Festival’s presentation of the Japanese cult-film classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man, with live accompaniment from local improvising quartet Eye of Newt, was originally intended as both an immersive multimedia experience and a homecoming party for one of the band’s original members. Kelly Churko, an influential noise guitarist and connoisseur of all things strange, had spent the past decade living in Japan, where he collaborated with many of Tokyo’s most adventurous performers. What many didn’t know was that the 36-year-old musician had been suffering from colon cancer, and the disease took his life on January 13.

The Club PuSh show—at Performance Works next Thursday (January 23)—will go on, although what should have been a celebratory occasion will play out as a wake. In an Internet statement, Eye of Newt founder Stefan Smulovitz explained that Tetsuo was Churko’s choice, and an apt one. The film depicts “a man turning into metal against his will,” the violist and composer noted. “With his own body killing him, this seemed an intense subject to dig into but Kelly was always one to unflinchingly forge ahead.…The three of us [are] hoping to offer a beautiful noise to a wonderful friend.”

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A. MacInnis
Dan of Ejaculation Death Rattle called me with the news on this the other day. It's kind of startling: since August, Zev Asher, Polish noise musician Zbigniew Karkowski (who played a set with Kelly in Japan a couple years ago), Nakajima Akifumi (Aube), who had played with Zev in Kobe, and now Kelly Churko - who (I believe) was playing a gig with Masa Anzai at the Sugar Refinery the first time anyone ever mentioned Zev Asher to me, around 1999 - have All. Died. Of. Cancer. I mean, beside being sad and horrible, that's an unsettling string of coincidences. I met Kelly a few times, liked him. Very sorry to those who knew him better than I did...
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