Saturday, November 11, 2023

Black Duck at Acme Records and Music Emporium in Milwaukee on June 29, 2023

One of the absolute highlights of the 2019 Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN was seeing a trio of musicians from Chicago called Black Duck. Composed of Doug McCombs (probably best known as one of the bassists in the post-rock supergroup Tortoise, but also as the bassist for Eleventh Dream Day and Brokeback), Bill MacKay (who needs no introduction to followers of this blog) and Chicago jazz drummer Charles Rumback.

The performance took place at the tiny Pilot Light bar and was a furious storm of free improvisation featuring two guitars and drums. 

Since then, Black Duck has performed regularly and eventually evolved into playing written songs interspersed by improvised pieces. 

I remember being very excited to hear Bill tell me more than a year ago that the group had finished recording an album.

In June the group came to Acme Records to perform. I was fortunate to be able to record them using a solid one-channel soundboard feed and a pair of microphones about halfway back of the great room.



Milwaukee, WI at Acme Records

Doug McCombs: bass

Bill MacKay: guitar

Charles Rumback: drums


01 Jam 1(6:44)

02 The Trees Are Dancing (4:47)

03 Jam 2 (5:07)

04 Of the Lit Backyards (5:03)

05 Jam 3 (2:39)

06 Delivery (7:03)

07 Lemon Treasure (9:04)

08 Jam 4 (4:32)

Total time = 44:59

Microphones: Line Audio CM3 pair in NOS on 8-foot stand about 15 feet from the stage

Additional source: mono soundboard feed

Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6ii at 32/96

Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct

Recorded with explicit artist permission by Richard Hayes for the blog Milwaukee Taper.

With tremendous heartfelt thanks to Doug, Bill, and Charles for allowing me to record them and also to Ken for hosting the group at what is certainly the best record store in the world.


16 bit, 44.1kHz FLAC file (243 MB)

320kbps mp3 file (114 MB)

Check out the NYC Taper blog for a slightly more recent performance by Black Duck:

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