Billy X. Curmano

Billy X. Curmano

 Winona, Minnesota, USA

Billy X. is an award winning artist that delivers all cooled-out folk blues and jazz with intelligent content on some very unusual instruments.


Billy X. Curmano was buried alive for three days, fasted in the desert for forty, swam the entire length of the Mississippi River and journeyed to the Arctic Circle just to check up on "global warming".

His first solo CD received a 2006 Experimental Album Award from, Just Plain Folks (JPF) - the “Grass Roots Grammys” - and biggest music awards program in the world. It was chosen from a field that included over 25,500 albums representing over 70 countries. As a comparison, the Grammy's typically consider only about 1000 albums each year. His anti-war anthem, "Wagin' War”, was also nominated in the spoken word category.

Billy X. Curmano came to the music scene through the back door. Although he's most widely recognized as a performance artist, he's always used unique music and sound in his original compositions. He sought out luminaries like John Cage, Rachel Rosenthal and Babatunde Olatunji to help shape his musical vision. But most importantly, he learned to listen, really listen, to nearly anything and everything.

He's hosted free music sessions wherever possible. The sessions have evolved into a laboratory and experimental free jazz collective that meets weekly in a secret hide-out somewhere in the beautiful bluff country of the middle west. It's a safe place where nearly anything goes. Over the decades, this hide-a-way has served as inspiration and a launching pad for a plethora of projects and plenty of the area's top musical talents. The results have been a series of bands, performances, recordings and soundtracks.

One example, his New X project, is a fluid group of players that have become known for an eclectic blend of free jazz and improvisation wrapped around words and odd tones. They don't play too-cute fuzzy-bunny or top 40 commercial hook infested pap - and sometimes are billed as the area's most bothersome band.

Whether as a soloist or front man, Billy X. has traditionally stretched the boundaries of music and art. When he takes the stage alone, he steps out and delivers "a performance" with a mix of acoustic melodies, rhythms, stories and tales.

"Solo Set", is probably the definative Billy X. It was captured in real time as a live studio recording with no over-dubbing or cheap tricks. You could say it kind of put Billy on the high wire without a net. It's far from the usual musical mix. Sure, there's plenty going on in the vocals, melodies and rhythms to tweak the ear of even the most discerning and intelligent folk-blues-jazz and spoken word zealot, but there's a whole lot more. "Billy X: Solo Set" is a compilation of material that evolved through edgy and eccentric performances over years of living life as art.

Billy X. was buried alive for three days with the words to "Epitaph" etched on his tombstone. "River Rap", "Baptize Me" and "Recycle Mantra" surfaced during his 2,000 plus mile Mississippi River swim as both performance and environmental statement. "Genesis 9:1.1" followed a 40 day fast in Death Valley in his search for the spiritual in art. He's toured just about every way imaginable including 6,200 miles and 15 cities in 45 days on a Greyhound Bus. He comes by his overall anti-war and social justice themes honestly. He's witnessed the stupidity and horrors of war on two continents, the insides of a jail house looking out and the poverty that grips our world.

Billy X. Curmano is an award winning performance artist. A new traditionalist that uses an unusual blend of jazz inspired performance, poetry, music and movement along with an odd assortment of instruments to create what he sometimes refers to as "riff-rap". On "Solo Set", twenty-two cuts in 72 minutes highlight his passion for dulcimer, guitar, mbira, ocean harp, vibraphone and both the sung and spoken word. He's intriqued audiences from the Dalai Lama's World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles and New York City's famed Franklin Furnace to Austria's Vienna Secession and "more than plenty" of points between with his heady mix of forms.

Mary Beth Crain described his auto-biographical "Adventures with Billy" in a "Performance Pick of the Week" article for the LA Weekly:

"He's the only human being in recorded history to claim the distinction of swimming the entire length of the Mississippi River. He was buried alive for three days in a much ballyhooed effort to bring art to the spirirt world that included a New Orleans-style funeral complete with Christlike resurrection. He once imprisoned himself in a tiger cage to protest the inhumane treatment of POWs in Vietnam. Maverick? Eccentric? Full-blown madman? Billy X. Curmano will be delighted to let you decide. For the past 27 years the Minnesota-based performance artist/environmental activist - who earned an M.S. in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin and has had exhibits and installations in the U.S., Japan, Spain and Austria - has been a fixture in the public consciousness of the Midwest (journalists have described him as "the court je



Written By: Billy X. Curmano

Buffalos (Spoken Word)

1 little, 2 little, 3 little...settlers
4 little, 5 little, 6 little...settlers
7 little, 8 little, 9 little...settlers

10 little settlers.

10 little, 9 little, 8 little...buffalos
7 little, 6 little, 5 little...buffalos
4 little, 3 little, 2 little...buffalos

1 little buffalo...1 little buffalo.

X-Ray Glasses

Written By: Billy X. Curmano

X-Ray Glasses (spoken word) 1'26"

X-Ray glasses dipped in molasses.
Sweet young lasses with noxious gasses.
X-Catholic asses attending high masses.
Fishing classes for large mouth basses.
Lovers in grasses reaching impasses.

Raindrops and pop tops and be-bops and fat cops;
Trollops and bell hops
and floor mops and old sots;
Good crops and hip hops, fast stops and
nose drops.

Half full glasses without any ashes.
Highway crashes in dilapidated Nashes.
Contagious rashes with gruesome gashes.
Nazi facists with ultra long lashes.
Lovers in grasses reaching impasses.

Raindrops and pop tops and be-bops and fat cops;
Trollops and bell hops
and floor mops and old sots;
Good crops and hip hops, nose drops and

fast stops.

River Rap

Written By: Billy X. Curmano © 1987

....Army Engineers they're keepin' real busy,
Startin' new projects it's makin' me dizzy.
Like a pack of beavers with nothin' to do
buildin' that dike, dam, levee or two.
An every levee effects both banks and downstream
and they've been buildin' 'em all the way to New Orleans.

And after decades of buildin' just to wipe out the wet lands,
Well, they're startin' new projects just to put 'em back, man.
Like with Weaver Bottoms we've got 'em and I'm glad to see
that we're finally givin' something back to that old Mississippi
It's a little late...It's a little light...But it's still alright.

People building towns all up and down that river route
You've got your water inlets upstream
and then your sewage coming out.
You may think it's clean, upstream, but it's probably not.
It's like drinking and pissing in the same pot.

And there's sewage and poison and toxic waste
from spraying and dumping all over the place
from farm, factory, front lawn garden and golf course
We've gotta face facts, folks... we are the source.

But there's biomats, filters and crop rotation -
with a little common sense - we could still save the patient.

Fourth of July,
Freedom and such,
Yankee Doodle
and all that stuff.
Let me say implicitly; without freedom from toxicity
We ain't got much....

My Rose

Written By: Billy X. Curmano

I had once a lover.
She spoke very well English.
Some red wine and a single rose I brought along.
Then came the bedroom!
Do you have still some passion here?
I ate first my rose.


Written By: Billy X. Curmano

Individual actions are
multiplied by the number of individuals.
The fist becomes war;
the handshake much more.

The dreams of the world are cast in wax;
light the wick and don't look back.
All you have to lose is time
And all the time you lose is mine.


Compact Discs:
2008 "Orange Alert" with Threat Level 3
2004 "Billy X: Solo Set"
2003 "Doozy" with John Pendergast
1999 "Amanita" with John Pendergast
2003 "New X: Fresh X" with the New X Art Ensemble
2001 "Trios & Duets" with the New X Art Ensemble
1993 "New X: Xmas" with the New X Art Ensemble

Set List

Mostly originals or unique arrangements here's a description off his "Solo Set" CD:
1. Moody folk blues: Always Remains the Same (dulcimer)
2. Environmental blues: River Rap (mbira)
3. Political folk blues/jazz: Say Son (guitar)
4. Angry political drug war rant: Big Brother (spoken word)
5. Pathetic country/no western: Edgar Meadows (harmonica)
6. Hasn't a clue blues: Midtown Stand Around Blues (acappella)
7. One soldier's PTSD: At the Coffee Shop (mbira)
8. Howling anti-war: False Profits (harmonica)
9. Eerie anti-war: Wagin' War (ocean harp)
10. Environmental revivalist: Genesis 9:1.1 (spoken word)
11. Folk tale: Sacred Cows (dulcimer)
12. Eerie schizo episode: Preschizophrenic Panic (dulcimer)
13. Found MN optimistic ad: MN Singles Search (spoken word)
14. Ethereal jazz: That Tune (vibraphone)
15. Found words spoken: NY Conversation (spoken word)
16. Angry environmental: Recycle Mantra (ocean harp)
17. Psychotic spoken word: Vigilante (spoken word)
18. Etched wor