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Terra Incognita: Overview

TI 1981-1983

TI 1984-1988

TI 1988

TI 1988-1990

Wickiup

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San Francisco 1981-1990

Max's most successful band, Terra Incognita had its first show at San Francisco's legendary Club Foot in February 1981, and its last show in 1990, shortly after the band's studio was destroyed by the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Reflecting Max's stubborn drive to explore and experiment, TI evolved in dramatically different phases throughout its nine-year career. The first Club Foot show was an impromptu, one-time gathering of Max's friends from SF and Los Angeles, firmly planted in the post-punk milieu. The SF contingent continued to develop and produce experimental music and performance art throughout 1981-1982, followed by a period of intensive studio work and sporadic performance as Max strove to define a new genre combining his Appalachian roots with his growing interest in West African music.

In 1985, Max partnered with bassist Katie Rauh and fiddler Mark Twohy to regroup TI as an electric string band at the leading edge of the alternative folk movement. This band performed continuously until early 1988, in nearly every venue in San Francisco, both headlining and billed alongside national acts such as Camper Van Beethoven, Flaming Lips, American Music Club, and Brave Combo. The band recorded numerous demos and an unreleased album; their version of the traditional song Rank Stranger was included on Ralph Records' compilation album Potatoes. The Village Voice called TI's recording "the album's standout", and it has been credited with inspiring the alt-country movement of 90s bands such as Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and The Old 97's.

On the strength of the Voice review, TI toured to New York City and headlined at The Knitting Factory, which had just established itself as the premier venue for new music. But Max and Katie had become frustrated with the band's limitations, and they experimented by adding drums and professional backing musicians in 1988.

Max's interest in West African music and dance had become an obsession, and at the end of 1988, he introduced a completely new dance-oriented lineup aligned with the "world beat" movement. This band performed continuously at large venues throughout Northern California until the earthquake destroyed their studio and Max became homeless.

Terra Incognita Loft 1981

The TI Loft in 1981

Terra Incognita 1981-1983

Terra Incognita 1984-1988

Terra Incognita 1988

Terra Incognita 1988-1990

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