Rock ’n’ row: Guitarist performs while canoeing Gowanus Canal

Canal songs: Famed experimental musician Elliott Sharp will play aboard a canoe on the Gowanus Canal on June 21.
Ed McKeon

Talk about grungy music!

A renowned avant-garde musician will cruise down the sludge-filled Gowanus Canal in a canoe while rocking out on his guitar as part of the city-wide “Make Music New York” festival on June 21. Playing his improvised tunes in a moving tiny boat will offer audiences on the banks of the toxic waterway a new unique way to hear his music, said Elliott Sharp.

“I like experiencing new ways to perform and for music to be heard,” said Sharp. “There’s a socio-acoustic relationship between the producer of music and how you hear it in a space.”

Sharp will perform aboard one of a flotilla of canoes rowed by members of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, while the others carry waterproof wireless speakers connected to his instrument by Bluetooth. During the 90-minute performance of “Swamped,” Sharp and the Dredgers will travel the length of Brooklyn’s Nautical Purgatory several times, from Douglass Street to the mouth of Gowanus Bay.

Sharp said that playing on a tiny canoe will be very different from the large boats that usually host concerts, but that he is up for the challenge.

“Playing with rock bands, I’m used to moving around on stage,” he said. “As long as it’s not tipping over, it shouldn’t be an obstacle.”

An outdoor canoe lacks the grand acoustics of a concert hall, but Sharp hopes that it will help him provide something that is sonically pleasing.

“The shape of the canoe is reflective, it may be quite good as an acoustic space,” he said. “I won’t know until I try it.”

Other Make Music New York events happening in the borough include “Twilight Chorus (for humans)” of birdsong at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Argentinian singer Natalia Clavier performing under the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo, and an interactive experience from Improv Everywhere in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, among many others.

“Swamped” on the Gowanus Canal (starting at 125 Second St. between Bond Street and the Canal, www.makemusicny.org). June 21 at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.

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