And So It Goes

“I spoke to you in cautious tones. You answered me with no pretense. And still I feel I said too much. My silence is my self-defense. And every time I’ve held a rose, it seems I only felt the thorns. And so it goes, and so it goes. And so will you soon I suppose.” Billy Joel, from the album, Storm Front, 1989

If you haven’t noticed, I have been silent for nearly a year. It is not that I have had nothing to write about. I have been to several music events, and they were all uplifting and refreshing. I have also made some great purchases and acquisitions that I cannot wait to talk about. But in the first couple months after my last post, which was in January, there had been moments when I had an idea that could blossom into something to write, but the will was not there. Generally, I am not a person who suffers from depression. But the best way I can describe it is…depression. This began around November 8th of last year, and became increasingly worse after January 20th of this year. But I am slowly getting back to being my abnormal self.

When I finally gathered the motivation and presence of mind to write this, it was a cold and wet May day. There was nothing playing in the CD player. I heard the traffic in the distance, a few birds announcing their territorial boundaries, the hum of the fan in my PC, and the clicking of the keys as I typed. I heard my breath, sighing occasionally as I considered my words and avoided painful thoughts.

Then, just as I do now, I wanted to feel hope. I wanted to live hope. But it is difficult to hope. I think if I write, it will give me hope. But I am not so sure about that thought. I am not certain I can count on that to be true. But I must get on with it; buck up. Put one foot ahead of the other and lean forward. Press one key at a time, complete a word, hit that space bar and keep it moving. Hep, two, three, four! Hep, two, three, four!

I am thankful that there have been some awesome events to attend. And looking back I have attended quite a few. Here are some.

Music from ‘The Nutcracker’ – A Jazzy Exploration of a Holiday Classic, 2016

During the December holiday season, there was a jazzy musical event with violinist, Jamie Shadowlight, at Café Bar Europa in Pacific Beach including the usual suspects of Mikan Zlatkovich on keys, Kevin Higuchi on drums, Will Lyle on bass, and PJ Ortiz (PacificYO) on beatbox. The highlight for me was hearing Grammy nominated jazz flutist, Lori Bell.  Lori’s 2016 album, Brooklyn Dreaming, has won accolades from Downbeat Magazine, Huffington Post, and others. It was a great evening of holiday jazz, fine food, and hanging with friends.

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L to R: Lori Bell, Kevin Higuchi, Jamie Shadowlight, Will Lyle, Mikan Zlatkovich

Pre-Beatles Fair Promo Show at the Queen Bee, 2016

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve there was a show at the Queen Bee to promote the upcoming Beatles Fair in March, 2017. The three mainstays, Dave Humphries Band, The Rollers, and The Baja Bugs performed, but in addition there were some duos and solo acts. The one that stands out for me was “Fast Heart Mart” Martin Stamper on banjo doing “Norwegian Wood”.  Another great evening hanging with friends and hearing some great 60s music. That evening, the Dave Humphries Band was the expanded 5-piece consisting of Dave Humphries on guitar, Wolfgang Grasekamp on keys, Greg Gohde on electric bass, Make Alvarez on electric cello, and Todd Sander on drums.

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Dave Humphries Band

 

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The Rollers
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The Baja Bugs

Other Performances

Sometime in January we saw Cadillac Wreckers at Proud Mary’s doing many familiar songs plus some I had never heard them do before. Dana Duplan on guitar and Dane Terry on harmonica and vocals are the main Wreckers. I did not catch the names of the drummer and electric bassist. A tight bluesy band that are always enjoyable to hear.

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Cadillac Wreckers

We have made several excursions to the Riviera Supper Club on Thursday nights to hear Liz Grace and the Swing Thing duo, consisting of Liz and guitarist, Jon Garner. Great songs from a great era, and Liz is such a versatile singer. Jon is also an exceptional jazz guitarist.

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Liz Grace & Jon Garner

One evening in February, we went to Rebecca’s Coffee to experience a rare performance of The Flip Side / The Pink Floyd Experience. They perform B-sides of hit songs from the 60s and early 70s. Todd Sander was on drums and vocals, Wolfgang Grasekamp was on rhythm guitar (used to seeing him on keys), Tom Quinn on lead guitar and vocals and Gus Beaudoin on bass and vocals. A strong unit handling songs from a variety of 60s bands and styles. Also, Dave Humphries Band played some songs as sort of a rehearsal for the Beatles Fair, where their set would concentrate on the songs of George Harrison, including his time with the Traveling Wilburys. Todd and Wolfgang (on keys this time) were part of the band along with Mike Alvarez on cello and Tom on lead guitar.

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The Flip Side
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Dave Humphries Band

It was a thankfully rainy winter and the desert wildflowers were in magnificent bloom. We made it a point in March to experience this desert splendor, and coming back from Borrego Springs we stopped at Wynola Pizza to hear Plow and to get some great pizza. Dane Terry was not with them on harmonica, but recent addition, Alex Sharps, was with them on vocals and fiddle. They also had some young fiddlers, who have been students of Alex, show their stuff on what they have learned. A truly fun evening.

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Plow

The Beatles Fair

Lineup at this year’s Beatles Fair at the Queen Bee in North Park included Francisco Gomez, The Phoenix Band, Mojo Working (featuring Scott Mathiasen), The Dave Humphries Band, The Baja Bugs, True Stories with a Ringo Starr tribute featuring Nico, and headliner Billy J. Kramer with Liberty DeVitto on drums on the Kaiserkeller Stage. There were three other stages, but we did not spend much time at these. All local acts did a fine job, but I was a bit partial to The Dave Humphries Band, who really knocked it out of the park with a George Harrison tribute, featuring songs “Isn’t It a Pity”, “All Things Must Pass” and “Beware of Darkness” from his first (3-LP) album and “Handle with Care” from Travelling Wilburys, including Mike Alvarez handling the Roy Orbison parts, among the highlights. They also did an assortment of 60s Beatles and British invasion tunes as well as some penned by Dave Humphries. This was an expanded band with Dave Humphries on guitar and lead vocals, Todd Sander on drums, Greg Gohde on bass, Wolfgang Grasekamp on keys, Mike Alvarez on cello and vocals, and Tom Quinn on lead guitar and lead/backing vocals. The Billy J. Kramer set started out promising, but he seemed to be having trouble with the monitor and he often moved off-key. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Billy J. Kramer, he toured with The Beatles on several occasions in the 60s and had a minor hit with “Little Children”. I got to meet him after his performance and secured an autographed copy of his recent CD.  Liberty DeVitto was the drummer in Kramer’s band. He had been the tour drummer for many years backing Billy Joel, but now is touring with Kramer. My better half got a photo op with him. It was a fun evening, especially hanging with good friends.

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The Phoenix Band
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Mojo Working featuring Scott Mathiasen
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Dave Humphries Band
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Billy J. Kramer featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums
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True Stories featuring Symea Solomon and Normandie Wilson
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True Stories featuring Nico as Ringo Starr

Baja Bugs at Riviera Supper Club

I ventured out to see The Baja Bugs at the Riviera Supper Club sometime in March (or was it April?) with friend Randall Cornish. We also met up with George Rubsamen while there. The Bugs not only covered Beatles music, but also other 60s bands such as Rolling Stones, Kinks, Zombies, plus some self-penned songs. In great form, as usual.

Revival of the Singer-Songwriter

Produced by Ken Rexrode, March 26, at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. Hosted by Whitney Shay, with performances by Whitney Shay, Wish & The Well, The Moves Collective, Mimi Zulu, Karina Frost and the Banduvloons, and Taylor John Williams. This was a great show with a variety of music styles performed by amazing people. For me, the standouts were Whitney Shay, and The Moves Collective, both of whom were winners at the 2017 San Diego Music Awards.

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Wish & The Well
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Taylor John Williams
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Whitney Shay
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Karina Frost and The Banduvloons
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Mimi Zulu
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The Moves Collective

Spring Harp Fest

This was my third or fourth time to attend the harp fest, at Harry Griffen Park in La Mesa, held this year on April 4. Performers were Phillip Fauquet with Chet Cannon and the Committee, Karl Dring (replacing Jeffrey Joe Moran, who could not make it due to an injury), Billy Watson, John Clifton, Eric Von Herzen, Harmonica John Frazer, TJ Klay, and headliner Kellie Rucker accompanied by Robin Henkel on guitar. The highlights for me were the Billy Watson and Kellie Rucker sets. Kellie used to reside in San Diego but now lives in Florida. It was a beautiful day for music in the outdoors.

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Phillip Fauquet with Chet Cannon and the Committee
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Karl Dring
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Harmonica John Frazer
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John Clifton
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Billy Watson
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Eric Von Herzen
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Kellie Rucker accompanied by Robin Henkel

Mundell Lowe 95th Birthday

Dizzy’s hosts the birthday performances for Mundell Lowe. This year, on April 21, Mundell was accompanied by Bob Magnusson and Rob Thorsen on bass, Jim Plank on drums, Bob Boss, Jaime Valle, Ron Eschete, and others on guitar. From New York City, jazz guitarist Tony DeCaprio did a solo set, and Mundell’s step-daughter, Alycia Previn, performed with him on violin. Mundell still had his chops, providing competition for all the other players. I was pleasantly surprised when Tony DeCaprio performed. I had not known about him prior to that evening and he totally knocked me out. This was an evening of jazz mastery from some of the finest players to be found anywhere on the planet.

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Tony DeCaprio with Bob Magnusson and Jim Plank
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Mundell Lowe
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With step-daughter Claudia Previn Stasny
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With step-daughter Alycia Previn

NOTE: Mundell Lowe passed away on December 2. He was one of the greats, working with such major artists as Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Andre Previn, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Ray, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Benny Goodman, the Everly Brothers…the list goes on. He was self-taught in guitar, and became a composer and arranger of movie and TV scores and a member of NBC’s staff orchestra, playing on the “Today Show” in the 50s and 60s. He appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in the 30s. He wrote music for shows such as “Hawaii Five-O”, “Starsky and Hutch”, “The Wild Wild West”, and even Woody Allen’s film “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)”. Adjectives used to describe him include “versatile”, “elegant”, “sophisticated”. I consider myself fortunate to meet and talk to him at his 93rd birthday performance at Dizzy’s and again to attend his 95th birthday performance.

Carlsbad Flower Fields Blues Day

This was held on April 23, at the Carlsbad Flower Fields. We had just missed Chickenbone Slim & The Biscuits, but got there in time to hear Robin Henkel with Whitney Shay, with Troy Jennings on sax, Caleb Furgatch on bass, and Marty Dodson on drums. We have seen this configuration of artists before, and they never disappoint. It was another enjoyable outdoor performance. And we got to talk to Larry Teves (Chickenbone Slim) even though we missed his set. We also spent time walking about the variety of beautiful flowers on display.

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L to R: Marty Dodson, Whitney Shay, Caleb Furgatch, Robin Henkel, Troy Jennings

Adams Avenue Unplugged

This year at the Unplugged event on April 29, I finally got to see Marie Haddad perform, as well as Sven Eric Seaholm. Both are quite talented performers as well as capable songwriters. Marie is a very expressive quality singer and keyboardist. She did some self-penned songs as well as covers, leaving me wanting to hear much more. She will be releasing a new album later in the year and I will be in line to obtain one, for sure. Sven did an acoustic guitar set, but the environment was not conducive to a musical performance. The Adams Avenue Business Association needs to rethink using that noisy location with poor acoustics as a venue. However, we were up close to enjoy his covers of 60s and 70s songs, along with some self-penned songs. We ended the day at DiMilles’ Pizza to hear Robin Henkel doing a solo country blues set followed by the Dave Humphries Band, which was a three-piece consisting of Dave on vocals and guitar, Greg Gohde on bass, and Mike Alvarez on cello and backing vocals. I have written much about both in the past, and cannot add anything more regarding their prodigious talents. After the Dave Humphries set, we decided to leave the Unplugged event and headed over to the Riviera Supper Club to hear some twang with Three Chord Justice before calling it a night. This was the last time for me to hear the band with guitarist and long-time member, Jeff Houck. Jeff has since moved on to other ventures.

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Marie Haddad
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Sven Eric Seaholm
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Robin Henkel
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L to R: Dave Humphries, Greg Gohde, Mike Alvarez
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Three Chord Justice

Six String Society – 27 Club

The Six String Society, at the Belly Up on April 30, presented a tribute to the artists who died at the age of 27. Among the members of the 27 Club covered in this production were Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. Taylor John Williams did a brief set to warm up the crowd. Then the fun began. Beginning with a tribute to country blues legend, Robert Johnson, presented by local country blues legend, Robin Henkel, a slide presentation created a multi-media environment as Robin told the mysterious story of Robert Johnson, playing some of Johnson’s classic songs as well as other country blues songs. Following this informative set, Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer (with Steve Miller Band) guitarist Greg Douglass and singer Louis Patton performed a tribute to Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. Then Gregory Page did a musical introduction to guitarist Jimmy Patton with a tribute to Jim Morrison of The Doors. The next 27 Club member was Janis Joplin. For this set, the phenomenal Casey Hensley sang Janis’ songs accompanied by a band fronted by Greg Douglass on guitar and Johnny Viau on sax, with Evan Caleb Yearsley on drums and Mark Campbell on bass. I kept looking up to see if the Belly Up roof was still intact after hearing Casey tearing it up. Next was a tribute to Curt Cobain of Nirvana by Canadian/San Diegan alternative band, Sister Speak, fronted by Sherri Anne on vocals and acoustic guitar, Jacob (Cubby) Miranda on bass, and Zach Guglin on drums. Greg Douglass also joined in on electric guitar. I really liked their sound. Sister Speak is another San Diego Music Awards winner. They were also joined by Jimmy Patton and Taylor John Williams on their last Nirvana song. For the Amy Winehouse tribute, Whitney Shay literally was the incarnation of Amy, with her hair style, red flower in her hair, and voice. Whitney was backed by her band, The Hustle and accompanied again for some songs by Greg Douglass. This led into the final tribute, for Jimi Hendrix, with Greg Douglass doing some pyro techniques on guitar, accompanied by Mark Campbell on bass and Evan Caleb Yearsley on drums. Vocal duties for Jimi’s songs was handled by Louis Patton. And, of course, all performers gathered on stage for the last song. It was a tremendous night of legendary music and fantastic performers.

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Taylor John Williams
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Robin Henkel: tribute to Robert Johnson
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Greg Douglass and Louis Patton: tribute to Brian Jones
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Gregory Page
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Jimmy Patton: tribute to Jim Morrison
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Casey Hensley with Greg Douglass (guitar), Johnny Viau (sax), Evan Caleb Yearsley (drums), Mark Campbell (bass): tribute to Janis Joplin
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Sister Speak with Greg Douglass: tribute to Curt Cobain
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Shay and The Hustle, featuring Whitney Shay performing a tribute to Amy Winehouse

Mother’s Day at Urban Solace

We went to Urban Solace for their bluegrass brunch on Mother’s Day, May 13. Plow, represented by a trio of Doug Walker on bass, Jason Weiss on banjo and a guest guitarist/vocalist that I cannot recall – that’s what I get for not writing this as soon afterward as I should have. Chris Clarke, Mark Markowitz, Dane Terry and Alex Sharps were not available as they were celebrating Mother’s Day and if I recall correctly, Chris was also ill that day.

Joshua Tree Music Festival May 18-21

Prior to the music festival, Todo Mundo had mentioned via a Facebook post by Jamie Shadowlight that they were giving away two free tickets to the festival and all one had to do was to give the reasons why they thought they were deserving of the tickets. On a lark, I responded. Little did I know that I would win. I was not out of town but had not reserved those days as vacation days. I then got an email from Todo Mundo that they wanted additional information in case I won. I had not yet responded when Jamie told me I won the tickets and needed to get this info in ASAP. I had to quickly request the days off and then responded. The tickets would be at the front gate for the festival. I was amazed. These are $240 tickets each! I booked the hotel using my points. So, the only cost to us was food and gas, plus anything else we wanted to buy. It was an awesome experience with several performers from around the world. That first evening began with Canada’s Sasha Rose doing a DJ set followed by local artist, Chris Unck with his high desert band. Chris’ music reminded me of the German space rock of the 70s. It was an instrumental set, and they performed as the sun was setting. Todo Mundo, including Jamie Shadowlight, was the featured artist of the evening. This was my first time hearing them and they knocked me out of my socks! How do I explain them? World music including reggae, Caribbean, gypsy, and you name it, all with a Latin flavor; with guitars, percussion, drums, bass, sax, trombone, trumpet and violin; all this with the powerful and soulful vocals of band leader, Santiago Orozco. Their performance is high energy with a powerful message of world unity and love, and all players were dressed in white. We headed back to our hotel room musically sated but anticipating more the following day. We met up with Jamie, Santiago and his wife, and others, and relaxed to the sounds of local artist, Philip Rosenberg in the background. After checking out the merchants we settled into listening to a band from Wonder Valley, The Adobe Collective, with a psychedelic Americana style, and La Inedita from Peru, with a Latin harder edged pop-rock style throwing in a bit of Spanish rap. For the sunset performance, Kraak and Smaak from Netherlands did a disco/pop-electronica set that would be suitable for a rave, complete with light show effects. Later in the evening we heard another local artist, Gene Evaro, Jr. with a funky yet folky style including roaring guitars on some songs. While there was one more performer to go that evening, we called it a night and headed back to the hotel; the desert heat had worn on us and I wanted to be ready for the next day. Our Saturday morning’s arrival was greeted by an acoustic set by Sasha Rose, who had DJed on Thursday evening. Later we heard the wonderful acapella harmonies of Sirens of Soul, who hail from all over – three female artists with beautiful voices and one guy on bass. Their music and stories were uplifting, affirming, and for us, a great way to end our time at the music festival. As we were leaving the Desert Rhythm Project was just beginning their set. We had things we had to accomplish on Sunday, so we needed to get home. Keep in mind that the music is just one (but central) aspect of the festival. There were a variety of artisans, healers, and a place for children’s activities. This will not be the last time at the festival for us. Next time, we will plan so that we can take in all four days’ music. We also learned that there was a hotel much closer where I could still use my hotel points instead of staying in Palm Springs and driving an hour each day from the hotel to the festival.

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Sasha Rose, as opening DJ
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Chris Unck and his High Desert Band
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Todo Mundo
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Todo Mundo, featuring Jamie Shadowlight
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Philip Rosenberg
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A rare photo of the Popeswami seen with Nancy Provance, Jamie Shadowlight, and another friend
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Mt. San Jacinto as seen from the Joshua Tree Music Festival
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The Adobe Collective
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Visual arts at Joshua Tree Music Festival
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Kraak and Smaak
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Gene Evaro, Jr.
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Sasha Rose with acoustic set
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Sirens of Soul
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Sirens of Soul

Art Around Adams

Art around Adams has been reduced now to one day, which this year was Saturday, June 7. First up was a performance by True Stories, including Bart Mendoza on guitar and vocals and Dave Fleminger on keys and guitar. We then walked across the street to see the tribute to Dick Van Ransom, owner of Mariposa Ice Cream, who passed away a year ago after a car accident. Dick was a huge promoter of the arts and all the street fairs on Adams Avenue. The first artist during the tribute was George Rubsamen on acoustic guitar and mandolin, who was accompanied in part of his set by Nico Peters on percussion. George’s set was primarily 60s pop and rock with an Irish flair. Next set was by The Baja Bugs doing primarily Beatles tunes but a few other 60s artists were covered. The tribute ended with The Dave Humphries Band performing more Beatles songs as well as songs by other British invasion artists and some self-penned tunes. A presentation was made by a local government official to Dick Van Ransom’s wife. We then headed back to the other stage for The Joyelles, consisting of bandleader, Normandie Wilson, on keys and vocals, Symea Solomon and Maggie Taylor on vocals, and backed by Dave Fleminger on guitar, Danny Cress on drums, and Martin Martiarena on bass. The group are well-steeped in 60s pop and soul, covering artists such as Petula Clark, Burt Bacharach, and Dionne Warwick, and more esoteric artists of the 60s, including some French ye-ye pop stars such as France Gall. There are also many songs penned by Normandie Wilson; songs that one would be surprised to find are recent and not from the 60s. Normandie, Symea, and Maggie take turns with lead vocals. This band has a vibrant sound which got a lot of people dancing at the Blindspot stage. I was surprised at the size of the crowd gathered for their music – it gives me hope that 60s pop still rules! We then ventured over to DiMille’s for some pizza with many of our friends. After dinner we moved over to the DiMille’s Beer Garden stage to hear Alvino & The Dwells with their supersonic surf music. This power trio consists of Dave Fleminger on guitar, Tony Suarez on bass and rhythm guitar, and Didier Suarez on drums. This band is reminiscent of the great surf bands of the 60s. We also ran into visual artist/drummer extraordinaire/instrument maker, Owen Burke, enjoying their set.

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True Stories
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George Rubsamen (mandolin) and Nico Peters (bongos)
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The Baja Bugs
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Dave Humphries Band
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The Joyelles
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Alvino & The Dwells

Bar Pink CD Release Party for The Joyelles & Alvino & The Dwells

I attended the CD release party for The Joyelles and Alvino & The Dwells at Bar Pink on June 9th. This was a well-attended show, with The Joyelles doing the first set and Alvino & The Dwells doing the second. All that was said about these fine bands regarding their performances at Art Around Adams can be repeated here. While enjoying the music I ran into many familiar faces. We all had a great time.

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The Joyelles
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Alvino and The Dwells

Other Shows Attended in June

Once again, we made our pilgrimage to Rebecca’s Coffee in South Park on Sunday morning, June 11, to hear The Dave Humphries Band. On Thursday, June 15, we celebrated Mark Markowitz’ birthday at the Riviera Supper Club listening to Mark play drums for Liz Grace & The Swing Thing, which was a four piece that evening with Mark on drums, Liz Grace on guitar and vocals, Jon Garner on electric guitar, and Doug Walker on bass. Later, on June 17, my son and his girlfriend accompanied us to Wynola Pizza to hear Three Chord Justice with an acoustic set, featuring their new lead guitarist, Alex Watts. Alex has played with the band on many occasions when Jeff Houck was not available, but since Jeff has left the band Alex has become a full member. Another fun evening with great music.

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Liz Grace & The Swing Thing

 

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True Stories
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Plow
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Three Chord Justice

The Music Box

We had an opportunity to hear Todo Mundo at The Music Box on June 16. When we found out that The Moves Collective would also be playing we just had to go. We had dinner at Buon Appetito, just a few blocks away from The Music Box. While standing in line to get in we ran into Carmelia Toot Bell. Little did we know that Carmelia would be performing later that evening. Soul Brigade opened the show with some high energy electric blues and funk. They were followed by The Moves Collective performing some high voltage Americana. Todo Mundo, featuring Jamie Shadowlight on electric violin and on a few songs Carmelia Toot Bell on vocals. It was another uplifting evening, with Todo Mundo bringing it to a beautiful conclusion.

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Soul Brigade
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The Moves Collective
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Todo Mundo

Revival of the Singer Songwriter

June 18 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, Shay and The Hustle, Greg Douglass, Israel Maldonado with Dante, Patric Petrie and Jillian Calkins, Shane J Hall Trio, and Steph Johnson with Rob Thorsen put their talents out there to bring on another wonderful evening with a variety of music styles. Patric Petrie and Jillian Calkins have joined forces to present a world folk music duo with an emphasis on Irish and French styles and culture. Their voices blend beautifully. They are now going by the name, J’Adore. They are planning a musical tour of France sometime next year. Shay and the Hustle, with vocalist Whitney Shay, provided a set of funky electric blues that was truly invigorating. There were some great guitarists at this event: Greg Douglass, Israel Maldonado and Steph Johnson. Douglass presented more of a hard-edged blues rock style reminiscent of Clapton, Page, and Hendrix. Maldonado provided acoustic stylings with a Latin flair. Johnson played a funky jazz set of originals with an uplifting, socially conscious theme. Shane J Hall Trio was a new treat for me, with a bluesy Americana style. It was an enjoyable evening of music.

A bit about the Six String Society/Revival of the Singer Songwriter events at the Belly Up, and now the Wednesday night events at Tio Leo’s near Old Town as well as the long-standing Fallbrook open mic events. These are organized and produced by Ken Rexrode. Ken has put tons of time and energy into promoting and supporting music and musicians in San Diego County. I highly recommend any of these events as well worth your time to experience.

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Greg Douglass
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Patric Petrie (l) and Jillian Calkins (r), aka J’Adore
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Israel Maldonado (l) with Dante (r)
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Steph Johnson and Rob Thorsen
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Shane J. Hall Trio
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Shay and The Hustle

Cirque Du Soleil Beatles Love, June 22

The Beatles. The Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas. Cirque du Soleil. Breathtaking. The Beatles’ music and the wizardry of George Martin. Superior talent and skill. What more is there to say? We attended this for my wife, Nancy’s birthday, which was June 22. It was Love.20170622_232151490_iOS

The Hollywood Project prerelease party at Rebecca’s Coffee, June 25

Representing The Hollywood Project were Dave Humphries, Greg Gohde, Mike Alvarez, and Wolfgang Grasekamp. This was the San Diego prerelease party for Olympic Boulevard, the second album by The Hollywood Project. If this appears to be an iteration of the Dave Humphries Band, you are correct. There were others involved in the production of this release, however, who were not available for this performance. Stephen Kalinich wrote the lyrics for many of the songs, Tom Quinn played guitar on many of the tracks, Sven Eric Seaholm played on the album as well as providing production and engineering along with Wolfgang. There are others I am probably missing, but these are the primary individuals responsible for this excellent release. After the performance, Dave Humphries and his wife Robbie Taylor, along with many of us regulars at Rebecca’s ventured down to The Station for lunch and tasty conversation.

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The Hollywood Project/Dave Humphries Band
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L to R: Mike Alvarez, Wolfgang Grasekamp, Dave Humphries, Greg Gohde
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At The Station, l to r: Randall Cornish, Popeswami, Nancy, Katy Allen, Robbie Taylor, Dave Humphries, Molly Lynn McClendon

The Garners at Riviera Supper Club, August 3

The Garners, formerly known as The Strivers, are Jon Garner and his wife, Lorelei Musique. Jon plays guitar and sings, and is an essential part of Liz Grace and The Swing Thing. Lorelei plays ukulele, guitalele, and sings. Together they dig into the music of the 20s through the 50s, with songs from Tin Pan Alley, classic pop and jazz, including a good dose of Django Reinhart and other early guitar greats. Lorelei is an accomplished vocalist with an expressive vocal style reminiscent of Billie Holiday, with a touch of Ella Fitzgerald. And, her work on ukulele and guitar compliments Jon’s playing nicely. I’ve written earlier about Jon’s excellent guitar work – he stays true to the early masters while adding his own unique twist to classic guitar jazz. It was another evening of great food and great sounds.

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The Garners: Lorelei Musique and Jon Garner

August through December

We visited the places we regularly frequent such as Wynola Pizza, the Alano Club in South Park, Riviera Supper Club, and Rebecca’s Coffee to see the bands we like to see such as Plow, Three Chord Justice, Liz Grace and The Swing Thing, and the Dave Humphries Band.

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Cadillac Wreckers at Proud Mary’s

 

 

Dave Humphries & Mike Alvarez with friends Mike Evans (left circle) and Will LaFond (right circle), last time at Rebecca’s Coffee on Sunday morning before they close

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Plow at Wynola Pizza: Doug Walker, Jason Weiss, Alex Sharps, Chris Clarke, Dane Terry

Lestat’s West on Adams Avenue, October 13

We attended a performance by Marie Haddad at Lestat’s West where she played songs from her latest album, “Stories from Atlantis.” I consider this album to be an all-time favorite of mine. While over the years I have thought highly of many releases by many local artists, this year there were three that were in my opinion jaw-dropping excellent, and this is one of the three. I will have more to say about the three albums in a later post. Of course, the songs sounded different at Lestat’s because it was just Marie on her keyboard, but her beautifully emotive voice and the exceptional lyrics and songwriting made for an enjoyable performance. Following Marie was Isaac Cheong on solo voice and guitar. His self-deprecating humor and sensitive songwriting has left me wanting to hear more. Isaac was followed by a husband and wife duo from Tucson, Arizona (originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina) calling themselves Birds & Arrows. This was a guitar and drums performance with Pete Connolly on drums and backing vocals and Andrea Connolly on guitar and lead vocals. They wrote their own music, which was a mix of Americana and hard-edged alternative rock. Andrea was amazing how she held up the rhythm and lead to make this performance sound like a full band. In talking with them at the break, they said they really like playing in San Diego and plan more gigs here in the future. I surely hope so. We did not stay for the other two artists performing that evening, Lisa Sanders and Mary Scholz. I am sure they would have been worth our time, but it was getting late after a tiring day.

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Marie Haddad
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Isaac Cheong
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Birds & Arrows

Rebecca’s Coffee Farewell Concert, December 16

On a sad note, after more than 25 years providing coffee, scones, and a venue for music and poetry as well as promotion for animal rescue, Rebecca’s Coffee is closing at the end of the year due to new ownership of the building and a doubling of the rent. A farewell concert was held at Rebecca’s on December 16. This featured several artists who had been regulars performing at the coffee shop over the years. Included were Dave Humphries accompanied by Mike Alvarez, and Tom Baird and Friends. A bittersweet evening.

 

 

San Diego Troubadour Holiday Party and Fundraiser 2017, Grassroots Oasis, December 17

While my better half suffered from the flu, I attended the Troubadour Holiday Party meeting up with friends and enjoying the music of Bayou Brothers, Tom Baird and Friends, Dave Humphries and Mike Alvarez (and featuring Owen Burke on drums, and with Liz Abbott on vocals on “Bluebird”), Robin Henkel with Whitney Shay, Asspocket of Whiskey, Nina Francis, among others too many to mention. All were in the holiday spirit and it was great seeing everyone and hearing some wonderful music.

 

 

The Nutcracker: A Jazz Exploration, Café Bar Europa, December 22

And here we are full circle. Performed by Jamie Shadowlight on electric violin, Mikan Zlatkovich on keys, Will Lyle on string bass, Monette Marino on percussion, Russell Bizzett on drums, with special guests PacificYO on beatbox, Carmelia Toot Bell on vocals, and Albert Lin throat singing. It is exactly as described, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker put into a jazz format with tons of wild improvisation and experimentation; much was done impromptu by super talents who can pull this off with ease.  Plus, it is always a joyful event to be with Jamie. It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

 

 

In Conclusion

Despite the flu and other infirmities, despite a government gone insane, despite a monstrous work load this past year, and despite fighting a downer regarding the uncertainty of our future and retirement under the current American leadership, this has been a good year for music and for experiencing music in San Diego. In fact, the music is what has kept me going. I have made many friends in the music community, and many of those friendships have grown deeper in the past year. As we look to 2018, I can know that despite what natural or human disasters occur in the next twelve months, and despite what calamities our government throws at us, we have the joy of music and of friendship, and that will get us through.

Before we leave 2017 I will be writing a second and hopefully shorter post regarding some recorded music discoveries during the year that I would like to share with everyone. In the meantime, try to avoid this nasty flu that is going around and value one another! Happy Holidays!

 

Out of the Woods and Into the Weeds

“Once the music leaves your head, it’s already compromised.” Jack Brewer, from liner notes to Sonic Youth’s 1994 album, “Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star”

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Anybody here see what happened to the past month? Can you tell me where it’s gone? A lot of major things happened but I can’t seem to recall right now. I just looked around and it was gone. My apologies to songwriter, Dick Holler and performer, Dion DiMucci.

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In late June/early July I took two weeks’ vacation to get together with family and friends in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. We did a lot of travelling and eating. It seems that visiting loved ones always involves food. As a matter of fact, it seems that music and food often go together. Before vacation, we saw Plow during the Bluegrass Brunch at Urban Solace on Flag Day, June 14, and again after vacation at the July 12, Bluegrass Brunch.

Bluegrass Brunch at Urban Solace, June 14 (Flag Day), and July 12, 2015

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Plow – L to R: Mark Markowitz (mostly hidden), Jason Weiss, Doug Walker, Chris Clarke, Joe Pomianek, and Dane Terry

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Plow, L to R: Chris Clarke, Mark Markowitz, Doug Walker, and Dane Terry

First, Urban Solace has wonderfully tasty modern, uniquely prepared American comfort food! But be forewarned, a steady diet of this could result in morbid obesity. First time there, pig out! On following visits try to be more discriminating, with the understanding that it is all good. On both occasions we saw the band, Plow. Every second Sunday, Plow performs during the brunch. The players were band leader, Chris Clarke: guitar, mandolin and lead vocals; Doug Walker: string bass; Jason Weiss: banjo; Joe Pomianek: guitar/mandolin; and also Mark Markowitz: percussion, and Dane Terry: harmonica and vocals. At the July show Weiss and Pomianek were absent. Although a bluegrass brunch, not all the music was truly bluegrass – some was a modernized bluegrass/old-time and Americana style. Mark Markowitz is the drummer for country band Three Chord Justice and Liz Grace & The Swing Thing. Dane Terry is part of electric jump blues band, Cadillac Wreckers. But they are “unofficial” players with Plow. Chris is an excellent songwriter, singer, and picker. They played some of Chris’ self-penned songs along with many popular and obscure traditional pieces. They create a pleasant atmosphere to enjoy a fantastic brunch all the while providing some quality pickin’ ‘n singin’; you provide the grinnin’.

Just a side note – while on vacation, I visited the area where my dad’s parents started out – the New Geneva and Greensboro, PA area. We have lots of history in that region, going back to colonial America. Some of the early glassworks and potteries were owned by my ancestors. Now all that is just a footnote in history, but it is fun to see a road named “Provance Hill Road” on the way to Masontown, PA, which also was laid-out by one of my ancestors. While in Greensboro, the mayor, Keith McManus, spotted my brother (who he knew) and we had a conversation about the artistic development in this small Pennsylvania village. Keith is a bluegrass player in The Woodticks (fiddle, banjo, and vocals) and is also a player in Stewed Mulligan, plus a professional story teller, and is instrumental in providing a music and visual art haven in Greensboro, besides being mayor. Immediately he and I struck up a conversation about music and he introduced me to another member of The Woodticks, Jeff Bush (banjo, fiddle sticks and vocals). Jeff used to live in La Mesa, and Keith also lived in San Diego (where they met). I mentioned some San Diego bands and when I said “Plow” they both acknowledged they had heard of the band. While at the July Bluegrass Brunch, I mentioned Keith McManus and The Woodticks to Dane Terry, and he said the names sounded familiar. It’s a small world. Oh yes – I left Greensboro with a free Woodticks CD! One song, penned by Keith, “Mannington #9”, is about the coal mining tragedy near Farmington and Mannington, WV back in 1968. It is quite a touching tribute to the miners lost in that tragedy.

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Blindspot Records 24th Anniversary Party – June 20, 2015 at the home of Patric Petrie

We attended the 24th anniversary party of Blindspot Records, founded by Bart Mendoza. Performing that evening were Casino Royale (Bart Mendoza, Normandie Wilson, David Fleminger), followed by Patric Petrie with friends & associates Tim Foley (both of world renowned World Beat Irish band, Skelpin) and David Lally (of Brogue Wave with Tim Foley) and accomplished violinist Ron Wild, followed by singer/songwriter Sierra West. Later, after we left, we understand that Marie Haddad performed (wish we could have stayed). The evening provided a much needed relaxed vibe. The music was awesome. Food was tasty. Drinks were abundant. More San Diego musicians in one house than you can imagine. Met and had a great time talking to Johnny “V” Vernazza, who has played with several notable national bands, but most prominently as a lead guitarist in the Elvin Bishop Group (he performed lead guitar in their 70s hit, “I Fooled Around and Fell In Love”). Also got to talk for a bit with Ron Wild as well as Normandie Wilson and David Fleminger of Casino Royale. Got to know a wonderful person, Molly Lynn McClendon, plus lots more people. Lots of centered, loving, artistic folks! The highlight was Casino Royale playing a series of Beatles tunes and we all sang along. Oh, wait, another highlight was hearing Patric Petrie and her friends perform some wonderful Irish music. Oh, and also hearing SD Music Awards winner Sierra West perform some of her intimate, touching song stories. Oh hell, the whole night was a highlight.

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Casino Royale, L to R: David Fleminger, Normandie Wilson, Bart Mendoza

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Moi with Johnny “V” Vernazza and his wife

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L to R: David Lally, Tim Foley, Patric Petrie, and Ron Wild

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Sierra West

July 11, 2015 – Liz Grace & The Swing Thing at Wynola Pizza, Wynola, CA

We decided to lease a 2016 Kia Rio and tested it out on some mountain roads headed to Julian. Stopped on the way at Wynola Pizza (in Wynola, of course) and listened to Liz Grace & The Swing Thing. Liz had a stripped-down band that evening consisting of husband Mark Markowitz on percussion and John Garner on acoustic guitar. John’s playing always amazes me. What a great player! And Liz is such a beautiful singer; doing standards from the 30s and 40s primarily. However, all that time I was thinking about the Sounds Like San Diego VII event at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad we were missing. I totally regret the fact that I missed this. Tough decisions, but the car won this time.

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L to R: Liz Grace, Mark Markowitz, John Garner

July 15, 2015 – two events: Normandie Wilson at Lafayette Hotel and Lance Dieckmann at the Jazz 88.3 Blues Jam at Proud Mary’s

Stopped by to hear Normandie tickle the ivories in the lobby of the Lafayette Hotel after work. I always enjoy hearing her sing and play. She did mostly her own songs this time, but one instrumental she did was a favorite of mine, “Dreamland” by Henry Mancini. It brought back many childhood memories.

After getting home, we decided to eat out at Proud Mary’s where the KSDS Jazz 88.3 Blues Jam was taking place, featuring Lance Dieckmann. This guy is a hard blowin’ harp player with a powerful singing voice to boot – one of the best players in San Diego. I’ve only seen him at the Spring Harp Fest in the past, but now I want to hear him with his own band the next time he plays close to us – he often performs at Hooley’s at Grossmont Centre and in Rancho San Diego. During the jam, Harmonica John Frazer stepped up and blew the roof off the joint. Of course, Lance had already loosened the ceiling bolts. Two great players in one evening. Plus, an 11 year old guitar player joined with Mark Augustin and company and amazed everyone with his skills. I noted that Mark brought his cherry red Gibson SG Standard with him and it brought back sad memories of letting my old Gibson SG go (exact same color) at a ridiculous price back in the early 80s. I’ve never seriously played since.

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L to R: Mark Augustin, Lance Dieckmann, didn’t catch drummer’s name

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The other players with Lance Dieckmann

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Mark Augustin with his Gibson SG Standard

July 17, 2015 – Whitney Shay Trio, Sheraton Hotel, Harbor Island, San Diego

I have heard Whitney on many occasions with Robin Henkel, singing old blues and R&B songs and have always appreciated her grasp and feel for that style of music. Now I wanted to hear her in a jazz format, and let me tell you – she is gooooood! She was accompanied by the amazing Rob Whitlock on piano and Jodie Hill on string bass. Fun to watch, exciting to listen to; what talent these three bring to the table! But again, tough choices – the local International Pop Overthow was happening at the Chico Club that evening. We decided not to go because those whom we especially wanted to see (True Stories and Normandie Wilson) were not playing until after 11 pm, and I had to prepare to get to bed early tonight so that I would be rested traveling to Macon, Georgia on Sunday morning. So last night I made a quick post to Facebook and then was in bed by the time my friends would be hitting the stage. But that’s okay. Whitney was a real treat to hear and visit with.

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L to R: Jodie Hill, Whitney Shay, Ron Whitlock

So Hear We Arrrrrgh!

It rained a little today. A little is better than nothing, but we really need a good, steady course of rain on a weekly basis for the next three years to get back to where we need to be in Southern California. Then I can sail my pirate ship across the seven seas, “going from this land here to that, in a sailor suit and cap, away from the big city where a man cannot be free of all the evils of this town and everybody putting everybody else down, and all the politicians making hissy sounds and all the dead bodies piled up in mounds, oh and you can’t help me not you guys and all you girls with all your sweet talk, you can just go and take a walk and I guess that I just don’t know. And I guess that I just don’t know.” Did I get that right, Lou? Sorry – got carried away. That was from “Heroin” by Lou Reed, recorded by Velvet Underground on The Velvet Underground and Nico album (the banana album) released in 1967, recorded in early 1966 and performed as early as 1965; produced by Andy Warhol. That song, as it appears on the album, is mandatory listening for anyone who wants to understand the underbelly of mid- to late 60’s American rock and the decadent social atmosphere of the impoverished areas of the inner cities that still remains barely unchanged in 2015. That song was a reminder that all was not peace and love and freedom in the late 60s. The Age of Aquarius never arrived for many. But for me, living in rural Southwestern Pennsylvania, armed with Life magazine and commercial television, I was able to see only the glamorized side of the world outside my local environs. Every perception was distorted as I could only imagine the realities based upon what I was exposed to in the media and in my personal, sheltered rural life. Ah, yes, it was sweet being 16 in 1969; living with the imaginary visions of wearing flowers in my hair in San Francisco. But then there was “The Underground” program on WAMO-FM in Pittsburgh, hosted by Brother Love (Ken Reeth), and thankfully, they were playing Lou Reed, who was telling a different story of alternative sex, drug addiction, and poverty. While it was so far from my experience, at least I had an inkling of what many go through daily. This was very formative for me. While I love the pop music of the 60s and the fond memories it triggers, I am glad for the exposure to the music “the bubblegums never played” as Ken Reeth would say.

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What’s Next?

Tomorrow morning I fly to Georgia. For the next four weeks I will only be home on Saturdays as I travel to Chicago, South Carolina, and Biloxi, Mississippi for a week each. Perhaps I’ll have some music happenings to report, but if I don’t, my next post will be about some of my favorite songs of all time. These could span every genre and every era of recorded music. But perhaps you will find something that is a favorite of yours as well. And if what I mention is unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to go to YouTube, or Spotify, or wherever else you can find it, and give it a listen. The world is full of wonderful sounds.

The Mystery of Long Life

“I made up my mind
If this is the way life has gotta be
I’m gonna do the same thing
The same thing they been doing to me”
B.B.King – I’m Gonna Do What They Do To Me

It seems that musicians either die very young, from an excessive lifestyle, or they live very long lives – especially in the world of jazz and blues. Pittsburgh’s Joe Negri is 89, Les Paul died at the age of 94; Chet Atkins at the age of 77. Local blues legend Tomcat Courtney is 83 and jazz saxophone great, Joe Marillo, is going to be 82 this month. Jazz guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli, is 89. Kenny Burrell is 83, as well as Joao Gilberto and John Pisano. Singers Bob Dorough and Jon Hendricks are in their 90s, and Tony Bennett is not far behind at 87. Is it the music that keeps them going? Most continue to perform into their 80s and 90s. Marian McPartland had a show on NPR, “Piano Jazz”, nearly until her demise at age 95. Pittsburgh’s great doo-wop DJ, Porky Chedwick, was 96 at his death and still had a radio show. Some of these players had a life of excess in their early years but then calmed down as they matured. Others have had a hard life in other ways, yet they persevered. Many have had a life on the road for most of their adult lives. Yet, they seem to live longer than the norm. Life insurance companies should take note of this. I have had this realization come to the forefront of my thought lately.

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Mundell Lowe

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Left to right, Jaime Valle, Bob Boss, Bob Magnussen, Jim Plank

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Mundell Lowe and Alicia Previn Lowe

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Left to right, Jaime Valle, Mundell Lowe, Bob Boss, Bob Magnussen

Mundell Lowe’s 93rd Birthday Celebration

May 10th was Mothers’ Day. It was also the evening we got to see jazz guitar virtuoso, Mundell Lowe. Mundell’s birthday was April 21; he turned 93. But he was in Europe, on tour, when he turned 93, so the celebration was on Monther’s Day, at Dizzy’s. Ever since I became aware that this legendary jazz guitarist lived in San Diego, I kept watching for when he would perform locally. I had actually written it off thinking that he had retired from performing. Luckily, I was wrong, and was home when he performed on May 10. This performance included two other jazz guitar greats, Jaime Valle and Bob Boss; together, they were called “The Three Guitars” that evening, supported by string bassist, Bob Magnussen, and drummer, Jim Plank. Also, for two numbers, Mundell was joined on violin by his step-daughter, Alicia Previn Lowe. Yes, that is “Previn”, as in Andre Previn, her father. Sometime after Andre Previn (age 86) and singer Betty Bennett (age 93) divorced in the late 50s, Mundell and Betty were married, making Mundell Alicia’s step-father. Bob Magnussen and Mundell Lowe have performed and recorded together on and off for decades. Just a sampling of other people Lowe has performed or recorded with include: Billie Holiday, Bobby Darin, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Doc Severinsen, Andre Previn, Barry Manilow, Sarah Vaughan, and Harry Belafonte. I’m leaving out several others.

The evening began with two songs performed by Valle, Boss, Magnussen, and Plank, which gave us a rich taste of what was to come. Since we had front row seats I got a close up view of their fretwork. Their playing was impeccable, with sweet, delectable solo work that simply amazed me. Then, Mundell Lowe joined in for several more popular and jazz standards, with each of the three guitarists alternating solos. Each has a distinct style with a distinct tone. Age has not affected Lowe’s abilities – his playing was still jaw-dropping. There were also a couple bass and drum solos where both Magnussen and Plank were able to show off their vast talents. At one point the others left the stage for Lowe to perform solo guitar on “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”, which was performed delicately and beautifully. Alicia did two songs with Mundell, the first with just solo guitar and violin. The second added the bass and drums. Alicia is violinist in an Irish band, In Tua Nua, and was a founding member of the Young Dubliners. Her violin was green. After the show we got to talk briefly with the players. It was quite a wonderful way to end Mother’s Day.

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B.B. King Dedication

B.B. King passed away on Thursday, May 14 at the age of 89. On Friday evening we went to Proud Mary’s for dinner and to see Cadillac Wreckers. I’ve written about this jump/swing blues group before, and they did not disappoint. On a chair, in front of the band, the group had placed the album “B.B. King Live at the Apollo” and a rose. In addition to their standard repertoire, they performed some King-penned numbers including his huge hit, “The Thrill is Gone”. As singer/blues harpist Dane Terry said, “we are here to celebrate B.B. King’s life and his contributions to American music”. Larry Teves (Chickenbone Slim) also stopped by to watch the band.

My first exposure to B.B. King was in 1964, when my brother, who lived in California sent a reel-to-reel album home to my parents in Pennsylvania. The album was “A Salute to Tommy Dorsey”, with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra led by Sam Donahue, recorded in 1961. On this album, the vocals on “Yes, Indeed” were sung by someone named B.B. King and an unknown female vocalist. This album did not feature King’s distinct guitar playing. In fact, as an 11-year-old, I knew nothing about King at that time. Later, when listening to WAMO-FM in Pittsburgh, I noted they played many blues artists, including King. Two songs I distinctly remember were “Chains and Things” and “I’m Gonna Do What They Do To Me”. These were played on the program titled “The Underground” and hosted by Porky Chedwick on weekend afternoons and Brother Love (Ken Reeth) most evenings. The B.B. King songs were mixed with folk, blues, psychedelic, and other obscure rock and jazz songs. It would be common to hear a song by Tim Hardin followed by B.B. King, and then followed by The Doors and jazz flautist Jeremy Steig. Later, in college in the early 70s I got to hear many blues artists as well as more of B.B. King. In the era of CDs, I purchased the B.B. King box set, “King of the Blues”, spanning his entire career on four CDs. It is amazing to see how his style moved from solid electric blues to more popular music with more singing than guitar playing. And then, he moved back to more standard blues later in life. King had a distinct style that was never fast and flashy, and instead went for a more deliberate, emotive style as if the guitar was talking, or wailing. In all cases his music made total sense musically and emotionally. A classic song that I have and love is a recording of his live performance with Bobby Blue Bland on the song “Sorry”. Here, he talks to the audience about relationships as he and Bobby play and sing. It is fun to listen to and easy to imagine being part of that audience.

Other Stuff

I don’t mention much about classical, or serious music here. Well, here is a listing of the top 20 of the classics for which I have a warm spot in my heart:

1. George Gershwin – Rhapsody In Blue
2. Darius Milhaud – La Creation du Monde
3. Zoltan Kodaly – Hary Janos Suite
4. Serge Prokofiev – Symphony No. 1 (Classical Symphony)
5. Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 4 in E minor (Tragic Symphony)
6. Bela Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra
7. Richard Wagner – Tannhauser Overture and Venusberg Music
8. Lucas Foss – Baroque Variations
9. Paul Hindemith – Mathis der Maler
10. John Cage – Variations IV
11. Johann Sebastian Bach – Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland (orchestral version)
12. Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring
13. Philip Glass – Powaqqatsi
14. Luciano Berio – Visage
15. Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky – Manfred Symphony, Op. 58
16. Modest Mussorgsky – A Night on Bald Mountain
17. Sir Edward Elgar – Symphony No. 2
18. Ralph Vaughan Williams – Symphony No. 7
19. Hector Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique
20. Robert Schumann – Manfred

And that’s it for this time. I head to the heart of Minnesota on Tuesday. The following weekend is jazz saxophonist, Joe Marillo’s 82nd birthday celebration at Dizzy’s. I am planning to go.

Tripping, and Stumbling, in the Dim Light Fantastic

“There are only forty people in the world and five of them are hamburgers.”
Captain Beefheart (aka Don Van Vliet), from Rolling Stone interview by Langdon Winner, May 14, 1970

There has been a ton of activity in the 7stones uni-verse lately and it has been hard for this Popeswami to keep up. Going back the past couple months, there have been two tremendous music events we have attended. And, there is other important stuff to talk about as well, so let me get right down “tuit”.

Women in Jazz

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The 6th annual Women in Jazz performance occurred at 98 Bottles, Saturday evening, March 28. The objective of this event is to highlight Women’s History Month and the music of female composers. The local all-female jazz players included: Allison Adams Tucker, voice; Steph Johnson, voice & guitar; Ellen Weller, flute & saxes; Melonie Grinnell, piano; Jodie Hill, bass; and Laurel Grinnell, drums.
Let me just say that this was mind blowing! Such talent! Melonie Grinnell, while a very shy personality, was very vocal and articulate through the ivories, with some jaw-dropping solo work as well as supportive ensemble playing. Steph Johnson just has to be one of the most soulful guitarist/singers I’ve seen locally, with a style all her own. Her gregarious personality shows through her playing and singing. She is really fun to watch. Ellen Weller brought a more academic, music conservatory approach, often veering into the avant-garde in her arrangements. One of her compositions reminded me of Cecil Taylor’s jazz experiments – a brilliant, calculating, free/modal jazz number, and the other players were right with her. Allison Adams Tucker has a beautiful voice, and her version of Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story got me really emotional… or was it her in combination with the band’s impeccable interpretation? Allison’s sweet, pure voice was a nice balance to Steph’s more bluesy singing style. Drummer Laurel Grinnell is very young – I would guess early 20s, but her time on the drum stool sounds like decades of experience. The amazing thing about this ensemble is that other than rehearsing for this show, they had never played together! You would never know if they had not said it. We left the event totally blissed-out!

Spring Harp Fest

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Cadillac Wreckers

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Lance Dieckmann & Bayou Brothers

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Bubba McCoy

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Zachary Cole

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Chet Cannon & The Committee

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Billy Watson

The 16th Annual Spring Harp Fest was held at Harry Griffen Regional Park on Saturday, April 4. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny but with mild temperatures – perfect for an outdoor festival. We got there early, and had to leave late in the afternoon to take care of other responsibilities, but at least we got to see most of the local acts we came to see. The festival opened with Cadillac Wreckers, featuring Dane Terry on blues harp. As expected, they were tight with great harp playing by Dane. Dana Duplan, on guitar, was excellent as ever, and the rhythm section was tight. Next up was Lance Dieckmann with the Bayou Brothers. This was a powerful set with a mix of blues and zydeco, which worked nicely together. Lance is one of the most powerful blues harpists I’ve ever heard, and a powerful blues singer as well. Next up was Bubba McCoy, featuring Big Jon Atkinson on guitar, who would later front his own band, The Nationals, on blues harp. Bubba did some excellent harp work as well as some gutsy singing. As his own promo says, “Bubba has a square head and sounds like it!”. The last set before noon was Zachary Cole, another powerful harpist with a great rhythm section and a singer who put his heart and soul into it.
After lunch and the unknown players jam, Chet Cannon and The Committee provided another great set. Chet is another great blues harpist who is also a powerful vocalist. For whatever the reason, he reminds me of Burl Ives, if Burl had let it all hang out and got into the blues big time. And finally, we saw Billy Watson’s set. Billy is another great harpist – and with a great sense of humor! He is a very animated player with a tremendous band, The International Silver String Submarine Band.
That’s where we had to leave it, missing locals Troy Sandow, Big Jon Atkinson & the Nationals, featured star player – nationally known Kim Wilson, and more locals Steve Bulger & 145th Street, and Harmonica John Frazer. Maybe next year.
I would be hard pressed to pick a best of the day, but the most enjoyable set for me was Lance Dieckmann and Bayou Brothers. But there was something about every set that was exciting for me.

Other Happenings

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Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse

I have been into the weeds at work, flying all over the country, training, auditing, writing, revising – all so that I can bring home the Pork Soda.
I also entertained a friend and old colleague I used to work with in Ohio over 15 years ago. Since then we both left the Buckeye State – he to owning a resort on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and me to California. Had a great time last Saturday. Sunday, however, is something else. We took a road trip to the mountains – another gloriously beautiful day. However, our lunch on the road brought me food poisoning, causing me to miss 2½ days of work and cram a week’s worth of work into a half week, with many near-perfect storms, including technical malfunctions during the Webcast I hosted on Friday. I saved up my energy by not going anywhere after work (still wiped out after the food poisoning) and missing some great performances by some of my friends for the El Cajon Boulevard celebration at the Lafayette Hotel. Missing this and conserving energy was all so that we could enjoy the big Adams Avenue Unplugged event this weekend. I will write more on this in a future post.
In the meantime I picked up some amazing music in the form of CDs. My biggest find was a totally trippy album, “Wondrous Bughouse”, by Youth Lagoon, recorded in 2013. I heard Youth Lagoon on a community radio station in Brooklyn last week and just had to pick up a copy. Youth Lagoon is Trevor Powers, a San Diego native who now lives in Idaho. I don’t know what kind of mushrooms they grow in Idaho, but Trevor obviously has overdosed on them. This other-worldly swirling, dizzying recording will make you high without organics or chemicals. His voice is filtered through a vocoder with lyrics half-recognizable that speak of things metaphysical, when you can figure it out. I love this CD. Strongest similarity is the album “Start a People” by Black Moth Super Rainbow, which is another killer album that is essential in any modern psychedelic music collection. Other acquisitions include “The Making of Freak Out!”, a 4-CD collection of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention’s first album from 1966. This is the first time the original vinyl recording has been accurately transferred to CD, plus you get 3 cd’s worth of outtakes, interviews, and other goodies. Also purchased were restorations of The Mothers of Invention albums “Absolutely Free”, “Lumpy Gravy” & “We’re Only In It For The Money” (in a 3-CD set called “Lumpy Money”), and “Greasy Love Songs” – which is actually the original LP version of “Cruising with Ruben & The Jets” with several extra goodies. And, then there are a couple CDs of one of my favorite alternative folk/bluegrass bands, Crooked Still, “Hop High” and “Shaken by a Low Sound”. Both are excellent and reflect some of the darker sides of Americana and folk/bluegrass, with excellent use of cello and the beautiful voice of Aoife O’Donovan.
Coming soon to my mailbox is the first authorized re-release of the late psych-pop private press eponymous LP of Michael Angelo (that’s actually Michael Angelo Nigro). The original master tapes were long lost and the Guinn label is no longer in existence. There were only 500 LPs issued in 1977. Void Records in Germany had done a horrible noise-reduction-remastering from an original LP about 10 years ago and it sounded like it was recorded under water. Beatbox in Korea did a CD release that was hopeful, but I discovered they used the Void LP to make the CD, which did nothing to help matters. This time Mexican Summer found a mint copy of the original Guinn LP and they promise that it will sound much improved over the Void & Beatbox versions. Let’s hope so. The music is so beautiful in a McCartney-esque manner that it deserves a decent reissue. I have ordered both the LP and CD, and they are on their way. I can’t wait!
And this catches up the past month’s worth of experiences and happenings – well almost all experiences. There was that time while playing Beastie Boys‘ “Hello Nasty” CD, but some things a Popeswami cannot reveal to those who have not undergone initiation.