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!

 

BEFORE AND AFTER THE FLOOD

This entry will be in three parts, to signify what was happening between my last post and before I was caught in the flood in southern Louisiana, and what has happened since.

Before the Flood

 “You walk into the room

With your pencil in your hand

You see somebody naked

And you say, “Who is that man?”

You try so hard

But you don’t understand

Just what you’ll say

When you get home

Because something is happening here

But you don’t know what it is

Do you, Mister Jones?…”

Bob Dylan, from “Ballad of a Thin Man” from Highway 61 Revisited (1965) and Before the Flood (1974)

It has been quite some time between posts, and I hope that this does not become a habit. I really really really want to post more often but Time Won’t Let Me; makes me feel like an Outsider.

After experiencing the Beatles Fair, and other great shows in the spring of 2016, I truly considered I had seen the highlight of the year before the halfway mark. Well I was wrong. Here is why:

June 24: Jamie Shadowlight’s String Theory – Going to California, a fusion exploration of Led Zeppelin, at 98 Bottles in Little Italy.  The band consisted of Jamie Shadowlight on violin, Caitlin Evanson on violin and vocals, Mikan Zlatkovich on keys, Antar Martin on bass, Kevin Higuchi on drums, Pedro Talarico on guitar, and special guests Lorraine Castellanos (guitar), P.J. Ortiz (beat box), Carmelia “Toot” Bell (vocals). What a fun evening! It began with a long drone that evolved into “Kashmir”, then followed by Caitlin’s plaintive vocals on “Black Dog”, and things just kept going, from dueling violins to fantastic drum solos, and jazzy instrumentals featuring Mikan, Antar, Kevin, and Pedro. Lorraine Castellanos was featured with solo acoustic guitar for one song. Then there was the most unusual take on “Whole Lotta Love” featuring Carmelia “Toot” Bell on vocals, transforming the song’s lyrics into a cosmic love fest. Jamie’s shows are always entertaining, uplifting, and a bit transcendent.

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Jamie Shadowlight’s String Theory, L to R: Caitlin Evanson, Kevin Higuchi, Jamie Shadowlight, Antar Martin, Pedro Talarico, Mikan Zlatkovich
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String Theory featuring P.J. Ortiz at far left
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Lorraine Castellanos
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String Theory with Carmelia “Toot” Bell

June 25: Dave Humphries, Wolfgang Grasekamp, Mike Alvarez – Rebecca’s Coffee Shop, South Park. The last Sunday of the month Dave Humphries performs his original tunes as well as British invasion standards from the 60s at Rebecca’s. As usual, he was accompanied by Wolfgang Grasekamp and Mike Alvarez. It is always a good time hanging out and watching them perform these classics and originals.

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L to R: Mike Alvarez, Dave Humphries, Wolfgang Grasekamp

June 25: Dave & Normandie’s Excellent Wedding Celebration Bash at Bar Pink in North Park. Normandie Wilson and Dave Fleminger were married on the 24th, but wanted to invite all their friends to a musical celebration the following day. It was a fun evening of music and dance, and meeting lots of new people as well as old friends. First up musically were Alvino and The Dwells with some great surf tunes and Dave Fleminger’s guitar pyromania. They were followed by The Amandas who did some excellent alternative pop/rock with Dave Fleminger on guitar again. The Joyelles were up next featuring Normandie Wilson on vocals and keys, Symea Solomon on vocals, and Maggie Taylor on vocals. Backing them up was Dave Fleminger on guitar, and Bart Mendoza stepped in on vocals while Maggie took a break – which created the old Casino Royale lineup. This was my first time hearing this new band and they were great with beautiful blending vocal harmonies on a mix of obscure and popular tunes reaching back to the pop 60s. Following The Joyelles was Manual Scan, with Bart Mendoza on guitar, Dave Fleminger (does he ever rest?) on keys, Kevin Donaker-Ring on lead guitar, but unfortunately I cannot recall the drummer nor bassist (Tim Blankenship?) that evening. But I do know that the original Manual Scan drummer from the early 80s, Paul Kaufman?, was there and sat in for one song. Lots of originals as well as 60s mod and psychedelic rock. Two other bands were going to be playing, Bitchin’ Seahorse, and The Gargoyles, but it was getting very late and I had to work the next day so we left after Manual Scan’s set. It was too bad because Bitchin’ Seahorse was described as a bit avant-garde, which is right down one of my back alleys. It was a memorable evening of excellent music and good friends.

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Alvino and the Dwells
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The Amandas
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The Joyelles
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The Joyelles minus Maggie Taylor, featuring Bart Mendoza
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Manual Scan
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Manual Scan
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Manual Scan with original 80s drummer

July 8: Steph Johnson Band – Pre-CD-Release Show at 98 Bottles, Little Italy.  Steph’s band played music from her soon-to-be-released CD. The show featured Steph on guitar and vocals, Rob Thorsen on string bass, Fernando Gomez on drums, Curtis Taylor on trumpet and ??? on keys. Funky jazz with some great sounds from all. Steph’s lyrics show a social and transcendent consciousness that brings a message of hope, unity, and oneness. I call it holistic healing music. Beautiful. Beautiful.

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Steph Johnson Band

July 23: Three Chord Justice – Summer Concert Series, Bird Park, near Balboa Park.  This fabulous country band consists of Liz Grace on vocals and guitar, Mark Markowitz on drums, Dave Preston on bass, and Jeff Houck on lead guitar. I have written about them before. And this time it is no different. They are great performers and lots of fun. This open air concert was well attended as evidenced by the fact that we had to park several streets away, but the walk to the park was well worth it! One thing I noticed about this performance is that they only played original songs – no covers. Songs were penned by either Liz or by Dave and were all well-crafted compositions. The last time I saw them Jeff was absent and Alex Watts was filling in on guitar. Both players are excellent but a bit different in style, with Jeff having a harder-edged rocky style. But both players fit perfectly with the others in the TCJ sound.

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Three Chord Justice

July 24: Dave Humphries at Rebecca’s. If it’s Sunday its Meet the….no, not press. Press play. Time to hear Dave Humphries play his mix of 60s British rock standards and his self-penned compositions. This time, in addition to Wolfgang Grasekamp on keyboard and Mike Alvarez on cello, we had Greg Gohde on electric bass. Now, Mike and Greg perform together as Bass Clef Experiment. So for a bit of the show, Dave and Wolfgang stepped aside to let Mike and Greg, as Bass Clef Experiment, perform some of their songs. So this Sunday we got two-for-one, and a cup of Joe to go with them. Not a bad deal at all.

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Bass Clef Experiment

July 24: Robin Henkel with Horns at Lestat’s in Normal Heights.  Robin has a standing gig at Lestat’s on the last or next to last Sunday of the month, with his horn band. These performances are free, and well worth the money. Seriously, if there was a fee I would gladly pay. This time we had Robin on guitars, Jodie Hill on string bass, Erdis Maxhelaku on cello, Troy Jennings on soprano and bari sax, David Castel de Oro on sax and clarinet, and Gary Nieves on drums. This was the first time I had seen Robin with a cello in the band and it worked very nicely. All these players are highly skilled professionals so what you hear is a top notch performance of early American jazz and country blues with a bit of country swing, and sometimes even the avant-garde mixed in. Robin also provides a narrative on many of these songs and the players who made them famous, as well as how his own compositions were birthed. Every song has a story, and Robin makes those stories fun.

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Robin Henkel with Horns

August 2: Woodstock, 2016, Bethel, New York. No, there was no Woodstock event this year, but I was working 10 miles down the road in Monticello, New York so it would have been unthinkable for me to miss this opportunity to visit the location of one of the greatest events in rock music history. The farm is no longer owned by Max Yasgur or his family. It is now part of a historic park owned by the community. There is a huge museum containing videos, photos, and mementos from the event and the era. There was information regarding the planning and development as well as the event itself and what became of some of the key players in making this event happen. There was even a full-scale replica of the bus, Further, by which The Merry Pranksters led by Ken Babbs and Ken Kesey arrived. It took me two full hours to peruse the museum before going outside to check out the grounds where the 1969 event occurred. There is a memorial stone and plaque close to where the original stage was located, overlooking the basin and hillside where everyone watched. It was a far out experience being there. I was 16 when Woodstock was going on. During the event I listened to ham operators on my shortwave radio talking about the thruway being blocked with cars and what a big mess it was for this area of upstate New York.

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Further at Woodstock

August 11: Sam Broussard, Blue Dog Café, Lafayette, Louisiana. I had a decision to make that Thursday night – whether to go to another venue I had been told had great Cajun music and dancing, or to go to this quieter café where I could hear a jazz/rock guitarist with a Cajun flavor perform while I had a delicious meal of catfish smothered with crawfish etouffee. I chose the latter. Broussard used two guitars. One was a hollow body with a pickup and the other was a solid body electric. He used a loop so that he could build a song with both guitars and sing. Every loop artist I’ve seen makes it look so easy to do – it makes me wonder if it is that easy or if they have to practice for hours to get the timing down. I put my money on the latter. I talked to Sam afterward and purchased a couple of his CDs. He has a Facebook page and I tried messaging him when I returned to San Diego, but got no response. I am hoping he did not lose his home or livelihood in the big flood. His site shows no current postings. The flood was just beginning that evening. When I left the café to return to my hotel, it had started to rain.

 

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Sam Broussard

The Flood

August 11 – 14: Lafayette, Louisiana.  I had arrived in Lafayette on Sunday, August 7. The weather was beautiful all week, until Thursday evening when it began to rain. I thought nothing of it. When I got up Friday morning I noted that it was still raining, and it was a hard rain. When I arrived at the work site, I noted there were some parts of the streets where water was beginning to pond big time. After my work was done that afternoon I headed straight to the airport, only to find that my flight was cancelled. The situation had begun to get serious. I made a call back to the Doubletree Hotel, where I had been staying all week on the 13th floor. They had a room so they sent the hotel shuttle to get me. My flight had been rebooked for Saturday morning. While not happy that I was not getting home that night, at least I had a nice hotel and all my luggage. They put me on the 12th floor this time. I had a nice dinner and went to bed thinking I will be home by mid-afternoon Saturday. However, Come Saturday Morning (sorry for that) I learned that my flight had been cancelled again and was rescheduled for Sunday morning. All day Saturday I watched out my 12th floor guest room window as the water kept rising, covering the street, and going up the walls of the Outback Steakhouse, the Fairfield Inn, and the Comfort Suites across the street. Later, they evacuated guests of those two hotels by boat and brought them to us. We were on a little higher ground but we were right next to the Vermillion River. The water had reached the deck and pool that were outside my window,  12 stories down. Sunday morning, I received a call from American Airlines informing that my flight had been cancelled once again, and it was now not leaving until 5:30 pm on Monday. The rain appeared to be slowing but when I looked out the window, the water was halfway up the wall of the Outback Steakhouse. When I went down for breakfast I learned that water had got into the area where the food was stored. While the hotel salvaged some, they would run out after breakfast and the hotel was now relatively full with people stranded like me due to the flood. The guests from Fairfield Inn and Comfort Suites were now at this hotel.  I had a big breakfast and was not hungry until early afternoon, but when I went down to the pantry next to the registration counter, there was nothing there. Someone or several people had cleaned out the snacks since there was no lunch and no way to get anywhere else.

Luckily the rain stopped by noon. I actually watched the waters recede rather quickly. The street became visible again, and traffic, while sparse, began to be seen. There was a food delivery before dinner time, but dinner was still quite limited. At least it was food. Monday morning was sunny. Breakfast was available, and I checked out at noon – the latest I could stay. My flight was not for another five and a half hours. However, as the five o’clock hour approached I received a call from American Airlines. My flight was delayed. It would now be a 6:30 departure. Then another call – delayed until 7, then 7:30. Finally, we were in the air sometime after 9 pm, headed for Dallas. I was sure I had missed my connecting flight but I didn’t because it, too, was delayed. But it was not due to weather. They were working on this 2-week old jet due to an oil leak. Finally, they said we were not leaving that night. They put me up at a Q Inn and Tuesday morning I was on another jet, and in first class. I got home by noon on Tuesday.

After the Flood

“Sang soulless loud

Herding step on flesh

And nothing else

To well

To drown & drown

Sleight of reason

How they come

Cain in number…”

From “After the Flood” by Talk Talk, from Laughing Stock, 1991

Since the great flood, I’ve been on the road from Hartford, Connecticut to Eugene, Oregon. I was hoping to see Haley Loren perform live, since she is from Eugene and was not out of town, but we only connected after I had returned to San Diego – perhaps someday. And, I hope it is soon.

Since I do more than simply work and write, I had other things occupying my time throughout this past week, passing up some local performances that I am sure would have been worth my while. I did learn of some promising weekend activities, but with so many going on I had to be selective. Since I want to get this out before I leave Sunday for Los Angeles, I will end it with last night’s performance.

September 9: Gramophone Gregory Page at Java Joe’s in Normal Heights.  The evening began with Gregory playing early 78s on a 1928 His Master’s Voice gramophone. He would put one on, then leave the stage, come back and put on another. The setting was interesting, with a heat lamp above the gramophone. The bulb was partially coated in blue with part of the blue missing. There was a lit “On The Air” sign, a 1950s black telephone, and a digital recorder containing several songs taken from 78s. There was a stack of 78s on a nearby chair, some of which Gregory played on the gramophone. Finally, he greeted the audience, and went into his typically humorous story-telling and singing of songs from his voluminous recording output. Gregory performed on his acoustic guitar with pickup, and also with old 78 recordings. He then introduced his drummer, Josh Hermsmeier, who operated solely on a snare (mostly with brushes), assorted child toy shakers and noisemakers, and a cowbell. The assorted toys were resting on the side of an old beat-up leather covered suitcase. Leaning against the suitcase were assorted drumsticks and mallets. One must understand that a Gregory Page performance is an unpredictable thing, and it is more like performance art with a musical predominance. There is humor, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes poignant, sometimes subtle, but always interesting and often endearing. Story-telling is an essential part of his performance. The music is a mix of folk and modern Americana style, Irish folk, and popular music from the great depression era and earlier. His fingerpicking style includes elements of Southern Appalachian picking. Another part of a Gregory Page performance is educational, luring the audience into an appreciation of songs and singers long lost to history. His demeanor is gentle and often slightly self-deprecating in a humorous manner. The quality of his performance is impeccable as is his recorded output. Another drummer, Owen Burke, was in the audience. Owen is a multi-talented artist, hand-crafting guitars, ukuleles, and other string instruments, as well as displaying his art at Art on 30th Gallery. For the last selection of the evening, Gregory coaxed Owen to come on stage and perform on the snare. With two drummers on stage, Josh picked up the various toys he brought to the show, plus pulling off the wall some of the string instruments on display (made by Owen) and for sale. Owen, as usual did not limit his playing to the snare, tapping out rhythm with a variety of pitch on chairs, signs, walls and even the instruments Josh was playing. It was free form organized lunacy without deteriorating into cacophony. It was a relaxing yet stimulating evening.

Tonight we are headed to a house concert entitled “Strings of Thought”, performed by Caitlin Evanson, Pedro Talarico, Jamie Shadowlight, and Nico Hueso. And tomorrow morning we are going to Urban Solace for breakfast where we will hear Plow, including Mark Markowitz and Dane Terry. I will say more about these in my next blog post.

In Other News

Within my collection of recorded works are many spoken word albums covering a variety of subjects. One thing anyone who knows the Popeswami should know by now is that I have a perverted interest in the drug culture as it developed and influenced society, especially the arts, from the 40s through the present. Some of this includes “scare tactic” recordings issued by various religious and political groups and passed-off as educational albums in the late 60s and early 70s.  There will be more about those in a later post. Right now I want to focus on those recordings from the scientific, philosophical, and artistic communities regarding such matters.

  1. Albert Hofmann – LSD: My Problem Child. We begin with the Swiss chemist who accidentally discovered the psychoactive powers of d-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate-25, better known as LSD, in the Basel, Switzerland-based Sandoz Laboratories in 1943. He had first synthesized LSD on November 16, 1938, but had done nothing with this 25th lysergic acid derivative until April 16, 1943, when he accidentally had some of the drug absorbed through his fingertips. So by accident, he discovered the wild effects of this drug. On April 19th he conducted an experiment, this time purposefully dosing himself with 250 micrograms of LSD, and then riding his bicycle home. That famed bicycle ride has been the subject of many psychedelic rock bands from the 1960s, as well as by the proponents of the use of LSD who have declared April 19 as “Bicycle Day”. Here is what Hofmann reported after the accidental exposure to LSD on April 16, 1943:

 “…affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay           down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away.”

This is a quote from his 1980 book, “LSD, My Problem Child.” Hofmann gave a talk at the 1983 Psychedelics Conference in Santa Barbara, with the same title. That talk has been recorded for posterity. I was able to find and purchase a CDr copy of this recording which is quite illuminating. Dr. Albert Hofmann died in 2008, at the age of 102.

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  1. Humphrey Osmond – The Early Days: Mescaline Opens Huxley’s Doors of Perception. This talk was also from the 1983 Psychedelics Conference in Santa Barbara and was issued on cassette, with a very limited CDr release. I was fortunate to purchase a copy of the CDr. Dr. Osmond was a British psychiatrist who was working in Saskatchewan, Canada in the early 1950s at a psychiatric hospital where, looking for a cure to schizophrenia, he performed experiments on schizophrenic patients with LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. In 1953 Aldous Huxley initiated a correspondence with Osmond with regard to his experiments. Osmond met Huxley later that year in Los Angeles where he supplied Huxley with a requested dose of mescaline and supervised Huxley’s trip. Huxley later wrote a book about his mescaline experience titled “The Doors of Perception”. Osmond is credited with the invention of the word “psychedelic” to describe hallucinogenic drugs. This happened through his correspondence with Huxley on creating a term worthy of these hallucinogens. Huxley wrote, “To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme.” Osmond responded with his own rhyme, “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.” Osmond first used the term “psychedelic” in public in a talk he gave at the New York Academy of Sciences in 1957. The term means “mind manifesting” based on the Greek words “psyche” and “delos”. In the recording, Osmond recalls those early days and his associations with Huxley.20160909_041558595_iOS.jpg
  2. Aldous Huxley – The Human Situation, Volume Two: Visionary Experience. A rare CD of this lecture from 1961 in Los Alamos which discuses psychedelics as well as other concerns. It was not released until 1969, and was later reissued on CDr. Huxley, who as a novelist was famous for “Brave New World,” also wrote of his experience with mescaline in his book, “The Doors of Perception.” This book was the basis for the name of the rock group, The Doors. The Elektra record label insisted that the band shorten their name from Doors of Perception to simply The Doors, which they did and the rest is history.  

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  1. Gerald Heard – Rebirth, from the 3-LP set “Explorations Volume 2, Survival, Growth & Re-birth,” from 1961. Heard was a philosopher, historian, and science writer who advocated for the use of LSD. On this recording he deals with psychedelics, invoking the Tibetan Book of the Dead amidst organ interludes. I obtained a digitized copy on CDr from The Barrie Family Trust which owns all of Heard’s illustrious output. I would love to obtain a copy of the two original 3-LP box sets he produced in 1957 and 1961 respectively.

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  1. Alan Watts – This Is IT. This is a 1962 recording by British philosopher and writer, Alan Watts and assorted friends. Many consider this to be the first authentically psychedelic music album. Watts has many spoken word recordings, but this is not one of them. This is a music album, consisting of free form improvisation using drums, French horn, piano, lujon, and bass marimba as well as vocals consisting largely of wild cacophonous chanting. Watts was fascinated by Eastern religion and culture, and this comes out in his lectures as well as his recordings. This album relates directly to his book “The Joyous Cosmology.” It is a tough listen, but once you get into it, is quite inspiring. I was lucky to get a CD version of this before the price went out of reach.

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  1. Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., and Richard Alpert, Ph.D. – The Psychedelic Experience: Readings from the Book “The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead.” Recorded in 1966. This is the first appearance of any of these three famed psychologists on a commercial recording. Timothy Leary was soon to record several more albums in 1966, and a lecture by then Richard Alpert at the 1966 LSD conference was released many years later. Ralph Metzner did not release recordings on his own until decades later. This recording is exactly what it says. Timothy Leary does the reading. Someone rings the bell signifying the change in phases of the trip, and who knows what the third person does. Maybe it was their trip. Note that it has been claimed that this was the first time the Tibetan Book of the Dead was associated with LSD, but as stated above, Gerald Heard beat them to the punch by three years.

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  1. John C. Lilly – E.C.C.O. Earth•Coincidence•Control•Office, from 1993. John C. Lilly was a physician, neuroscientist, psychoanalyst, philosopher, writer, and inventor. He is known for his consciousness research using isolation tanks. In the early 1970s, he was introduced to the psychoactive drug, ketamine. He had been introduced to LSD in the 60s. During this time, he was in contact with Timothy Leary and Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert). In 1974 his research using these drugs led him to conclude there was a certain hierarchical group of cosmic entities, with the lowest being the E.C.C.O. Out of these studies, Lilly concluded “For the first time I began to consider that God really existed in me and that there is a guiding intelligence in the universe.” The E.C.C.O. recording from 1993 incorporates electronic and ambient music with dolphin sounds and Lilly’s voice. Music was provided by P.B.C., Spice Barons, and Heavenly Music Corporation. The CD is credited to Lilly but it is not known how much involvement he had in its creation. Much of the spoken word snippets on this recording come from a 1988 cassette-only release, “The Cogitate Tape” by Lilly. The dolphin sounds most likely come from a 1973 Lilly release “Sounds and the Ultra-Sounds of the Bottle-Nose Dolphin.” This is one of the most unusual albums in my collection and is very authentically psychedelic.

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  1. Timothy Leary, Ph.D. – LSD with Bonus Tracks, from 1966. The bonus tracks are from a later time, including the infamous dinner party attended by Leary and G. Gordon Liddy, and Leary being interviewed in 1967 at the height of the hippie movement. In the title recording, which is broken into 13 segments in the CD version, Leary poses frequently asked questions about LSD and gives his “authorized” answers. Actually I find the bonus tracks to be much more interesting but it is an historical recording and Leary was in some respects accurate regarding the use of LSD.

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  1. Richard Alpert, Ph.D. – 1966 LSD Conference, University of California, San Francisco. As a gift for providing a copy of “Love Serve Remember” to the Ram Dass Tape Library, I received cassette copies of “From Bindu to Ojas” as well as this rare copy of a lecture given by Richard Alpert before his trip to India where he took on the name, Ram Dass. It is quite interesting, as this includes pre-India stories as well as his thoughts on the potential use of the drug for autism and artistic enhancement. I copied it to CDr, but then sent the tape to electronic music artist, J.D. Emmanuel, who was more than happy to professionally transfer it to CD for me since he had never heard it before, himself.

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  1. Ram Dass – Here We All Are (1969) with bonus “From Bindu to Ojas” (1970) which accompanied the first edition of the book “Be Here Now”. This is a four CD set. Here We All Are was the first recording of Ram Dass lectures after his return to the USA in 1969. First pressings were unauthorized and had speeded-up audio so they could fit the lecture onto three LPs, giving Ram Dass almost a chipmunk sound to his voice, but was later released by Ram Dass as a 3-LP box set (still with sped-up voice). The CD version brings his voice back to normal. This is straight lecture for three CDs. The fourth, bonus CD contains music from various artists associated with Ram Dass as well as chanting and lecture. The bonus CD is simply titled “Be Here Now” and has no division between selections and no credits to the music, unlike the original LP.

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  1. Love Serve Remember – Ram Dass and Various Artists, from 1973. This is a 6-LP box set and I was lucky to purchase a near mint copy. I transferred this to CDr, and made a copy for the Ram Dass Tape Library since at that time they did not have a copy. Later I noted they obtained the masters from the ZBS Foundation, which first issued the set, and they were offering the collection as a download at minimal cost. This contains radio station call-ins to station guest Ram Dass, as well as readings from Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist holy scriptures by Ram Dass, music by both Krishna Das and Bhagavan Das, as well as by Amazing Grace, The Sufi Choir, Mirabai, Guru Blanket, Sarada and Rabindranath, Berkeley Community Theatre, The Brothers of Mount Savior Monastery, and an uncredited Buddhist monastic chant. This is one of my favorite sets.

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  1. Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. – Bardo Blues and other songs of liberation, from 2005. While Ralph Metzner was part of the Harvard University psychology team researching psychedelic drugs, along with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, he primarily stayed behind the scene rather than release recordings of his lectures. There are some unauthorized releases from the 1983 LSD Conference, and a few others, but nothing authorized until 2005 when he tried his hand at music. Here we have simple songs that subtly lay the foundation for mapping consciousness, and teaching us about our human incarnation, from birth to the beyond. A hidden gem.

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And that is it for now. Some of these recordings are easily available at your favorite online music store, but others may not be so easy to find. I will share more as time goes by. As for now, I am back on the road again, but will make an effort to post more often as work allows. Aloha.

Odzenendz

IMG_3239“You’re walking meadows in my mind,

Making waves across my time,

Oh no, oh no.

I get a strange magic,

Oh, what a strange magic…”

Jeff Lynne, Electric Light Orchestra, from Face the Music LP, 1975

 

Well, it is time.

I have been absent since early January for many reasons. First, I have been freakin’ busy with work, out of the area nearly every week after January and so busy that there was no time to seek out venues while on the road. In fact, some of the locations were small towns where the word “art” has been forgotten. January was a slow work month, with all scheduled trips getting cancelled. I took advantage of this situation and used my time to see some amazing performances by local artists. This continued through February and March although I was on the road a great deal of the time. When I could, I got out there. However, since my time was limited I did not get a chance to write anything except for brief comments on Facebook.

And then a horrible thing happened. While I was in Oklahoma my better half was tripped by our blind dog going down the stairs in our home. She fractured her shoulder and wrist, eventually having to undergo surgery on both breaks. So when I was home, I was mostly helping her with things she could not do with just one hand. Hence, there were even more delays to get what you are reading now out the door.

Now that the healing process is underway, and I am off the road for a few days, I have some time to report to you what has been going on in the music world of the Popeswami. Allow me to summarize these dignified proceedings. New Years’ Day, we had breakfast at Urban Solace while taking in a performance of the innovative old-time/bluesy folkies, Plow. I talked about this in my last post. On January 15 we made the trek to O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Carlsbad to see the Irish band, Brogue Wave, including our friend and Irish fiddler supreme/vocalist, Patric Petrie. They were a trio that evening with David Lally on guitar and vocals, and Jordan McKinley on drums. BTW, the Pub’s chicken boxty is simply amazing. The following day I paid a visit to Record City in Hillcrest to see legendary mod/power pop band, Manual Scan, in a rare instore performance. The band features friends, Bart Mendoza on vocals/guitar and David Fleminger on keys, as well as Kevin Donaker-Ring on lead guitar, Jarrod Lucas on drums, and Tim Blankenship on bass. The following evening found us at Lestat’s in Normal Heights to see Robin Henkel with Horns, featuring Robin Henkel on guitars, Jodie Hill on bass, Al Schneider on drums, and Troy Jennings on saxes. This may have been one of the best of this unit’s performances I have seen so far. Totally awesome American blues and jazz with informative stories by Robin.

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Plow at Urban Solace in North Park, January 1, 2016

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Brogue Wave at O’Sullivan’s in Carlsbad, January 15, 2016

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Manual Scan at Record City in Hillcrest, January 16, 2016

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Robin Henkel with Horns at Lestat’s in Normal Heights, January 17, 2016

The evening of January 22 was a magical night with Jamie Shadowlight and company at 98 Bottles. The theme of this show was Electric Ladyland. With Jamie was the JazzMikan Trio consisting of Mikan Zlatkovich on keys, Antar Martin on bass, and Russell Bizett on drums. The show also included Arnessa Rickett and Carmelia “Toot” Bell on vocals and the opening number “Paint It Black” included sitarist, Ignacio Hernandez. That version of “Paint It Black” set the tone with a mystical drone improvisational style – Jamie on electric violin fed through various pedals and wah wah to give a surrealistic feel. I thought this show was the highlight of the month for me. But the following night we were at Dizzy’s to hear the Daniel Jackson tribute. Included were some budding new artists from Idyllwild Arts Academy and the International Academy of Jazz, San Diego, plus Marshall Hawkins on bass and piano, Jamie Shadowlight on violin, Bob Boss on guitar, Charles Owens on sax, Brett Sanders on drums, and special guest, spoon player Leland “Spoonful” Collins. Another night to fly high with the music.

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Electric Ladyland at 98 Bottles in Little Italy, January 22, 2016

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Daniel Jackson Tribute Concert at Dizzy’s in Pacific Beach, January 23, 2016

January 24, Sunday morning, we stopped by Rebecca’s Coffee Shop to see Dave Humphries on guitar/vocal, Wolfgang Grasekamp on keys, and Mike Alvarez on electric cello. A special treat was to hear Mike Alvarez doing some solo work, introducing some new songs he had written, and singing! Lots of 60s British invasion classics as well as songs by Dave Humphries and Tony Sheridan. Mahvelous!

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Dave Humphries with Mike Alvarez and Wolfgang Grasekamp at Rebecca’s Coffee, in South Park, January 24, 2016

We were not yet musically sated for the month of January. On the 28th we were at Java Joe’s to see once again Robin Henkel Horn Band, with the incomparable Whitney Shay. This configuration included Robin on guitars and vocals, Jodie Hill (bass), David Castel de Oro (sax, clarinet), Troy Jennings (saxes), Al Schneider (drums), and of course, Whitney on vocals and whatever she could grab and shake (thankfully not me). And, following that, Robin Henkel and Billy Watson (harmonica/vocals) plus Evan Caleb Yearsley on drums were performing at Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook on January 31. We had been looking for a performance to take my nephew, Aaron, to see when he was in town for a medical conference and this was perfect. It was also a chance for another nephew, Craig, as well as great nephew & niece, Jereck and Devon, to experience our local talent. It was a fun way to end the month.

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Robin Henkel Horn Band with Whitney Shay at Java Joe’s in Normal Heights, January 28, 2016

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Billy Watson with Robin Henkel at Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook , January 31, 2016

There were fewer times out in February, but they were memorable times. First, on February 12, at Lestat’s there was a round robin performance by Caitlin Evanson (touring violinist for Taylor Swift and beautiful vocalist), Tim Connolly (keyboards, vocals, songwriter), and Kennady Tracy (guitar, vocals, and songwriter). Each took the lead in performing with the others either accompanying or standing by. Caitlin did a superb cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”, accompanied by Pedro Telarico on guitar, that was the highlight of the evening for me. The following evening, we went to Proud Mary’s in Kearny Mesa for some New Orleans cuisine while we enjoyed Chickenbone Slim and The Biscuits. This turned out to be a special evening. Former Biscuit, Mike Chiricuzio, joined them on bass and sang one with the band. And then it got even better when 87-year-old blues singer/guitarist, Tomcat Courtney, joined in to do a few songs, including “Hootchie Cootchie Man”.  The following week on the 17th I noted that HM3 (Harley Magsino Trio) with DJ Teelyn was performing at The Studio Door art gallery. The theme of the art displays was “crows”. The music was in the style of Mwandishi/Hancock funk-jazz from the 70s mixed with techno, dubstep, trip hop, and a bit of the avant-garde. The players: Harley Magsino (bass), Joshua White (keys), Charles Weller (drums), with Trish Nolan (aka DJ Teelyn) on turntables. The music: awesome. On my birthday, February 27, it was Chickenbone Slim & The Biscuits again, this time at Hooley’s in La Mesa. Mike Chiricuzio was still in town so he joined them again. Also on both occasions, Bruce Stewart of Little Kings was the drummer and Nick “Chowda” Walsh the harmonica player. The next morning, we made our pilgrimage to Rebecca’s Coffee Shop to see Dave Humphries, Wolfgang Grasekamp and Mike Alvarez. And that evening, we once again headed to Lestat’s to see Robin Henkel (guitars & vocals) with Whitney Shay (vocals), Jodie Hill (bass), and Toby Ahrens (drums).

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Kennady Tracy, Caitlin Evanson, and Tim Connolly at Lestat’s in Normal Heights, February 12, 2016

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Chickenbone Slim & The Biscuits with Mike Chiricuzio and Tomcat Courtney, at Proud Mary’s in Kearney Mesa, February 13, 2016

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HM3 (Harley Magsino Trio) with DJ Teelyn at The Studio Door in North Park, February 17, 2016

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Chickenbone Slim & The Biscuits (with ex-Biscuit Mike Chiricuzio) at Hooley’s in Grossmont Center, La Mesa on February 27, 2016

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Dave Humphries with Wolfgang Grasekamp and Mike Alvarez at Rebecca’s Coffee in South Park, February 28, 2016

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Robin Henkel with Whitney Shay at Lestat’s in Normal Heights, February 28, 2016

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Acoustic Ladyland at 98 Bottles in Little Italy, March 4, 2016

March began with another Jamie Shadowlight event at 98 Bottles. On March 4, the event this time was titled “Acoustic Ladyland”. The performers: Jamie Shadowlight (violin), Caitlin Elizabeth Evanson (violin & vocals), Mikan Zlatkovich (keys), Ken Dow (bass), Richard Sellers (drums), Pedro Telarico (guitar), and Anita Weedmark (piano), Pacifico “PJ” Ortiz Luis (beatbox), Debbie Beacham (dulcimer). The players were awesome, as usual. March was starting out to be pretty cool musically. Next up, on March 12, was The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir San Diego, presenting “All ‘Bout the Blues – A Musical Celebration” at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre in San Diego. The show was produced, directed and choreographed by Arnessa Rickett, and the musical director was Carmelia Bell. Band director was Grammy award winning Kevin Cooper. The band consisted of Mikan Zlatkovich on keys, Kevin Cooper on bass, Walter Gentry on sax, Ignacio Sobers on percussion, Michael Sanders on organ and Tim “Flagg” Newton on drums. Kenneth Anderson was also on piano. The cast was huge, including the MKLCCSD Choir. The theme was the story of the development of the blues from the beginning of the country in the 1700s all the way through modern times, including gospel, jazz, r&b, and the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. An excellent production with singing, dancing, and instrumental performances tied together with the story of the blues.  March 20 we headed to Hooley’s in Rancho San Diego to hear some blues fireworks on guitar by Charles Burton, accompanied by Larry Teves (aka Chickenbone Slim) on bass and Becky Russell on drums. Burton is a rapid-fire blues player similar to Rick Derringer or the late great Johnny Winter with a bit of jazz embellishments – a unique and accomplished player.

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All ‘Bout The Blues – MKLCCSD Choir, Arnessa Rickett, Carmelia “Toot” Bell, Kevin Cooper at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre in San Diego on March 12, 2016

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Charles Burton with Becky Russell and Larry Teves at Hooley’s in Rancho San Diego, March 20, 2016

March 26 provided the musical highlight of the month in the form of the Beatles Fair at the Queen Bee in North Park. Outside, we saw Madame Nina Leilani on keys and vocals, and Rhythm Rose Turner on drums and featuring Jamie Shadowlight on violin doing some Beatles material as well as some originals. This was an unexpected surprise, but there were even bigger surprises inside the Queen Bee. First, we got to see True Stories with a surprise appearance of Ringo Starr, er-um, a Ringo lookalike in the form of Baja Bugs drummer, Nick “Nico” Peters. Nico had all the looks, moves, and singing down perfectly and with a tight band like True Stories backing him it was a lot of fun; and excellent tribute to The Beatles drummer. True Stories were followed by The Dave Humphries Band, with original music, including a tune Dave Humphries wrote with Tony Sheridan, as well as a tune co-penned by Tony Sheridan and Paul McCartney plus other Beatles and British Invasion tunes.  The Rollers were next and did a set of early Beatles tunes. This is a young band and they are very promising. Following The Rollers came The Baja Bugs, who knocked it out of the park. If I closed my eyes, The Baja Bugs really were The Beatles and I was at the Indra Club in Hamburg. Amazing energy and tight playing, both from The Baja Bugs and The Rollers. On the Queen Bee patio was an open mic stage. During breaks we ventured out to the patio and listened to some of the hidden talent of San Diego. There were vendors inside and outside of the Queen Bee, as well as food trucks. We got to talk with John Borack, author of “John Lennon: Life is What Happens”. John autographed a copy for us. And it kept getting better. The headliner of the Beatles Fair was Denny Laine, who had been with the Moody Blues and sang their hit “Go Now”, plus was the guitarist for Paul McCartney & Wings for the full duration of Wings. First there was an interview with Denny onstage, and then he made himself available for autographs and photo ops. I took full advantage of this, and in the process found that he was particularly fond of Wings’ first album “Wildlife” which has always been my favorite. He then performed a solo guitar and vocal set of many of the songs he performed over the years, from “Go Now” with the Moody Blues on through “Mull of Kintyre” which he co-wrote with Paul McCartney and performed with Wings. He told stories between songs, and brought a quirky sense of humor to the stage.

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Beatles Fair 2016 – in order: Madame Nina Leilani (outside); True Stories with Nico (Ringo Tribute); Dave Humphries Band; The Rollers; Denny Laine & moi; The Baja Bugs; The Baja Bugs, Dave Humphries & others; Denny Laine – at Queen Bee in North Park, March 26, 2016

Due to injuries mentioned earlier, and a heavy work schedule, the Beatles Fair was the last performance I attended until Memorial Day weekend. We were taking a little ride on Saturday and noticed the time. We figured we could be at Wynola Pizza, near Julian, by the time Three Chord Justice would begin performing. We arrived shortly after they began. In this more acoustic configuration they were a four piece, with Alex Watts featured on lead guitar, and the three mainstays of Mark Markowitz on drums, Dave Preston on bass, and Liz Grace on rhythm guitar and vocals. The band was great, cranking out some enjoyable country standards, a Dylan tune, and many songs penned by Dave and by Liz. Alex was quite a picker, with some slick lead work that I especially appreciated. Mark got a variety of sounds out of a single snare, throwing in an assortment of rhythmic tricks while keeping everything on course. Dave kept a consistent bottom end, making sure the band was tightly together. Liz’s beautiful voice danced over all the instruments weaving stories with emotion and poise. This is an exceptional band. Every time I’ve seen them I have considered my time well spent and came away very gratified.

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Three Chord Justice at Wynola Pizza in Julian, May 28, 2016

The following morning Dave Humphries, with Mike Alvarez and Wolfgang Grasekamp were performing at Rebecca’s Coffee in South Park. As usual, Dave was on guitar and vocals, with Mike on electric cello and Wolfgang on amazing keyboards. New were the vocal harmonies Mike added to some songs. They introduced some new songs that will be on a new Hollywood Project release sometime in the future, as well as performing a number of their standard 60s pop and rock tunes and more recent originals.

And that brings us to this moment in time, and to the end of this entry. I had planned this to be shorter on the live happenings and longer on other esoteric concerns, but due to being 3-4 months overdue, I am keeping it to the happenings. Stay tuned for my other concerns in another post that will be soon to follow.

Before I go I wanted to mention the passing of San Diego’s Godfather of Jazz, Joe Marillo. Joe founded the non-profit San Diego Society for the Preservation of Jazz, hosted a jazz radio show, gave saxophone lessons and mentored many young jazz musicians. He had quite a history, working with Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, and Sonny Stitt before settling in San Diego. Before a performance at The Haven Pizzeria during one of the Adams Avenue events, Joe spotted me and came over to visit me and my wife while we were waiting for our order to arrive. We talked about jazz, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow, as well as Deepak Chopra and philosophy. He was a terrific guy, kind-hearted but with an ascerbic wit as well as being a tremendous sax player. Joe lost his battle with cancer on March 25, at the age of 83. There was a tribute jazz concert at Dizzy’s on May 24 but I was on the road and could not attend. R.I.P, Joe.

thF47HHXVA

The Yend of the Ear

“He had been walking for a long time, ever since dark in fact, and dark falls soon in December.”
Charlotte Riddell, aka Mrs. J.H. Riddell (1832 – 1906), “The Old House in Vauxhall Walk,” 1882

Endings

This is now the last day of December. I have not posted anything since early November. Yes, I have been quite busy, as I usually am, however there have been stretches of time where I could have been writing but had no inspiration to do so.

The holiday season is seldom cooperative with my plans. Due to this fact, I find myself making fewer and fewer plans every year. I simply “go with it”. Many unexpected delays due to home repairs, auto repairs, and computer repairs have consumed my time and money like voracious aardvarks gobbling up baskets of garbanzos.

But let me move out of the self-pity department and into the musical high points of the past year. I will put these into a series of lists – which is something I seem to do with many things.

The Listings Begin

Three artists of renown I met this year but did not get to hear perform were:

1. Buddy Guy – blues guitar legend and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer, at his 79th birthday celebration and CD release party
2. KC and The Sunshine Band – 70s disco hit makers, on an American Airlines jet from San Diego to Charlotte
3. Johnny “V” Vernazza – Blues and slide guitar great and gold record legend at the Blindspot Records anniversary party

There were other famous artists I had the good fortune to hear and meet this year:

1. Kawehi – loop artist, singer, guitarist, keyboards
2. Kenny Blake – jazz saxophonist with two Billboard top 20 albums
3. Roger Humphries – legendary jazz drummer who has played with all the greats
4. Mundell Lowe – internationally known jazz guitar maestro, at his 93rd birthday performance
5. Larry Mitchell – Grammy award winning producer and guitarist
6. Cindy Lee Berryhill – recording artist with roots in the early L.A. punk rock scene.
7. Kimm Rogers – singer songwriter and recording artist
8. Patric Petrie – internationally known Celtic fiddle player and vocalist
9. Dave Humphries – singer songwriter originally from Durham, UK
10. Gregory Page – American and Irish singer songwriter
11. Steph Johnson –jazz/funk guitarist
12. Allison Adams Tucker – jazz and pop singer
13. Ellen Weller –jazz and experimental flute, saxes

I also had the great fortune to add the following bands to the list of I’ve seen perform:

1. Manual Scan – five-piece mod rock style I had the pleasure of hearing for the first time at the Casbah just a week ago. Manual Scan began its existence in 1980 and became inactive in 1991, reuniting only occasionally in recent years. They had just come back from a tour in Spain a few weeks ago, and the Casbah event was also a release party for their new EP/CD, “The Pyles Sessions”. The tour and Casbah event reunited Bart Mendoza and David Fleminger with Kevin Ring, Tim Blankenship and Jarrod Lucas. Two other bands performed at the Casbah event, The Bassics and Alvino & The Dwells.
2. Alvino & The Dwells – Due to my work schedule I kept missing their performances over and over again, but finally got to hear them for the first time at Demille’s during an Adams Avenue event and then again at the Casbah, as mentioned above. This band is an instrumental surf/power trio consisting of Manual Scan alumni Didier Suarez and David Fleminger, and Tony Suarez. If you love surf music in the style of Dick Dale and the Del Tones, The Ventures, or Jerry Cole, this is a must-hear band.
3. The Bassics – They are an exciting young mod rock band with a punkish flair, who won the Best New Artist award at the San Diego Music Awards this year. Their drummer, Juan Carlos Mendez, is a total animal on the skins. And frontman/rhythm guitarist Sam Martinez is full of raw, yet controlled power. Vino Martinez on bass consistently augments the “bassic” rhythm. They have an accomplished lead guitarist but I did not catch his name and a search of the band online did not help.
4. Liz Grace and The Swing Thing – Liz is a great singer, fronting Three Chord Justice in a country vein, and using The Swing Thing as a platform for performing classic swing, pop, and torch songs. Jon Garner is a stand-out guitarist in this unit.
5. HM3 – This is the Harley Magsino Trio, featuring the incredible jazz keyboardist Joshua White, Charles Weller on drums, and Harley on bass. I saw them on the sidewalk outside Folk Arts Rare Records. They were joined by DJ Teelynn and Nina. This was a great performance, and I certainly want to hear more of them in 2016.
6. Missy Andersen – Excellent, excellent blues vocalist with a backing band that includes her amazing guitarist husband, Heine Andersen. This was an evening of soulful blues at Proud Mary’s. We totally enjoyed that evening.
7. Chet Cannon & The Committee – Chet is one of the great blues harpists in San Diego and was a founder of the annual Spring Harp Fest, where I met him. He is a powerful singer as well as a harmonica genius.
8. True Stories – This is another band that is currently lead by Bart Mendoza and includes David Fleminger on keyboards and guitar, Danny Cress on drums, and Orrick Smith on bass. Occasionally Normandie Wilson joins them on keys and vocals. I first saw them at the Air Conditioned Lounge, and then again at another Adams Avenue event. They played some of Bart’s originals as well as 60s mod and British invasion rock standards.
9. Plow – This is a quasi-blue grass and Americana band lead by Chris Clarke, who perform at Urban Solace every second Sunday of the month. Always an enjoyable treat while enjoying a great breakfast.
10. Podunk Nowhere – They are another country/folk/Americana band that we saw at an Adams Avenue event and want to see again in the coming year
11. Whitney Shay Trio – Had heard Whitney many times with Robin Henkel but never with her own trio, singing pop and jazz standards from the swing era.
12. The Zicas – Brazilian folk performed at Java Joes during the Adams Avenue Street Fair.

Standout Live Events of 2015 Mentioned in Previous Posts

1. A Jazz Exploration of The Beatles – Jamie Shadowlight, violin; Mikan Zlatkovich, keyboards; Mackenzie Leighton, contrabass; Richard Sellers, drums; Carmelia “Toot” Bell, vocals; Arnessa Rickett, vocals – at 98 Bottles
2. Songs of the Seeker: A Journey into Wonder – Shadowlight and !ZeuqsaV! – this was a multimedia experimental performance with Jamie Shadowlight on electric violin, Xavier Vasquez on visual projection and laptop with assistance from Mikan Zlatkovich. At the Moxie Theatre.
3. 6th Annual Women in Jazz – Allison Adams Tucker, vocals; Steph Johnson, vocals and guitar; Ellen Weller, flute and saxes; Melonie Grinnell, piano; Jodie Hill, string bass; Laurel Grinnell, drums – at 98 Bottles.
4. Mundell Lowe’s 93rd Birthday Celebration – Mundell Lowe, guitar; Bob Magnussen, string bass; Jim Plank, drums; Jaime Valle, guitar; Bob Boss, guitar; Alicia Previn, violin. At Dizzy’s.
5. Kawehi – at The Loft. Opening acts were: Tojou, On Fifth, and Zoya Music.
6. Across the Street at Mueller College, May 1, 2015 – with Connor Correll and Q Ortiz, Red Willow Waltz, and Jamie Shadowlight
7. Randi Driscoll and Friends at Java Joes – Including Noah Heldman, Randi Driscoll, Larry Mitchell, Jamie Shadowlight, Shawn Rohlf, Monette Marino, and the John Martin Davis Band.
8. Blindspot Records Anniversary Party – at the home of Patric Petrie, with performances by Casino Royale, Patric Petrie with David Lally, Tim Foley, and Ron Wild, and a solo performance by Sierra West. After we left, Marie Haddad performed a set. We will have to catch Marie in 2016.
9. Pulse of Life: Melodies and Rhythms – featuring Nacho Arimany and Monette Marino on percussion and Jamie Shadowlight on violin and singing bowl
10. Jamie Shadowlight and Naganuma Dance: (sub)merge – featuring Jamie Shadowlight on violin, maracas, and singing bowl, Anita Weedmark on piano, Erdis Maxhelaku on cello and djembe, and John Noble on modular synth. Dancers were Darcy Naganuma and Aurora Lagattuta.
11. An Evening with Songwriters – at Java Joes, featuring Bart Mendoza, Dave Humphries, and Kimm Rogers as well as Mike Alvarez, Mark DeCerbo, Samuel Martinez, Patric Petrie, and Beezie Gerber.
12. Cindy Lee Berryhill and Kimm Rogers – at Grassroots Oasis. Kimm performed a solo set, followed by Cindy Lee’s set and then they teamed up to do some additional songs, ending with Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale”. Beyond cool!
13. Manual Scan Reunion and EP/CD Release Party – at the Casbah, the evening began with The Bassics, followed by Alvino & The Dwells, followed by Manual Scan. The was an amazing evening of mod rock and surf. Kind of reminds me of surf and turf.
14. A JazzMikan Christmas – at 98 Bottles featuring Mikan Zlatkovich on keyboards, Jamie Shadowlight on violin, Katie Thiroux on string bass, Matt Witek on drums, and Carmelia ‘Toot’ Bell and Arnessa Rickett on vocals.

If anything jumps out at you in the list above, it should be the name Jamie Shadowlight. She seemed to be everywhere this past year with the most interesting groups of performers in every conceivable musical style and beyond. And I left some of her performances we saw this year off the above lists!

So, it was a very musically rewarding year in live performance for me.

Music Acquisitions

I have to say that this year has been very fortuitous and very propitious based upon the department of redundancy department. Some highlights include:

1. The Velvet Underground – Re-Loaded, 45th Anniversary Edition with 5 CDs and 1 DVD.
2. Bob Dylan – The Mono Box with 9 CDs spanning his first 8 albums
3. John Gilbert / Meade River – s/t – rarity pressed as a memorial to 17-year-old rocker – super rare
4. Your Navy Presents: The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Dick Clark, M.C. Only one known copy remains and I now own it.
5. The Thunderbirds – Introducing the Fabulous Thunderbirds – not the more recent band but a group of Native American teen rockers from New Mexico in 1965
6. Mistress Mary, Housewife – weird self-penned country rock rumored to include Roger McGuinn’s assistance as well as other members of The Byrds. Limited quantity LP vanity press from the late 1960s.
7. Royalaires – a mid-60s prep rock rarity
8. Johnny’s World – a rare recording from the St. John Catholic Youth Organization in the late 60s.
9. Aeron – Paltareon: The Far Memory of Elves – psychedelic avant-garde
10. Jimmy Carter & Dallas County Green – Summer Brings the Sunshine
11. Jaim – Prophecy Fulfilled
12. Steve Drake – Cold Sweat
13. The B. Toff Band – Golden Greats
14. Butch – The Bitch of Rock and Roll
15. J. Teal Band – Cooks
16. 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band)
17. Tripping Out – Drug Education – scare tactic record that is hilarious, from the early 70s.
18. The Pied Piper – of drugs; another scare tactic drug education album. I love these old albums of weird misinformation about drug abuse.
19. Easy Chair – reissue of recordings by Jeff Simmons old band from the late 60s
20. Arcesia – this is a weird early 70s crooner in a rock format – a private press vanity album
21. Walkenhorst Brothers – a great 70s rock group gone totally unnoticed
22. T Kail – another early 70s rock band that went unnoticed.
23. The Toads – another prep school classic from the mid-60s
24. Sage and Seer – folk rock in Simon & Garfunkel style but very rare
25. The Mam’selles – Bubble Gum World – this is a lounge act, another soft spot with me, from late 60s.
26. Mississippi – Velvet Sandpaper – weird real people crooner from the 70s
27. Michael Angelo – finally, his Guinn album was redone right and now I own everything he has recorded and released.
28. Cincinnati Joe and Mad Lydia – soul/r&b in a weird mix – completely crazy. Mid 70s
29. The Ali Baba Revue – with classic “Rats in My Room” lounge rock act from the late 60s.
30. Steve Kaczorokowski – What Time Are You. This is ultra-rare from the first person (unintentionally) to record karaoke fashion. Actually not bad, since the music was stolen from recordings of other artists.
31. McKinney – rare folk rock album from mid-70s with a Johnathan Edwards connection.
32. The Grapes of Rathe – Glory. Not a religious album, as you might be led to believe from the LP title. This was a late 60s pop rock band with a killer psychedelic opening track.

I am sure there are others I am missing, but this just gives you some stand-outs for me, especially in the rarities department from decades ago.

And with that, I will close out the year’s blogging. I will be back next year, perhaps with expanded features.

Due to prior computer problems this is going out quick and I may post photos, etc. next time with regard to what I am posting here.

The Friendship Communication Church (FCC)

“And the voice said ‘Daddy, there’s a million pigeons
Ready to be hooked on new religions.
Hit the road, Daddy.
Leave your common law wife,
Spread the religion of the rhythm of life.’”
      From the musical, Sweet Charity, song “The Rhythm of Life”
      Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

Someone once said (I think it was me) that when you think you are “playing the system”, the system is actually playing you. Essentially we are all playing each other. In 1969, Timothy Leary said, “You can be anyone this time around.” In the same year Firesign Theatre said “How can you be two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all.” They were also known to say “We are all bozos on this bus.” I’m not afraid to admit my bozoness. So what does that have to do with anything? Well, to begin with, we are not who we think we are. We are a weird (or unique; take your pick) conglomeration of experiences we have had with our environment, and especially the people with whom we have associated over our lifetime. I am you; you are me; and there we be… musical tastes included. The music I have grown to love and appreciate is to a degree the result of people in my life sharing music they love to listen to. Radio and television have also been contributors – again, the result of disc jockeys, program directors, and others who decided what to air. But not all of it comes from these interactions. In the past 2 decades I have become obsessive about surfing the Internet, in search of the lost chord. I search out music to satisfy my curiosity. I read books about music and then search it out – testing the waters to see if it is something I want to add to my library. But again, some person had to write that book or post that article. On a local level, I search out artists to watch and hear perform, and out of this have sprung friendships as well as opportunities to experience even more music. As a matter of fact, this blog is the result of my sharing ideas about doing this with a local artist who enthusiastically encouraged me to get started. I bet she regrets encouraging me!!!

So let me share with you some of my most recent experiences regarding the local music scene….roll the film.

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September 18, at 98 Bottles, Jamie Shadowlight and Naganuma Dance: (sub)merge
We had no idea what to expect but knew this performance was going to be a combination of music and dance, and would be profoundly unique. I will try my best to objectively describe what took place. Performing musically: Jamie Shadowlight on violin, maracas, and singing bowl, Anita Weedmark on piano, Erdis Maxhelaku on cello and djembe, and John Noble on modular synth. Primary dancers were Darcy Naganuma and Aurora Lagattuta. Sometimes they, too, contributed to the sound with maracas and other items. Plus, Darcy read a few paragraphs from what appeared to be a dairy or biography. Many in the audience were from Naganuma Dance and Aurora’s classes. At one point Darcy and Aurora went into the audience, gave a light kiss and whispered something to certain people (from their classes), and then brought them onto the stage area to participate in a free-form dance. But I am getting ahead of myself; let me begin at the beginning. Right before the performance began Jamie, Darcy, and Aurora brought pen and paper to each table instructing us to write ideas that come to mind as the performance progressed. It was a way for the audience to participate. Instructions were intentionally vague to leave open any inspiration that we experienced. Then it began, with Jamie shaking a maraca and Erdis on djembe while Anita created a rumbling, rolling sound with the piano. The performers were yelling and stomping their feet and encouraged the audience to do likewise. Then come the dancers, marching in like little toy soldiers with limited movement. From there they evolved into puppet-like movements, and then broke free of the strings. By this time Jamie had transitioned to violin and Erdis to cello, part droning, part improvisational jamming, playing off the dancers and the dancers playing off the musicians. The dancing and music seemed to flow in patterns like ocean waves and it was impossible to anticipate the next thing to hit the senses. The performance continued in this manner, with the audience never knowing what to expect. Once it was over, they collected the papers. Only two people (I was one of them) had written anything. Aurora read what we wrote for the audience to hear. It was explained that everything we experienced was improvised, in-the-moment, feeding off each other. This included what we, the audience, wrote…or didn’t write. Silence can speak volumes. This stream-of-consciousness expression of self, artistry, and love was nearly overwhelming and left us a bit lighter as we found our way back to the car. As we walked past the Casbah and the sound of loud, raucous rock, I smiled and considered even that and the sound of the traffic to be part of the experience. We were all, indeed, submerged in ourselves and each other that evening and it was spellbinding.

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L to R: Erdis Maxhelaku, Aurora Lagattuta, Jamie Shadowlight, Darcy Naganuma, Anita Weedmark, and John Noble

Adams Avenue 34th Street Fair – September 26 & 27
The turnout at this event was huge considering the unbearable heat. Walking about the Street Fair I felt like I was being microwaved. I quickly turned my attention away from the heat, kept hydrated with water, and focused on the music. First up, on Saturday, we headed for Java Joe’s where The Zicas were performing. The Zicas play the music of Brazil. Three performers played percussion, guitar, and cavaquinho (a small Brazilian/Portuguese guitar-like instrument). They were great players and fun to watch, with their little antics. They reaffirm my love of the Brazilian culture and music.

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Next up we ventured over to the Hawley Blues Stage to hear The BlueFrog Band. While rooted in Chicago electric blues, there is a definite mix of r&b and 70s rock for good measure. Blue Frog is Patrick Ellis, who sings, plays a mean blues harp and electric guitar. Dave Keefer was on lead guitar and took lead vocals on some songs. There was also a bass player and drummer but I didn’t catch their names. The big surprise was that Sue Palmer was on keyboards. Sue has her own band (Motel Swing Orchestra) and is quite renowned in San Diego as a great jazz keyboardist. The mix was heaven. Sue added a boogie woogie element to some songs that worked perfectly.

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We returned to Java Joe’s to hear Shawn Rohlf & The 7th Day Buskers, with the added treat of Joey Harris from Beat Farmers/Farmers fame playing guitar and doing backing vocals. This is an Americana/old time music band with string bass, drums (consisting of snare, high hat and a suitcase replacing bass drum), and two guitarists – Shawn Rohlf and Joey Harris. Songs were all written by Shawn. They are a fun group to watch; great showmen all. The expressions on Joey’s face are priceless.

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We took a break to eat lunch at Demille’s and caught the end of Steve Poltz’ performance at the Demilles Stage. Then back to Java Joe’s, where we have another entertaining and talented performer. Gregory Page presented an impeccable performance of music both from and in a style of a bygone era, when old hand-cranked Victrolas were all the rage. He also read some of his poems. Gregory has such a peaceful and warm aura about him. I always walk away with a sublime feeling after seeing him perform. Owen Burke joined Gregory on homemade percussion for some songs.

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We ended the day at the Demilles Stage with Bass Clef Experiment, consisting of Greg Gohde on bass, Mike Alvarez on electric cello, and Owen Burke on drums. They did some of their own music as well as popular 60s tunes like “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and an impressive version of The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”. Half way through their set, Dave Humphries joined them on guitar and vocals, performing some of his own songs as well as many 60s hits, ending the set with a totally mind-blowing version of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”. Dave told some stories about working with Tony Sheridan as well as the surviving member of Badfinger, Joey Mulland. He performed the Badfinger hit “Day After Day”. We are lucky to have Dave living and performing in San Diego.

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Sunday we arrived later due to the heat. Late afternoon we saw Gregory Page again, followed by country/Americana band, Podunk Nowhere. Great songwriting, guitar picking, and singing from Heather and Johnny Janiga who performed with a bass player (who also played high hat) but I did not catch his name. Heather has to be from Texas or somewhere in the south with her subtle twang – something that is not native to San Diego, but charming. She has a beautifully expressive delivery. Johnny is very laid back but a very articulate player and even added a little dissonance to the chord arrangements to wise effect on one of the songs.

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Closing out the Street Fair at the Adams Park Groove, we saw Tori Roze and The Hot Mess with a funky, jazz/rock set. Tori’s singing will knock you right out of your shoes! She can go from gentle and angelic to powerful and gutsy in a matter of seconds. Her mother was on flute and backing vocals. I can tell where Tori’s angelic vocals come from. Bass and drums held down the funky rhythms while the trombone and guitar took things off into a jazz universe. Tori occasionally played trumpet, augmenting the jazzier side of things. They are fun to watch and even more enjoyable to listen to. What a great band to close out the Street Fair.

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We missed many bands we would have liked to have heard, such as Blue Largo (with special guest Taryn Donath), The Rugburns, 22 Kings, Lion Cut, Billy Watson & The Submariners, Robin Henkel. But strategic decisions had to be made. The Popeswami consulted the stars and I-Ching to decide on the perfect solution to a perfect weekend.Travelling home we witnessed the beginning of a full moon lunar eclipse, and continued watching from our back deck at home. It will probably be the last one in my lifetime.
In my next installment, I will not be discussing local bands. Let’s just say it will be interesting and keep it at that for the moment. Happy October!

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Pretzel Selections and Presque Isle Logic

Newfound cash soon begs to smash a state of mind
Close inspection fast revealed his favorite kind
Poor kid, he overdid, embraced the spreading haze
And while he sighed his body died in fifteen ways
      From “Charlie Freak” on the LP, Pretzel Logic, by Steely Dan
      Music and lyrics by Walter Becker & Donald Fagen

There are many Presque Isles. First there is the State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania, right on Lake Erie. That is the first one I became aware of as a small child in training for my Popeswami representation. There is Presque Isle, Maine, which is a land locked city – I’m very curious as to how it got its name. Then there is the Presque Isle at the Northern tip of Wisconsin, on Lake Superior. Yet another is a park in Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula, again, on Lake Superior and close to the site of the original broadcasts of shortwave pirate radio station Radio Morania. The name, Presque Isle, is French for “almost an island.” And of course, “no man is an island,” to quote John Donne from “Meditation XVII.” Or am I referring to “No Man Is an Island,” the song by The Van Dykes from 1964? Or is it the phrase, “No man is an island. He is a peninsula,” shouted out in the song “A Small Package of Value Will Come to You Shortly” on the After Bathing at Baxter’s LP by Jefferson Airplane? This is enough to make any Popeswami’s head spin. This is huge. Besides being huge, this is relevant (or is it relative?) to the topic at hand. No…the other hand.

When you surf the Web you will find many postings of “top ten deserted island albums” or similar listings. While I find these listings interesting, there is something rather myopic about it all. Who would be satisfied with just 10, or even 20 for that matter, albums they would find essential if there were no other means to hear music for the rest of their lives? Personally I would go freakin’ nuts (just like Charlie) if I was stuck with just 10 or so albums. I could never create such a list. On the other hand, no – this hand! – not only do I have different fingers but I also would discover that I had access to other music. If I had a radio I could hear plenty of music unless the only stations I could hear on the island were reactionary talkers or religious hucksters. But having a radio would not satisfy me since most of the music I like is not heard on the radio. Of course you could make your own music. But that is a non-starter, since there would be no need for any list if you were satisfied with your own music – the imagination is limitless. To be a total realist, the albums would be useless on a deserted island, since there would be no electricity. A radio would also be useless, even if on battery since batteries do not last. But then, a total realist would never provide such a list, simply by principle.

So, in keeping with my “almost an island” imagery, I intend to pose a revolving list (just as an LP or CD needs to revolve to hear the music) of albums, songs, or postage stamps (if one wants to order more music from off the island). The list consists of selections I have considered essential to my own human being. Maybe most would think that is too “off the island”; sort of like Ken Kesey’s “off/on the bus” imagery. Personally, I am “on the bus” but what difference does that make? What matters is that I determine my list with sound judgment. Keep in mynde that this list will change and fluctuate as I post it from tyme to time keeping everyone’s mynde in mind. So on that blue note hear goes….(hear here!!!) in no particular h’orderve:

7.1   Blue Cheer – Outsideinside, released 1968 (especially the first song, “Feathers from Your Tree” and the second song, “Sun Cycle.” The second song is where Leigh Stephens really shows his chops and is a far cry from the glossolalia guitar stlylings on their first album, “Vincebus Eruptum”. Also dig the far out album cover!)

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88.3   Ornette Coleman – “Lonely Woman” from The Shape of Jazz to Come, released 1959. (First time I heard this was on the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz box set, in 1975, which resulted in my purchase of the album, which is also a great listen.)

1.   The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour, released 1967 (The entire album is great and trippy, but the highlight for me is the song, “I Am the Walrus” – thus sayeth The Crooked Man.)

1.   The Residents – Not Available, recorded 1974 and released 1978 (This album hooked me as a Residents fan. 60+ albums later they are still going strong, but I still consider this to be their greatest album.)

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01.   Ultimate Spinach – s/t, recorded 1967, released 1968. (The work of composer, arranger, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Ian Bruce-Douglas with supporting band he named Ultimate Spinach, was short-lived but highly influential in the psychedelic music scene of the late 60s, despite attacks on “The Bosstown Sound” which hyped the Boston bands as competition for the San Francisco music scene, and was a concept invented by their producer, Alan Lorber. Lorber’s efforts backfired and effectively ruined the careers of the original bands who unfortunately signed on with him.)

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003.   Ultimate Spinach – Behold and See, released 1968. (The second Ultimate Spinach album, and the last with Ian Bruce-Douglas at the helm. The almost over-the-edge insanity lyrics by Ian scared me at first and I almost expected this would be Ian’s last with the band. “Mind Flowers” and “Fragmentary March of Green” are the high points.)

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.5   The Mothers of Invention – Uncle Meat, recorded 1967-68, released 1969. This recording I found to be totally mind-blowing at the time it came out. The brilliance of Frank Zappa is something to behold here.

3.   Various Artists – Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians, recorded 1956, released 1976. (This LP helped me regain my appreciation of folk music. Contains essential performances by Hobart Smith (fiddle & 5-string fretless banjo), Etta Baker (guitar), Richard Chase (harmonica), Edd Presnell (dulcimer), Lacey Phillips & Boone Reid (5-string banjo)).

15.   Phil Keaggy – What A Day, released 1973. (I needed this album at the time it came out. It spoke to me immensely.)

7.2    Ram Dass – Love Serve Remember, released 1973. (I discovered this 6-LP set in 1976 and still consider it essential. Besides Ram Dass taking listener’s calls on various radio stations, it has music by Krishna Das, Bhagavan Das, Amazing Grace (their version of Paramuhansa Yogananda’s “Listen Listen” is fantastic), The Brothers of Mount Savior Monastery, Guru Blanket, The Sufi Choir, Sarada and Rabindranath, Mirabai, Berkeley Community Theatre, and a chant from an unknown source, but probably Buddhist monks, of “gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bhodi swaha” that was exceptionally moving.)

11.   Anonymous – Inside the Shadow, released 1977. (Only discovered this a decade ago, but it is fantastic. This group from Indiana is a mix of Byrds folk rock sound and San Francisco bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and Tripsichord Music Box but just a decade too late.)

.13   Entheogenic – s/t, released 2002 (a modern psybient group with a fantastic debut album)

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97. Spirit – The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, released 1970 (an amazing album)

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103.  The Beatles – Abbey Road, released 1969 (need I say more?)

18.   The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle, released 1968 (essential in any 60s collection)

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47.7   Blood Sweat and Tears – s/t, released 1968 (tugged at my heart with big band sounds)

1.111   The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat, released 1968 (proto-punk, musical deconstruction, raw and primitive – it appealed to my anti-social side)

2/   The Fugs – Tenderness Junction, released 1968 (the best they ever did)

5.2   Big Brother & The Holding Company – Cheap Thrills, released 1968 (what is not to love about Janice?)

3.  The Doors – Perception, released 2006 (this box set has all their albums with Jim Morrison. I can’t decide which album moved me the most, so here they all are. But as I ponder this, the first three LPs always seem to come out on top.)

19.  Deep Purple – The Book of Taliesyn, released 1968 (Tremendous album, and this is before they became heavy metal kings in the 70s! This was their second LP. Their first, “Shades of Deep Purple,” ain’t too shabby either.)

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23:27  Jandek – Telegraph Melts, released 1986. (Outsider artist, Jandek – his 12th album. Highlight is the song “You Painted Your Teeth.” This album takes patience and several listens to finally appreciate. All his albums are like that.)

Other Listings

I think I will list some songs here that were standouts in my pre-adult years:

1. The Hollies – Bus Stop
2. Dave Clark Five – Because
3. Percy Faith – A Summer Place
4. Tom Jones – Delilah
5. Frank D’Rone – Make Me Rainbows
6. Henry Mancini – The Great Imposter
7. Al Caiola – Experiment in Terror (written by Mancini)
8. The Fontaine Sisters – Daddy-O
9. The Orlons – Don’t Hang Up
10. Marty Robbins – A White Sport Coat, And a Pink Carnation
11. Marty Robbins – El Paso
12. Nat King Cole – Ramblin’ Rose
13. Ray Charles – I Can’t Stop Loving You
14. Ray Charles – You Don’t Know Me
15. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
16. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – A Taste of Honey
17. Dodie Stevens – Pink Shoe Laces

I am just scratching the surface! I didn’t want to stop with either list. I should have made it my top 500. Or maybe top 5000. Just on the past 17 songs I could write a book. There will be more lists later on down the road.  My next post will be soon – and will discuss my recent attendance at another amazing collaboration involving Jamie Shadowlight. And perhaps some additional lists or a featured slice of music. And I might use that concert as a springboard for a discussion of experimental music in general. Stay tuned.

Popeswami Returns!

“Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in the pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train”

David Allen Coe, from the song, “You Never Even Call Me by My Name”, on the Once Upon a Rhyme LP, released 1975

Well, Popeswami followers, I have been conspicuously absent as of late, all because I have been on the road (except Saturdays) for six of the past seven weeks. But I was not able to work on the blog that one week I was home because I had so many other things to do. I did get to see a couple of performances locally that week (more on those later). Now that we are past Labor Day weekend, and it is the following weekend, I have a little extra time to play “ketchup”. The highlight of the past several weeks goes back to July 30, in Chicago, and it has nothing to do with David Allen Coe. So let’s get write tuit. Ahem…

Buddy Guy’s 79th Birthday Bash – Legends in Chicago

While in Chicago I noted that I was staying only a block away from Buddy Guy’s Legends blues bar and restaurant. I was going to be free Thursday night and was looking to see who was performing at Legends that evening. To my surprise, it was a special evening as it was Buddy Guy’s 79th birthday, and also a CD release party for his latest release “Born to Play Guitar”. Here are some photos of Buddy Guy’s Legends Blues Bar and Restaurant:

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Some Cigar Box Guitars Under Glass

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Tributes to Famous Bluesmen

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Autographed Guitars from Some of the Greats

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More Autographed Guitars from the Greats

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Souvenir Beer Glass and CD – later autographed by Buddy

I immediately booked to go. Class was not over until 5 pm and then I had a study session that lasted about another hour. This gave me very little time to get over to Legends and get a good seat and some dinner. When I arrived every table was taken. I asked perhaps a half-dozen parties or so if I could join them with the extra seat at their table and each said “no”, until the last one (obviously) – three women who were celebrating a birthday. They thought it was cool that the one shared a birthday with Buddy Guy. It was the best table in the house, as it was in the center and close to the front of the stage. The women I was dining with were a lot of fun as well. I had a great New Orleans blackened catfish with crawfish etouffee, black-eyed peas and collard greens, and listened to some blues from Matt Hendricks with an acoustic set.

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Matt Hendricks (guitar, seated) with group

Then began the evening show with The NuBlu Band, consisting of Buddy’s kids and some friends. While they were performing, Buddy arrived. Then there was a break in the music for everyone to participate in wishing Buddy a happy 79th. They had a cake rolled onto the stage, and a few gifts were presented to Buddy. Buddy announced that he would not be performing since it was his birthday and he had to leave at 5 AM for a flight to his next gig. Quite understandable, and the music was top rate as it was. Following the birthday wishes, they announced that Buddy would be autographing CDs if anyone was interested. I was, but I had to use the restroom first. While in the restroom, I turned around to see none other than Buddy right behind me! I took the opportunity to shake hands, wish him a happy birthday, and joked with him and some other guys that we could all say that we peed with Buddy Guy. I asked about the autographing and Buddy told me to follow him out, which I did, only to have one of his bouncer/body guards get between us as I followed to the front counter. I was third to have my CD autographed (as we walked past my table I quickly picked up my CD). While he was signing my CD, another dude in line was rambling on to Buddy about how he had seen him and some other artists in concert somewhere and Buddy said “That’s nice”, without looking up. After expressing that I was honored to meet him and have him sign the CD, he looked at me and said “Thank you, sir.”

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The NuBlu Band – singers and guitarist are his children

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More family and friends join the stage with The NuBlu Band

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Buddy’s Birthday Cake

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Family & close friends join Buddy on stage for birthday celebration

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Buddy Guy

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Buddy with birthday gift

Buddy is a true legend. When people rave about Jimi Hendrix and some of the crazy antics he did with guitar, like playing it behind his back and with his teeth – well, he got those ideas from watching Buddy Guy. A lot of Jimi’s style was grounded in Buddy’s style. Buddy Guy has won six Grammy Awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 by Eric Clapton and the late B.B. King. Buddy had worked with Muddy Waters for years and on his latest CD he paid tribute to his friend, Muddy, on the last song – quite touching and actually brought a tear to my eye.

Well, the music continued that evening with Mike Wheeler and his band. They also introduced a young fellow from the UK who had been a student of Buddy’s since he was 14. I have to say, Chicago surely is home to some of the finest electric blues artists in the country.

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Mike Wheeler Band

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Young Buddy Guy prodigy from the UK who he tours with

Flight from San Diego to Charlotte, NC

The following Sunday, August 2, I was traveling to Rock Hill, SC via Charlotte, NC. As I was boarding in San Diego, I noted there were several musicians coming on board with their instruments…all except one guy with a guitar that was told he would have to check it. Immediately the woman next to me spoke up and said there was an agreement between the musician’s union and all the airlines that artists can carry their instruments on board. She said there were 21 people in the band and only a few had carry-on instruments. The flight attendant asked who they were. It was KC and The Sunshine Band! Amazing. Still coming down from the Buddy Guy high, and here I am surrounded with members of KC and The Sunshine Band. Harry Casey (KC), himself, was in first class and went out to talk to the attendant at the gate. He came back and placed the guitar right above a bass in the overhead – both fit nicely, and he commented that they belong together, rather jokingly. Then he went back to his seat. The woman beside me was Maria de Crescenzo, one of the singers. They had come from a private party in Carlsbad and were heading home to Miami, via Charlotte. Later I found out from Jamie Shadowlight that local jazz pianist, Mikan Zlatkovich, had performed with them at this party. Ironically, I was headed for Rock Hill, SC and the following week they were going to be playing in Rock Hill! Small world.

On the Local Scene

The week of August 17 I was home. Casino Royale, consisting of Normandie Wilson on keyboards and vocals, David Fleminger on guitar and vocals, and Bart Mendoza on guitar and vocals, and accompanied by Danny Cress on drums, performed at The Lafayette Hotel on Thursday evening. Another fine set from a great group of artists. Normandie, by the way, was just nominated (second year in a row) by the San Diego Music Awards, for her latest album “Normandie Wilson is Tired of Being Nice”.

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

Friday night was something special: at 98 Bottles, Nacho Arimany, Monette Marino, and Jamie Shadowlight performed “Pulse of Life: Melodies and Rhythms”. This was an exciting show. Arimany is a leading flamenco percussionist from Spain, living in New York City. Monette Marino is local, and is another wonderful percussionist with a 30 year history studying with masters in Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Caribbean, Korean, and West African drumming. Jamie Shadowlight is a violinist who seems to not have any boundaries when it comes to musical styles, playing everything from country, folk, jazz, Latin, and rock. During this performance she also performed on singing bowl. Together, these three artists produced a mesmerizing, hypnotic, happy, intense, fun, and inspiring evening of literally “the pulse of life”. The amazing thing is that they only had a few days of rehearsal before this performance and much of what they did was improvisational. This just blows me away.

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L to R: Monette Marino, Nacho Arimany, Jamie Shadowlight

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L to R: Monette Marino, Nacho Arimany, Jamie Shadowlight

Monday Night Open Mic at Lestat’s – Labor Day

This was the first time I had been to an open mic event in San Diego. The reason for going was that a friend, Molly Lynn McClendon, had planned to do a poetry reading at the open mic. Luckily her name was picked early, and so she was able to perform early. We visited with Molly and Patric Petrie before the event, and watched the other performers prior to her reading. Some were dreadful. There was a 13-year-old singer songwriter who was quite impressive. The highlight for us was Molly’s readings of witty and sardonic poems she had written in recent years. We stayed after she finished for the next act, who was a stand-up comic, or so he tried to be. We left on that note before any further acts brought down the high from Molly’s readings.

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Molly Lynn McClendon

In Other News

I recently spotted the John Gilbert/Meade River LP up for auction on eBay. This is a rare LP, with a pressing of 100 or less, as a memorial to John Gilbert, who lost his life in an auto accident at the age of 17, in 1971. The pressing was in 1972 by his family. Meade River was his band, named after a military operation in the Vietnam War. One side of the LP is John with solo guitar and vocals. The other side is his band, Meade River, consisting of Gilbert, Brett Barker, and John Whalen. None of these recordings had originally been intended for public release, and were simply recorded by the artists, for themselves. Well, the buy-it-now auction price was $699. But I decided to write the seller regarding the possibility of obtaining a digital copy. He was quick to oblige for a reasonable fee. So now I am in possession of an ultra-rare recording, sans original physical LP.

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Following this, I hit the jackpot of rare vinyl being posted to the Internet. One person has been putting entire albums on You Tube of some of the rarest recordings/artists you will ever find. I have managed to obtain some of these: Mistress Mary, Housewife; Mississippi; Arcesia; Walkenhorst Brothers; Al Manfredi; Children of One…the list goes on and on. There are over 500 LPs, 45s, and EPs posted by this person, which will keep me busy exploring for quite some time.
I think I will cut this post short right here. Next post will discuss some of my favorite albums/songs pre-1980. My selections might surprise you.

Some Events Worth Writing About

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

Well, I am hoping that going to local music events is worth writing about. However, Ben Franklin is no longer around to give me his opinion. On the other hand, if he had been around and had heard all this music he would be in shock and total disbelief. The evening of May 27 and all day June 6 we were privileged to hear some wonderful artists.

Randi Driscoll and Friends – Java Joe’s – May 27

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Randi Driscoll

This was an event that included Randi Driscoll on keyboard and vocals, with Noah Heldman on percussion and guitar, Larry Mitchell on guitar, Shawn Rohlf on guitar and vocals, Jamie Shadowlight on violin, guitar and vocals, Monette Marino on djembe, and from Alabama, the John Martin Davis Band.

Randi opened the event performing one of her songs unaccompanied on keyboard and vocals, followed by one with Noah Heldman accompanying on percussion. All at once I realized that this is a very professional and talented performer. Musically, her sound is a bit country, a bit pop, with a touch of jazzy blues. I guess the catch-all category would be singer-songwriter.

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John Martin Davis Band, Left is Daniel Davis, Right is John Martin

From there, she introduced the John Martin Davis Band, who played several numbers in a quasi-bluegrass-folk-Southern roots style. For this event the band consisted of John Martin on guitar and lead vocals, with Daniel Davis on banjo and vocals. They are a very impressive group. They ended with The Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” with Noah on percussion and Jamie accompanying on violin; quite fun!

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Jamie Shadowlight

Then, a big surprise – Jamie Shadowlight without violin! She sang a couple of her songs and played guitar. This is only the second time I have heard her sing. I really like her quiet, breathy singing style.

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Shawn Rohlf

Next up was Shawn Rohlf, noted for his work with Shawn Rohlf and The Buskers (and the 7th Day Buskers). Shawn did some self-penned songs on acoustic guitar and vocals. He is a terrific storyteller via song.

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Larry Mitchell

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L to R: Larry Mitchell, Monette Marino, Jamie Shadowlight

After a quick break, Grammy Award winning guitarist and producer, Larry Mitchell arrived and the next set was opened with Larry doing some solo guitar with Noah Heldman on percussion. Then Randi joined in with some of her songs and Jamie on violin. Then it was decided that Larry and Jamie would do a number together, and they asked Monette Marino to come up from the audience and keep rhythm on Noah’s djembe. They did a long instrumental improvisation where all three took the lead at different times. This was an amazing, hypnotic number; very transcendent and beautiful. Larry’s rapid-fire runs on guitar remind me of Al DiMeola, while the spaces he puts between these runs and chords remind me of John McLaughlin. I would say he is right up there with the best of them. And, he was suffering from a bad cold and a bit feverish at the time! I can’t imagine how good this would have been if he had felt better!

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L to R: Noah Heldman, Larry Mitchell, Randi Driscoll

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L to R: Noah Heldman, Randi Driscoll, Larry Mitchell, Jamie Shadowlight, Shawn Rohlf

From there, all the players reconfigured on stage with Larry, and played more of Randi’s songs, plus on the final number they had several others in the audience who were singers come up and sing with them. After the show we all got to mingle about before leaving. This event definitely ranks high on my list of local performances.

Art Around Adams – Kensington, Normal Heights, University Heights – June 6, 2015

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True Stories – L to R: David Fleminger, Danny Cress, Bart Mendoza, Orrick Smith

This is an annual event featuring visual arts, crafts, and several music stages, both outside and inside. While I am not sure how many musical performances there were, it seems there were at least 100 artists and groups involved. The music began at noon, and we decided to go to the Blindspot Records stage outside Smitty’s Garage to see Bart Mendoza and True Stories. True Stories consists of Bart Mendoza on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, David Fleminger on lead guitar, keyboards and vocals, Danny Cress on drums, and Orrick Smith on bass. As usual, they were amazing, playing mid-60s mod and British invasion rock as well as many self-penned songs of the same style. One pleasant surprise was when they did B Bumble & The Stingers’ “Nutrocker”, an early 60s rock take-off of the Nutcracker Suite. This is a tight band who makes it look so easy to “do that thing they do”.

 

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Fast Heart Mart (Martin Stamper)

From there we had a little time to look at the arts and crafts before seeing Fast Heart Mart (Martin Stamper) at the Shanti Spa and Gallery. Martin played guitar, harmonica, and banjo and sang many originals as well as a few traditional folk songs. There were also some sing-a-longs. There were lots of fun stories between songs and some off-the-wall tunes about aliens, dogs and God. Martin is a member of Western Collective, and that group performs many of his songs. To describe his music, I would say it is well rooted in Americana and folk, with a quirky twist and sort of cosmic; quite enjoyable.

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Steph Johnson Trio – L to R: Steph Johnson, Fernando Gomez, Rob Thorsen

We had to leave Fast Heart Mart before his set was over so we had time to get to the next stage at Integrative Health. This was the jazz stage, and was outside. Here we were blessed with the fantastic playing of the Steph Johnson Trio, consisting of Steph Johnson on guitar and vocals, Rob Thorsen on string bass, and Fernando Gomez on drums. This was the highlight of the day for us. Steph has a very soulful way of singing, and her guitar playing is like a funky Wes Montgomery, if one can imagine. It seems that before forming this jazz trio Steph had an r&b/funk band and that makes sense. She played some Wes Montgomery, as well as Stevie Wonder, a funky jazz version of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”, and many self-penned songs. Bassist Rob Thorsen had some inspiring solos and there were also a few drum solos for Fernando Gomez, showing off some pretty slick moves. Steph is such a joyful person with an authentic concern for others and for nature and it shows through her music and being. We will definitely be going to more of her performances.

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L to R: David Fleminger, Danny Cress, Normandie Wilson

From there we headed to Kensington for some delicious pizza at Haven Pizzeria, after which we were close by the Kensington Library stage where Normandie Wilson was performing. Normandie was playing keyboards and singing, and was accompanied by David Fleminger on guitar and bass, and Danny Cress on drums. She played some new songs, as well as some from her two most recent albums. There were a few instrumentals and most were vocals, primarily all self-penned. She also did a wonderful arrangement of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love”. Normandie’s sweet vocals never sounded better and David’s accompaniment on guitar and bass filled-out the sound nicely. While there, we ran into Maggie Taylor, Jesse Grabow, and Bill Romero. After Normandie’s performance, David had to tear down quickly to get to DeMille’s Beer Garden stage for his performance with Alvino & The Dwells. We all followed.

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Alvino & The Dwells – L to R: David Fleminger, Didier Suarez, Tony Suarez

Alvino & The Dwells are a sort of 60s surf/power trio, full of reverb and high voltage energy. I have wanted to see them for over a year but my schedule seems to always take me out of San Diego when they are performing. I finally had my chance, and wowie zowie are they great! We were immediately transported to 1962, before the British invasion, to the days of the Chantays, the Surfaris, the Ventures, and of course Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. It was the era of the secret agent man and James Bond, of Gidget and Moon Doggie, and of Tiki Bars. This is an instrumental band, featuring David Fleminger on reverb/vibrato guitar pyrotechniques, Tony Suarez, who largely held down the bass parts on some kind of self-created baritonish guitar, and Didier Suarez on John Bonham-power drums. Song-after-song, they blasted away into space in search of Project Mercury, and I believe they found it!

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Scott Mathiasen

We stayed right where we were, too stunned to get up, and were prepared to hear the Shifty Eyed Dogs, but alas, there were scheduling conflicts, so we got the band leader, Scott Mathiasen going solo electric guitar and vocals. Scott has a blues-rock style of singing, and the songs were very much in the old hard rock blues style of the early 70s. These were all original tunes. He did quite well, and it only made me want to see the full band even more.

I have to say that while the Steph Johnson Trio was the highlight of the day, David Fleminger really proved his credentials as one of the best and most versatile guitarists in San Diego. I’ve seen him do so many different styles and all with masterful skill. And Normandie, I can’t say enough about Normandie and her songwriting as well as impeccable delivery, after extreme jet lag no less (she had just finished performing with Red Pony Clock the night before in San Francisco). It all made for an amazing day of music.

We came home fully musically sated. Tomorrow I head to Connecticut and won’t be back until Friday.

A Slice of My Life Working Backwards

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
Every thing would appear to man as it is,
Infinite.”
William Blake

“There are things known
and there are things unknown,
and in between are the doors.”
Jim Morrison

“Between thought and expression
lies a lifetime.”
Lou Reed

We keep going to music events and I then get caught up in the weeds and do not have time to write about them, let alone all the other things I’ve planned to write about. But there’s a lot swimming about in this old head that needs to come out. I will dispense with recent events and then move on to other important matters.

Across the Street at Mueller College – May 1, 2015

Friday night we went to the Across the Street music event at Mueller College to see Connor Correll with Q Ortiz, Red Willow Waltz, and Jamie Shadowlight. It was an evening of peaceful, spiritually uplifting, and thought provoking acoustic music. And it was the first time I had seen Jamie play guitar and sing! In fact, seeing her play guitar and sing her songs was my original motivation for going.

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Jamie Shadowlight with Mandi Griggs and Jasmine Commerce

Jamie was up first. For the first few songs she had a friend, Jasmine Commerce, accompanying her on violin, and Mandi Griggs (a member of Red Willow Waltz) kept rhythm on cajon, while Jamie played acoustic guitar and sang. Then Jamie went solo voice and guitar for the remainder of her set. While Jamie is noted for her artistry on violin I don’t understand why she has not done more with vocals. She has a breathy, ethereal, sensual alto vocal style. The lyrics to her songs are pensive, a bit metaphysical, and observant. While she claimed to be just learning guitar, she is obviously a quick learner. The mood was relaxed, with a room full of loving friends, so everything built upon everything else to create a resplendent ambiance.

Connor Correll with Q Ortiz

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After Jamie’s set, Connor Correll with Q Rich Ortiz was up. Connor played guitar and sang while Q played cajon. Connor continued the mood with songs of a spiritual nature, some of which pondered our purpose in life, some bearing much soul searching, and some full of joy. They were beautifully written, and beautifully sung. Q’s rhythm patterns complimented the rhythm guitar; a very enjoyable duo.

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Red Willow Waltz with Jamie Shadowlight

The final set was Red Willow Waltz, consisting of Vanessa Contopulos on vocals, guitar, and ukulele, Mandi Griggs on cajon, and Laura Rose Anderson on vocals, ukulele, guitar, and harmonium. Jamie joined them on violin. This set was of a lighter, more exuberant nature. Vanessa’s clear, sweet vocals blended perfectly with Laura’s robust, emotive singing style. Both did solo vocals that were outstanding. I noted a bit of country twang to some of Laura’s vocals, especially when she played guitar. It made me wonder whether she had ever fronted a country band at some point. Vanessa and Laura switched back and forth from guitar to ukulele, depending on the song. For the final two songs Laura played harmonium and Vanessa played guitar. All songs were originals, penned by either Laura or Vanessa, with one dedicated to what was happening in Baltimore this past week. Vanessa and Laura are music therapists by profession and some of their songs tapped into that experience.

This was an uplifting way to spend Friday evening after a hectic work week.

Adams Avenue Unplugged

Going back a week, we had planned to spend the entire weekend of April 25 and 26 at Adams Avenue Unplugged. As fate would have it, our first destination was to the veterinarian’s office where we unexpectedly had to drop off our little doggie for observation and treatment. Once that was taken care of we headed to the event. With 25 stages and over 170 performances it was hard to decide who to see, but prior to the event I had planned to see HarpO first, and that was nixed because of our dog’s situation. (Due to HIPPA laws I cannot reveal her illness, … or is that just for people?). The day was unseasonably cool and windy. It was overcast and it tried to rain for a few seconds here and there throughout the day.

MohaviSoul

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So next on the agenda was the bluegrass band, MohaviSoul. This was our first time seeing this group. It was a very enjoyable set with a mix of covers and originals. I really liked their cover of “Midnight Train” but unfortunately it is not on either of their CDs. Talking with the band afterward I found that the fiddle player, Dan Sankey, is from Connellsville, PA, which is close to where my ancestors settled before my grandfather moved to the Washington, PA area. And, the guitarist, Mark Miller, was originally from Wheeling, WV, where my oldest brother now lives and within minutes of where I grew up in PA. Small world. Other members include Randy Hanson, Jason Weiss, Orion Boucher, and Will Jaffe.
During the MohaviSoul performance, we got a call from the vet that our dog, Sandy, was ready to go home. So, we rushed to the vet’s, then home, and then back to Adams Avenue. We parked close to where we had parked earlier. We were so lucky to find this space!

Joe Marillo

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We were hungry, so we headed to the end of the block from Kensington Park where MohaviSoul had played, to The Haven Pizzeria for lunch, where Joe Marillo would be performing. After getting seated, Joe spotted us and came over to talk. He will be celebrating his 82nd birthday in late May. We chatted about aging, keeping a positive perspective, and some of the books he was reading. Somehow we got on to the subject of MSNBC and the fact that we both loved to watch the Rachel Maddow Show. Joe is known as “the Godfather of the jazz scene in San Diego”. He has won several awards, including one for lifetime achievement and another from the NAACP for his efforts in hiring African-American musicians. In the 60s he worked with Stan Getz among others. I am told that in the 50s he once bought Charlie Parker a drink at a bar next to Birdland.
Joe was performing solo tenor sax and flute that day, with a backing tape of a variety of standards including a few by one of his favorites, Antonio Carlos Jobim. His improvisational skills on tenor sax are without equal. He did not play his flute until the end of his set when he realized he had not played it, and so he did one more song with flute. There will be a musical birthday celebration featuring Joe at Dizzy’s later in May and we hope to attend.

Dead Rock West

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We then headed down to Java Joe’s to catch Dead Rock West. It was packed but we were lucky to find a couple seats together. We got there in the middle of their set. They were an acoustic duo for this performance, consisting of Frank Lee Drennen on vocals and guitar and Cindy Wasserman on vocals. All songs we heard were originals. Frank has a dynamic presence and plays his acoustic guitar hard, and loud! Both Frank and Cindy are commanding vocalists and their harmonies are awesome. I would love to hear their full band some time.

Gregory Page

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We stayed at Java Joe’s for the next performer, Gregory Page. I found it curious when this sharply dressed gentleman set up a gramophone and placed a 78 rpm on the spindle. Gregory played guitar, “gramophone”, sang, read poetry and told stories. Smooth is a word that keeps coming up in my mind when I try to find words to describe his performance. Although many of the songs were penned by Gregory, they were done in styles from before WWII. He played the gramophone while reading his poetry, and on one song he segued to the gramophone, incorporating it into the song – all seamlessly done. He told stories about his family, about his visit to the hinterlands of Australia, and tied them in with his music. He was accompanied by a drummer, with only a snare and high hat. Musically, the style moved from early 1900s to more modern folk and pop styles. His guitar playing was subtle and refined, and he actually did some slide work on one song, all with masterful execution.
I had planned to see Joey Harris after this, but we had to get home to take care of the dog, so this was the last set for us that day.

The Western Collective

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We returned Sunday to a much warmer and sunnier day. And our dog appeared to be much better. Western Collective was first on the list, at Adams Park at 35th Street. I have written about Western Collective before. They are: “Fast Heart” Martin Stamper on guitar, banjo, and vocals; Justin Werner on guitar, harmonica, and vocals; Trent Hancock on bass and vocals; Chad Farran on cajon; and Jamie Shadowlight on violin. To call them simply a bluegrass band would be myopic. The group embraces a variety of styles, penned by several of the band’s members who bring with them their own unique musical and life experiences. There was one cover, which also happens to be the only cover song on their CD, Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”. There is always a happy, relaxed vibe when they play.

Caitlin Ashley

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After hearing The Western Collective, we dived into El Zarape for some tasty Mexican cuisine. They were packed, so it took a bit longer than we expected. However, the next group on our agenda was Robin Henkel and Whitney Shay, and Lestat’s was running a little off-schedule, so when we arrived there Robin, Whitney, and Caleb were still outside, taking selfies. It was another packed house, listening to Caitlin Ashley. Just as we did at Java Joe’s we watched for someone to leave and then snatched-up their seats. So, we got a chance to hear this young and relatively new singer, with a distinct style and interesting lyrics. I was glad to see so many in the packed room being supportive. Caitlin was accompanied by Mason James on acoustic guitar, and three unknown persons on electric bass, cajon, and ukulele. She sang and occasionally accompanied herself on ukulele. She has a very nice stage presence, great song writing and a pleasant vocal style. I think this event was a terrific boost to her ego. She appeared to be authentically amazed at the positive response to her songs. Sorry for the horrible photos of Caitlin Ashley and  Robin Henkel & Whitney Shay – just haven’t got the hang of taking them at Lestat’s.

Robin Henkel with Whitney Shay

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We stayed right where we were to hear the next group …someone who we have seen and enjoyed on a multitude of occasions…the peerless Robin Henkel with the lovely and dynamic Whitney Shay, accompanied on double bass by the entertaining Caleb Furgatch. Either I have a very short memory or this was the best performance I have seen by these three. While a lot of the songs we have heard them do before, there was something about them that sounded fresh and new. Perhaps subtly different arrangements or maybe it was just the improvisation was exceptionally hot? All I can say is that this was an exciting performance. Caleb is so much fun to watch on bass as he closes his eyes and gets deep into the music and keeps everything moving in the right direction. Robin continues to convince me that he is thee authority on Delta/country blues guitar. And how Whitney can make gutsy, gritty blues and r&b singing sound pretty and nasty all at once is inspiring. We walked out at the end, totally energized.

Blue Frog Trio

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Left to right: Dave Keefer, Patrick “Blue Frog” Ellis, Jackson Patrick

Next stop was the Air Conditioned Lounge. I love names like this. At one time I considered writing a novella titled “My Generic World”, and the Air Conditioned Lounge would fit right in. However, what we heard there was not generic. I had first heard Blue Frog Ellis in an electric blues band at the 2014 Spring Harp Fest. He is a dynamite blues harpist. What I didn’t realize is that he is just as good on guitar. Since Lestat’s schedule was running late and it was a bit of a walk to the AC Lounge, we did not see the beginning of the set. But what we saw confirmed my memory from the Harp Fest. What we had was Patrick “Blue Frog” Ellis on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Dave Keefer on vocals, acoustic guitar and resonator, and Jackson Patrick on bass and vocals. They played a mix of 70s rock standards such as the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rambler” and “Melissa”, as well as some originals and blues standards. All three sang, and Dave and Blue Frog took turns with rhythm and lead – both being accomplished players. After their set we got to talk to the guys. I know that Patrick “Blue Frog” Ellis and Jackson Patrick are US Navy Vets; Blue Frog was a Seal. Not sure if Dave Keefer is a Vet, but the band was promoting their work with the Wounded Warriors Project, in helping to teach music to disabled Vets. Some great guys, there. The Blue Frog Band will be performing at “Gator by the Bay” at Spanish Landing Park in San Diego later this month.

Bart Mendoza & True Stories

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I have wanted to see True Stories for a long time, but it never seemed to work out with my crazy work schedule taking me out of San Diego whenever they were playing. Finally, I got to see what I have been missing – staying in our spot at the AC Lounge. True Stories’ lineup consists of: Bart Mendoza on vocals and guitar; David Fleminger on vocals, guitar, and keyboard; Danny Cress on drums; Orrick Smith on bass; and latest addition Normandie Wilson on vocals and keyboard. Now, I have seen Normandie, Bart, and David in Casino Royale and in other musical arrangements, but I had never realized that they could rock out like they did! This was such a pleasant surprise. They covered many songs from great 60s bands like The Beatles, The Byrds, The Yardbirds, The Zombies, The Who, and others. They also did some originals that were arranged in a style much like the mid-60s rockers. In fact, I tried wracking my brain to figure out who they were covering only to find they were covering themselves. I never realized David played keyboards, and could play in such a wicked 60s psychedelic style, akin to Ian Bruce-Douglas of Ultimate Spinach. His guitar lead work was also quite impressive. Bart took most of the lead singing parts and was right at home whether covering The Who, The Beatles, or anyone else.

Blue Frog Ellis stuck around to hear them. He was quite impressed, also. They really kicked some ass and got people dancing! Suddenly I was transported to The Aftermath coffee house near Claysville, PA circa 1969 and my teenage years.
Now, I understand this event is titled “unplugged” and with the exception of some amplification for electric bass and vocals, most of the acts we saw complied with the “unplugged” concept. So how did True Stories sneak onto the roster with a fully electric band? In my mind it is exactly what 60s rock was all about – defying the rules! So if I was asked about this, my response would be, “The kids are alright”.

Other Thoughts – Bits and Pieces

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To balance out my musical experience, I have obtained a couple new prog metal releases on the Sensory CD label, Iris Divine – “Karma Sown” and Jaded Star – “Memories from the Future”. Iris Divine is from northern Virginia, playing in a metal style similar to Pantera, Alice in Chains, and even a hint of Dream Theater. They seem to reach beyond just heavy metal to more of a progressive synth-based metal style that is edgy and exciting with a fantastic male vocalist who actually sings. Jaded Star is a Swedish prog metal band with an amazing female vocalist, Maxi Nil, and virtuoso guitarist, Kosta Vreto. This is a strong debut album with lots of power and emotion.

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I also landed a near mint copy of Nat Freedland’s double LP documentary “The Occult Explosion” from 1973. It will fit nicely with my other LPs in the same genre by Barbara the Gray Witch, Louise Huebner, Anton LaVey, Coven, Jacula, Antonius Rex, Abiogenesi, Paul Chain, Aleister Crowley, Charles Manson, The Manson Family Jams, and Lucifer/Black Mass (Mort Garson). I guess Will Jima also fits into this category with his two spoken word albums about “the UFO people” and the end times, with electronic sounds as background. All make for a lovely trip into the dark side of human imagination. Nothing you would want to have as a steady diet. Some of these are definitely not for the faint of heart. Others are as funny as Hell (no pun intended). Note that these recordings are not in any way like the death metal and black metal groups that flourished in the late 80s and continue to spread a very depressing or destructive message, often tied to various hate groups.
This leads nicely as an introduction, or advertisement, for the future blog entry I have planned to do for several months on “The World of Wyrd”. I plan to discuss the area of pagan folk, wyrd folk, and perhaps some other musical phenomena that are related tangentially.

Spock is Dead (just as Bach is dead)

That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.

Leonard Nimoy

 

Yes, Spock (aka Leonard Nimoy) has passed on to the other side. While it saddens me to realize this, it also makes me feel old. As a matter of fact, I passed an arbitrary milestone on my recent birthday. I now fall into the capriciously dictatorial category of “elderly”. Yeesh!  It is just another affirmation that I need to seize every moment. Carpe diem! Talking about birthdays, Leonard passed away on mine. Talking more about birthdays, I have noted that several of my friends in and out of music, but especially in music, are Pisceans along with me. I puzzle over this. Part of me, the logical part, recoils at the validation of astrology. Yet, there have been numerous confirmations, coincidences, and connections in my life that are only explained with this supposed pseudo-science. But despite my logical side, I am one to leave the door open to many things – hey, it is how I have stayed youthful in my general outlook – a Peter Pan syndrome, perhaps. But I most certainly think our human brains are sorta, kinda, limited, you know? Our ability to know and understand “IT ALL” is rather tiny compared to the universe of everything in the time/space continuum. So perhaps, just like fairy tales and religions, astrology attempts to explain what we don’t yet understand. Just as humans attributed to demons what we now know to be bacteria and viruses, perhaps someday we will have a better understanding, and will say “Aha! That is what we tried to explain through astrology!” Until then, as Kiki Dee once sang, “I’ve got the music in me!”

So I’ve been seeing a lot of live acts in our local community in my limited time since I last posted here. And let me tell you, they have been great! Such talent we have here in San Diego!

Stardate Saturday, February 14, 2015, Valentine’s Day

Blue Velvet

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Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year. Blue Velvet plays most every Saturday night at the Caliph. We spent our evening there, listening to the finest lounge act in Southern California, with Kevin Cavanaugh on vocals and keyboard, Maggie Taylor on vocals, and Normandie Wilson on vocals. I swear that every time we see them perform they get better and better. New songs, and new ways to perform old songs. Now that they are down to two female vocalists, Kevin has taken more singing parts and many of their older songs have been rearranged. And it is all for the better!

Stardate Sunday, February 15, 2015

Robin Henkel and his Horn Band with Whitney Shay

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This group never disappoints. Robin is one of the best country blues guitarists I have ever seen. Whitney is one of the best interpretive singers in the blues/rhythm and blues genre I have ever Whitnessed. Sunday night after Valentine’s Day, the group performed for free at Lestat’s in Normal Heights. Robin and his band, consisting of Robin on guitars and vocals, Jodie Hill on double bass, Troy Jennings on baritone and soprano saxes, David Castel de Oro on tenor sax and clarinet, and Gary Nieves on drums, started out the set with Mose Allison’s “Your Molecular Structure” and led right into Diane Krall’s “Stop This World”. After a few other numbers, some rather avant garde, Whitney joined in with Duke Ellington’s “Kissin’ Bug”. Whitney sang several old R&B numbers like Little Esther (Phillips’) “Double Crossing Blues”, Etta James tunes, including “Dance with Me, Henry” (written by Johnny Otis, Hank Ballard and Etta James) and the group ended with Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog”.  Each instrumentalist took their turn soloing in various songs, and Whitney’s gutsy, bluesy singing was just what the old head needed. It was a wonderful evening of blues and jazz.

Stardate Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tomcat Courtney

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Thursday night is Tomcat’s night at Proud Mary’s Southern Bar and Grill. We had not seen him for quite a while so we went the third Thursday in February. We had desserts and listened to some Delta blues played by a true legend. Tomcat is 86 now, and still going strong. He keeps a rhythm by tapping his foot on a little wooden block while he plays guitar, harmonica, and sings. Between songs he told stories about his time with Lightnin’ Hopkins, his main influence. Tomcat, as a child, learned to tap dance by listening to the trains crossing the bridge near his home in Texas, and imitating the rhythm. He then left Texas in the mid-1940s, while he was still in his mid-teens, to tap dance in the circus. While in the circus, he learned he could sing. After seeing Lightnin’ Hopkins, he decided he wanted to sing and play guitar. He still writes songs, as well as playing many of the old standards. Two self-penned songs we heard that night were “Sundown San Diego” and “Railroad Street”. He also played one of my favorites, “Cook My Breakfast”, an old Lightnin’ Hopkins tune.  I got to talk to Tomcat when he was taking a break, and got my picture taken with him. It was quite an honor to meet him.

Stardate Saturday, February 21, 2015

Kawehi

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Okay, Kawehi is not a local, but I have anticipated seeing her perform live for a long time. I would not have known about her at all had it not been for my former guitar instructor, Tony Janfolone, Sr., posting one of her videos on Face book. When I saw she was going to be playing San Diego at The Loft, I had to get tickets. And I am so glad we did. There were actually four acts performing that night. The first was a very local UCSD campus performer, Tojou (Jake Espinueva), who did “beat box flute”. He was only on about 15 minutes, and I was anxious to see Kawehi, so I was glad when he was done. It was interesting, but just not what I was waiting for. Then a local group, On Fifth, consisting of Shereen Fahrai and Fedra Ramirez on vocals and acoustic guitars did another 15 minute set of acoustic folk. Nicely done, but a weird fit for what Kawehi is noted for. They would have fit perfectly at a 60s peace rally. A longer set was given to Zoya Music. Zoya Mohan, born in India, raised in Southern California, and graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, was a bit in the folk idiom, but also her music had a world beat flavor. She at one point cited Ani DiFranco as an inspiration for one of her songs – which did not get past me unnoticed, since I enjoy the music of DiFranco. It was an interesting set, and I picked up her CD which had all original tunes, and it did not disappoint. One song that stood out in her performance was her self-penned tune, “Fire”. She was accompanied by her band, flautist, Frankie De Rosa, and percussionist, Robbie Simmons.

Then Kawehi came on. Now, let me explain a little. Kawehi is a loop artist. She plays midi keyboard, guitar, ukulele, and looping station, also setting the beat via beat box. She is amazing to watch, precise in her timing, angelic in her singing. She started the set with Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” of all things – pretty edgy stuff to begin your set with. She did her self-penned hit “Anthem” as well as a number of other self-penned songs and a cover of Gary Jules’ “Mad World” on solo guitar and voice followed by a mash-up of several pop tunes including “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Put a Ring On It” by Beyonce, “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift, DJ Khaled’s “All I do is Win” and others – even a Brittany Spears song. She also did a solo ukulele song with vocals in Hawaiian. Ending the set with Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” was such a far cry from her opening number. Hers was a terrific performance; witty, enthusiastic, up-beat, and just plain fun to watch and listen to. After the show, Kawehi met any and all who wanted to meet her, autographing CDs (and kissing them) and posing for photos.

Stardate Friday, February 27, 2015: the date of my birth, the day of Spock’s death

Taryn Donath Trio

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I have previously written about Taryn Donath and her amazing keyboard talent. For my birthday, I wanted to see her trio at the Speakeasy in the Gaslamp. We got there early, and I’m glad we did since many seats were reserved in this small venue, but we managed to get some decent seats where we could see all three players: Taryn Donath on keyboard and vocals, Troy Jennings on saxophones, and Matthew Taylor on drums. This was an evening of delectable jazz and jazzy blues; Taryn and her band mates did not disappoint in the least. Taryn’s keyboarding was jaw-dropping – while the set was primarily instrumental, her selected vocals captured the essence of the bluesy lyrics. Troy was exceptionally hot that night – even more so than when we saw him with Robin Henkel weeks before, and Matthew was spot-on all evening with some fabulous solos of his own. You can tell when a band is really connecting with each other by the look of pure joy in their eyes when communicating. They had this; sax solo feeding off keyboard solo, and drums feeding off both and holding it all together. They played standards like Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” as well as some of Taryn’s self-penned songs, including a hypnotic version of her CD title track “Gardenia”. Gardenia is a beautiful song and while performing it, Taryn had a look of ecstatic surrender on her face as if the music was really playing her. I got to talk to band members during breaks. What a fun group! And Taryn put my review of her performance at the Adams Avenue Street Fair last year on her home page! I’m honored.

Stardate  Saturday, February 28, 2015, Planet Earth/Crossing Over to Infinity

Shadowlight & !ZeuqsaV!

“Songs of the Seeker: A Journey into Wonder”

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At the Moxie Theatre, the Saturday after my birthday, Nancy and I journeyed with electric violinist, Jamie Shadowlight, and visual projection artist, Xavier Vasquez, with assistance from Mikan Zlatkovich, into a world of wonder and beauty. Recording and photos were prohibited but we did get a photo with Jamie afterward. This was experimental, multimedia artistry – totally improvised and yet a cohesive, flowing “path” to a final purified resolution. During the past several months, Jamie and Xavier had traveled to the desert, the ocean, the mountains, and the city to provide a variety of beautiful video clips that were mixed, processed, and altered to coincide with Jamie’s electric violin, using a delay and wah pedal. Jamie had found that the sound of OM could be made on the violin using the low 5th C string. With it she was able to imitate the sound of OM such as heard by Tuvan throat singers. Using harmonics she was able to make the sound of Tibetan singing bowls – in fact, at one point I could swear it was Xavier who somewhere in his lap top and electronics had a singing bowl or a recording of such. The room was darkened – and the only light was focused on the projection screen onstage. Jamie sat in the dark onstage to our far right, and Xavier sat in the dark to the far left. Not until the end did I notice that Mikan was in the aisle above several seats using some form of hand-held device to assist with the production. I still am not sure exactly what he was doing. This was a one-of-a-kind performance, never to be reproduced the exact same way however, there was sort-of a promise that they could do various other mixes with this. In fact, Jamie asked Xavier and Mikan to “jam” another improvisation using the video clips. The room was darkened again for a five-to-ten minute encore. In the video clips of the main production Jamie was wearing red, in search of meaning and spiritual purification. In the live performance she was in white signifying the quest had been accomplished. Beautiful, mesmerizing, psychedelic, awesome, are mere words to attempt to describe this amazing happening.

This performance reminded me of the performance of BIOME (Allen & Patricia Strange, and Frank and Boots McCarty) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Student Union that I witnessed in or around March of 1972. Patricia Strange played violin while the others used electronics and obscure percussion to produce an other-worldly performance that set me on the path to exploring electronic and avant garde music, and expanding my musical horizons in general.

Stardate Friday, March 6, 2015

Jamie Shadowlight

A Jazz Exploration of The Beatles

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At 98 Bottles, we were privileged to be in the presence of musical greatness: Jamie Shadowlight on violin, Mikan Zlatkovich on keyboard, Mackenzie (Mack) Leighton on contra bass, Richard Sellers on drums, and special guests Carmelia “Toot” Bell and Arnessa Rickett on vocals. They did a jazz treatment of some of the more popular Beatles songs, such as opening number “Come Together”. There were beautiful interpretations of “Lady Madonna”, “Here, There, and Everywhere”, and more. Their version of “Blackbird” was haunting, subtle, and evocative, complete with pizzicato violin, droning synth/keys and softened rhythms with drummer Sellers using mallets on the set and bassist Leighton laying down a repetitive line to glue it together. “Norwegian Wood” had a long building group improvisation that kept me on the edge of my seat. “Eleanor Rigby”, to me, was the highlight of the night and they really kicked it into gear. Jamie stepped out to let the trio rock out on “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” including fantastic solos from each, but Seller’s solo was simply scrumptious – keeping the obtuse lyrical rhythms going in this solo was a sight to behold. They closed with Toot Bell and Arnessa Rickett contributing vocals to “Don’t Let Me Down”, followed by an encore “All You Need is Love”. All performers were in top form. “A splendid time was guaranteed for all.”

Stardate Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blue Velvet

Kevin & Normandie’s Birthday Bash

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I will end this returning back to where we began. Two of the three members of Blue Velvet (Normandie Wilson and Kevin Cavanaugh) share the same birthday – March 7. It also happened to be a Saturday night, which is Blue Velvet’s standing gig at the Caliph. While I had to get up early to leave for Atlanta the next morning, and we lost an hour for Daylight Savings Time, “wild horses couldn’t drag me away” from these dignified proceedings. Blue Velvet was at their best, and the place was packed with adoring fans, many of whom were other artists from the San Diego music scene. While we didn’t stay long, we got to visit with several people and had a wonderful time.

Since then, I have been to Atlanta and returned. We went to see another great artist, Liz Grace, at Proud Mary’s on Friday the 13th. I will have more to say next time on that. Plus, I have made some new musical honored mentionables that deserve some honorable mention. There is a lot happening in the local music scene – too much to see. I am still figuring out a way to transport myself to various venues within a split second, as the crew of the Enterprise once did. But alas, Spock is dead. And I have come to the end of this journey. Live long and prosper.