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


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.

What’s Happening, Man!

“I said now Cecil’s got his new piece; He cocks it, shoots it BANG! between three and four. He aims it at the sailor; He shoots him down dead on the floor. Oh, you shouldn’t do that; Don’t you know you’ll hit the carpet, don’t you know you’ll mess the carpet?”

–  Lou Reed, from “Sister Ray” , The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat 1967

As I write, I’m listening to Air – “Sexy Boy”, from the album, Moon Safari. (All of Air’s albums are wonderful chill music!) Sort of apropo for all the LGBT backlash and Indiana political idiocy of the moment. But I don’t want to talk about that. I “just got back from Carolina” to continue my quote from Lou Reed’s “Sister Ray”, which in Lou’s own words “was done as a joke – no, not as a joke, but it has eight characters in it and this guy gets killed and nobody does anything. It was built around this story that I wrote about this scene of total debauchery and decay. I like to think of ‘Sister Ray’ as a transvestite smack dealer. The situation is a bunch of drag queens taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear.” Greenville, South Carolina was a really nice, quaint town with a very developed downtown dedicated to the arts and fine cuisine. In other words, I enjoyed my visit. There was a piano bar at the Westin, which I walked past every evening when going to dinner. I never stopped by. So I ask myself “Why?”. And myself says back to me, “Uh, I dunno. Tired, I guess.” I’ll accept that. I really hated that while flying home Thursday night I was missing some great things happening in San Diego. First, there was The Zombies tribute at Bar Pink, hosted by Normandie Wilson and Bart Mendoza, with True Stories, Scott Mathiasen & Mojo Working, Wayne Riker, Shake before Us and others. And, at the same time over at Lestat’s we had Western Collective, 22 Kings, and The Yes Team. I was heartbroken. But I don’t want to whine. After all, I have seen some really great performances the past three Friday evenings!

Liz Grace and The Swing Thing

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Liz Grace fronts the excellent country band, Three Chord Justice, but has now branched out to apply her vocal skills to pop and jazz music, from the swing band era into the early ’60s. She was backed by her husband, drummer Mark Markowitz; saxophonist & keyboardist, Leo Dombecki; John (sorry, can’t recall the last name) on guitar, and a string bassist for whom I can’t remember his name at all….now, just because I cannot recall their names, please don’t think that this reflects on their abilities. On the contrary! These guys were new additions to the band, in place of Bob Ryan on guitar and Doug Walker on bass, who appear on their CD. We saw them Friday the 13th at Proud Mary’s Southern Bar & Grill in Kearney Mesa, proving that Friday the 13th does not have to be unlucky. They ran through a repertoir of great standards including: “Autumn Leaves”, “La Vie en Rose”, “Fever”, “Fly Me to the Moon”, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “Summertime” and a few instrumentals like “Music to Watch Girls By”. The versatility of the band and Liz together made for a pleasant music experience. After seeing Liz with Three Chord Justice and hearing her solo CD, “No Justice”, I wondered if she would bring a country flavor to these standards. But no, she delivered them as if she had been transported to that era, with her very sweet, clear, perfect pitch voice. The band was tight, and each took turns with some incredible solo work. I was eyeing John’s guitar all evening, a gypsy-styled acoustic electric – he let me try it and I noted how amazingly light the instrument was, with a very crisp, pure tone. John’s solo work was thoughtful and tasteful – a little like Gabor Szabo, with none of the flashy “let’s see how many notes I can fit into a bar” kind of showmanship. Instead, he complimented the singer all the way. This is a band I want to see again, and again, and again.

Missy Anderson

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Taking a turn to soul and blues, the next Friday at Proud Mary’s we saw Missy Andersen and her band, consisting of guitarist Heine Andersen, Michael McKinnon on bass and Michael J. Minor on drums. Missy grew up in Detroit, spent time in NYC honing her skills, and now lives in San Diego, and man ‘o man am I glad. Missy has been nominated for best Soul Blues Artist, Female in the 2015 Blues Music Awards in Memphis; not a minor feat. Missy did a few covers, like Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”, but there were also many self-penned songs from her latest CD, In the Moment. Heine’s guitar was so much fun to watch! He would move from groovin’ Cornell Dupree and Bobby Womack R&B styles to more frenetic fretwork akin to Mike Bloomfield. And Missy – Missy hit on every emotional heartstring with that soulful voice. Sometimes the words I choose just don’t do the singer justice and this is one of those times. Go hear her for yourself if you are in San Diego or Riverside Counties. I also loved the interaction between Missy and the players – especially drummer Michael Minor who was having way too much fun, we could tell. We left with huge smiles that would not come off for the rest of the evening. Yeah!

Chickenbone Slim and The Biscuits

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It was to Proud Mary’s again we proceeded to go this past Friday night. This time to have fun watching and listening to Chickenbone Slim and The Biscuits. As Chickebone’s Website says “If you like your blues with a down home greasy feel, …Chickenbone plays in a traditional blues style, part Chicago, part Texas, part Mississippi, and all right!”  That quote says it all. I can’t match it for describing their playing. I didn’t catch the name of the bass player this go ’round, but he and Dane Terry (of Cadillac Wreckers fame) were filling in on bass and harmonica. Drummer, Malachai Johnson, kept everything in order, laying down some solid beats while Chickenbone layed some blues on ya! All I can say about Dane Terry is – dynamite! I love hearing him play blues harp and he and Chickenbone played off each other on several numbers adding to all the fun. He didn’t disappoint, playing some of the favorites I enjoy hearing, like his theme song “Good Evening Everybody”, and Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips”. They did several numbers from some of the great bluesmen, including one by local legend, Tomcat Courtney. Got to visit with Chickebone (Larry Teves) and Dane Terry during a break. Walked out with a Chickenbone Slim guitar pick! Another fun-filled evening.

In Other News

I am deeply saddened by the passing of two music legends this past month – Daevid Allen and Michael Brown. Daevid hailed from Australia, was one of the original members of Soft Machine, then when he could not return to the UK from France due to visa issues, he formed the band, Gong. Gong became a tremendous influence on me in the mid-70s with their merging of a jazz-rock fusion style and total psychedelic insanity. After leaving Gong in the mid-70s, and heavily influencing the group Can AM des Puig who recorded the legendary “Book of AM“, he moved to Majorca, Spain and recorded the album “Good Morning” with Spanish band Euterpe. The Gong albums of “The Flying Teapot Trilogy” as well as Gong’s selections on the Greasy Truckers’ Live at Dingwalls Dance Hall LP are some of my favorites of this genre. The “Good Morning” album is also a favorite. Allen came out of the beatnik era – heavily influenced by William Burroughs and Sun Ra. He was 77.

Michael Brown was keyboardist and songwriter for ’60s baroque psych band The Left Banke. He penned their two major hits “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina”. A hit for The Cherry People, “And Suddenly”, was also part of The Left Banke repertoire and penned by Brown. After leaving The Left Banke, he joined The Stories, who with Michael on keyboards and arrangements, had a hit with “Brother Louie”. He also had a hand in the formation of the band Montage. Brown was 65. Well that’s it for now. Tonight heading to 98 Bottles for the 6th Annual Women in Jazz concert. Then it is off to San Rafael, California tomorrow.