The Adventures of Burt Tee and Quan Lapose

“There’s danger on the edge of town

Ride the King’s Highway, baby

Weird scenes inside the gold mine

Ride the highway west, baby

Ride the snake, ride the snake

To the lake, the ancient lake, baby

The snake, he’s long, seven miles

Ride the snake

He’s old and his skin is cold…” 

Jim Morrison, from The Doors song, “The End”, 1966, released 1967

Adventures are typically exciting experiences. Sometimes they involve risk. Sometimes there is danger lurking for those living on the edge. There were so many layers of meaning in The Doors song, “The End,” that represent adventure: the excitement of taboo sex, of murder, and the exhilarating freedom experienced from defying the norms of a civil society; norms that are in place to guarantee the survival of a species. But Morrison questioned everything. He pushed the envelope to the point that it became unrecognizable as an envelope; merely a tattered piece of paper. And in the end, his life became that tattered piece of paper. For Morrison, adventure became misadventure, providing him a seat at the table of the 27 Club.

College Freshman Adventures

 Not all adventures are extreme. When I entered my freshman year of college, my dormitory roommate, John, was a member of my high school graduating class. We were high school buddies and agreed to room together. John was a bit socially awkward (probably I was as well, but I didn’t see myself that way). He did not do drugs, nor alcohol but he was inclined to some peculiarities such as buying a medium-sized jar of maraschino cherries and consuming them in one sitting. I recall that after doing so he went into an episode of nearly convulsive laughter to the point that the dorm floor counselor stopped by and asked me if John was tripping. I said “no” as I pointed to the empty cherry jar, at which the counselor just shook his head and left, while the intensity of John’s laughing orgy took an exponential upturn.

Back in 1971 there were no co-ed dormitories at my university. Our eighth-floor dorm room was surrounded by a variety of colorful individuals. There were two other normal guys, Rich and Ron, who came from a high school in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. They were a bit on the reserved side; clean-cut kids who were serious about their studies. We became good friends. Then further up the hall was another freshman, Lorenzo, who was a philosophical Brainiac and the floor cynic. Lorenzo had an acerbic wit. He verbally pulled no punches. We got along great. Directly across the hall from me was Joe from Erie, Pennsylvania. Joe was quite a character. He had two high school friends who were in a different dormitory on the other side of campus who spent a lot of time on our floor. So, we hung out together a lot. I remember Joe admiring my Gibson SG and often asking to play it. Together we all did some innocent but crazy pranks, like dropping a water balloon down the stairwell from the eighth floor to the basement when someone came through the basement door. We also had a group participation on each floor in bouncing super balls down that stairwell. Right next door to my room were Woody and Wayne, sophomores who returned to school with the plan to stay high on acid the entire year. One time when they were tripping the rest of us had squirt guns and freaked them out. Thinking they were real guns, Woody and Wayne stayed in the bathroom shower stalls and refused to come out for hours. Innocent stuff.

I hung out with Woody and Wayne because they had some terrific music albums – everything from Soft Machine and Van Morrison, to Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen. We got high together. The difference was that their adventure was to drop out and mine was to graduate, so I was a bit more balanced than they were in my use of interesting chemicals and entheogens. Joe and his Erie buddies, Dennis and Chuck also partied with us but not as frequently. I remember that Lorenzo took huge amounts of acid at a time. A year later I remember that while his sharp and biting comments continued to flow from his mouth on a constant basis, he no longer had the ability to concentrate, and could no longer grasp complex ideas, whereas in the prior year we had some excellent discussions regarding the existential philosophers we both loved. The contrast was startling to me and an assurance that I was on a better path by being more balanced in my adventures. Of course, hanging out with Jesus freaks who were there the moment after I had had a very bad trip helped to steer me away from self-destruction. Joe’s roommate was a senior who invited me to The House of Light, which was a refuge on the outskirts of town for wayward acid heads and heroin addicts who had found Jesus. But that is a topic for another blog post.

I am getting away from the main idea for the title of this post. When I returned to my dorm room after class one day, I found a magazine photo cut-out of two refugee children taped to my door. Joe had labeled one as Burt Tee, and the other as Quan Lapose. Burt’s mouth had a hole punched through where Joe had placed a lit cigarette. Now, he must have timed this for when I was expected back from class, because the cigarette was not burnt down very far. Somehow, I became associated with the name Burt Tee while my roommate was Quan Lapose. Those names stuck. But let it be known that I did not smoke tobacco. Since my parents had been chain smokers until they quit when I was 11 years old, I detested the smell of cigarette smoke.

By the end of my freshman year, Joe’s roommate had graduated, Joe and his Erie entourage never returned for the sophomore year. My roommate, John quit school and married his high school sweetheart. Woody and Wayne dropped out, but Wayne returned two years later and was much more serious about his education. Mid sophomore year Lorenzo dropped out. But Rich and Ron continued and graduated. To them I continued to be Burt Tee.

Later, I would take up various aliases in radio or writing personalities: Ray Cathode, Harry Face, I.M. Intoxicated, and Popeswami to name a few.

My Recent Adventure

Over the past two years I have dropped 50 pounds but gained about ten pounds back in the past six months. My work involves travel throughout the US and 2018 seemed to have me out more than in past years. This left me with few days of free time to blogpost, and fewer days to attend local music performances. Anyone following my posts will see that there has been a great decrease in describing local music events.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was supposed to get home late Friday night from Tallahassee via Miami. Well, once my flight arrived in Miami mechanical problems with my connecting flight necessitated a stay in Miami until Saturday morning, with only a couple hours sleep before the morning flight. When I arrived home, I felt “fluttery” in my chest. I thought it was due to the combination of the excessive amount of caffeine I had consumed the past few days, dehydration, and lack of sleep. But it did not let up. All through Thanksgiving week I just felt weird. The week following, I was on the road again. Then the next week, in Chicago, it was bitter cold, and my quarter mile walk from the hotel to my worksite caused my chest to hurt. Again, I assumed it was the cold air irritating my lungs. The next week I was in Kentucky and still the flutters in my chest continued.

When I got home from my Kentucky trip that Friday night, I was feeling very strange. I called the nurse on call through my medical plan and she told me to immediately go to the emergency room. The next morning, after several irregular EKGs and foreboding blood work results, they scheduled me for a stress test by injection. Later that day they told me I had had a heart attack some time ago and they prepared me for angioplasty the next morning. They thought they would be putting one or two stents in arteries to the left side of my heart. But once they were in and cleaned-out the blockage, no stents were necessary. According to the cardiologist my heart is strong with no significant damage. While undergoing the angio, my mind faded out until they were done, but I do remember the pain as they pushed further into my arm with the line. Apparently, I was conscious enough to follow instructions, but I am mostly amnesic regarding this experience. It left me with a very painful arm where nerve endings were irritated, and even though the procedure was done a week before Christmas, I still have some pain in my elbow now and then.

I was off the road the month of January and will not return to travelling until February 18. With one break the week of March 4, I will then be out every week for the remainder of March, all the way through mid-June. While home, recovering from my stay in the hospital I finished my last blog post, and in January we went to three music events. Two of these events were to see Robin Henkel with Horns, and the other was to see the Now Time Jazz Quartet, featuring Alicia Previn on violin. Venues were Lestat’s West, Proud Mary’s, and Tio Leo’s.

This adventure has taught me to appreciate the here and now, and the people and things that I love. I love live music – the hear and now. I have some wonderful friends. I love good food a bit too much. That is where moderation comes into the picture. That will be the most difficult transition to make – eating healthy. Well, maybe exercise is going to be a tough one, too.

Between Thanksgiving and my trip to the hospital we obtained a shelter dog. On December 8, when she became a part of our life, she was 11 months old. A very cute and lovable chiweenie (that’s a cross between a chihuahua and a dachshund). She can be quite mischievous and playful. The day the foster family brought her to our home, she bonded with me immediately. Nancy named her Gracie. Her name had been Victoria, so I suggested we have her proper name as Gracie Victoria. She looks like she could be part fox, with her long legs and tail. The mix must have been with a long-haired dachshund. She is much more weenie than chi. A long body but big eyes like a chihuahua. She is very fearful of new experiences. We are taking her to dog (owner) training, and much of my free time is spent interacting with Gracie. We need to get her out and about more so that she can get more used to traveling in a car and seeing people and other dogs in public places. She has been great therapy for me getting over my big adventure.

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Live Music

My first outing was on January 13 to see Robin Henkel with Horns at Lestat’s West. Jodie Hill was on string and electric bass, Troy Jennings on baritone sax, Steve Ebner on trumpet, Kevin Koch on drums, Michael Yates on congas, and Mark Lessman on tenor sax. The selections were largely from the mid-40s through 60s cool and cool bop jazz. These were songs I’ve heard Robin and his group do on many occasions but there is always something a little different and delightful each time I hear them. Also, Robin has a story to tell about most of the songs played. Slim Gaillard and Mose Allison were two of the great artists covered that night.

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Robin Henkel with Horns, l to r: Jodie Hill, Robin Henkel, Kevin Koch, Troy Jennings, Michael Yates, Mark Lessman, Steve Ebner

A few weeks later, on January 26, Robin was appearing with his horns at Proud Mary’s. We wanted to go to dinner, so why not hear some music as well?  And the taste of New Orleans cuisine sounded good. This evening instead of Troy Jennings we had David Castel de Oro on sax and clarinet, along with Jodie Hill on bass, Steve Ebner on trumpet, and Toby Ahrens on drums. Again, fine playing, including many of the same songs heard at Lestat’s and one with a bit of Sonny Rollins rolled-in. Always great fun.

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Robin Henkel with Horns, l to r: Robin Henkel, Toby Ahrens, Jodie Hill, David Castel de Oro, and Steve Ebner

January 31, we headed to Tio Leo’s for some Mexican food and to hear a jazz group we had not heard before. The Now Time Jazz Quartet surprised me with their 70s easy jazz, with a bit of funky improvisation added in for good measure. The band features Adam Wolff on keyboard, Michael Oletta on bass, Jeff Dalrymple on drums and Alicia Previn on violin. I’ve seen Alicia perform with Mundell Lowe as well as Bart Mendoza’s band and was surprised to see her yet again in another band with an all together different style. Accessible, popular tunes with enough improvisation to keep them interesting, as well as some self-penned numbers. Another fun evening.

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Now Time Jazz Quartet, l to r: Adam Wolff, Jeff Dalrymple, Michael Oletta, and Alicia Previn

This past Thursday we had intended to see The Swing Thing featuring Liz Grace and Jon Garner at the Riviera Supper Club but a problem in the gas line at the restaurant caused it to be closed. The Friday prior we had wanted to see Dave Humphries, Mike Alvarez and Wolfgang Grasekamp at the Downtown Café in El Cajon but it was pouring down rain and the closest parking space was several blocks away, so after circling the block three times I decided to go home.

On February 10 we went to Urban Solace for the bluegrass brunch where Plow was performing. It was a great show as usual with Chris Clarke on mandolin, Jason Weiss on banjo, Doug Walker on string bass, Dane Terry on harmonica, Alex Watts on guitar and Mark Markowitz on snare drum. Vocals by Chris, Dane, and Jason. Good harmonies and great picking from this accomplished group of musicians, exposing San Diego patrons to historic bluegrass and old-time sounds.

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Plow, l to r: Jason Weiss, Mark Markowitz, Chris Clarke, Doug Walker, Alex Watts, Dane Terry

Acquisitions

I have acquired some nice vinyl lately. One is the 1973 release by Robb Kunkel titled “Abyss”. This album was one that I discovered via the former Lysergia website (note that through the Wayback Machine website you can still find this amazing site with a treasure trove of obscure artists who should have been better recognized in their time). I was very pleased that someone took the time to re-release this LP in 180-gram virgin vinyl. The label is Future Days Recordings/Tumbleweed Records, Inc. It is also available as a digital download in lossless FLAC. The vinyl is in sky blue with clouds, and the cover is the original gatefold, and includes some history about the late Robb Kunkel and the original label, Tumbleweed Records. Only 500 copies were originally pressed, and the album received no promotion because the label was falling apart at the time. Beautiful melodies, lyrics of a pensive quasi-spiritual nature, a West Coast vibe, sounds of the ocean waves and seagulls as well as jackhammers (not in the same song), a country style ditty thrown in for good measure – everything about this album screams 1973 at the crossroads of new age and Southern California easy peaceful feeling. I love this album. And Kunkel was a fine guitarist and singer. The studio musicians backing him were top rate. Crazy thing, the repress from the original master tapes is also in a limited release of 500. But at least the digital download is limitless, provided it continues to be available. Highly recommended here at the Popeswami ashram.

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The other vinyl arriving recently are 45 rpms. The one is something I thought would never come to pass. It was the rarest non-Residents release on Ralph Records; Schwump – Aphids in the Hall b/w You’re a Martian/Home. I had obtained a digital copy many years ago from the artist, but now Psychophon has obtained the original masters and re-released it in three variations. Mine is the red vinyl numbered limited edition, with only 100 released. The original pressing in 1976 was 200, and most went to friends, radio stations, and others in the music industry. An original today averages $700 but I have seen it go for over $1000. Schwump was backed by The Residents on this release and their influence is obvious. But I must say that Schwump was a kindred spirit to The Residents. His real name is Barry Schwam, and he was a DJ at Portland, Oregon radio station KBOO when he discovered The Residents, or should I say they discovered him. My understanding is that an album’s worth of material was recorded in 1976 but Barry decided he did not want it released, so the only effort to reach the ears of the public is this 45. What does it sound like? Melodic but slightly off key with strange progressions, slowing and speeding up of rhythms on purpose, raspy creepy singing, pseudo-schizoid-childlike lyrics, untuned piano – very much like early Residents recordings. I am so glad to hear this as it was originally put onto tape.

The remaining vinyl to come my way was a 2014 re-release on Superior Viaduct Records of The Residents’ Santa Dog double 45 from 1972. The original was the first release on the Ralph Records label. The music is from the original master tapes, made to sound fresh and crisp. The only drawback is that they did not put the sides in the original order. Sides two and four have been reversed. Also, the label artwork on the 45s themselves is different from the original Ralph Records artwork, but the gatefold cover is identical except for saying it was issued by Superior Viaduct. Again, this was a limited edition, but no fancy vinyl colors – just black. Originals are in the $1000 range while this limited edition often goes for over $100. I did not have to pay that much, but I was lucky. Another 200 pressing limited release, just like the originals. This is probably the most Avant Garde of Residents releases, with many found sounds, clips of old obscure recordings, musique concrete, acid drenched nonsensical lyrics but somehow out of the bubbling chaos comes organized insanity that makes sense. Does that make sense? I don’t know. My head hurts.

Well, that’s it for now. See you in a few.

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!

 

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.

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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.

What Does Love Have To Do With It?

“I think love lyrics have contributed to the general aura of bad mental health in America. Love lyrics create expectations which can never be met in real life, and so the kid who hears these tunes doesn’t realize that that kind of love doesn’t exist. If he goes out looking for it, he’s going to be a kind of love loser all his life…The singer-songwriters who write these lyrics earn their living by pretending to reveal their innermost personal turmoil over the way love has hurt them, which creates a false standard that people use as a guideline on how to behave in interpersonal relationships.”
Frank Zappa, interviewed by John Winokur, 1992

Whether you agree or disagree with Zappa’s take on the love song, you have to admit that love songs have had a significant impact on interpersonal relationships and vice versa, and this has been true probably going back to before the first written lyrics ever existed. Now, let me clarify here. I am talking about, and it is obvious that Zappa was referring to, romantic love.

For the sake of not getting too dense in describing the concept of love, let me just state that we all know there are various types of love; the ancient Greeks divided it into four basic types – Eros, Philia, Storge, and Agape. And to me there seem to be shades and blendings of these types to create a huge quilt of love varieties. Romance falls primarily into the domain of Eros, but there are still so many mixes. Now we could go deeper with distinctions between the noun “love”, and the verb “love”. But, let’s not. Suffice it to say that several concepts can be thrown into the mix involving romantic love for good measure: eroticism, sexuality, sensuality, spirituality, intimacy, physical attraction, truth, Platonism, affection…why don’t I just use a Thesaurus?

I am stating the obvious when I say there are few topics not covered by music and lyrics, but when it comes to selling music as a product in a capitalist society, sex and romance sell the best. Right? They are powerful driving forces in human relationships and people can go from extreme highs to extreme lows when expressing their feelings about them – and this is always great material for the songwriter. But because of the millions of songs about this topic, it would become rather bland to just write about the love song. Rather, I am interested in the more unique observations, stand-out lyrics that reflect real emotions and situations people experience, or the mixing of unlikely ideas with the idea of love. So here are some stand-outs that I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Animal Collective – Applesauce For the past 30 years, music has taken advantage of the video to get a point across, and this music video stands out for me in a quasi-erotic and yet philosophical way. As with many other Animal Collective compositions, lyrics are vague yet clear enough to take them on several different trips. This music video features a silhouette of a woman eating some type of fruit – a peach, maybe, but definitely not an apple – with lyrics that make reference to people going away. The erotic aspect of the video is that she eats the fruit very s-l-o-w-l-y, getting it all over her face. All you see is her face around her mouth and nose along with the disappearing fruit. To me, this perhaps portrays a lover that is leaving; or perhaps that the singer is being consumed by his lover until his own identity disappears. Or could it be that the song is about people dying or otherwise leaving our lives just like rotting or eaten fruit? Could it really be that simple? It is a very thoughtful composition, and lyrically intriguing, but for me, musically, it falls flat without the video. The video is exquisite in my book. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIbtYzjLuMo

Joni Mitchell – A Case of You Few artists are as gifted as Joni Mitchell in writing about real human relationships, usually drawn from her own experiences. Taylor Swift has a long way to go to get to this level. Few love songs have captured passion in such a simplistic way as how Joni does here. The Appalachian dulcimer and solo voice balance the intensity of the lyrics in describing her declarations of ambivalence, surrender, and devotion to her lover. Frank Zappa be damned, this is a hot song! From the Joni Mitchell album, “Blue”. The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YuaZcylk_o

Gary Numan – Cars; Queen – I’m In Love With My Car; Steve Miller Band – Mercury Blues; The Dead Milkmen – Bitchin’ Camaro; Autosalvage – Auto Salvage There is a certain fascination with cars in Western culture. In my choices here I try to remain familiar to the reader but there are literally hundreds of songs that could replace these. Gary Numan’s song could be considered a Zen-like experience of becoming one with his car. I can identify with his sentiments when I drive long distances by myself. My mind races with a variety of thoughts while another part of my brain is on autopilot, almost one with the car in that sense. Could it be a form of love? On the other hand, this song could be using the car as a metaphor for isolation, where he is asking if you will visit him if he opens his door so that he does not feel so isolated. In this sense, there seems to be a longing for a loving, trustful relationship where he can avoid the eventual demise that isolation brings. It has been said that Numan suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and knowing this makes it more likely that this is about isolation, but for me it could work either way. Queen takes it a step further as the writer openly declares his love for his car. Or is it all double entendre? It could be, or it could be that Roger Taylor was expressing his carsexual tendencies. Objects, such as cars, do not talk back, so it could be he was expressing his preference for a powerful four-wheeled machine over a human love relationship. Or it could simply be a healthy enjoyment of vehicles and driving fast. Steve Miller was not the first person to record “Mercury Blues” but he may be the first to bring it to the general public. It was written by K.C. Douglas and Robert Geddins in the late 40s, originally known as “Mercury Boogie”. Several major artists have recorded and popularized the song since the Steve Miller Band’s 1976 release. The song expresses a love for Mercury vehicles as a means to “getting the girl”. It also expresses a love for cruising but let’s not get too deep here. This song means just exactly what it says. I used to love my Saturn vehicles. Still have one. I was very sad when that line was terminated by GM. The Dead Milkmen get even further away from the concept of love with their comedic song, “Bitchin’ Camaro”. But it is not that far off from “Mercury Blues” so I included it here. There is a reference to The Doors’ “Love Me Two Times” in the song, but then they get silly with sick humor, associating it with AIDS. Again, there is no intended deep meaning here; just fun in a mock-adolescent, braggadocios manner. Autosalvage is the only obscure group I mention here. They had only one LP, issued in 1968, but it did not go anywhere and the band folded a year later. The band name actually came after the song. Zappa heard them rehearsing and suggested they name their band after their song, “Auto Salvage”. They took his advice. The song pays homage to all the variety of vehicles on the road at that time, but it goes further. No matter which one you think is the best, they are all equal in the auto salvage yard. Could this be a reference to life? Such a variety of people and personalities but in death we have the ultimate equalizer. So, whoever you love or admire, we all come to the same end, and all that love and admiration is done at that point. And I am done discussing love and cars. Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6YMAvfwTFo ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaEM4JYFPfw ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJJvyPXPssg ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v3CzvQ9e_w ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY6KVmx4E8U

Susan Christie – I Love Onions A novelty song from 1966 in a vaudeville/jug band style, this was Susan Christie’s only charting release. The song speaks for itself. And I love onions, too. Just a side note – in 1969 Susan recorded a rather dark album of songs for Columbia but they did not release it due to a lacking of commercial potential, so they thought. It is now available on CD. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM-lEhhsLQw

The Captain & Tennille – Muskrat Love Introducing Susie and Sam; two fornicating muskrats. This was written and recorded by Willis Alan Ramsey as “Muskrat Candlelight” but then America changed the title and had a hit with it. The Captain & Tennille took it to # 30 in 1976. No-one knows why. Later a parody was created entitled “Hamster Love” by Big Daddy, where the little critters frizzled and sizzled on the stove and a boy is heard to exclaim that the hamster sandwiches are delicious. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjqeNoi6EmM ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSt2RoZ8Ek4

So let’s deviate some more by looking at some deviations to the concept of sexual/mental love.

The Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs Most people reading this are familiar with this song, composed by Lou Reed. Recorded in 1966 by VU, it has been covered by many artists. But few are familiar with the cover of this ode to sadomasochism by Prydwyn recorded on solo acoustic guitar with male/female voices in a very dark medieval complexion. I like both versions, depending on my mood. The concept of the song was inspired by a novella of the same name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch as part of his “Love” series. The references to a character named Severin in the song come directly from the novel’s character, Severin von Kusiemski. Alternative sexual themes are common in the music of The Velvet Underground, but this was one of their first and most striking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfN1-YeBnA8

Jefferson Airplane – Triad This is a David Crosby composition, and was recorded and performed by The Byrds in 1967, but was left off “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” LP because Roger McGuinn thought it was too risqué for public release. The in-fighting regarding release of the song was one of the things that led to Crosby being fired from The Byrds in late 1967. But Crosby found an outlet with the Jefferson Airplane, who included it on their “Crown of Creation” LP in 1968. Sung beautifully by Grace Slick, with a lush chord progression, it is a story of a ménage à trois. This is not an uncommon theme in today’s music, but in the 60’s it was unheard of. Decades later, The Byrds’ version was released on compilation albums and as a bonus track on The Notorious Byrd Brothers CD. There are also cover versions, most recently by Tina Dico in 2008. Here is the link to Jefferson Airplane’s version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKV9WFxDSfg

King Crimson – Cadence and Cascade The song is an allegory regarding dualism, cleverly cloaked in sensual innuendo on the surface. This was released on the King Crimson “In the Wake of Poseidon” LP in 1970 with lyrics by Peter Sinfield. The song is an essential piece to the album’s theme of Eros and strife. The characters of the song are Cadence, Cascade, and Jade. Cadence represents the formal structure of Logos, thinking, consciousness, ordered rhythm, or the Yang. Cascade represents uncontrolled energy, chaos, Eros, and Yin. Jade is balancing, grounding, and strengthening. The words are breathtakingly exquisite, hitting on both a sensual and spiritual level. The music is gentle and melodic, yet pensive. Highly recommended. Sinfield proves himself to be an erudite masterful lyricist here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpZqSg6U53E

The Fugs – The Garden Is Open This is a cleverly disguised mating ritual with lyrics by Tuli Kupferberg. The Fugs pushed the envelope in the 1960’s, even further than Frank Zappa, regarding sex and profanity in music, thus staying vastly unpopular commercially, but revered in the underground music scene. From the Tenderness Junction LP of 1967, this song is one of their best with regard to musical and lyrical aesthetics, and it has a menacing electric violin solo reminiscent of John Cale’s viola on Velvet Underground’s recordings. There is a very experimental cover of this song by Valinger/ZeBB/Runolf floating around on the Internet.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C9omgNzAAU

There are many songs about loving dogs or being loved like a dog. Salty Dog Blues first comes to mind. This song has been recorded by several country and bluegrass artists over the years (I first heard it performed by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos) and has become quite sanitized from its original sexually suggestive beginnings in the early 1900’s. Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog is a harmless song about a man’s affection for his dog. But Patti Page – How Much Is That Doggie In The Window smacks of dog prostitution if you ask me. Is Lobo – Me and You and a Dog Named Boo about a bestial ménage à trois? The Beatles – Martha My Dear sounds even more to the point. Who would have known McCartney was having a yiffing good time with his dog, Martha? For me I will stick with The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog which at least keeps things on the human level; perhaps a bit furrie, but still human. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U9mdVn0jSQ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qcqk_SEsLPU ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=safoNysTrbE ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TFQeJ-pQJ4 ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK5jy5rYeYg ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJIqnXTqg8I

One of the worst uses of the concept of love in music happens with what is called Contemporary Christian Music. In the past 30 years, I have heard some really bizarre songs where female and male vocalists sound like they are longing for a physical romantic relationship with Jesus. One could be forgiving of this if it was more obvious they were using a creative metaphor. However, either due to the lyrical limitations of the writers, or the shallow, sappy slobbering of the singers, this never is convincing and just leaves me feeling uncomfortable and undesirous of such a closer walk with Thee. Here are some stand-outs: Paul Baloche – Falling; Kirk Whalum – Falling In Love With Jesus. There are many more artists, and the female singers make me even more squeamish. Pick any of them on Internet sources such as Amazon and you will see what I mean.

Getting away from all that, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my all-time favorite love songs, Like a Lover, written by Alan Bergman, Dorival Caymmi, Marilyn Bergman and Nelson Motta. It was first released by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 in 1968 with Lani Hall as the lead vocalist. This is my favorite version. It captures the longing one feels when apart from a new lover. The lyrics are beautiful and the melody is a perfect fit. Check it out online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BF4pN19mXws

The Mothers of Invention – How Could I Be Such a Fool This brings us full circle. From their 1966 “Freak Out!” LP, this is a Frank Zappa-penned…song of rejection in love! Oh my! Was Zappa trying to contribute to mental illness in society? When he said what he said in 1992, I wonder if he thought about what he wrote in the 60’s. This is actually a very well-constructed song that starts out in a ¾ waltz style, and the lyrics sound like they are grounded in experience. Unusual time changes occur to produce a sense of drama. One of his best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpYmHNicnkQ

I hope this whets your appetite to hear some of the selections mentioned above. I stayed largely, but not totally, with the era of the late 60s to early 70s, simply because that is the era that interests me the most. This is an inexhaustible topic and one I might find myself coming back to in future blog posts.

ON THE LOCAL SCENE

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L to R: Billy Watson, Whitney Shay, Robin Henkel

I have been on the road a large portion of the past month and a half, so it has been limited pickings as far as getting out to hear what is going on in the local music scene. And sometimes when I could go out, I had too much to do at home to get out, or I was simply too jet lagged. I did get out to see Robin Henkel (guitars, vocals), Whitney Shay (vocals), and Billy Watson (harmonica, vocals) at Proud Mary’s on October 8. While hearing all three artists in the past, I had never heard the three of them together until now. It was a nice fit. Robin had just had his birthday a few days before, so Whitney surprised him with a little birthday celebration during their performance. A couple days later Robin Henkel & his Horn Band were at Lestat’s. The advertised time was an hour early, so we hung out at the coffee shop until it was time to go over. With Robin was Jodie Hill on bass, Troy Jennings on saxes, and Gary Nieves on drums. Another fun evening. I have written about all of these artists in the past. Take my word for it, if you are in San Diego, you need to see them. You will not be disappointed.

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L to R: Robin Henkel, Jodie Hill, Troy Jennings, Gary Nieves

On November 6, we attended the “Evening with Songwriters” at Java Joe’s hosted by Bart Mendoza, and also featuring Dave Humphries and Kimm Rogers. Supporting these fine songwriters and performers were Mike Alvarez, Mark DeCerbo, Samuel Martinez, Patric Petrie, and Beezie Gerber. The evening started out with Bart and Patric doing a number, followed by Bart and Samuel (of the Bassics). Then Bart and Mark did several songs, with Dave helping out on harmony on one song, and Patric joining in for a couple songs. Next up was Kimm and Beezie with several of Kimm’s songs. I had never heard Kimm Rogers before and I am now sold on her. She is not only a wonderful singer, but her lyrics are well crafted vignettes of real life situations, full of power and emotion. Finally, we had Dave Humphries and Mike Alvarez, with some 60s UK pop tunes along with many of Dave’s own songs. Dave, who hails from Durham, UK, weaves anecdotes of his time with Tony Sheridan (of Tony Sheridan and the Silver Beetles fame) and with Badfinger’s Joey Molland into his song intros, subtly letting us know he was there when it all started in the 60s. This was a fine evening of great music performed by some of the best.

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Bart Mendoza and Samuel Martinez

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L to R: Patric Petrie, Bart Mendoza, Mark DeCerbo

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Kimm Rogers and Beezie Gerber

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L to R: Bart Mendoza, Dave Humphries, Mike Alvarez

November 7, we noted that the Robin Henkel Band was appearing at Proud Mary’s. This configuration had Caleb Furgatch on string bass, Troy Jennings and David Castel de Oro on saxes, Big Al Schneider on drums, and of course, Robin on super-collider guitars and vocals. The band was exceptionally “on” with some great solo work from everyone. Wonderful Americana in the form of blues and jazz with many penned by Robin as well.

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L to R: Robin Henkel, Caleb Furgatch, Al Schneider, Troy Jennings, David Castel de Oro

November 8 is the second Sunday in the month, which means Plow is at the Urban Solace restaurant and bar for the bluegrass brunch. Since I have been flying most Sundays in the past several months, we could not miss this opportunity. They were all there: Chris Clarke, Jason Weiss, Doug Walker, Joe Pomianek, Mark Markowitz, and Dane Terry. This was their 8th anniversary playing the Bluegrass Brunch at Urban Solace. And we got to witness it.

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L to R: Jason Weiss, Mark Markowitz, Chris Clarke, Doug Walker, Dane Terry, unknown, Joe Pomianek

And so we come to the end of another entry from out of the mind of the Popeswami to the eyes and brains of all 2 or 3 readers of my blog posts. May you all sleep well tonight.

Out of the Woods and Into the Weeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Moi with Johnny “V” Vernazza and his wife

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

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Sierra West

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The other players with Lance Dieckmann

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Mark Augustin with his Gibson SG Standard

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

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

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

So Hear We Arrrrrgh!

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

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What’s Next?

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