And So It Goes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dave Humphries Band

 

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The Rollers
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The Baja Bugs

Other Performances

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

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Cadillac Wreckers

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

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Liz Grace & Jon Garner

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

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The Flip Side
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Dave Humphries Band

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

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Plow

The Beatles Fair

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

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

Baja Bugs at Riviera Supper Club

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

Revival of the Singer-Songwriter

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

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

Spring Harp Fest

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

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

Mundell Lowe 95th Birthday

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

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

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

Carlsbad Flower Fields Blues Day

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

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

Adams Avenue Unplugged

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

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

Six String Society – 27 Club

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

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

Mother’s Day at Urban Solace

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

Joshua Tree Music Festival May 18-21

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

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

Art Around Adams

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

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

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

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

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The Joyelles
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Alvino and The Dwells

Other Shows Attended in June

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

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Liz Grace & The Swing Thing

 

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True Stories
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Plow
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Three Chord Justice

The Music Box

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

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Soul Brigade
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The Moves Collective
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Todo Mundo

Revival of the Singer Songwriter

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

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

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

Cirque Du Soleil Beatles Love, June 22

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

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

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

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

The Garners at Riviera Supper Club, August 3

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

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The Garners: Lorelei Musique and Jon Garner

August through December

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

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Cadillac Wreckers at Proud Mary’s

 

 

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

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

Lestat’s West on Adams Avenue, October 13

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

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Marie Haddad
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Isaac Cheong
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Birds & Arrows

Rebecca’s Coffee Farewell Concert, December 16

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

In Conclusion

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

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

 

BEFORE AND AFTER THE FLOOD

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

Before the Flood

 “You walk into the room

With your pencil in your hand

You see somebody naked

And you say, “Who is that man?”

You try so hard

But you don’t understand

Just what you’ll say

When you get home

Because something is happening here

But you don’t know what it is

Do you, Mister Jones?…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Steph Johnson Band

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

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Three Chord Justice

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

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Bass Clef Experiment

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

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Robin Henkel with Horns

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

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Further at Woodstock

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

 

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Sam Broussard

The Flood

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

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

After the Flood

“Sang soulless loud

Herding step on flesh

And nothing else

To well

To drown & drown

Sleight of reason

How they come

Cain in number…”

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

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

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

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

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

In Other News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Events Worth Writing About

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

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

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

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Randi Driscoll

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

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

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

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

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Jamie Shadowlight

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

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Shawn Rohlf

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

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Larry Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Fast Heart Mart (Martin Stamper)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scott Mathiasen

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

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

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