So what does it mean? Who knows? It just sounded cool. But I do know that a little less than two weeks ago, our local jazz station, KSDS, "Jazz 88.3", began a blues jam at Proud Mary's on Wednesday night and moved their Sunday night jazz jam to Proud Mary's. We attended both. We saw founding member of Sha Na Na, Jocko Marcellino, perform at the blues jam as well as several local blues notables.
Pictured singing is Jocko Marcellino. On pocket trumpet is Ray Brown. Others unidentified.
Sunday night Bill Shreeve was on sax with Mark Augustin on guitar and Lisa Hightower on vocals, Tommy Gannon on keys, and a host of others. It is remarkable that locally for the cost of food and/or beverages one can sit and listen to some great live music, and meet and talk with the artists providing the sounds. Not that this doesn't happen elsewhere, but there is something happening every night here in San Diego, in practically every genre of music you can imagine. This past weekend was an exceptional example of what I mean.
Friday night we were back to Proud Mary's to see Sue Palmer and Her Motel Swing Orchestra. This time my brother and his wife came down from Riverside to go with us. They were surprised there was no cover charge for hearing this great music. But this was just the warm-up of a great weekend.
Adams Avenue Street Fair
I don't know what it is about Adams Avenue, running from Kensington, through Normal Heights, to University Heights, but the Adams Avenue Business Association has several music events each year. One of our favorites is the street fair in the early fall. They close off the side streets for several blocks and put up stages outside for the live music. Adams Avenue is closed off so that vendors can set up through the middle of the street. This time there were 8 stages (two were indoors), some of which were dedicated to specific genres, such as the blues stage and the roots rock stage. Others varied the styles that performed. Both Saturday and Sunday the music began at noon. Saturday night it continued until 10 pm and Sunday it all ended at 7 pm. 110 bands/artists performed. Obviously I could not see them all, though I would have if there had been a way to clone myself. Here is a rundown of the artists I saw.
Choro Sotaque plays a "Brazilian rag time" style from 1920's Rio de Janeiro, called "choro". Don't think this sounds at all like rag time in the USA. It is quite different; totally Brazillian jazz in style and samba/choro rhythm. Stefanie Schmitz is on clarinet. Marcus Alcantarilla is on acoustic guitar. Halysson da Silva, the fellow sitting on the left, is actually the percussionist. What you cannot see is an amplified tambourine. Of course, amplification did not exist in 1920's Brazil but we needed to hear what he was doing. This photo is a bit blurred because it has been blown-up. I actually shot this from the back of the hall at Java Joe's - one of two indoor stages. Jamie Shadowlight on violin is not a member of the group but was asked to join for two of the selections. The music is light and airy in a jazzy sort of way. Stephanie is a Californian but has studied music forms in Rio, Sao Paulo, and Recife; both Marcus and Halysson are from Sao Paulo, Brazil. All are quite accomplished musicians.
Sharifah and The Good Thing
After leaving Java Joe's, we ran into Larry Teves (Chickenbone Slim), who recommended we see Sharifah next. Well, another band was on my list to see, but after about 5 minutes of them, we moved to the blues stage where Sharifah was setting-up. I am so glad we saw this band. They perform raw and passionate soul and rhythm & blues in the manner of 60s Aretha Franklin and James Brown with The Famous Flames. Johnny Viau is on sax, Troy Sandau on bass, Steve Wilcox on guitar and Marty Dodson on drums. Sharifah Muhammed is a powerful, emotional vocalist, who started out strong with the first number and kept taking it up a notch with each song until the crowd was in a dancing frenzy. Johnny's sax was an excellent match for Sharifah, and Steve took off with some tasty guitar licks when it was his turn to shine. Highlights include "I Smell a Rat" and an Aretha Franklin number for which the title eludes me at the moment.
Teagan Taylor Band
After Sharifah, we had to cool down a bit, so we went on to a different stage where the Teagan Taylor Band was getting ready to perform. Teagan Taylor sings in a cool, jazzy, sultry voice. Comparisons have been made to Norah Jones. She plays trumpet and cornet in a style similar to Wynton Marsalis. Her band mates are her father Tim Taylor on guitar, her twin brother Dylan Taylor on bass, and Duke Ventura on drums. They played many songs penned by Teagan, as well as jazz standards. There was a trip-hop flavor to many of the originals, and when they played Erykah Badu's "Certainly" I knew that this was intentional. They also took on reggae on Teagan's "I Dig You", and a sleazy R&B/jazz style with Teagan playing a plunger muted trumpet on "Take a Look at Yourself". Another cool tune was "Fantasy Land" with a hint of New Orleans style combined with Django Reinhardt gypsy swing. Just what the doctor ordered after sweating it out with Sharifah.
Bass Cleff Experiment
Continuing in a cool fashion, by going to the basement, we have Bass Cleff Experiment; a collaboration between cellist Mike Alvarez and bassist Greg Gohde, with Owen Burke on the 1920s original Buddy Pastel drum set. There were original, cerebral compositions such as "Kung Fu Soul Brother" mixed with 60s pop standards like "Happy Together" (Turtles), "Strawberry Fields Forever" (Beatles), "Tuesday Afternoon" (Moody Blues), "Mercy,Mercy,Mercy" (Cannonball Adderly, and Buckinghams, take your pick - sounded nothing like either of them), "Nature Boy" (Nat King Cole, penned by Eden Ahbez).
Oh man, oh man. After hearing Taryn on keyboard, we couldn't handle anything more. We are talking awesome here. Jump, funk, Latin, jazz, blues, stride...making Jerry Lee Lewis look like he plays a toy piano. They call their music "beatnik blues". And her singing? Captivating, bluesy, soulful, sweet. Dynamics...dynamics! These cats know how to use dynamics to dramatic effect. I'll be raving about Donath for a long time to come. Taryn is accompanied by Marty Dodson on drums. They must be reading each other's minds. The sax, played by Troy Jennings, was funky and hot. Showmanship - Taryn not only tickled the ivories with her fingers, but assaulted them with the heel of her foot, her elbows and forearm, all in a classy yet sassy style. Everything they did made sense to me, spoke to me the secret language of music and rhythm and joy - pure joy watching true professionals at work. Unbelievable. Why doesn't the world know about Taryn Donath? They will. They most certainly will. After this there was no sense staying for the last couple acts I had intended on seeing. We went for pizza and then home.
Sunday I headed back out for more aural candy. First stop was Java Joe's again, but a totally different sound.
Joe is 82 years old and still plays exquisitely, like he is half that age. And, he is funny as hell with his no-holds-barred New York commentary on life. His sidekick for this set was Jason Shattil, originally from Philadelphia, now a resident of La Jolla. When I closed my eyes I could see in my mind Stan Getz playing with Johnny Costa. Yes, they were that good. Marillo knew and worked with Getz,.and Getz was his mentor. He pictures Getz sitting on his shoulder when he plays. Shattil plays complicated runs yet makes it appear effortless. They started the set with Jobim's "Desafinado", and went through a repetoire that included a Thelonius Monk composition, as well as "Night and Day", and other jazz standards. A good way to start out the day.
Mercedes Moore Band
Moore blues. Bluesy with a light touch of molten lava. They did mostly R&B standards, and Scotty Smart was smokin' on guitar, in a style similar to Mike Bloomfield. Did not catch the names of the bassist and drummer, yet Mercedes said them several times. I guess I was distracted... Mercedes, away from her band, often duos in SoCal with Taryn Donath. Need I say moore?
The Midnight Pine
Only got to see a few minutes of The Midnigt Pine. They are nominated by San Diego Music Awards for artist of the year as well as best Americana album for their latest, "Buried". Enchanting, folky, psychedelic, experimental. I wish I could have stayed longer but I really wanted to see Mama Tokus before she went back to the UK. I definitely will want to hear more from The Midnight Pine. Singer Shelbi Bennett is awesome. The band touches all those scary, dark places...
Robin Henkel with Mama Tokus
Robin Henkel is a country blues legend in San Diego. Mama Tokus is a blues legend and poetess from the UK. Together they are cookin' up a plan... She raps, she does her somewhat free verse poetry, she sings like a bluesy angel. And she is funny! And I wish the damn picture had not been so blurred. I found out that they are playing again next Friday in Wynola. That isn't too far for me to go to see her again. And it is Robin's 63rd birthday party next Friday to boot!
Mike Stax has a band. It is called The Loons. Mike is from the UK, but has lived in La Mesa since the early 80s when he began publishing the longest running garage/psych rock 'zine, "Ugly Things". Mike's missus, Anja Diabolik, plays bass. Marc Schroeder and Chris Marsteller play guitars and interchage lead and rhythm. Mike Kamoo is on drums. Mild mannered Mike Stax is like an unleashed wolverine when he hits the stage. This is 60s garage and psychedelia like you have not heard since the 60s. They had already started their set when I got there. They were playing "You're Gonna Miss Me", the old 13th Floor Elevators anthem, penned by rock legend Roky Erickson. If you don't know Roky, you don't know 60s garage psych. Look him up. Check him out. I promise you will never be the same. As for the Loons, man I heard The Who, The Byrds, Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Stooges, Chocolate Watch Band all rolled into one snotty agressive sound. Nobody does 60s rock in San Diego like The Loons. After hearing them, there was nothing more I wanted to hear for the rest of the evening.
On Monday, I rested. Vacation week! Woot!