Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31st gig at Palace Station

Well, this was an interesting night. A first for me, Santa Fe without the Guiding Light Senior Lopez. Jerry is out of town, so he had Ray Mouton come in and sub the gig for him. Now, Ray is a totally killer guitar player, but I don't know whether he sings or not. He did not this night. I wondered how they'd finesse that, given that Jerry is such a commanding vocal presence, and Jamie cannot do this gig. Plus, Lenny has been in a terrible struggle the past couple of weeks with a severe bout of pneumonia-like malaise. His pipes are just about gone.

Not to worry. First, Dr. Lenny showed up anyway, and gave it his all, with Tyriq, Tony Davich (a real bonus to have Tony there), Mike Gonzales, and Abe LaMarca stepping up to fill in the blanks as needed, right within tunes. As I was roaming around taking pictures, I heard, more than once, sotto voce, from the stage, "I got your back, man."


There were places where you could clearly hear 5-part harmonies that were so strong, and so right on the money. Like, what's to be concerned about? Major props to Lenny for suckin' it up and throwin' down irrespective of his health struggle. Props to everyone else as well. Stones, man. You cats are in a class all by yourselves.

There was no holdin' back on the tune selection, either. I may have missed a couple, but I know they did

  • Just Kidding
  • Brother to Brother
  • I Feel Good
  • Negrita
  • Get Your Feet Back On The Ground
  • Wishing Well
  • Indian Summer Day
  • You Don't Know Me
  • Pack it Up
  • Living For The City
Ray fried on guitar all night, and the hump was squeaky-tight stompin' in the pocket. Rochon and Pepe just thundered away. Everyone's rides soared intensely.

Misson accomplished.

A few shots...

See y'all tomorrow night at The Palms. 10:30. You know it'll be killer.


Painfully funny.

Click the image for the B4MD MySpace site.



Las Vegas Toni Braxton tribute artist Trina Johnson-Finn was to have stood trial on May 26th for her alleged part in the "Phony Toni" scam in Suriname on February 3rd. As reported on May 27th by Pollstar:
The fiasco led to the arrest of Johnson-Finn as well as the promoter, Angel Ventura, who charged concertgoers up to $53.

Now Ventura is claiming he alone was responsible for the scam, and that he promoted the event as a bona fide Braxton appearance, while at the same time told Johnson-Finn the audience was expecting a Braxton impersonator.

“I never said to the prosecutor that Trina Johnson knew beforehand that she was part of a scam,” Ventura told the judge on the first day of the singer’s trial.

But Johnson-Finn, who has made her living impersonating artists for 20 years, isn’t getting off that easy. Prosecutors claim she intentionally tried to pass herself off as the real Braxton, and Venture’s testimony doesn’t clear her of any wrongdoing.

Johnson-Finn’s Suriname lawyer, Kathleen Brandon, begs to differ, saying her client had been unjustly jailed for three months and that she should be released immediately.

“Ventura told her to go all out as an impersonator and play a role in the whole thing. She thought that everyone knew that she was just an impersonator, but Ventura did not tell anyone in Suriname,” Brandon said.

So far, the judge has refused to release Johnson-Finn.

The judge is reported to now have summarily continued the trial until June 2nd, notwithstanding Ventura's personal mea culpa. Having seen the briefly posted (and then quickly deleted) Suriname YouTube interview wherein Trina arguably appears to be going along with the ruse, I fear that she may well be looking at being found guilty, however spurious any of us might find it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Before the Music Dies

"This documentary explores the reason why so few companies currently control the music played on the radio and for sale at retail stores, and whether corporations really have the power to silence musical innovation."

A wonderful documentary on Hulu. Props to Gabe for the heads-up. Run time 1:28:25.

Article on the film from The Washington Post:
'Before the Music Dies' Diagnoses an Ailing Industry
By Marc Fisher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 26, 2006; N02

In the new movie "Before the Music Dies," the only representative of the bad guys is an executive from Clear Channel Radio who appears in silhouette, wearing a hood and employing electronic distortion to camouflage his voice. His illicit, dangerous revelation: "The advertising dollar is driving the entire company."

Call out the feds, convene a congressional investigation, organize a posse of musicians: The radio and record industries are killing American music because they are fixated on the bottom line. Quoth David Byrne, "Same as it ever was."

But wait: This same movie tells us that the Internet and digital technology have made it easier and cheaper than ever for new artists to record their work and deliver it to the ears of strangers across the land.

"Before the Music Dies," which is being screened in a grass-roots rollout on college campuses and at groovy bars and house parties, is distributed by a company whose slogan is "The audience is never wrong." Yet this movie makes merciless fun of the audience for choosing the overproduced, formulaic pop that dominates radio and CD sales -- the kind of music that has won mass audiences since the invention of records.

In a pivotal moment in the movie, filmmakers Joel Rasmussen and Andrew Shapter use man-on-the-street interviews with people coming out of an Ashlee Simpson concert to demonstrate what the radio and record industries have wrought: Music fans who have never heard of Bob Dylan, and can only giggle at the notion that musical acts once drove people to burn their bras or mount a political protest.

The men who made this movie were driven to spend a year of their lives wandering the country and talking to musicians and radio and recording-industry people because they correctly felt that something elemental has changed, that the institutions through which they fell in love with music are flailing.

Rasmussen and Shapter also had siblings who were musicians and who died young. In memory of those artists, the two set out to figure out just why music fans are so disillusioned with the sounds being pushed by the music industry.

"We remember a time when your local radio station really was local and deejays made up their own sets," Rasmussen says. "How did we get to the point where, as a frustrated music fan says in the film, they aren't giving people music they're going to like, but instead they're giving them the least distasteful music that will keep them from switching stations? The industry seems to have abandoned both musicians and fans."

The film includes testimonials from Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello and Questlove, all of whom bemoan the changing corporate structures that make it harder for new and lesser-known artists to win radio airplay or anything resembling freedom or patience from a recording company. (XM Radio, the Washington-based satellite service, has adopted the movie to highlight its commitment to genres of music that don't find an outlet on terrestrial radio.)

The movie offers a roster of forces to blame for all this: The consolidation of power in a shrinking number of companies; the takeover of executive posts in those companies by bean counters who don't respect the artistic process; the rise of MTV and a visual orientation among young people; technology that makes it easy to cover up and correct lousy singing; the culture's growing emphasis on physical beauty; and a mysterious loss of humanity and heart, certainly in the music business and perhaps in the species.

"We've ignored the very thing that made the song, and that was heart," says legendary guitarist Les Paul, shaking his head at the current state of music, and musicians. "I don't know that they have that heart like they used to."

"Looks have always mattered, but they really matter" today, Raitt says.

"Right now," says Badu, "this industry is all about youth."

"Superficiality is in and, you know, depth and quality is kind of out," offers saxophonist Branford Marsalis. "Today, Ray Charles would not get a shot. Stevie Wonder would not get a shot. They're blind."

The litany of complaints from musicians of a certain age starts to feel a bit too much like a visit to a union hall full of typewriter repairmen and elevator operators.

The whining about how today's popular music doesn't compare with yesterday's masks the legitimate criticism that feeds the anger expressed by the movie's talking heads. In fact, the business model that once used profits from big, popular acts to support the development of new and lesser acts has broken down. In one American industry after another, from radio to records to books to retailing, the financial foundation for developing the next wave of talent has collapsed.

That point doesn't come across nearly as effectively as the moviemakers' love of the blues and other roots music. "Before the Music Dies" finds and gives voice to several splendid new bands you won't hear on Top 40 radio.

But even as Rasmussen says he's not terribly optimistic about the ability of talented new artists to find an audience, the film touches on new paths that are emerging to connect music and listeners: satellite radio, the Internet, file sharing, bands that handle their own distribution. There's even a scene celebrating an FM radio station that dares to go its own way -- Seattle's KEXP, where deejays get to pick their own tunes and play tastemaker.

Rasmussen believes that in this era, when the promise of infinite choice slams up against the reality of time-stressed lives, what listeners crave is "someone to tell them where the great new music is." As the movie quotes Bob Dylan, who in his dotage has taken up the role of radio deejay: "It's just too much. It's pollution."

But this cry for someone to synthesize information -- a way to identify and lead people to quality work -- conflicts with the rhetoric of the Internet, the notion that out there on the Web, democracy is pure and no middleman need exist.

That is the central contradiction in popular culture today, the celebration of unbounded choice even as overwhelmed consumers crave both art they can share with others and a reliable guide to sift through all the junk for them.
Gotta love this potshot:

"The litany of complaints from musicians of a certain age starts to feel a bit too much like a visit to a union hall full of typewriter repairmen and elevator operators.

Marc Fisher, all I can say is, guys like you will be increasingly joining their ranks, given the declining state of dead-tree journalism. And I didn't take the observations as "whining," just a realistic, weary resigned recognition of the harsh realities facing the artist (and, tinged with cautious optimism).

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29th update

Hi, y'all. I've been busy blogging on my other blog this week. See "The U.S. health care policy morass," which continues in progress. The serious side of BobbyG, the cat with no life -- he just reads & writes, reads & writes, reads & writes, reads & writes...

UPCOMING at The Bootlegger. An email I just got from Mundo:

Next Friday June 5th, we are playing at the Bootlegger Bistro for their Midnight Music Jazz Series. We are sooooooo excited! The gig starts at 11:45 pm and we'd love to see you there! A good turnout will help ensure our return and we'd love to get on their artist roster. If you have not been to the Bootlegger Bistro the place rocks hard with the best Italian food in town! As well as a perfect vibe for our Django-Fied music!

Did I mention the full bar and wine menu!!!

Big thanx to Sylvia K for the poster. She's an artist living in Italy and thru the power of the internet we can all enjoy it. The occasion for the poster is that this gig is a faux going away send off party for Carol. She's going to act in the Utah Shakespeare Festival for a few months. (She's the lead in one of the marquis plays this year!) While she will come back for the occasional gig we are going to miss her!! All the more reason to come out and see the Hot Club of Las Vegas featuring Carol Linnea Johnson at the Bootlegger Bistro next Friday!!!

I will be there. - BG

I went to Carlito's Burritos for lunch again today for some of that awesome legit New Mexico food. Patrick at Pecos. Yummie. Highly recommended.

See everyone at Palace station in the Bonkerz Room tomorrow night, midnight. Another slammin' Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns hang. Be there. No cover, no minimum. Guesting on guitar, Ray Mouton.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 25th gig at The Palms

A most interesting and totally wonderful evening. John Wedemeyer guest opening on guitar for Jerry, Russ McKinnon guest opening on drums for Pepe, Michael Gonzales opening for Dave on Keys, Michito Sanchez subbing for Gabe on percussion, Chris Gray subbing for Danny on trumpet, Glenn Colby subbing for Gil on trumpet, For Rochon, Ian Martin subbing on bass for four tunes, followed by Keith Nelson subbing on bass for four more, followed by Blaise Sison subbing on bass to take it home.

So, Jerry finally gets there, steps up to the mic: "So, what time does Santa Fe start"?
Are they here tonight?

This was way cool. First, while props are in order all the way around, I gotta give a special shout to Chris Gray. This young man is in the Barry Manilow orchestra along with Ian, and told me backstage prior to the show that he'd just planned to come down because Ian was subbing, and that he'd called Danny and asked if he might get a chance to sit in.

'Can ya sub for me, bro'? Just read the book, cold.'

Stones, man. Cat was all over it all night. That is pure professionalism.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the evening's bass triumvirate, Ian, Keith, and Blaise.

Below, Russ McKinnon on tubs. Formerly of Tower of Power. One serious Bad Boy.

Russ opened reading the "Just Kidding" chart. Then, they went slammin' into "Tower's "What is Hip?" I leaned over to Cheryl (yeah, she's home, ever so briefly) and said "the drummer cat; you notice he's not reading anything. He's a former Tower of Power drummer."

It reamed. Awesome.

Below, John Wedemeyer opening on guitar (he would later close on "System of Survival" with a ripping ride that brought the house to their feet).

What can you say? Other than 'sit back and enjoy to complete amazement.'

I gotta crash. Tired. More after some Zzzz's, but for now a few more random pics.


More shots...

Another great crowd. Thanks to everyone for comin' to hang. Hope to see y'all Saturday night at Palace Station.


These just surfaced on YouTube. Wow.