Friday, May 27, Lori Bell had one of her long standing gigs at the La Jolla Community Center with Mike Garson, piano, and Ron Satterfield, guitar and vocals. Amiable and buoyant, Lori established good rapport with the packed audience. She’s the kind of person you wish you had for a classmate when you were going to school. The music was excellent with stellar performances from Ron Satterfield, a major talent, and Mike Garson, former pianist with David Bowie. That being said this review will be packed with anecdotes like the time Lori gave piano lessons to my granddaughter, Monique. She was so good with her and a wonderful teacher. [Read more…]
By Abby Zimet / CommonDreams
Bobby Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota turned 75 on Tuesday. Unreal. America’s great troubadour is still on the road, heading for another joint – though, for those around in the bad old days, nothing can beat 1975’s dazzling Rolling Thunder Revue – and this week Bob Dylan also released his 37th studio album, “Fallen Angels.” [Read more…]
Flute Fusion with Holly Hofmann and Beth Ross-Buckley; Jazz @ the Jacobs with Gregory Porter
A packed house at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park was treated to a flute duo billed as Flute Fusion featuring Holly Hofmann, inveterate jazz flautist and promoter, along with Beth Ross-Buckley, classical flautist and promoter. Both Holly and Beth have been long time music presenters in San Diego. Holly started at the Horton Grand and had a memorable gig for many years at the San Diego Museum of Art. Beth started a chamber music group called Camarada in 1994. This night they joined forces. [Read more…]
Appearing May 22nd at the Balboa Theater at a Benefit for the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation Lesbian Health Initiative
By Anne M. Haule
I had the most delightful chat with Janis Ian this morning. Her warmth immediately calmed my nerves (in this my first celebrity interview). I felt as if I were chatting with a friend. She is upbeat, articulate, humorous and amazingly candid. She was generous with her time and forthright with her comments. She is a self-proclaimed optimist with a sparkle in her voice.
We began by talking about her 50+ year career – and what a versatile career it has been and continues to be. Janis has received 38 awards and honors for her music, her writing, her audiobooks, and her social activism. [Read more…]
Joe Marillo passed away Saturday, March 26. Born in Niagara Falls, NY, 83 years ago, he moved to San Diego in 1974 from Las Vegas where he had played in show bands for 10 years. He started out playing saxophone in Atlantic City, NJ while swinging from a trapeze.
He was dedicated to bringing straight ahead, mainstream jazz to San Diego for almost 50 years both with his virtuoso playing and his skills as a presenter and impresario. He received the San Diego Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
After moving here from Las Vegas, Joe immediately started playing and performing in San Diego clubs. I first saw and heard him at Chuck’s Steak House in La Jolla where Joe lived “in the ghetto” for his entire life. [Read more…]
Joe Wilder was not only a magnificent trumpet player but a gentleman according to all who knew him. I had the privilege of presenting him and saxophonist Marshal Royal along with a local rhythm section composed of Mike Wofford, Bob Magnusson and Roy McCurdy at the Lyceum Theatre in 1990 under the auspices of the San Diego Jazz Society. A CD was made of the performance which, unfortunately, is out of print. Joe helped to break down racial barriers on Broadway, radio, television and in classical music.
Wilder’s sense of propriety was legendary. When Wilder was in Lionel Hampton’s orchestra in the early 1940s, fellow band members used to offer him a $10 bill if he would simply utter one four-letter word. Wilder never collected! A soft-spoken and stately man, he never appeared in public without a tie. He was a non-smoker and non-drinker. He was as impeccable in his playing as he was in his personal life. Classically trained, he had to face the reality that no African-Americans were being hired for symphony jobs in the 1930s and 40s. After auditions for symphony jobs, they were told, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” [Read more…]
By Connie Zuñiga
After three days of heavy rain, the sun came shining through January 8 for a very important day, our farewell to Benny. On December 12 2015, beloved musician and bandleader Benny Hollman lost his years-long struggle with cancer, surrounded by family at his home in Mira Mesa.
We would say our goodbye to Benny at Our Lady of Guadalupe church. [Read more…]
It’s like a tale of two cities. The staff with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) have put together competing proposals for spending priorities in advance of a ballot measure for countywide half-cent sales tax increase, raising $18 billion over the next 40 years.
Two constituencies are targeted with these proposals: city politicians and environmentally conscious citizens. Both plans include construction of a new trolley line running from South Bay to Carmel Valley, a skyway system of gondolas connecting the first tier of mesas (Balboa Ave to PB, Sorrento Valley to UCSD) to the coast, along with various clean air and water projects.
One proposal offers up 40% of revenues for cash-strapped localities to be spent on infrastructure, 30% on transit projects and operations and 10% on highways. spending priorities. The other proposal offers up 50% of revenues for transit, 17% for highways and zero for infrastructure. [Read more…]
Today’s Union-Tribune interview with mayoral candidate Lori Saldaña read like a debate between the former Assemblywoman with Mayor Faulconer’s campaign manager Jason Roe. This was coverage reminiscent of the Copley era.
Rather than give Saldaña a clear shot at explaining her views and critiques (and she has plenty) of the present regime, the Union-Tribune tapped the mayoral pit bull to refute her point by point.
This reminds me very much of the old days around the paper, wherein any viewpoints counter to “everybody knows” were quickly smothered with officially blessed counterpoints. [Read more…]
“I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman,” Bowie once sang.
By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams
The world on Monday mourned the death of David Bowie, the iconic rock star, record producer, artist, and performer whose influence spanned generations and whose ideas constantly pushed boundaries of creativity, sexuality, and custom.
Bowie’s death was confirmed by a post on his Facebook page, which said that the artist died peacefully in New York City on Sunday “surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer.” He had just celebrated his 69th birthday on January 8.
Bowie, born David Robert Jones in Brixton, south London, was lauded as a performer who was always ahead of his time. [Read more…]
I woke up on the first day of 2015 with a smile on my face and then the smile was replaced with laughter as Apricot (our grand-dog, Maria and I call her) jumped onto the bed and tongued my face with kisses dished out like machine gun fire.
I got up and, per my routine, checked my email and facebook and such, and no sooner than I did, I saw that Natalie Cole had passed away on New Year’s Eve. That was not what I wanted to see in 2016.
Oh, what a voice. That beautiful woman played a role in how I celebrated turning sixty. [Read more…]
Peter Sprague brought an extremely talented all-star group into Dizzy’s last Saturday to play classics from the Golden Age of Rock.
Although he’s primarily known as a jazz musician, Peter has mastered the essentials of all musical traditions and genres. As a teenager growing up in Del Mar, Peter and his siblings were exposed to their father’s jazz record collection. But like most teenagers in their rebellious mode, they were attracted not to the music of their parents’ generation but to the sounds that were happening around them and listened to by their contemporaries. That would be rock ‘n roll, the music of the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Cream, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. They also condescended to give credence to one of their father’s jazz rock albums by Blood, Sweat and Tears. [Read more…]
By John Lawrence
There is a nice little jazz series running in San Diego at the Handlery Hotel’s 950 lounge at 950 Hotel Circle North. This has been put together by Holly Hofmann who has been presenting concerts in San Diego for 30 years or more. In addition she plays a helluva flute. Recently I saw Stef Johnson with Rob Thorsen and the week before Gilbert Castellanos and Bobby Cressey. The place has a nice happy hour menu and reasonably priced libations. There is no admission or cover charge. Parking is free with validation.
Jazz does not have that many dedicated venues in San Diego so the jazz loving public has to rely mainly on the musicians themselves to create their own gigs. There are no institutional venues such as classical music has. No Symphony Halls. No billionaire sponsors. For that you have to go to New York City, the epicenter of jazz. We do have a dedicated jazz radio station – KSDS-FM – 88.3. Now we just need a billionaire to step up and underwrite the equivalent of New York’s Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center. Holly would make a wonderful impresario for such a venue because her connections in the jazz world are endless and her dedication, nonpareil. [Read more…]
By Brent E. Beltrán
Candles. Photos. Marigolds and other flowers. Some favorite foods. Maybe a beer or shot of tequila. We all remember differently our loved ones who have passed.
Some remember with regret, others with joy, sadness, longing. But we remember.
Death is but a natural part of life. We carry our dead with us in our hearts and some are hoisted upon the bony blades of their forbearers. But we remember. [Read more…]
Here’s something to celebrate–the Cuban musicians who compromise the Buena Vista Social Club will be performing at the White House on October 15. They have been touring the United States for almost twenty years. They got their start in 1997 when Ry Cooder searched out a number of aging and forgotten singers and musicians from Cuba’s rich musical past, brought them together and cut the album Buena Vista Social Club. Wim Wenders documented the process and outcome in his popular film of the same name.
It’s worth remembering that while the group was well received here, there was bitter and loud push back from the most anti-Castro segments of the Cuban exile community in Miami. [Read more…]
By Anna Daniels
On Saturday September 12, virtuoso leona player and poet Laura Rebolloso will perform in a special San Diego benefit concert in which all proceeds will go to support the efforts of independent journalists in Mexico. Pianist Alonso Blanco and percussionist Vladimir Coronel will accompany Ms. Rebolloso.
The urgency of support for Mexican journalists not only within that country but in every country that values freedom of the press is summed up in The Guardian‘s horrifying headline “‘Journalists are being slaughtered’- Mexico’s problem with press freedom.” This is an issue that we are not watching closely enough in this country, primarily because it receives so little main stream media coverage. [Read more…]
We have a long history of music that chronicles the struggles of working people in this country. This music depicts our transformation from an agrarian economy to an industrialized one and the labor movement that arose from that transformation. The econ0my has been transformed yet again as we moved from manufacturing to service sector jobs; as jobs are outsourced and employees are re-defined as independent contractors; and as worker productivity has sharply increased, wages for the middle class and working poor remain stagnant.
Work remains dangerous and too often deadly for some; underpaid or unequally paid for far too many. Labor unions have historically addressed both of those work issues and union members have put their lives on the line to remedy them. These videos are a reminder of the work and of the struggle. And they still resonate today. [Read more…]
By John Lawrence
1915 was a very good year because three giants of twentieth century music were born that year: Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday and Billy Strayhorn. This year is the hundredth anniversary of their births.
By far the best known is Frank Sinatra, born in Hoboken, NJ to a middle class Italian family. His mother, Dolly, was a real go getter who became a political force in Hoboken. She secured Frank his first real job as a singer with the Hoboken Four, and got her husband hired by the Fire Department. When they told her they didn’t have any openings, she told them, “Make one.” They did.
Frank’s stories of growing up poor were so much BS. The Sinatra family moved into a $13,400. house in Hoboken in the middle of the Depression, an astronomical sum in those days. She had befriended so many people in Hoboken that, when the Democratic machine needed votes, Dolly could deliver them. She also had a thriving business as a midwife and an abortionist. Unfortunately, she died in a plane crash, a plane that Frank had chartered to bring her from Palm Springs to Las Vegas for his opening at Caesar’s Palace. [Read more…]
By John Lawrence
Singer-songwriter-trombonist Natalie Cressman brought her quintet to Dizzy’s Jazz Club Saturday, July 11. Natalie has been creating quite a stir lately with her 8th place finish in the trombone category of the Down Beat Critics poll, Rising Star division.. Her band has a very contemporary sound, sort of a jazz-rock groove. And groove they did.
Natalie wrote most of the songs. I’m assuming she did the arrangements too which were fantastic. She made the most out of two horns – trumpet and trombone – and a killer rhythm section consisting of Mike Bono on guitar, Michael Mitchell on drums and Adam Goldman on bass. I particularly enjoyed the drummer although he stayed in the background the whole time. There was an energy to this band especially when they cut loose on the last number. [Read more…]
By Alex Demyanenko / Capital & Main
The first shot of What Happened, Miss Simone? shows a crowd applauding the appearance of a singer. After years of a self-imposed hiatus, Nina Simone walks onstage, and with one hand on a piano, bows. For a full 10 seconds. She then looks up and out at the rapturous audience. But she is not smiling. Her stare is intense. Some will see fear in her eyes. Others will see indifference. Others might even see loathing. Or all of it.
Once Simone sits at the piano and the applause ends, she does nothing for half a minute. The uncomfortable silence is finally broken by her softy saying “Hello” into the mic, only to be greeted by a fan shouting, “Hi. We are ready!” But is Simone? After seeing Liz Garbus’ documentary, an even better question is, “Was she ever?”
Not everyone who is thrust into stardom is ready for it or even desirous of it. There is no doubt that part of Simone loved being famous, but the juxtaposed moods in this opening scene are palpable and unnerving for a reason. The moment is not only a metaphor for Simone’s fascinating journey as the most compelling and provocative diva of her time, but also a harbinger of what is to come for the next 100 minutes, a document of a life full of contradiction that poses almost as many questions as it answers. [Read more…]
By Jim Miller
Gary Snyder is a courage teacher. His fine new book of poems, This Present Moment, is a meditation on wonder and impermanence. In it, for instance, we learn to value our laptops “Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted/and vanish in the flash at ‘delete,’/so it teaches of impermanence and pain.”
And it’s true, the miracle of creation that comes out of “a formless face/which is our Original Face,” but as soon as the words are formed the self who made them is no longer there.
Still there is beauty, and moments of grace are there to be found and cherished in “the morning and night coming together,” the “glacier scrapes across the bedrock,” and “the deep dense woods.” You just need to follow “the shining way of the wild” and “hang in, work it out, watch for the moment.” [Read more…]
Social clubs have been a noteworthy part of Logan Height’s history. After WWII, Leonard Fierro, Frank Peñuelas, Mike Negrete and Armando Rodriguez were reunited and started a new Toltec Club based on Frank’s 1930s prototype at Neighborhood House. Girls participated in the Lucky 13 Club. The 1950s brought a revived interest in social clubs for the young people in Logan Heights. Los Gallos was one of the first of these clubs.
Lena Horne was the first black woman to get a contract with a major Hollywood Studio
By John Lawrence
Born into a black bourgeoisie family in 1917, Lena Horne was signed up in the NAACP by her grandmother, Cora Calhoun Horne, a college graduate, at the age of two. The Hornes owned a four-story residence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.
The distinguished Horne family included teachers, activists and a Harlem Renaissance poet. Lena’s uncle became dean of a black college. According to James Gavin’s biography of Lena, Stormy Weather, the black bourgeoisie were descendants of favored slaves “privileged blacks who, by virtue of their brains or their sexual allure to their masters, had worked in the house, not in the field. During the decade-long heyday of Reconstruction, they’d used their cachet to start businesses and gain social standing.”
Lena’s grandmother drilled into her respectability at all costs. She was to use proper diction, no dialect allowed, and always present herself as a lady. Cora was a determined fighter for black causes, and, despite her disdain for whites, she married a white man. According to Gavin, Cora’s cafe au lait skin, thin lips and delicate nose betrayed generations of intermingling with whites. Her maiden name, Calhoun, came from her father’s slavemaster in Georgia, Dr. Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun. His uncle was Senator John C Calhoun who championed slavery as God’s will. [Read more…]
“The legacy of the United Farm Workers union in its first decade provides us with key lessons for the present and future. It reminds us that grass-roots power organized and deployed by ‘disposable’ workers, fearlessness in the face of corporate exploitation, and the political uses of music, theater, and ritual can change history. In 2015, in a society based on greed and personal ambition, we ignore these lessons at own peril.” –Jorge Mariscal, Professor, UC San Diego
While Monday, March 31st is the official César E. Chávez day, activities celebrating his legacy as a labor and civil rights leader will continue into May. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of his life and work. The ongoing activities are about continuing that legacy.
Thanks to the UCSD Blink, produced by the faculty and staff of that fine institution, for providing us with a list of activities over the next six weeks honoring the life and achievements of César E. Chávez. [Read more…]
By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass
It’s time for the Third Annual Mariachi Festival! National City expects between 10-15,000 people to join in the fun. Last year they had 11,000 people, making it one of the largest mariachi events in San Diego County.
This year, National City has invited mariachi students from throughout the United States and Mexico. At least 10 groups will compete and professional judges will hand out awards based on their stiff rubric.