Category: Bands

Austin Impressions

By , February 9, 2018 5:54 pm

For my next post, I had planned on asking John Speice, a prolific and very active musician on the scene in Austin, Texas, to do an interview.  

Several of the projects Speice is involved in, including Brownout, Grupo Fantasma, Ocote Soul Sounds, and Money Chicha, have been essential music in the Polyrhythmics van for a while now, and John was also on hand to sit in on and talk after our late night performance at High Sierra Music Festival last summer.

In addition, Adrian Quesada, one of the main creative engines behind Brownout, Grupo Fantasma, and Ocote Soul Sounds, was in Seattle in November working with the modern opera Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance at On the Boards theater, and Polyrhythmics horns had the opportunity to do some small recording for him while he was here.  Clearly these guys have a lot going on! 

Most recently, we played in Austin with another project John is involved in, Kalu and the Electric Joint, and between hearing him talk about past touring bands and scenes and seeing the reaction of the crowd to his presence in the Electric Joint, I felt like he could add something to the musings I’ve had here about the musical circles and scenes in Seattle and how the dynamic here compares to that in other cities.

However, as I was preparing to ask for the interview, John posted a link to an interview he had done here:  

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-akmgh-86440a#.WnSMXPIbSU4.facebook

The interview was for a podcast called “How did I Get Here?”, and it ended up having everything I wanted John to talk about!  I highly recommend checking it out, although I believe you have to download the Podbean app to do it.  The app is free, so it’s still relatively easy to get to and to hear.

Here are a few parts of the interview that really resonated with me:

By connecting the dots between the various bands and musicians he’s played with between his time in Denton and Austin, Speice paints detailed pictures of a couple of different musical circles. Throughout these sections, he just matter-of-factly describes what he was trying to do musically, and how meeting one person led to meeting another, and how playing one gig led to playing with this band, etc. As I’m typing this, it seems really obvious – that this is how a musician works – but it’s not always that easy, sustainable, or direct. The difference in hearing Speice talk about it is that you can tell he would always do what it takes to make life work, so to speak, and that he has a certain determination about playing music that is really inspiring.

In one memory, John describes auditioning for an established Austin band close to when he moved to town, and being passed up for another drummer that had a more technical/”chops”-based focus, and the negative impact that experience had on him. He found out later that that drummer was also dropped later on, because he didn’t have the sound and/or feel that the band wanted. All schadenfreude aside, there was some affirmation in hearing that news; he felt that it meant that even though there are many technically amazing drummers out there, the specific style and feel that he has is just as valuable. There are several places in the interview where he describes moving from playing and listening to music based on technical virtuosity to longer-form groove-based music, and his thoughts on that were really deep to me.

Near the end of the interview, Speice talks about his family, and what it has meant to be with his wife over the years and for her to be supportive and encouraging of what he calls a “compulsion” to be a musician. This also resonated with me; as the musical aspects of my life continue to grow and spread in different directions, I am increasingly aware of and thankful for the patience and support of my girlfriend, my family, and my friends. The compulsion to play music as a career can narrow your vision at times, and it’s important to recognize that to keep from isolating yourself too much, something that I am working on.

There were many more parts in this interview that are worth sharing, but I don’t have the room here. Check out the link to the podcast, if you are so inclined, and definitely check out John’s projects:

brownoutmusic.com

grupofantasma.com

https://ocotesoulsounds.bandcamp.com

www.moneychicha.com

www.goldendawnarkestra.com

www.kaluandtheelectricjoint.com

 

 

 

 

Talking with Colton Thomas

By , January 26, 2018 12:59 am

Colton and Booker T, July 2017

I first met Colton Thomas in Roseburg, Oregon last 4th of July.  Polyrhythmics had the amazing opportunity to open for Booker T at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, and Colton, who lives in the area, was there for the show.  Colton does A&R work for Transistor Sound, a record label and recording studio in the Bay Area, and has known Monophonics frontman and Transistor Sound main man Kelly Finnigan for some time.  I also found out he has traded music choices online with True Loves and DLO3 guitarist and fellow classic Soul/R&B fanatic Jabrille Williams, and has maintained contact with a huge number of Soul and R&B greats over the years.

Colton and the Monophonics, July 2012

I became Facebook friends with Colton a little while later, and it was then I realized the depth of his passion for Sweet Soul, Group Harmony, and other Soul and R&B styles.  He collects 45 rpm records as well as classic press photos, and I began to notice his posts relating to both, from groups like the Four Tops, Little Anthony and the Imperials, the Spinners, and so many more, often underrated or undiscovered. 

Colton is a dedicated collector, to be sure, but I was fascinated by how much further it goes; in the sections beneath his posts I would see comments from family members and friends of the posted musicians, and sometimes the musicians themselves would write in on his posts!  It became clear that Colton knows many of these legendary singers and artists and their families as friends at this point, and he is actively invested in getting their music out there today.  I decided to try to interview Colton for the blog, and he was excited to do it.  As expected, I learned a tremendous amount about the groups and sub-genres associated with classic Soul and R&B! 

The Dontells, an example of Sweet Soul

Colton was interested in music from a very young age; he remembered bringing a cassette tape of himself singing Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” to Show and Tell in kindergarten.  Another formative experience was his 13th birthday, in 2003, when his parents got him tickets to see James Brown in Jacksonville, Oregon.  He said it was incredible, and remembers Brown unexpectedly using a Korg keyboard, sometimes playing it backwards!

Through his family’s antique store, which is still going strong today, he had his first experiences with recordings.  He told me he remembers the first record he ever got:  The Four Tops – Second Album (“that’s a great record”).  From there his love for Soul and Vocal Harmony music took off.

After hearing about some of his early experiences getting into this music, I was able to get to one of the aspects of Colton’s interest that fascinated me the most.  I asked him how he started getting into contact with so many amazing elder musicians, and he told me it really started with Myspace.

Colton started a Myspace page called Soul Legends, where he could write about the records and artists he loved, and soon he was reaching out and finding the Myspace pages belonging to the singers and musicians he admired.  By 2009, Colton was conducting interviews, the first of which was Tony Drake, who sang “Let’s Play House”(originally released in 1969).  An interview with Larry Cunningham of The Floaters (listen to “Float On” from 1977 here) soon followed.  He was able to do these interviews through Blog Talk Radio, a site that allows you to create your own radio show.  Colton’s show was called Soul FM, and he continued to interview more and more artists in this way from 2009 on.  At the time of the interview with Larry Cunningham, Colton was 17 years old.  SEVENTEEN!!

I just can’t imagine seeking out the music, connecting with these luminaries and legends, and starting your own interview-based radio show at 17; I thought that was remarkable.  

The Soul FM show allowed for fans and musicians to call in and talk to Colton or whoever he was interviewing, which then led to more connections across the country for him to share in his musical loves, and it could be unexpected who might end up calling:  When Colton was interviewing Little Anthony of Little Anthony and the Imperials, he saw a call come up, but did not want to interrupt Anthony, as he was in the middle of a story, so he didn’t pick up the call.  Afterward, he got a Facebook message from R&B musician Jimmy Castor saying it was he who was calling in.  Castor passed on a while after that, and Colton said that not taking that call is “one of [his] biggest regrets to this day.” 

Colton with Jerry Lawson

A particularly fun memory Colton recounted to me was from 2013, when he traveled to Mesa, Arizona to see family.  Because Scottsdale was near by, and because he had kept in contact with Jerry Lawson – of The Persuasions –, Colton and Lawson arranged for Lawson to pick him up to hang out (“I don’t know what kind of car it was but it was a really cool car,” Colton said).  They ended up grabbing some ice cream, and, at the end of the night, going to a karaoke bar, called the Grapevine, together!  Colton ended up picking a Persuasions song out of the karaoke book for Lawson to sing, and Colton got into the act too, singing the Spinners.

Autographed note from Weldon McDougal

There were others who were surprised to find out a white teenager in Southern Oregon was running such an extensive online tribute to classic Soul and R&B.  One of the fellow music afficionados Colton met through his Soul Legends Myspace page was T.L. Harris, who told Colton that he thought Soul Legends was run by “an 80-year-old black man from Detroit”.  When Harris saw a photo of Colton, at 16 years old, with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops, he said it blew his mind!  He reached out to Colton online and introduced him to Weldon McDougal 

Weldon McDougal was a prolific singer, songwriter, and producer (he sang some of the background vocals on “Yes I’m Ready” by Barbara Mason) who worked at Philadelphia International Records as well as Motown Records.  He became good friends with Colton, and had many stories, including some from his childhood.

McDougal told of living in the same Philadelphia neighborhood as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.  He remembers that Hawkins had a coffin that he used as part of his stage performance, but he would leave it outside on his front porch in Philadelphia, and as a child McDougal and his friends would dare each other to go on the porch and get inside in the coffin.  I believe Colton said that McDougal told him they very nearly got caught once, and Hawkins scared them off!

Another memorable story McDougal told Colton and Harris involved legendary bassist James Jamerson.  While McDougal was at Motown, the 1973 documentary Save the Children was being filmed, and Marvin Gaye and his band (of which Jamerson was a part) were featured in the film.  McDougal remembered coming to the hotel to pick Jamerson up to take him to the venue and discovering that Jamerson had drunkenly trashed his room and was getting grief from hotel staff.  As the story goes, on the way out of the hotel, Jamerson hopped over the hotel clerk’s desk and karate-chopped the clerk, letting out a loud “Hi-YAH motherf****rs!!”

Colton with Kelly Finnegan

After meeting Kelly and the Monophonics in July of 2012, Colton kept in touch, and in January of 2017 he signed a contract to become involved with A&R for Transistor Sound, a record label that advocates for unheard, unreleased, and underappreciated Soul music.  To a certain extent, the label is perfect for Colton; it provides a very real vehicle for him to bring the music and musicmakers he loves to more public notice, and he can continue to work towards giving them and their families the recognition they deserve.  The Dontells, pictured at the beginning of this post, is the 1st reissue Colton has helped put out through Transistor Sound, largely with the help of the late Bob Abrahamian, who was a generous collector and Soul music aficionado from Chicago that Colton originally met on an online forum called Soulful Detroit and really looked up to.  You can read a tribute to Bob here.

Implicit in some of our conversations, I think, was how many black groups and artists making music in the 50’s and 60’s were taken advantage of, and not given their fair public and financial recognition.  I believe Colton mentioned that Weldon had some stories about how important it was to watch your money and be careful what you sign.  That adds another spin on Colton’s mission to find underappreciated recordings for reissue.

In addition, Colton himself sings, and there may be a Colton Thomas release at some point down the road!

Colton credits social media for allowing him to make the connections he’s made over the years.  Those Soul legends that he initially found on Myspace became friends and mentors that he regularly calls on the phone to talk to and hear stories from.  The way he put it, without social media he never would have had the opportunity to hang out with groups like Smokey Robinson (Colton interviewed bass player Gary Foote on his Blogtalk show, who then set up a backstage meeting between Colton and Smokey in 2011) or the Temptations (Colton met veteran road manager Billy Bannister at a performance, who then introduced him to Otis Williams, last original member of the Temptations, backstage at another performance). 

I didn’t have the heart to ask too deeply about the number of singers and groups Colton has befriended that have passed on, but it was definitely on my mind during parts of the interview.  It’s hard for me not to feel a sense of urgency in Colton’s mission, as so many Soul legends have gone in recent years, and it has to be hard for him to say goodbye to more and more of his heroes as time goes on, but there is no doubt in my mind that they all are very proud of and thankful for Colton’s unending passion for their lives and their music.

Some other vocalists Colton has connected with over the years:  Barrett Strong, the Masqueraders, Flying Stars of Brooklyn, and Brothers by Choice

Here are a few more photos Colton shared with me:

 

With Jerry Lawson

With Terry Cole of Colemine Records

With Lee Fields

With Kelly Finnegan

 

 

 

 

 

    

Updates/Listening to the London Scene

By , September 11, 2017 1:26 pm

Hi all!

It’s been an eventful Summer:

–  Polyrhythmics played across the region, including the Eclipse Festival and the High Sierra Music Festival, where I had the opportunity to share the stage with both Skerik (who I talked with on the blog here) and Karl Denson, a musical highlight for me.  We added the finishing touches to the next album, set to release 9/20, and are asking fans, friends, and family to preorder it at http://www.pledgemusic.com/polyrhythmics .  Check it out!  There are other fun gifts and thank yous for supporting on that site as well.

–  Theoretics performed at Capitol Hill Block Party and are working on a new EP.  We’re continuing to move in a different direction from previous sounds, and I am really excited to continue.  To me, the music fuses a more composed, layered approach with a creative and spontaneous treatment of sounds and textures, and it’s changing how I think about writing and playing music, in a good way.  I hope to share it with you all soon!

–  I moved to a slightly different part of town with my girlfriend, a little more out of the way but still connected to what I need personally and musically.  With how busy things have been it has been difficult to really get settled (3 months later and we still have pictures to hang and boxes to unpack!), but all things in time.  Honestly, it has been nice to feel as though I’m getting away a bit when I come home; it has been easier for me to focus on what needs to get done.

 

In other news, I’ve been more and more interested in what seems to be a particular circle of creative musicians based in London, and it’s been fun to listen to their similarities and differences in sound based on that common geography.

I had heard the Heliocentrics from Adam, our drummer in Theoretics, quite a while ago, but recently, after they released a new full length album, I went back and got back into them.  In addition, they began popping up in my social media feed more.  Here is their drummer and producer, Malcom Catto, giving a tour of his recording studio (just click).  There also was a Gilles Peterson podcast on which Catto and bassist Jake Ferguson talked about some of their jazz influences, as well as influences outside of that genre like Ennio Morricone and Can.  Unfortunately, it looks like that podcast is not available anymore.

Listening to Gilles Peterson’s playlists after that was really informative because of their stylistic range; although genres like Electronica, Jazz, and Hip Hop are more fluid in America than they were 10 years ago, in my opinion, it seems they are still more fluid in Britain.

At the same time that I was listening to the materials above, I started listening to and following saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings.  As it turned out, Hutchings had worked with Heliocentrics in the past, but predominately plays with his own group Shabaka and the Ancestors, which sounds significantly different from Heliocentrics, in a good way.  Again, through social media I saw more and more from him – clips of interviews, concert footage (Hutchings posted a great clip of an Ancestors show where Kamasi Washington sat in, really beautiful), etc.  Also, check out his account of playing with the Sun Ra Arkestra:  A Meditation on my Experience with the Sun Ra Arkestra

A fourth element of this London scene I listened to was Yussef Kamaal, a duo collaboration with another unique take on creative London music.  Although the duo is no longer considered together, Kamaal Williams, aka Henry Wu, is quite active on my feed, and I’m interested to see what he does next.  And, as before, even with major differences in their musical approach, sound, and style, there is a common thread – Yussef Kamaal’s album Black Focus was engineered by none other than Malcom Catto of the Heliocentrics.

Anyway, I recommend checking out any of the artists mentioned above.  It has been enlightening and interesting listening to them over the last couple of months!

 

Art

 

 

 

Radio, TV, Books, Music

By , March 1, 2017 3:24 pm

Hi all!

Lots to catch up on here.  I got the chance to do a few local music and radio shows last month with some of my favorite musicians in town:

Tim Kennedy band on KNKX:  Tim has gotten pretty regular mention on this site for good reason, he has been a significant positive influence on me since I started playing music professionally.  In addition, I’ve listened to 88.5 since I was a boy, sometimes recording jazz overnight onto cassette tapes, so this show had an added personal importance.

Polyrhythmics on Artzone with Nancy Guppy:  I performed on Artzone with Theoretics several years ago, but never put up the footage.  Artzone is a program that’s really valuable to Seattle arts and culture, in my opinion.  I first started playing closer attention to it when there was a really endearing segment with Nancy and Bill Frisell

In addition, Theoretics were chosen to a part of Playback, the Seattle Public Library’s program that promotes and supports local music and artists.  There are a lot of great bands involved, so check it out!

All of these organizations, as well as ones I’ve talked about in the past like Seattle Art Museum and KEXP, are doing really essential work in nurturing local music.  I’m thankful to be working with them occasionally and, in turn, want to support them as best as I can!

I finished the My Life with Earth Wind and Fire, the autobiography of Maurice White, and found it to be beautiful; White was a passionate musician with a vision, and the trajectory of his life made for a moving story.  

I’m now reading Straight Life: the autobiography of Art Pepper.  I would venture to say it is much darker than White’s autobiography, and there are many tragic parts of Pepper’s life that the book covers, but it is just as moving.  The things that were done to Pepper and the things he did to himself and others are hard to read about at times, and the book has changed the way I look at the musicians and music of the 50’s and 60’s.

That’s it for now, hopefully more to come soon!

Possibilities

By , May 11, 2016 3:31 pm

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The Polyrhythmics tour to New Orleans and the Southeast, from Kentucky (or, as some call it, Kenpucky,) to Florida to North Carolina and beyond went relatively smoothly, with many new areas visited from both the band perspective and a personal perspective.  I enjoyed the cultures and people in the South so very much, and loved having the opportunity  to play music there; once again I felt a real appreciation for professional musicians and bands in the cities to which we traveled.

Even before this tour I had a few long drives, so I checked out a book on tape:  Possibilities, an autobiography by Herbie Hancock.  I really liked it!  Herbie goes into detail about how certain musical projects and bands came about, and what the dynamic was like in those groups, as well as how his musical philosophy changed (or stayed the same) throughout his long career.  Definitely some interesting perspectives from a guy that has been TCB’ing (Taking Care of Business) for quite a while.

I would also recommend, to other aspiring professional musicians in particular, this interview with drummer and producer Jojo Mayer that Adam Gross recommended to me.  There were a few observations from Mayer there about where you work and play music versus where you live, the decisions you make regarding your life as a professional musician, and what the music business means to him.  Good stuff.

I think each time I return home after 2 or more weeks away I engage in the same self-reflection, but once again it’s really hitting me that music is my professional future, both teaching and playing.  For a while after college it was in the background of my professional life; something I was doing intermittently when I wasn’t busy working.  Then, even when it was in the forefront, I assumed that someday I would have to push it back again.  I think I’m getting closer to eliminating that assumption, which feels really good.

 

 

 

 

More Focused Listening

By , March 23, 2016 5:03 pm

When David Bowie passed away, I was motivated to listen to more of his music, as I had really only heard his big hits previously.  As I have occasionally done with other artists in the past, I decided to start with his early albums and move through them chronologically (I wrote about this approach previously here).  Listening to his albums this way definitely taught me some things about the development of songwriting, exploring different sounds and textures in pop music, and how pop music can be inventive and unique.  I really missed the boat in not listening to his music earlier.

With an upcoming special event that Ben Bloom and the rest of the Polyrhythmics will be putting together in New Orleans for JazzFest, I moved on to do the same focused listening with the discographies of Fela Kuti and the Grateful Dead.  I knew a fair amount of Fela’s music, but almost none of the Dead’s music, and once again both experiences were significantly enlightening.  What struck me in listening to the Grateful Dead was how interesting the actual composed material was; it seems to me that they are largely known for the improvisational nature of their performances, but I enjoyed the written material just as much.

Fela’s music is, in its own way, a perfect example of the approach that I frequently talk about achieving:  a unique synthesis of all of his influences into an individual sound.  Throughout his discography you hear how he incorporated West African Highlife, Jazz, and Soul in the style James Brown in a way that allows them all to work together.  The political nature of his music and how fearless he was in declaring his views is also an important part of who he was, and how the music sounded.

Polyrhythmics have never claimed to be an Afrobeat band, or tried to accurately and faithfully execute Afrobeat music as Fela and others played it, but the influence is definitely there, and it would be irresponsible to ignore or downplay that.  I’ve thought a lot recently about my responsibility as a musician to not only acknowledge influences but to bring them to the front of conversation when talking to listeners or students about my playing, especially if they are not familiar with those earlier bands and musicians.  I haven’t done a great job with that, and hope to do better.

Art

 

 

 

Updates

By , February 16, 2016 1:39 am

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Thanks for another awesome photo, Chris Davis!

 

Hi all,

It may be a little late for a New Year’s post, but here are some things happening for me now and things I’m looking forward to this year.

The Unsinkable Heavies continue to play every 3rd Wednesday at the Seamonster, and we have had a few opportunities to get out and play some more around town as well.  The band has really come into a particular vibe and sound that I think separates it from other similar groups.  That kind of clarity is important with the Heavies since we all play in the Polyrhythmics as well, but I think the two are distinct and different musical experiences.

Both Polyrhythmics and Theoretics are keeping busy, working on new material while still trying to push outward and share our music.

Because Theoretics (at least in its current form) is a little newer, one of my goals for the band is to get some real momentum with both live shows and new music.  Over the last couple of months I’ve talked with more and more people that like what we do, which is really encouraging, and, as with the Heavies, our musical style is becoming more and more solidified.

With Polyrhythmics, I’m looking forward to working on more new material and continuing down the path that we largely started on last year.  I’ve started to participate a bit more in the creative process with the band, and I’m excited about what comes out of it.

Lastly, teaching is going well, and in addition to giving private lessons I feel really lucky to be able to work with Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra’s Jazz Scholars program, where I can help give musical inspiration and motivation to kids who may not have the same support that I did when I was their age.  Check out their page here for more information!

 

Art

 

 

 

East Coast, California, and Oregon

By , October 21, 2015 3:46 pm

IMG_2317
Home again home again after a busy couple of weeks:

– The Polyrhythmics East Coast Tour was overwhelmingly positive, both individually and as a group. Although our time in each area or city was usually pretty short, I really enjoyed being in areas where the moods, personalities, and cultures were a bit different than that of the Northwest, from New England to New York to DC to North Carolina. Equally interesting were the parts of some of the cities that I found really similar to Seattle and the Northwest; sometimes it was the way a town felt, sometimes it was the way the people were, sometimes it was something else. Regardless, there was strong support and love for our music, which was heartwarming. New York in particular was wonderful; I reunited with several friends with whom I always enjoy catching up.

– After that, our stops in California and Oregon were familiar in the best of ways. Many of the venues we’ve played several times before, and it’s comforting to know that the place you’re playing any given night likes you and will treat you well, and you will probably see some familiar faces too! I talked about music a lot with a couple of the guys on this run, discussing where we see our music (both as individuals and as a band) fitting in compared to all of the other music getting made out there. I always find those conversations very rewarding, and think it makes me a better musician (or at least makes WANT to be better).

The Polyrhythmics twitter and instagram accounts were pretty active on these runs, so there are more detailed descriptions of the tours here and here.

It is not easy to make tours like this happen (much of the credit should go to Ben Bloom, our guitarist and tour manager), and there are sacrifices each of us in the band make to do it, but I feel very fortunate to be along for the ride.

On to the next!

Updates

By , August 22, 2015 7:18 pm

July and the beginning of August has been some of the busiest times for me in recent memory!  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

 

– I went to Chicago to see my sister graduate and become a doctor in Psychology, very exciting!  Over the 4 years that she lived there I visited several times, and I enjoy that city very much; to me it has a very clear cultural identity that is colorful and rich.

 

– I played with Theoretics on KEXP’s morning show.  Although I had done an in-studio performance there before with Polyrhythmics, it is always thrilling to know you are being broadcast on the radio.  I also appreciate what KEXP does for creative music in Seattle (along with NPR stations KPLU and KBCS).

 

– I performed a few pick-up gigs with musicians I admire:  Tarik Abouzied, Ian Sheridan, Joe Doria, Brennan Carter, Jeff Johnson, and Jake Svendsen.  It’s always a pleasure to play music as well as talk with these guys and get their viewpoint on things.  Jeff in particular is someone I look forward to playing with every time because I view him as an older music master and local legend, so whenever I play with him I feel as though I’m with a mentor, and there is always something I learn from playing and hanging with him.

 

– I kept a steady weekend-warrior-style tour schedule up with Polyrhythmics and Theoretics.  I had the opportunity to play at the Capitol Hill Block Party, the Guitarfish Festival, the Northern Rockies Music Festival, the Kaslo Jazz Festival, Summer Meltdown, the South Lake Union Block Party, Doe Bay Fest, and the For the Funk of it Festival, and I traveled to cities and areas all around Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Nevada.  Crazy!

 

I put up a bunch of new pictures in the Photos section, and I uploaded many videos from my travels onto a “Summer Performances 2015” playlist on my youtube channel ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYy1yby1nObZRmIM1hh7G3A/playlists ) , so check those out!

 

– Art

New Orleans JazzFest 2015

By , April 30, 2015 5:47 pm

Hi all!

I’ve made a playlist on my YouTube channel with some of the short video clips I managed to take while in New Orleans.  They are very short, but it hopefully will give you at least small idea of the energy behind these live performances and the music happening here.  Go here and check out the New Orleans 2015 playlist for a tiny taste of Jazzfest!  In addition, there is a clip there of me from our performance at the Blue Nile, in the French Quarter district of New Orleans.

In addition to what I’ve said in the past about the high number of talented musicians in New Orleans and the supportive culture in the city surrounding live music, one of the other parts of the JazzFest experience I enjoy is meeting and talking to touring bands and musicians that are at the festivities for the same reasons we are, and sometimes these bands and musicians travel just as far.  It’s interesting to get their take on traveling and playing this kind of creative groove music.  In general, there seemed to be those people that were part of the core groups of bands, kind of like we are in Polyrhythmics, and then those independent musicians that get hired to play in this or that group or band.  These are the people that I found myself asking “who are you playing with this year?” because they may be in a different horn section or featured with a different group, etc.

Both of those types of conversations are equally fascinating to me, but I regret not talking more about just music and playing.  I feel as though this year if I became self-conscious or nervous I would fall back on those kinds of music business-type questions instead of asking about music.  Something to keep in mind for next time…

A few extra photos:  
  
Frenchman Street, where many of the live music clubs are all lined up.  This is definitely the street where I spent most of my time.
  
The blanket fort is from the friends’ house where we stayed.  The house was pretty small so I slept on the floor under the table, which led somebody to build me a fort…the sign says “Art’s Fort – BEWARE IT STIRS”
  
The third photo is our keyboard player Nate and I riding in our friends’ van to get to one of the gigs.  We had to borrow some drums so Nate and I made sure it got there.  Don’t worry, it had seatbelts!

I was going to add a photo of the Alligator sausage I had, but it tasted better than it looks, you’ll just have to trust me!


 

-Art

 

 

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