Jethro Banks & the Experience - Towne Crier Cafe - November 4, 2017
I feel certain (as do many others) that we’ll be hearing from the 18-year-old high school senior Banks in the coming years. This drummer’s already got a great well-earned local reputation and serious cred, judging from the associates he calls on for this gig. He’s been groomed by his father (who plays keys in the combo), has an engaging, comfortable stage presence, all the boxes are checked! My buddy Greene guested on a few vocals. Sometimes I try to make my post-production process easier by going with just black ink; then I shoot myself in the foot when the subject is too large to fit on the page (I was pretty close up, which didn’t help, not that I’d have it any other way), so it spans two pages that I now have to stitch together, and then I have to decide with how to deal with the crease. The executive decision is to erase it all away, so deal with the “gap” in some of the line continuity.
Caixa - Luso - October 14, 2017
Luso is the Portuguese restaurant on the corner of the block where we were staying; while having dessert with our hostess, we met the restaurant owner, a friend who had also been invited over. When I learned of the live music situation, I wrangled access and crammed myself into some small spaces while dinner proceeded; I was there only to sketch, not to scarf, my loss. While the food has Portuguese roots in Brazil and Goa, as well as the mother country (and receives excellent reviews), the lovely music seemed mostly to be sourced from Brazil.
Turkfest - Seattle City Center Armory - October 14, 2017
I had time only to catch the musical acts on one day of this 2-day festival. Only two of the three members of Celestial Navigation were present; as you can suss from the name, it was new-agey with a Turkish twist. Attitude was compounded when at the end of the set, Somel wouldn’t sign from the stage, said she would be out later to do so, then failed to show. Sehr-i Seattle seemed more straightforward old school Turkish folklorish (as if I would know!), and also more interested in my work to boot, so they get my edge. There was also a more participatory vibe, audience members singing along, and at one point one fan going on stage to help Berberoglu out with the lyrics.
Busking Seattle - October 2017
For this post I combine two separate episodes on different dates. Dandelion and Vismale were at Seattle’s outdoor Ballard Farmers Market, the city’s biggest (it’s year-round), and what an incredible scene! All produce was over the top, my best score being the $10 chanterelles; just try finding them in the NYC area for less than triple that! The remainder were outdoors at Seattle City Center, where I was early and waiting for the Turkfest event (next post). Monroe took the bizarreness award, kind of deranged with a security guard keeping close eye on him from a distance. When I passed him the book to sign, it seemed like he was kind of grime-coated, as if he had been working on changing car oil for three days straight (possibly without sleeping). So I didn’t want him even handling the book too much; I thought the just treatment was to not photoshop out the lower left fingerprint residue of his grip (also, may come in handy for the authorities at some point). Yes I feel bad about the preceding! Then, a first for me; “Anonymous” not only wouldn’t sign (I’ve had that before, but only once), he wouldn’t even tell me his name! Wow, two doozies in one session. The others going by first name only, I kind of get – perhaps legit deportation paranoia.
High Class Brass - Phinney Farmers Market - October 6, 2017
I guess having a gig at the market (or at least this market) is a couple notches up from busking, especially if your name incorporates the words “High Class”. So I’ll overlook the 45-minutes-later-than-advertised starting time, they were darned good, with a nice variety of classical and contemporary pieces. Couldn’t tell exactly what the deal was with “Chuck”, who didn’t seem to be a regular group member, wouldn’t give me his full name for attribution, and for whom I could get no info from the HCB web presence, so yes, there’s a bit of attitude present about this as well! I like to be accurate in my archiving, but must stay real (or sane? perhaps too late for that!) with regard to the extent of my unrequited efforts. Chuck.
High Class Brass Composite
Rafael Hernandez Music Festival - Bronx Library Center - September 24, 2017
Hernandez was Puerto Rico’s pre-eminent composer during the first half of the 20th century, and the concert of his music is held in his honor. Of course, I couldn’t understand a word, but so what! This is one of my favorite venues, as there’s usually space for me to get the paints going, and for this one it was 100% watercolors. There were two separate combos and some confusion on my part on how to allocate sketch time. Torch song (I think; I’m going here on sound and not lyrics) specialist Mirabal was featured, brought out twice (one costume change). Ayala smoothly shouldered the remaining vocal duties, and was no slouch.
Anibal Ayala & Leo Mendez
Zoila Martinez Loeza
Marty Elkins - Southeast Museum - September 10, 2017
A poorly promoted gig – a shame – with the alternative name “Southeast Stompers featuring Marty Elkins”. There was a theme (also promoted obscurely at best): a centennial of the women’s suffrage movement in the USA, so the musical selection focused on stuff that was popular in 1917. This is no impediment to swinging, which the band did admirably. Closed with ”Darktown Strutter’s Ball”. This will not be the only picture you can find of vocalist Elkins with that hat!
John Pizzarelli Trio - Vassar College Skinner Hall - September 9, 2017
Pizzarelli is an artist at the top of his game, this dude has it all, even his guitar has an extra string! Did not disappoint from the opening bars to the encore. Waaaaay smoove, he’s got the vocals down, he’s got the ax chops, he’s got the top-shelf sidemen. He’s got the jazz vocalist wife who was present but did not go on stage (shucks!). Pizzarelli comes from good jazz stock, grew up in the trade, so he’s on a first-name basis with a lot of legends, and has a lot of the inside scoop. And the patter is superb. Favorite of the evening: Louis Armstrong performed at Billy Crystal’s bar mitzvah reception; Crystal’s aunt (or grandmother?) suggesting to Armstrong, “Have you tried clearing your throat?”
Roopa Panesar - Lincoln Center Rubenstein Atrium - September 7, 2017
I’m starting to run out of instruments that I haven’t sketched – this is my first sitar. I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable about Indian music to know who’s got the chops, but it’s clear that Panesar does. And with two Indian drum masters (one from the northern tradition, one from the southern, again don’t ask me which is which). You can tell that this stuff is a truly interactive (somewhat improvised, I’m guessing) goading conversation amongst the players, and I love the glee on their faces when they all get to the same break point together.
Kendra Foster - Lincoln Center Hearst Plaza - August 11, 2017
Foster was on the “little” stage, in many ways much more conducive to my work than the big-assed bandshell, including no waiting on line. I don’t think there was any diminution of quality. In advance, her music totally unknown to me, but I have faith (hard-earned through the years) in the Lincoln Center out-of-doors programming. What I did know was a George Clinton connection (big plus) and a more recent (and grammy-winning!) link to D’Angelo (wary meaninglessness to me). Foster brought the goods, and there was certainly enough of the “you and me, baby” kind of stuff that I guess is the D’Angelo-type genre, but she also dipped into the old-school well a bit and showed strong gospel-ish chops and sensibility. Vocal assistance from Redd Middleton (do I need to say also news to me?) who was no slouch and really unleashed on his featured vocal number.
Charles "Redd" Middleton