Lila Downs – April 15, 2010

Lila Downs       –       Casita Maria, Bronx   –    April 15, 2010

Deep in the South Bronx, English is the second language.  Casita Maria shares its building with the Urban Assembly Bronx Studio School  (what ever happened to “PS” plus a number?); the concert, billed as a “community sing”, was presented under the auspices of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute neighborhood concert series. Many dressed festively in native garb, knew the words, and joyously sang along.  I was wise to get on the autograph line quickly as the gig ended; it looked like Lila had hours of signing CD’s ahead of her.  Not only signing, but listening to fans and posing with them for photos, really giving.

Lila Downs
Leo Soqui

Mingus Orchestra – February 13, 2010

Mingus Orchestra –  St. Bartholomew’s Church  –  February 13, 2010

Better Get Hit in Your Soul, a freebie by the orchestra in church!   Who are we to argue?  A program of Mingus compositions with various musical configurations and arrangers.  Gunther Schuller led a few, so I throw in a sketch of him from a different setting; he told a tale that this was his second performance at this particular church, his first being when he was in high school (?), in the choir of a nearby church of a different denomination, but the two churches would get together at holiday time to get an ensemble large enough to perform some particular vocal works.  Only one sketch for the actual night: Scott Robinson, Wayne Escoffery, Boris Kozlov, who plays Mingus’s bass (not the parts, the actual instrument).

Mingus Orchestra
Gunther Schuller

Pete Seeger – October 10, 2009

Pete Seeger  –  Vassar College  –  October 10, 2009

Now here is a true giant of a legend, so no way I’m passing up this chance.  Outdoors in front of the Vassar College chapel on a sunny but brisk afternoon.  It is unsigned, so not “complete” in my mind, and I may take steps to rectify this situation, but all in good time – or not.  And here’s why: I was well positioned to rush Pete when he finished up, but was approached by one of the local coed students who had also been sketching (there were a few other sketchers out in the crowd).  She was amazed (as was I) that she had the exact same case (Curious George, from a watercolor set whose innards I had discarded in order to stash the pencils/leads that I use) that she used for her materials.  We showed each other our works, then I suggested we go get autographs.  Well, by this time Pete was on the chapel steps and quite besieged.  His handler said no more signing, he had to get to another appointment, and whisked him inside.  That, apparently, was that.  But nor for me – he’s gotta come out somewhere, so I went to the other side of the chapel where there was a waiting limo, asked the driver if he was for Pete, and he was, so I figured “piece of cake”.  Me & Toots waited, waited, all the other hangers-on gave up and split but not me.  Toots went to the nearby art museum and I waited some more.  After about 45 minutes, I figured I couldn’t risk the wrath (enough already!  plus getting chilly), so I went to make peace, took a spin through the museum, when we came out the limo was gone and so was my chance for the autograph.  Not enough reason not to post it.  Along with preceding act the Roundabout Ramblers (at least partly made up of Vassar faculty), and I couldn’t get all of their signatures either.  Oh well.  Theirs was a 2-page-spanning sketch, both halves scanned separately and joined together for this composite.  Only a cursory cleanup of the “spine” area for the blogosphere.  Opening act was the Bearcats, quite decent Dixielanders.

Pete Seeger

Chris Washburne & SYOTOS – June 20, 2009

Chris Washburne & SYOTOS Band  –  Langston Hughes Library  –  June 20, 2009

Motivation is high to get me to Queens, although at least this wasn’t farthest-outer Queens.  It was part of the Weill Music Institute (of Carnegie Hall) Neighborhood Concert Series.  SYOTOS = See You On The Other Side, for what that is worth, basically a Latin music band, very groovin’!

Chris Washburne & John Walsh
Barry Olsen
Tony Rosa