Friday, May 13, 2011
Acoustic Americana Music Guide - PREVIEWS and REVIEWS edition! - May 12, 2011
Acoustic Americana Music Guide NEWS FEATURES, May 12 edition
PREVIEWS and REVIEWS edition!
(Note: this edition was published ON TIME in the 14 other websites / webgroups where it appears. Blogspot was down for most of three days with "maintenance issues," so the time & date tag here are late. BUT the NEWS is still VERY current, especially the amazing events and concerts and festivals THIS WEEKEND!)
Holy crap, Batman! The coming weekend is FULL of great things and they’re so affordable we can do a BUNCH of ’em!
. Welcome to the
Tied to the Tracks
May 12 edition
THIS WEEK’S NEWS FEATURES
1) 51st Annual TOPANGA BANJO FIDDLE CONTEST & FOLK FESTIVAL Is Sunday –
and The Guide Is A Sponsor
2) Thursday: PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND, DEL McCOURY BAND Share a Stage
3) “6th EVER LOS ANGELES OLD TIME SOCIAL,” THURSDAY-SATURDAY, MAY 12-14
4) 21st Annual “DYLANFEST,” this Saturday, May 14
5) BUTCH HANCOCK, Texas Legend, to Play L.A. May 19
6) PERFORMANCE REVIEW: SID HAUSMAN & WASHTUB JERRY
7) PERFORMANCE REVIEW: GERRY O’BIERNE & ROSIE SHIPLEY
8) PERFORMANCE REVIEW: SLIGO RAGS
9) KENNY ROGERS in a Revealing Interview, part two
10) BLUES IN L.A. WITH BERNIE PEARL, THREE WEEKENDS IN MAY
11) “L.A. ACOUSTIC MUSIC FESTIVAL” RETURNS MAY 22 AT DIFFERENT VENUE
12) “FOREVER YOUNG: Celebrating BOB DYLAN's 70th Birthday” at the Grammy Museum,
13) MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND MUSIC FESTIVALS Are Nearly Upon Us –
We Profile Two of Them
14) PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY: “MAKE MUSIC PASADENA,” June 18
Here are these news feature stories…
Our # 1 Story:
51st ANNUAL TOPANGA BANJO FIDDLE CONTEST & FOLK FESTIVAL IS SUNDAY –
AND THE GUIDE IS A SPONSOR
For many years, we’ve called it the best one-day folk-Americana festival in Southern California. This year, The Guide is especially proud to be there, with a booth as an official sponsor. Drop by and say howdy, and pick up info on the next “How to Work the Media – a Workshop for Artists,” and more. We invited another sponsor of the event, the Coffee Gallery / Coffee Gallery Backstage, to share our booth, and SongNet – the nonprofit Songwriter’s Network, which has a pair of very accessible monthly events at that venue – will be on hand in our booth, as well.
The big day runs 9 am-6 pm at Paramount Ranch near Agoura Hills, in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area. It’s a beautiful place administered by the National Park Service.
“Southern California’s favorite Bluegrass, Old-Time & Folk Music Event” features contests for players of all kinds of acoustic instruments – it draws competitors from several western states – plus professional musicians perform scheduled sets on three stages, and there’s a whole lotta jammin’ goin’ on beneath the oak trees and on the porches in the “old west” town.
There are many facets. Since its inception in 1961, the event has always ranked high on the roots music calendar as an always-anticipated old-time, bluegrass, folk song, folk dancing and crafts festival. It’s easy to find yourself dashing from stage to stage to catch favorite performers – or settling in at any one stage to be thoroughly entertained (or jamming until your fingers go numb) without going anywhere else.
In addition to the stages and jams happening everywhere, there are the Dance Barn and the Children's area, all within the western movie sets and adjacent oak-tree-covered mountain locations. Bring your instruments and sit in, or enjoy the contestants who pre-registered for the prestigious competitions.
Here are some highlights.
The Main Stage: Over 100 instrumental and singing contestants, plus performances by
DUSTBOWL CAVALIERS, HABERDASHERY ENSEMBLE, FRANK FAIRFIELD, SCOTT GATES & THE SALTY SUITES.
Dance Barn: Band Playoffs, Clogging, Square Dancing, Contra Dancing – all backed with live music by TRIPLE CHICKEN FOOT and OLD SLEDGE.
Pavilion Stage: Beginner Instrument Playoffs, plus scheduled shows by OLD SLEDGE – roots & history of string band music; MIKE MAHANEY & FRIENDS – cowboy music & poetry show; FUR DIXON & STEVE WERNER – “songs of the open road.”
Railroad Stage: Traditional Singing Playoffs, Intermediate Fiddle Playoffs, plus scheduled shows by EVIE LADEN – old-time banjo and songs; EVAN MARSHALL – “Mr. Solo Mandolin;” SUSIE GLAZE & HILONESOME – mountain music; ROSS ALTMAN – the walking encyclopedia of labor and protest songs.
Eucalyptus Grove: “Family Fun” with “new, expanded programs in the grove,” including organized jams and sing-alongs, beginning at 11 am, with “Folk Songs with FUR & STEVE (aka FUR DIXON & STEVE WERNER),” “Kids Crafts with ALAINA SMITH,” DAN, THE FIDDLE MAN, SOUTHWEST FIDDLERS, SCOTTISH FIDDLERS, OLD-TIME FIDDLE WORKSHOP, OLD-TIME BANJO WORKSHOP, CELTIC SLOW SESSION, HAWAIIAN SONGS – UKES & GUITARS. This stage includes the long-running Kids Program, ever-popular Arts & Crafts for young children, and youth-oriented traditional music.
ADVANCE TICKETS are available online at a discount, and you can get directions and lots more info at www.topangabanjofiddle.org.
Tix at the gate cost more on the day of the event. Online ticket prices are lower this year than last, with tix this year at $10 for ages 18-64 ($15 at gate), and $8 for ages 10-17 or over age 65 ($10 at gate). No charge for children under age 10. Free parking, free shuttle bus to the gate.
Our # 2 Story
THURSDAY: PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND, DEL McCOURY BAND SHARE STAGE
This Thursday, May 12, at 8 pm, the UCLA Live series welcomes New Orleans’ own PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND teamed-up with bluegrass legends and fellow GRAMMY winners THE DEL McCOURY BAND in a stellar double-bill in Royce Hall, 340 Royce Dr, on the campus at Royce Dr between Westwood Bl and Hilgard Av, West L.A. Info on parking, online ticket purchase and more is available at www.uclalive.org. Live info at 310-825-4401, and the UCLA ticket office number is 310-825-2101.
Two pillars of American music from two distinct lineages come together for a wonderfully unlikely evening “to celebrate the glory of tradition and the power of newfound collaboration.” Starting as a sideman to BILL MONROE – the legendary “father of bluegrass” – nearly 50 years ago, DEL McCOURY has spent years broadening the audience for the genre. Throughout the same period, the legendary PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND has defined the tradition of New Orleans jazz. Now, they have converged to perform – and record(!) – an unforgettable mix of bluegrass and traditional jazz.
We got an advance copy of that new collaborative album, “American Legacies: Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Del McCoury Band.” It’s twelve tracks and 47 minutes of rollickin’ good time, and the CD will be available at the concert. Wait’ll you hear “Jambalaya” with horns and “I’ll Fly Away” with piano and tuba!
Each band will play individual sets, followed by a promised “soul-stirring joint finale.” If the Cd is any indication, that’s guaranteed. Tix, $38-63 ($15 for UCLA students).
Our # 3 Story
“6th EVER LOS ANGELES OLD TIME SOCIAL” IS THURSDAY-SATURDAY, MAY 12-14
Blazing fast old time music is the hottest thing going these days, as proven by last month’s “Railroad Revival Tour” with OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, MUMFORD & SONS, and EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS, which included a big, outdoor, sold-out show at Ports o’ Call in San Pedro, as the tour made its way to New Orleans aboard 15 classic railroad passenger cars from the great “name” trains.
Whether you were there or not, if you know anything about “old time music,” you know it’s infectious. You need to get yourself to the Old Time Social. The brainchild of L.A.-based band TRIPLE CHICKEN FOOT, it’s a Thursday-and-Friday-evening-plus-all-day-Saturday bit o’ genius that mates perfectly with Sunday’s Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival. Seems that six years back, “The Foot’s” BEN GUZMAN and his pals noted that the famed Topanga Banjo fete was a one-day affair, and people were coming from everywhere for it, anyway. Hence, why not create an event that could stand on its own, and attract the “TBFC” crowd before Sunday?
The oddly but aptly named Old Time Social was the result, and it took only a couple of years to get the format set.
Thursday night is the Social’s “Kick Off Party” at HM157, 3130 N Broadway, L.A. 90031. Performing are WALTER SPENCER, THE DRIFTWOOD SINGERS, & THE MODAL TEASE STRING BAND. The Kick Off kicks-off at 8 pm, and it’s just $5.
The Social’s Friday Concert stars GENE BURDO with TOM SAUBER, EVIE LADIN, & OLD SLEDGE. It’s at the Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 West 24th St, L.A. 90007; www.panoramaonview.org. The concert is at 8 pm, and tickets are $15.
Saturday events run all day and include a Family Dance, Cakewalk, Squaredance, and a bunch of Workshops. $15 gets you as many workshops as you can take, AND it gets you into the dance. Saturday events are at Nomad Studios, 1993 Blake Ave, L.A. 90039.
And, as always, the Social’s music makers will follow-up by attending and jamming nonstop at the 51st Annual Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival on Sunday.
But let’s not rush past the mention of Saturday’s possibilities. The event’s organizers say, “The BEST part about the L.A. Old Time Social, besides the Cakewalk, of course, is all of the amazing workshops and instructors, Saturday, 11 am-7 pm.”
Check out the list of classes, covering a wide range of instrumentation and dance styles for all skill levels of old time music, and sign up, at www.oldtimeisagoodtime.com/?p=834.
Our # 4 Story
21st ANNUAL “DYLANFEST,” THIS SATURDAY, MAY 14
From 12:30-8 pm, some of L.A.’s best musicians will play their annual homage to one of the most iconic musical figures of the past half century, right near his birthday, in the year that he turns (gasp) 70. The "21st annual DYLANFEST" returns to St. Anthony Elementary School, 233 Lomita St, in El Segundo, and as always, a portion of the proceeds benefit the school. Still, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available, along with food (it’s a private school).
Stellar musicians BOB MALONE, MARTY RIFKIN, KAREN NASH, JULIE LONG, HWY 61 REVISITED, THE 8-TRACKS, and JACK MCGEE will all play – along with MANY others. Over 50 musicians will take the stage during the event.
Musical hosts and event founders ANDY HILL & RENEE SAFIER will perform with and without their band, HARD RAIN.
Andy & Renee script and direct this thing to assure that over 60 songs from Dylan's vast catalogue are performed, with no repeats. The fest is outside, adjacent to the gym, rain or shine.
Watch a clip from past years at www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsZhj35CVpc&feature=related. You’ll get a wristband that allows easy re-entry, so you can leave early, or come late, or leave for dinner and return (even though they have food there). Tables and chairs are available, but you may bring a beach chair for seating.
Admission is $25 for adults; children ages 6-12 are $10. Andy and Renee say, “All ages are welcome...bring the kids and introduce them to LIVE MUSIC!” Get tickets and more info at www.andyandrenee.com.
In addition to this Dylan event and the one ROSS ALTMAN held recently, the GRAMMY Museum has one on May 24; see News Feature # 11.
Our # 5 Story
BUTCH HANCOCK, TEXAS LEGEND, TO PLAY L.A. MAY 19
World traveling troubadour BUTCH HANCOCK hails from the Lubbock, Texas, music scene that gave the world JOE ELY and JIMMIE DALE GILMORE, his equally eclectic colleagues in THE FLATLANDERS. Butch is one of contemporary music's most entertaining raconteurs and his tunes evoke mystical visions of wind-swept dry plains with profoundly imaginative lyrics. Indeed, his words-set-to-music, with their creative irony and metaphors, often evoke the miracles that occur in the ordinary.
Rolling Stone magazine describes Butch Hancock as "a raspy-voiced West Texas mystic with an equal affinity for romantic border balladry and Zen paradox." A world-traveling troubadour with a long string of recorded songs and albums, Butch has been called "one of the finest songwriters of our time" and is acknowledged by his peers and critics alike as one of the premiere singer-songwriters Texas has ever produced. His lyrical style has often been compared to that of BOB DYLAN and to WOODY GUTHRIE. His record, “Own and Own,” released in 1991, contains his original "If I Were a Bluebird" – a song later covered by EMMYLOU HARRIS.
During his acclaimed career, Hancock has written and recorded several landmark albums, some of them sparse and simple, others as big as the West Texas sky. After moving to the progressive country hotbed of Austin in the mid ’70s, he started his own label, Rainlight, and in 1978 released the quintessential “West Texas Waltzes and Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes.”
In the years that followed he continued to release albums steeped with meaning and memory, a foundation that cemented his world-wide reputation as a master wordsmith.
In 1990, Hancock and more than two dozen musician friends staged an event that he’ll tell you was worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records. Entitled “No Two Alike” they played six straight nights of live performances in Austin's famed Cactus Café, recording 140 of Hancock’s originals without repeating a single song. He released the staggering output later in the year as the “No Two Alike Tape of the Month Club.”
In 2010, Butch reprised the event, this time entitling it “No Two More Alike.” Fans from as far as Tokyo were on hand, representing a measure of the devotion Hancock’s singular compositions inspire.
This is a show that shouldn’t be missed. Venue impresario BOB STANE says, “Butch Hancock is a very big deal. Other acts are asking me how I got him to sign on the dotted line. Big stagecraft guy. See him up close.”
Butch Hancock performs Thursday, May 19, at 8 pm at “the venue named in FolkWorks as L.A.’s best intimate acoustic listening room venue,” the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena 91001; reservations 626-794-2424; info www.coffeegallery.com. Tickets, $20.
Our # 6 Story
PERFORMANCE REVIEW: SID HAUSMAN & WASHTUB JERRY
The two did a show together at Island Bazaar in Huntington Beach
Review for The Guide by Geo. McCalip
Island Bazaar, the ukulele store in Huntington Beach, hosted another in their notable and occasional concert series on On Saturday, April 2. This one featured the Western swing sounds of Sid Hausman and Washtub Jerry.
Sid, a working cowboy, children’s book illustrator and singer-songwriter, played ukulele and sang. Washtub Jerry accompanied him on the washtub bass. The selection of songs ranged from Ernest Tubb’s “Milles and Miles of Texas” to the Andrews Sisters’ “Houses of Blue Lights” to Woody Guthrie’s “Oklahoma Hills” to Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” to Dale Evan’s “Happy Trails.”
In addition to the songs, Sid also performed two poems, his own composition “Willie Pickett” and Howard Parker’s “Ranch Women.” For the poetry he accompanied himself on bones. He also told the audience about his new book, Emus and Owlhoots. Along with his story and illustrations, the book also comes with a CD with six songs.
Washtub Jerry, or “Wash” has a day job as a NASA engineer at the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, and an engineer’s understanding of music as reflected in his instrument. He uses a Mexican "size 6" tub instead of the American size 3 because it has an extra three inches of diameter. As Wash says, “That gives me a 24-inch woofer.” He went on to explain that he uses a clutch cable from a Porsche 914 for his string and the handle from a Peavey for the neck of the bass. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what a Peavey is; it took Wash years to find out that the neck for his bass was intended as the handle for a logging tool.
For those who think you have to have at least one fiddle to have true Western swing, I would highly recommend that you give a listen to the very pleasant, and unmistakably Western swing, sound of Sid Hausman and Washtub Jerry.
And for those who appreciate a variety of music played on the ukulele, the occasional concert series at Island Bazaar features some of the best in a friendly and inviting venue.
Our # 7 Story
PERFORMANCE REVIEW: GERRY O’BIERNE & ROSIE SHIPLEY
The duo played the Caltech Folk Music Society series;
Review for The Guide by Geo. McCalip
Some of us who spent time in the Pasadena area in the late ’70s and early ’80s have fond memories of a local pub, The Loch Ness Monster, and particularly of a group that played there, Train to Sligo. GERRY O’BIERNE, who was the lead guitarist and a vocalist in that group, returned to Pasadena on March 19 to perform in a concert presented by the Caltech Folk Music Society.
Although born in Ennis, County Clare, along Ireland’s music-rich West Coast, Gerry has since traveled the world and picked up what is, to say the least, a varied repertoire. The fact that he was not performing this concert as part of an Irish group let Gerry demonstrate his versatility and range.
ROSIE SHIPLEY accompanied him on fiddle/violin. Rosie’s background in fiddle began with Cape Breton dance tunes, but she had no problem matching Gerry’s diversity of styles. Still, watching her feet made it obvious that you can take the fiddler out of Cape Breton but you can’t take Cape Breton out of the fiddler.
The evening featured songs ranging from a beautiful solo by Gerry on 12-string guitar to an Appalachian tune with Rosie’s fiddle and guitar, to an Irish Polka, to a comic song, “Your Red Scarf Matches Your Eyes,” with Gerry on ukulele. Of course, the evening included a medley of Cape Breton tunes. And their rousing performance of “O’Carolan’s Concerto” closed the show.
Bringing hometown favorite Gerry O’Bierne back was just the latest of the concerts presented by the good people at the Caltech Folk Music Society. Their monthly concert series consistently features a high caliber of talent.
This coming Saturday, May 14, the Caltech Folk Music Society series presents its May offering, MOLLY’S REVENGE with their frequent musical collaborator MOIRA SMILEY of VOCO fame. They’re touring their brand new album “Aged Ten Years,” and you have a choice of catching them at Caltech on Saturday or the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena this Thursday, May 12.
Either way, check the Caltech Folk website, www.folkmusic.caltech.edu for tickets, and to see the great things coming in their series through the 2011 season: there’s ROSALIE SORRELS on June 4; THE SYNCOPATHS (now featuring Western States Picking Champ ASHLEY BRODER) on July 23; LOAFER'S GLORY on August 13; SMALL POTATOES and DAVE MORRISON on October 8; WILLIAM JACKSON & GRNNE HAMBLY on October 29; and KEVIN BURKE on December 3.
Our # 8 Story
PERFORMANCE REVIEW: SLIGO RAGS
Concert at Grace First Presbyterian, Long Beach;
Review for The Guide by Geo. McCalip
You might expect a strange fusion when you mix a classically trained violinist with a jazz bass player, an Afro/Latin percussionist and a bluegrass banjo player. Surprisingly, what you get is Sligo Rags, one of the best Irish groups around.
The group includes MICHAEL KELLY an accomplished player in country, newgrass, swing, and bebop styles – as well as Irish music; co-vocalist and guitarist, DAVID BURNS, an accomplished banjo and award-winning guitar player and veteran of the Southern California acoustic music scene; GORDON RUSTVOLD, a bass player with a strong background in jazz, country and pop as well as Irish music; and percussionist REID De FEVER on djembe and bongos.
On Saturday evening, March 26, the group played at Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach as part of the venue’s ongoing concert series. Putting a group that features songs about drinking and fighting (we did mention they are an Irish band) in a church sanctuary seems about as likely and as workable a combination as the varied backgrounds of the band members. But once again, it worked.
You could sense some trepidation when the band did one of their first songs, but as guitarist-vocalist David Burns noted, “Lightning hasn’t struck us down after that one, so we’ll get on with the show.”
Get on they did, much to the delight of the audience. The performance featured songs from two of the band’s CDs. “The Whiskey Never Lies” was a FolkWorks top 10 pick in 2007, the same year that the Guide’s editor, writing for FolkWorks, named them among the Top Ten Acoustic Bands in Southern California. The night featured selections from that album and from their new CD, “Roll Me Down the Mountain.” The new album’s material maintains the same high standard. When these guys perform, a good time is had by all.
The night’s audience was a mix of church members and visitors. “Grace First” is to be congratulated for hosting the concert series, and has obviously found a way to introduce their church to a much wider audience. The Grace First Presbyterian Church acoustic concert series happens at 3955 Studebaker Rd, Long Beach. Their phone is 562-420-2292. The Guide will bring you word of their upcoming concerts.
Our # 9 Story
KENNY ROGERS IN A REVEALING INTERVIEW
You can read Part One in our archive, at http://acousticamericana.blogspot.com/2011/03/acoustic-americana-music-guide-news_30.html
“I’m like a boomerang. You can throw me away but you bet your ass I’m coming back.” – Kenny Rogers.
Last issue, in part one of our feature on KENNY ROGERS from his recent discussion with SCOTT GOLDMAN, vice president of the Grammy Foundation, we looked at parts of Rogers’ career that spans 120+ charted records across six decades, 24 Number One hits, and 165 million records sold. This, time, we’ll look at more of the experiences he finds memorable or meaningful, and the perspectives and attitudes that are evident as he releases his newest album.
That new record is a spiritual / gospel project called “The Love of God.” So, one might wonder whether Kenny Rogers has adopted proselytizing from the stage, like so many of today’s country and bluegrass recording artists.
Happily, he remains multidimensional, so it’s fun to listen to him talk, as we saw in part one.
Mostly, he has avoided being cast in any particular era. Whether consciously or not, he comes across as a guy who’s never lost his sense of wonder. And that always evokes an eternally youthful spirit, in anybody.
Still, Rogers is the first to acknowledge his longevity in an often fickle business. He mentions that he had just recorded a TV special, “The First Fifty Years.” At another point, he quoted some of his song lyrics: “Youth only happens to you one time… If you should miss it in your young time, have it when you’re old.”
When asked by Goldman about his first solo record deal, with Mercury Records, Rogers replied, “I’d forgotten about that,” but all seemed readily accessible to him. He recalled, “The first time I’d heard ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,’ was on a ROGER MILLER album, and the Mercury A&R guy played it for me.”
Of course, the world would remember that song when Kenny Rogers recorded it.
There were interesting twists and turns as he learned the workings of the music business.
He recalled what happened next. “THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS had been bought from RANDY SPARKS.”
(Sparks was the group’s founder, and years later, he again owns the name and his troupe of assembled alumni tour and perform again.)
In the ’60s, the young Rogers recalls, “They [the Minstrels] were looking for someone to sing high. That wasn’t what I did. But I auditioned over the phone and got the job.”
He smiles as he mentions tours and performances that excited the group, and he moves quickly to a simple explanation of what came next, and how he came to have his own hit band. “THE FIRST EDITION broke out of the group because they wouldn’t let us record. They used studio singers for the Minstrel’s albums.”
After that move, things happened fast. “The First Edition had been together all of three weeks when we were on the SMOTHERS BROTHERS Show.”
The band would go on to record eight Top Ten records, but those early days had humbling moments.
We were on ED SULLIVAN” Rogers recalls. “He was kind of losing it by that time. Ed fell in love with another performer that night – Thelma Camacho – and he introduced The First Edition as ‘Thelma and Her Boys.’”
The name by which the band would become famous was KENNY ROGERS & THE FIRST EDITION. “It bothered me when I was the one whose name went up front,” he recalls with some conviction. “I’d been in bands and I knew how it worked. Once somebody does that, you start looking for the breakup.
The band lasted several years and produced the first hits still attributed to Rogers as the lead singer. The breakup didn’t come until after their little known cult classic double album, the thematic “Ballad of Calico.” It was a post-Marty Robbins western music album after “country & western” had ceased to be a single genre, and it came from a band that was known as light rockers / pop rockers. Its lyrics were written by MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHY who would forsake the direction of his pop rock hit “Carolina in the Pines” for a beyond-“Wildfire” career in real western music. And it marked the unheralded beginnings of Rogers as a western music star – just one aspect of his multi-track career. Rogers’ roles in the five installments of the TV movie franchise of “The Gambler” would follow, as well as his hosting the History Channel’s “The Real West.” Unfortunately, that pivotal album went unmentioned, so its significance must await another interview, perhaps with The Guide’s editor.
Rogers did remain refreshingly accessible on all topics, and still managed to cover the “due diligence” for his new gospel project. He ventured, “I’ve never been overtly religious, but I’ve always been truly spiritual.”
He quickly added an aphorism from his mother, “You can never be any more as an adult than you were as a child.” He didn’t cite that as an evocation of Wordsworth, but it would seem his mother knew the poet’s work.
Rogers is comfortable with including many asides and quotations from his childhood experiences. That may be because he is happily involved with raising his second set of offspring. He has twin six-year-old boys to which he seems devoted. He works at a recorded set of stories and life lessons he wants to leave them, in case he isn’t there as they grow up. He loves them, yet he quotes someone who expressed, “All six year old boys are criminals.”
He adds, “Having kids will either make you or break you. Right now, I’m leaning heavily toward break.”
But all his apparent straying is well crafted, to the point of being masterful. He never loses focus on his intended progression of messages. That holds, regardless of what questions he gets from the audience or from his interviewer. He leaves everyone feeling they got the answer to their question, whether or not it was germane to the central topic. Clearly, he could give lessons to politicians in handling an interview and keeping the audience interested.
Only once during the evening did Rogers perhaps reveal more than he intended to say. When asked what music he listens to, for enjoyment – he doesn’t, but if he did, it would be jazz – and what he watches on TV, he said, “I don’t watch TV. At all. Except for Fox News.”
That quip brought instant laughter from about half the L.A. audience, quickly melting into a mix of mild cheers and mild boos.
Elsewhere in the discussion, Rogers asserted, “I’ve always kind of lived in the moment. I will not talk about anything that can be contested by anybody because I don’t remember.”
Goldman brought up Rogers renown as a photographer who has had three books of his work published. His quick story is proof that it’s never to late to begin something new. He says, “I was at KIRBY STONE’s house in New Jersey. It was in the fall. I found the colors breathtaking. I’d never taken a picture in my life. Kirby gave me an old Brownie Hawkeye [camera]. I was about 30 years old.”
Invariably, his eclectic interests and conversation always come back to music. Though he is cited as one of the key figures who changed country music, he sounds mildly aggravated at what it has become. “What I do is so far removed from where country is now,” he says. Still, he quickly adds, “But I heard a song the other day, ‘Buy Me a Rose.’ It’s a great song!”
Even when he was one of a small handful of country stars, his collaborations outside the genre have been huge, if not always known. Asked about the original “We Are the World” recording session, he says, “PAT BENATAR and I paid all the costs of everything so all the money would go to the cause. It was an incredible experience to stand there and hear everybody sing one line.”
Asked about his duet mega-hit with DOLLY PARTON, “Islands in the Stream,” he revealed, BARRY GIBB wanted to produce that. KEN KRAGEN, my manager, brought in Dolly Parton. I didn’t even like the song ’til I heard Dolly sing it.”
Somehow, you can reconcile the take-charge guy with the one who never lost his sense of wonder, and the guy who won’t talk about anything that can be contested with the one who is a devotee of Fox News.
He chose all the songs on the new gospel CD. He felt it was important that it include “recognizable songs,” because “when someone goes to buy a CD, they like to know what it is.”
He seems genuinely proud of the new songs for the project, as well. “MICHAEL McDONALD, VINCE GILL, and MICHAEL W. SMITH all wrote originals for it,” he says.
He seems especially proud of the album’s collaboration with THE WHITES and celebrates the track with POINT OF GRACE. Noting the latter’s CD, “May the Circle Be Unbroken” (not to be confused with the series of records by the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND), Rogers says “They [Point of Grace] asked to record the song again with me for this CD.”
So what’s next? “I’m in the process of doing a project with DOLLY PARTON now,” he says. “Dolly’s scratch vocals sound better than my finished vocals. She’s always so prepared. I’m always so unprepared.”
Maybe that’s true in the studio or maybe it’s a bit of obfuscation. It sure isn’t true of Kenny Rogers when he sits down for an interview.
Our # 10 Story
BLUES IN L.A. WITH BERNIE PEARL, THREE WEEKENDS IN MAY
He’s a Southern Cal treasure, one of the few performers who played with the great legends of the blues. BERNIE PEARL checked in to tell us that he and his longtime sideman, “MIKE BARRY, “had a wonderful time in the Delta in April, performing at the B.B. King Museum and leading several ‘Blues in Schools’ sessions in the Indianola [Mississippi] area. Although I had a cold and raspy vocal cords, we were well-received by appreciative audiences of all ages. We then went on to Clarksdale and had a ball playing at the ‘Juke Joint Festival’ in the central town in Mississippi Blues history. We hope to return soon.”
Bernie continues about topics closer to home. “We have some things coming up that I'd like you to know about,” and he explains, “The Bernie Pearl Blues Band has been playing Monday nights 8-11 pm at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, which will continue indefinitely. But, for those who find it difficult to get out on Mondays (but really need to hear some blues!) we have a surprise - we will also be playing several weekend dates there in May!”
Those dates are a pair of Fridays & Saturdays, and the following Saturday.
On May 13 & 14, Bernie says, “We will have as special guest, stirring vocalist SISTA SHERRY PRUITT.”
The following Friday & Saturday, May 20 & 21, Bernie and Mike are joined by “Sensational saxman” BOBBY “HURRICANE” SPENCER.
That’s not all. On Saturday, May 28, the “Soulful guitar slinger from New Orleans,” BIG TERRY DeROUEN, “joins the fun.”
Bernie adds, “It is not unusual for outstanding blues artists in the audience to sit in for a tune or two.”
He went on to announce a “Big Special Show! We will be doing the backup for the ‘Blues Mamas,’ presented by Barbara Morrison as part of her ‘Jazz in the Park’ series. A spectacular line-up of 15 (yes, count 'em) blues women telling the world all about it. Don't miss it! It's bound to sell out, get your tickets now!”
The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center is located at 4305 Degnan Bl, Leimert Park (Los Angeles) 90008. All shows there run 8-11 pm, and there is a $10 door charge. More info at 323-296-2272 or 310-462-1439 or online at www.barbaramorrison.com.
Finally, you can catch the BERNIE PEARL BLUES BAND playing the annual “LONG BEACH BAYOU FESTIVAL” on Sunday, June 26. Their set is at noon. The Saturday & Sunday festival is set in beautiful Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, where as Bernie observes, “you can enjoy the sounds and the soul food of Louisiana all weekend.” Get festival info at 562-424-0013 or at www.rainbowpromotions.com.
On an ongoing basis, blues aficionados should keep an eye on the schedule at the Arcadia Blues Club, 16 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia 91006; www.arcadiabluesclub.com; 626-447-9349.
Our # 11 Story
“L.A. ACOUSTIC MUSIC FESTIVAL” RETURNS MAY 22 AT DIFFERENT VENUE
The “L.A. ACOUSTIC MUSIC FESTIVAL” returns after a year of hiatus, with ELLIS PAUL, ELIZA GILKYSON, JIMMY LaFAVE, SARAH LEE GUTHRIE & JOHNNY IRION. This year, it’s indoors, and a one-day event in the Broad Stage Theatre at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St, Santa Monica. Venue phone and websites, 310-434-3200; www.thebroadstage.com; www.events.smc.edu.
Even before we knew the lineup, we were comfortable recommending it as a “Show-of-the-Week” pick, given the talent that producer RENEE BODIE booked the first year. Plus, this is a MUCH more manageable venue where costs can be contained and ticket prices can be kept to reasonable limits. The festival is, once again, a benefit for the nonprofit California Acoustic Music Project, whose mission is described at www.californiaacousticmusicproject.org.
Complete info and advance tickets for the L.A. Acoustic Music Festival are available on their website at www.laacousticmusicfestival.com.
Our # 12 Story
“FOREVER YOUNG: CELEBRATING BOB DYLAN'S 70th BIRTHDAY” AT THE GRAMMY MUSEUM, MAY 24
Seventy? He’s turning SEVENTY? This aptly-named program celebrates a musical icon whose accolades include a GRAMMY award, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Few artists can come close to achieving the musical and historical prominence of BOB DYLAN.
The GRAMMY Museum wants us to tell you, “To commemorate Dylan’s 70th birthday, we invite you to join us for a special screening of Murray Lerner’s documentary, ‘The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at The Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965.’”
Described by the New York Times as “a remarkably pure and powerful documentary,” the film captures the musical genius of a young Bob Dylan and the controversy that surrounded him. After the screening, acclaimed writer and Rolling Stone contributing editor MIKHAL GILMORE, and Princeton professor and distinguished historian SEAN WILENTZ will discuss the film, Dylan's career, and the importance of the evening's occasion. Gilmore's numerous outstanding works include some of the most revealing interviews Bob Dylan has ever given. Critics from the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the Los Angeles Times praise Wilentz and his book, “Bob Dylan in America,” for uncovering Dylan's art as never before. Gilmore and Wilentz will take audience questions and be available to sign copies of their books.
“Forever Young” is Tuesday, May 24, at 7:30 pm in the 200-seat Clive Davis Sound Stage in the GRAMMY Museum. Doors open at 7. Admission is free, but reservations are required. This will certainly be booked solid, well ahead of the event. GRAMMY Museum members receive priority seating. To reserve your seats, and don’t dawdle. Call 213-765-6800 or e-mail email@example.com. The museum is located in the L.A. LIVE complex near Staples Center, at 800 W Olympic Bl (entrance on Figueroa) downtown Los Angeles 90015.
Our # 13 Story
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND MUSIC FESTIVALS ARE NEARLY UPON US
We Profile Two of Them
There was a guy named DICK LANE in the early days of television who hosted a weekly wrestling show, and he had a trademark line for anything that was over the top (and what isn’t, in so-called “professional” wrestling?) Well, if ol’ Dick were still here, his “Whoa, Nellie!” would fit Memorial Day Weekend’s musical offerings. Next week, we’ll get deeply into the whole scene, but for those who may still need to make plans, here’s a quick overview of just two options.
If you can handle a trip to Seattle, go. Seriously. Friday through Monday, May 27-30, is the annual NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL with well over 20 stages, many workshops, and the most beautiful outdoor/indoor festival site in America – Seattle Center, the preserved former World's Fair site, in Seattle, Washington.
It’s free, though a daily entry donation is requested to support the festival (you won’t get strong armed over it – but once you experience it, you’ll WANT to support it). Every fan of folk-Americana, world folk music, traditional dance, acoustic jamming, and musical fun must attend this at least once (though it will probably become habit-forming).
It's immense and very well organized. You'll need the first hour of each day to study the printed program and plan your activities, and you'll be thrilled and satiated if you manage to get to a third of what's on your “hit list.”
The Seattle Center Monorail connects to many downtown hotels, and the Seattle bus system is quite good, so match that up with a deal on Amtrak (highly recommended) or a cheap flight, and just go.
Among the notable specialties? Fans of maritime music always find good stuff there.
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But if, like most of us, you’re too rooted in Southern Cal (by already taking a second mortgage and selling your blood plasma to pay for gasoline), then head for the 38th annual “TOPANGA DAYS FAIR” at the Topanga Community Center fairgrounds, 1440 N Topanga Canyon Bl, Topanga, midway between the 101 and PCH. (Yes, THIS “Topanga” festival is REALLY in Topanga.) Running Saturday-through-Monday, May 28-30, 10 am-7 pm each day, it's “One of the most celebrated country fairs in Southern California,” always with three stages of music and other entertainment, and the weekend when canyonites welcome everyone else not fortunate enough to live there.
Musical headliners include the FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, JOHN MAYALL, MAGGIE MAYALL, JIM MESSINA, THE STRAY CATS’ LEE ROCKER, & YESTERDAY’S CHILD.
In addition to booking big time musical headliners, the event is known for its food and beverages, clothing, jewelry and art created by local artisans, along with a variety of environmentally-conscious products and services.
Free shuttle service will run along Topanga Canyon Blvd, through the heart of the canyon.
Even the Los Angeles Times, not usually friendly to avant garde or folky happenings, managed to note, “Live Music, tie-dyed shirts and a groovy spread continue to lure bohemians of all stripes!”
The LA Weekly says, “The big draw is the music... Get up, stand up and love the one you’re with!”
And the Daily News more substantially adds, “Celebrated for its family friendly atmosphere with an eye on preserving the earth for generations to enjoy, the country fair organically blends cutting edge musical acts, eclectic side stage attractions and booths peddling great food and award-winning contemporary crafts. Mark your calendars for Memorial Day weekend - Why would you want to be anywhere else?”
Metro Mix says, “Oh Topanga Canyon. Despite all the pressure of gentrification in L.A., you remain an incubator for creative hippies who know how to throw a wicked party.”
Topanga Days is a three-day fair and fundraiser celebrating music, the arts and the work of indigenous artisans. It’s not just Topangans who enjoy the festival. Assorted bohemians and regular families come from all over California. People flock to the fun scene for a relaxing and festive weekend. One of the highlights of the fair is the Monday morning Memorial Day Parade.
“We’re making this year’s fair an event to remember,” said Mimi Williams, Managing Coordinator for the Fair. “We’re offering the best in live music, food and beverages, traditional family games and providing a showcase for innovative, environmentally conscious products and services.”
She adds, “The arts are heavily supported with multiple stages filled with a diverse and talented roster of music and dance, an abundance of booths and vendors ranging from one-of-a-kind art pieces to affordable handcrafted gifts. Topanga Days… offers a mouthwatering selection of food and drinks that will satisfy vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike.”
Go early to get a close place to park along the road and watch for signs that restrict parking (handicapped parking is available on site). The Fair opens its gates at 10 am, “welcoming attendees into a wonderland from a bygone era,” nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains on the edge of the State Park. General admission is $20. A discount is offered to members of the military or Topanga Community Center at $15; children between 6-12 and seniors are $10.
Our # 14 Story
PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY: “MAKE MUSIC PASADENA” / “FETE DE LA MUSIQUE”
The event is accepting musician submissions, via Sonicbids, for a chance to perform.
On Saturday, June 18 – while some of the best music festivals in North America are happening from Telluride to Live Oak to Huck Finn – the US's largest expression of the French-based “FETE DE LA MUSIQUE” makes its annual one-day return as “MAKE MUSIC PASADENA.”
While relatively new here, it has become Southern California's largest music festival, in terms of the number of stages and participating performing artists.
The event, which by French tradition happens June 18 regardless what day of the week that is, happily falls on Saturday this year. Organizers in Pasadena expect their biggest year yet, with over 100 free concerts and an estimated attendance of over 20,000. (It took a few years for anything to eclipse the 2004 Desert Song Music Festival booked and co-produced by Guide editor Larry Wines as a benefit for Project Hope – that one had 70 acts on six stages in one day, more than any one-day festival in California history to that time.)
More info, including schedules of each stage as they are developed, are available at sonicbids.com/makemusicpasadena.
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