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Ink Notes – 2007

Golden Bough Winter
The Curios
Russian Chamber Orch
Eos Ensemble
Kristen Strom
Celia Malheiros
Asia & Arabesque
OIGC Ensemble
California Opera Assn
Max Perkoff Band
Jim Murdoch
Phillip Dyson
TomStafford
Hot Club of SF
Will Durst
Debi Durst & Michael Bossier
Kay Stern & Joan Nagano
Morning & Jim Nichols
Brian Anderson
Golden Bough Summer
Bobbe Norris & Larry Dunlap
Yakshi
Molly's Revenge
Stompy Jones
Richard Smith
Adorno
Triskela
Bud E. Luv
Viviana Guzman
 
Return to Ink Notes – 2008

Ink Notes

Warming the winter in Golden Bough's song

December 16, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Golden Bough
Golden Bough

How many times the music of Golden Bough has played through the speakers of the well-traveled car is surely to be incalculable.  But this extraordinary trio of Celtic magic has long been the musical poetry of this driver’s open road.  They played Sunday afternoon at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  Members of the band are: Margie Butler on vocals, Celtic harp, tin-whistles, recorders and bodhran; Paul Espinoza on vocals, guitar, accordion, mandolin, octave-mandolin and harmonica; and Kathy Sierra on vocals, violin and viola.  With their fingers flying on strings and over fiddle, combined with the rhythm beats of wizened Celts, piped leprechaun notes and garden verse vocals, musicians Butler, Espinoza and Sierra captured and articulated the pure notes and the spirit of holiday giving.  But no matter the season, theirs is the song for the asking.

Type into their song and their news at http://www.goldenboughmusic.com/.

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We get by with a little help from The Curios

December 15, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

The Curios
The Curios

Nancy Hall
Nancy Hall

The Curios, an eclectic Americana folksy blues singing soul and rock band, is made up of composer, arranger, musician Nancy Hall and composer, arranger, musician and engineer Lee Parvin.  In a concert Hall is featured on at least lead vocals, guitars, ukulele, xylophone and percussion and Parvin is featured on at least lead/backing vocals, piano, Hammond B-3, accordion and harmonica.  Nancy Hall, among other gigs, has worked as a backup singer for Neil Young.  Lee Parvin’s list of legends he has engineered, reads like a walk through the Music Hall of Fame.  The duo is probably more applauded and respected by the giants on the musical charts than they are known by the average citizen from town to town.  But make no mistake; their local fan base is huge and dedicated.

In concert, the duo is often joined by the best of the Bay and at their seam-busting (as in wall seams) winter concert in Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall; there were no exceptions to any of these rules.  The additional players were: Pam Delgado on drums, Jim Kerwin on standup and electric bass, Marc Games on acoustic and electric guitar and Mike Tyler on acoustic and electric guitars.  The grooves and the genres that take center stage in a Curios concert are ever-changing but flow like gospel on the river.  They played songs touched and formed by such avenues as: French cabaret, German cabaret, fused-klezmer, boogie-woogie, New Orleans marché, saw-dust scratchers, Louisiana ballad, Moscow circus and lullaby longings.  Hall’s lyrics and vocal are deeply satisfying and Parvin is just a song story genius who can serve sighs on the B-3.  Most songs are originals with a few real finds brought in from some cover tune road of near obscurity.  There is a whole lot of cool, peace and great music to be experienced at a Curios’ concert.

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Chamber-made just for us, The Russian Chamber Orchestra hits all the right spots

December 8, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

The Russian Chamber Orchestra
The Russian Chamber Orchestra

Dressed as fine as the notes they interpreted, The Russian Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Music Director and Conductor Alexander Vereshagin performed Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  Pieces played were: “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E Major, BWV 1042” (Bach), “Serenade” (Haydn) and “Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky.)  Soloists were Irina Fainkichen on violin and Arshak Andriasov on piano.

Bold chords opened the daring do of the first movement of the Bach Concerto with soloist Fainkichen leaping through ornaments, string-crossings and repeated notes with exquisite precision.  While the Orchestra continued to blend seamlessly, the second movement quietly dazzled with its sweet, mournful pace and then all the instruments, with the violin in lead, brought the third movement into near danceable joy.  Fainkichen took her violin on a charmed string ride and the Orchestra balanced lightness of rhythms as the ‘band’ played Haydn’s “Serenade.”  Bits of happiness, struggles with emptiness and the flurry of a marketplace flowed through The Russian Chamber Orchestra’s presentation of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”  Featuring pianist Andriasov, this instrumental color work of promenade and edgy soul reached right into the enthralled listener and held on.  A short program, it nevertheless hit all the right spots.

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Eos Ensemble with Founder Craig Reiss
Eos Ensemble and founder Craig Reiss, 3rd from right

Volley, synergy and easy conversation under the violin baton of Craig Reiss and his Eos Ensemble

December 2, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Violinist Craig Reiss is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Associate Principal Second Violin of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.  He is also the founder of the Eos Ensemble.  The Ensemble, varying in size depending on concert selections, is comprised primarily of members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.  The goal of Reiss and his Ensemble is to offer the musical artistry of the large concert hall to the stage of the more intimate venue.

The Eos Ensemble played Sunday evening at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall. Members of the band were: Craig Reiss on violin, Eric Sung on cello and Miles Graber on piano. They performed: “Sonata in G minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 137 No. 3” (Schubert); “Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7” (Kodály); and “Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 97” “Archduke” (Beethoven).

There was an easy conversation between the two instruments for the Schubert piece offering a sweet if not particularly arresting dialogue.  The Kodály piece however was a glorious ride into Hungarian folk tradition and classical voice as violin and cello volleyed a seamless display of color changes and precision notes.  Synergy, genuine warmth and virtuosic power took hold in the trio’s presentation of Beethoven’s “Archduke” and continued as each musician magically swept through the old and new Beethoven.  Musical articulation and good fellowship reigned in this trio supreme.

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Blowing out coolness, the elegant grooves of saxophonist Kristen Strom

November 17, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Kristen Strom
KristenStrom

Kristen Strom has one of those jaw dropping résumés.  She can list Roberta Flack, Bernadette Peters, John Worley, Johnny Mathis, Ed Johnson, the Temptations and Aaron Neville as just a few of the legend makers she has shared stage and/or recording time with.  But the thing is she doesn’t just look good on paper; she’s got a satisfyingly fine and sophisticated sound in person.  She played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  She played selections from her 2005 CD “Intention” and she was joined by some very fluid musicians: Scott Sorkin on guitar, John Shifflett on standup bass, Jason Lewis on traps and Adam Shulman on concert grand.  She offered arrangements of tunes by Lennon and McCartney, Nat Adderley, Scott Sorkin, Peter Gabriel, Kristen Strom and more – that just kind of sweetened with their great and deep jazz.  There were fully colored big round notes and glides that slipped into something even more comfortable.  The listen was like catching summer from the ride of a classic convertible, driven by a woman with a dream.

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The cool, cool, rush of the singular orchestra that is Celia Malheiros

November 10, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Celia Malheiros
Celia Malheiros

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Celia Malheiros travels the world with her music.  Still, each audience knows intuitively that Malheiros is creating her symphony of musical gifts, on the spot, just for them.  She played to a full house Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  She played guitar and sang.  She played cavaco, pandeiro, berimbau, body and mouth percussion, caxixi, cajón, piano and other percussion instruments.  She celebrated Brazil with rich sambas, rain driven drum rhythms, choro, bossa nova and dance parades for the heart.  She moved fingers on guitar and cavaco in a silk and quick dance of dynamics, tonal variation and awe.  She played many of Brazil’s finest composers: Jobim, Bosco, Powell, de Moraes, Bonfa and Malheiros.  Mostly performing solo, Malheiros did duo with a few guests.  There was Mestre Beiçola on vocal, cavaco, percussion and intoxicating hipness.  Alex Popovics strutted out a bit of jump town mastery on stand up bass.  Then there was Camila Malheiros Popovics.  This young musician offered a sterling, sweet vocal and violin lullaby, sending her audience into a thrill of applause.  At a Celia Malheiros concert, one does not just discover they love this Brazilian musician’s music, they also discover that her music has become a part of them, like all extraordinary things.

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Shimmering body symphony with Asia and her Arabesque Belly Dancers

November 3, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Asia
Asia

While music from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco pulsed like heart rain on Saturday night’s Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall stage, bodies draped in cloth and jewels moved beneath the theater lights to an inner current of wave and whisper.  The show entitled “El Souk,” the Market, was directed and choreographed by its creator, legendary dance artist and educator Asia.  It featured Asia and her Arabesque Belly Dancer troupe in costumes colored by sky, mineral and sun-colored earth.  The dancers’ body rhythms were studied and precise and at the same time new with mystery and art.  Feet and hips moved in fluidity while fingers clicked zills.  Several dancers caused gasps of awe as they moved their bodies to the beat while snake, or lit candle, sword or vase balanced with grace on the top of their head.  The performance was driven by percussion, guitar and didgeridoo masters under the musical direction of Charlie Thompson and the story line was cast through the hypnotic words of poetry by Tyffany Ziemer.  Asia teaches her dancers and her captivated audience that belly dancing is powerful and sensual as it walks through history and the divine.  Five stars.

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Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Ensemble singing out reasons to believe!

October 20, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Ensemble
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Ensemble

Swooping into Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall like some kind of multiracial, multi-cultural, interfaith community choir of angels, because let’s face it folks that’s who they are, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Ensemble sang out an auditory paradise which raised their cheering audience to their dancing feet.  The Ensemble, which is comprised of 15 vocalists from the 55-member Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and which like the Ensemble is under the baton and leadership of multi-award winning Artistic Director Terrance Kelly, proved with every robust, refined layer of beautiful tone that their Gospel is meant to be sung by and heard by people who want to feel connected and uplifted.  Saturday night’s Ensemble was under the direction of Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Assistant Director Paul Kim – and phew, ladies and gentlemen, he’s got the voice, the spirit and the moves to help us all sing out.  Want to be inspired by heavenly notes of love and hope?  Then pull up a seat to these stars.

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A small but mighty opera knocks the Sanchez to its feet

October 7, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Jamie Bonetto
Jamie Bonetto

Sunday afternoon the California Opera Association brought Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” to Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  Directed by tenor Frederick Winthrop, who dashingly displayed his charisma in the smaller role of Gastone, the opera starred coloratura soprano Jamie Bonetto as the doomed Violetta, tenor Zachary Sheely as the somewhat dim-bulbed hero Alfredo and baritone Christopher Wells as the interfering father.  It also featured the very gifted coloratura soprano Deanne Reeder as good friend Flora and pure-toned soprano Leslie Goldman as the servant Annina.  Supertitles, the string trio accompaniment and some of the dramatic encounters between Bonetto and Sheely had some wobbly moments but the singing.  Ah!  The singing!  Wells presented a golden gentlemanly baritone.  Sheely’s tenor was masculine and sensitively passionate.  Bonetto was able to craft dazzling liquid notes and hang them high on the back rafters and pull them back for an extra caress.  One could almost say that the Sanchez Concert Hall stage is too small to house a full-blown opera except that beautiful music can always find its way to the unhurried listening ear.  Small but mighty, the California Opera Association’s presentation of “La Traviata” brought the Sanchez Concert Hall to its feet.

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Jazz sunset at the Sanchez with The Max Perkoff Band

October 6, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Max Perkoff Band
Max Perkoff, Sam Bevan, Randy Vincent
and Paul van Wageningen

It was a direct route to cool when The Max Perkoff Band stepped into Saturday night’s Sanchez Concert Hall and paid their respects to jazz.  They played some numbers from their recently released CD: “Infinite Search.”  They tossed in Bebop, Latin jazz, blues, smart bounce and glide with such tunes as: “Basin Street Blues,” “Amazing Grace” and among other tunes by Perkoff: “Memories Of Lady Day,” “New Life,” “One Dollar Dance,” “Blues For Dr. King,” “Cooking For Twenty” and “Sunset In Sienna.”  The members of the band each walked out their talent with plenty of personal expression and collective seasoning.  Band members are: Perkoff on trombone and piano, Randy Vincent on guitar, Sam Bevan on stand up and electric bass and Paul van Wageningen on drums.  All kinds of complex but subtle mastery flowing from van Wageningen on drums and Mr. Bevan on bass swung fine and well-dressed through a broad range of tones.  Vincent on guitar was fretboard hypnotic but it was Perkoff’s trombone that claimed center stage –  hot and informed and full of expression.  Jazz tells a story that falls differently on different ears but this was sophisticated storytelling for people who like to dream.

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The sweetest show on earth with Jimbo the Musical Clown

October 6, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Jimbo the Clown, aka Jim Murdoch
Jimbo the Clown

When the fellow with the big red nose, the polka dot shirt and the big shiny accordion entered Pacifica Performances Saturday morning Sanchez Concert Hall playing the “Libiamo” (waltz from La Traviata) there came a notable hush across the audience – then there were the ‘oohs’ AND THEN came the serious giggles when Jimbo the Musical Clown nearly forgot to stop as he came to stage edge.  Phew!  He dusted himself off, he dusted his audience off, he dusted his accordion off and everyone and thing was the better for the polishing.  Jimbo, who many red-nose moons ago apprenticed with the Pickle Family Circus, delivers the majority of his show without a word.  Pantomime, accordion, castanets, tambourine, triangle, one gigantic harmonica, one regular-sized harmonica and one inside-the-mouth-sized harmonica are all quite capable of getting Jimbo’s message across.  Along with the aforementioned devices, Jimbo also arrived with an old-time expedition trunk, covered with world stickers.  Inside the trunk – a cornucopia of captivating treasures.  There was the giant bag, which nearly inhaled Jimbo, there were the three juggling balls which Jimbo tossed quite leisurely while playing the harmonica, there was a fishing pole and unbelievably a fish (of the rubber kind) which one elated audience member caught from the bag, someone’s missing striped sock and so much more.  As the end came to Jimbo’s performance, the clown sang and directed the audience through several toe-tapping numbers from his recently released CD “waltz to the sea.”  Thanks to Jim Murdoch, Jimbo the Clown offers one of the sweetest shows on earth.  Find out more about the guy who can make the heart smile and the kids giggle at: http://www.jimmurdoch.org/index.html

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In a therapeutic garden, the rhapsodic walk of pianist Phillip Dyson on keys

September 28, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Phillip Dyson
Philliip Dyson

Imagine Brahms, Chopin, Beethoven, Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Jerome Kern and Billy Mayerl, Percy French and Billy Mayerl and finally George Gershwin all taking their turn at the same smoothly intricate concert grand piano.  This was Friday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall when extraordinary pianist Phillip Dyson invited all these gentlemen to share his performance plate.  Dyson gave his listeners robust scherzos, sophisticated lyricism, elaborate velocity and exquisite virtuosity.  Through ragtime and classical riches Dyson traveled an auditory feast of composers all overwhelmed by, but amazingly quite capable of expressing, the palette of the piano.  To his listeners Phillip Dyson simply painted a rhapsodic walk through beautiful sound.

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Amazing range, the grace of Tom Stafford's vocal

September 15, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Tom Stafford
Tom Stafford

The talent that is Tom Stafford could easily have found a home in the glory days of vaudeville.  Moving through the mid sixties, and had he been more than just a sapling, Stafford might have held encores in the spotlight of a night with Lawrence Welk or stepped in Motown center with a voice that could sing lead.  As it is, he is in the here and now with a 4–1/2 octave range that can climb the steps to gospel and treat the hearts to Ben E. King. He played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  He played grand piano and sang: old time gospel, gospel blues and Irving Berlin.  With pre-recorded eight-part harmony and full orchestrations, arranged, produced and performed by Tom, Tom also gave his audience: barbershop quartet (he sang all parts); doo-wop; Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart; Motown, Bacharach and David; and several crowd-hushing original tunes.  His voice is tenor pretty and full of grace and it can also sweep the F below the bottom of the bass clef to the E above middle C.  He is incredibly talented and one of the few who can hit pitch and heart perfect the old Skyliners’ tune “Since I Don’t Have You.”  Branson, Missouri would welcome entertainer Tom Stafford with open arms, but thankfully the San Francisco Bay Area has the good sense to call him their own.

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Caravan cascade with the Hot Club of San Francisco

September 8, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Hot Club of San Francisco
Hot Club of San Francisco

Violin notes flying like kernels on a popper, big old bass whomping out thunder, rhythm guitar weighing in on stride pump, and triads, diminished arpeggios and fearless vibrato singing like a sweetheart from Paul Mehling’s lead guitar – this is jazz manouche folks; this is the Hot Club Of San Francisco; and you’re going to have to dive head first into a fire if you want it any hotter.  This was also the Quartet rendition of the Hot Club (locally known as Le Jazz Hot) and it featured: Clint Baker on stand up bass; Jason Vanderford on rhythm guitar; Evan Price on violin; and band founder Paul Mehling on lead guitar and vocals.  They played Saturday night at Pacifica Performance’s Sanchez Concert Hall.  They played the music from their recently released CD “Yerba Buena Bounce.”  They played in the style of the late great gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and they played as if Reinhardt was sitting in the front row. The essence of their music is Reinhardt, 1930s Paris nightclub waltz at a breakneck speed mixed with caravan strings. However with the Hot Club of San Francisco, the songs travel from past to present flavored by the searing talents of contemporary guys who know how to gypsy swing.  Reinhardt really wouldn’t have sat in the front row. He would have climbed right up on stage and swung into the jam. (http://www.hcsf.com/)

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Will Durst is a funny bone hero

July 29, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Will Durst
Will Durst

On Sunday night political satirist Will Durst hit the stage of Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall and the crowd roared in howling delight.  This man, Durst, should say such things as he said to us, to the room full of people he quips are his writing crew: ‘435 members of the House of Representatives; 100 US Senators; the President; the Vice President and the Cabinet.’

“Politicians are people who lie to the press and then believe what they read,” said Durst.  “What did Bush mean when he said: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romanians do?’  “Whenever Democrats circle the wagons, they start firing inward.”

Durst is fun, politically savvy and bi-partisan irreverent.  Yippee!  A funny bone hero, he picks appropriately on all of this country’s political headliners.  He takes the fire out of bully, blowhard table debates and makes the issue comical but still dead center in the bull’s eye.  It’s not a surprise, though still clearly a delight, that he makes Democrats chortle over the foibles of Republicans and vice versa – but it is a measure of his profound wit that allows both Democrat and Republican to laugh at the absurdities provided by their own respective party.

In the right comic’s jaw, humor is a wielding gift. Bravo Mr. Durst!

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Debi Durst and Michael Bossier - banana peel humor for minds close to Mensa

July 29, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Debi Durst and Michael Bossier
Debi Durst and Michael Bossier

If Pat and Mike (Hepburn and Tracy) were on the Jeopardy midnight train to Second City, you might have an inkling of what’s in store when comedy duo Debi Durst and Michael Bossier take to the podium.  Verbally sprinting out on Pacifica Performances Sunday night Sanchez Concert Hall stage, Durst and Bossier volleyed a plethora of clear-eyed and quick-witted one-liners that were contemporary, educated and loaded with sensationally ridiculous improvisational requests from the audience.  They were such wisecracking charmers, that they gave their room full of many unacquainted spectators a certain madcap chemistry.  Festive, smart, not beneath punning – Durst and Bossier are a first-in-class high definition comic brew.

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In a classical garden with violinist Kay Stern and pianist Joan Nagano

July 28, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Violinist Kay Stern
Violinist Kay Stern

Pianist Joan Nagano
Pianist Joan Nagano

Saturday night Pacifica Performances placed their audience in the hands of two extraordinary musicians, violinist Kay Stern and pianist Joan Nagano.  The performers’ agenda was clear from first note to last; this was an auditory walk through a classical garden of beautiful movements.  Their program pieces were: “Sonata in A major” (Handel); “Sonata in E-flat major, op. 18” (Richard Strauss); “Hika” (Takemitsu); “Souvenir” (Drdla); and “Sonata in A major, op. 47, no. 9,” commonly known as the Kreutzer Sonata, (Beethoven).  We heard: shaded ascending arpeggios, tantalizing trills and scale runs weaving through light and speed (Handel); jaw-dropping heroic themes (Strauss); the wind dreaming (Takemitsu); inspired allure (Drdla); and passionate exchange, monstrous counterpoint and volcanic virtuosity (Beethoven.)  Insightful and tremendously inspiring choices by two masters of their instruments; violinist Stern and pianist Nagano swept their full-house audience into a vivid night of magic.

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Musicians Morning and Jim Nichols deliver a jukebox candy store

July 21, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Morning & Jim Nichols
Morning & Jim Nichols

Electric blues, Memphis blues, sawdust blues, sassy funk, strolling rock, Texas train stomping and Chet Atkins string talk are just a sampling of some of the musical genres that swung out from under the stage lights of the Morning and Jim Nichols’ Saturday night concert in Pacifica.  Morning, a singer with one of those sweet mountain porch altos, can take her listeners all over the highlights and stardust of favorite jukebox toppers.  Jim Nichols can play a guitar like Will Rogers could spin a lariat – slow and beautifully complicated or all full of fire and details.  This married couple played Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall and they brought a couple of guests: Paul van Wageningen on drums, John Nichols (Jim’s brother) on bass; and special guest guitarist Sean Weaver.  The quintet was so individually talented and so relaxed about being group oriented that the listening crowd just had to shake their heads and pat themselves on the back for having the sense to be in this audience.  We heard songs by: Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Blue Bland, BB King, Arthur Hamilton, Chet Atkins and way more.  With Weaver bending guitar notes just like ‘Lucille’ was sitting near with her pride on and Jim Nichols taking time to remind why Chet Atkins named Jim as one of the torch bearers for fine guitar – this Morning and Jim Nichols concert was for people who wanted to hear damn good music and got it.

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Brian Anderson and The New Generation kick up a little rock, Celtic, jazz and blues with their bluegrass

July 14, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Brian Anderson and The New Generation
Brian Anderson and The New Generation

Brian Anderson is a minister.  He’ll tell you that up front and offer more on that subject within the confines of his onstage chat; but not too much more because he’s got other things to do – like firing out some plunking bluegrass spectacular on his 5-string banjo.  This 2005 champion of the nationally recognized Winfield, Kansas Bluegrass Banjo Contest came to Pacifica Performances’ Saturday night Sanchez Concert Hall.  He brought with him his ‘New Generation’ band mates: acoustic guitarist Jonathan Anderson and electric bassist Matt Martin.  Jonathan Anderson, 20, is Brian Anderson’s son. Jonathan, who lists Jerry Garcia and Michael Hedges as major influences, also plays drums.  Martin, 22, who got his start playing with punk rock bands, also plays drums, piano and trombone.  The older generation, Brian, a banjo player and an Earl Scruggs fan from way back, wanted to work with his son to combine musical influences and hone a sound that was all their own – and voilà, this instrumental trio was born.

Most of the tunes they perform are their own with titles such as: “Mozambique Rag;” “Old Wards Ferry;” “Funky O’Brian;” and “Rusty’s Jig.”  You might also hear a: Dave Brubeck, Django Reinhardt, Earl Scruggs or Wolfgang Mozart number.  The sound of Brian Anderson and The New Generation, in more than a few words and not less: Appalachian foot strolls, Spaghetti Western redemptive; prairie dust rock, leprechaun high steppers, Basque lullaby, jazz manouche and matador string dance.  Or, take three-parts Bean Blossom Festival, shake it up with one-part Haight-Ashbury string tonic then filter in a dollop of Spanish guitar.  Though they could use some strengthening of their audience skills: mentioning song titles; and a little more general conversation between numbers – their music speaks volumes on the sheer joy of listening, front row, to top-notch performers.

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Bliss for a Celtic morning, the music of Golden Bough

June 29, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Golden Bough
Golden Bough

Margie Butler has a beautiful folk lyric soprano vocal.  She also plays Celtic harp, penny whistle, recorder, bodhran and guitar with a precise and affectionate ease.  Folk tenor Paul Espinoza is all the colors of gypsy fire on lead guitar, accordion and octave-mandolin.  When overcome by a momentary need to rock ‘n’ roll, he is also known to throw in a few bars on blues harmonica.  Kathy Sierra’s smoky soprano blends like silk on the water with the vocals of band founders and husband and wife team, Espinoza and Butler, and Sierra is able to use her instrumental bow to sing a mighty fiddle (violin and viola).  The trio that is Golden Bough rides a musical magical carpet that carries all the best of the seven Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, The Isle of Man, French Brittany and Galicia). Golden Bough played Friday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  They offered waltz and sailor dance, pirate plank walkers, hard shoe hornpipe and songs that strolled through Celtic grace.  All seats were taken and extra chairs spilled onto the dance floor.  So, people danced where they sat and clapped their hands to the rhythms of joy.

If you want a bit of history, masterfully blended with virtuosic instrumentation, sweet and sigh vocals – and, the occasional pun-filled yarn, then launch yourself straight into the arms of a Golden Bough concert.  See http://www.goldenboughmusic.com/ for the band calendar and CD must-haves.

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The cool, cool jazz of vocalist Bobbe Norris and pianist Larry Dunlap

June 23, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Bobbe Norris and Larry Dunlap
Larry Dunlap and Bobbe Norris

Husband and wife team, vocalist Bobbe Norris and pianist Larry Dunlap, have that certain thing, swing, down in spades.  They played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  The pianist brought his trio, The Larry Dunlap Trio, featuring composer, arranger, and of course piano man Dunlap, stand-up bassist Dan Feiszli and drummer Jason Lewis.  Vocalist Norris brought her husky silk contralto and just made songs such as: Got To Wear You Off My Weary Mind (Harold Arlen), Day In – Day Out (Rube Bloom and Johnny Mercer) and She Walks This Earth (Ivan Lins) slide out on a tingle and warm every nerve.  Norris and Dunlap also sang a couple of duets, including the Dunlap sweet-tapper, I’d Rather Be Here.  These were pure night on the town treats with Dunlap’s raspy, spot-on tenor blending just fine with Norris’s uncanny vocal ability to tell the heart of a song’s story.  High standard world percussion technique, washtub bass perfection and fingers on the piano moving like a songbird night train added to the cool, cool flavor of the entire evening.  If Norris and Dunlap are playing the Sanchez next Saturday night, I’m there.

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East/West lyricism meets through the fixed composition and improvisation of Yakshi

June 9, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Yakshi
Yakshi

The musical duo called Yakshi is comprised of electric sarod player Lisa Sangita Moskow and acoustic guitarist Mihai Manoliu.  Both musicians are composers, Moskow is also a tabla virtuoso and Manoliu, along with being a multi-instrumentalist (fretless bass, sitar, hand percussion, birembau) and a music theorist, is also extraordinarily adept at taking his guitar into nontraditional tunings.  They played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.

Their sound glides the listener into an original mix of Bengali musical art and Western landscapes.  Sometimes their music falls on a beam of micro colors with a background spool of Appalachian string fiddle.  Sometimes an Eric Clapton type riff pulls the listener out of a meditational East and into a raga whose base is the blues.  Despite the duo’s obvious individual talents, Yakshi is in need of a third musician, a tabla player – someone to pull the duo from a string instrumental sea of spirituality and into a more worldly balance of taps, tones and vibrations.

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Be it with ale or water, the music of Molly's Revenge is a Celtic pub clinker

June 2, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Molly's Revenge
Molly's Revenge

In the days of yore, the Celtic pub was a meeting place for young and old to hash around some county history using singing vocal and a fireside friendship band.  Indeed it was the place to air out your dancing feet and share a good story.  That place is back on your street with a trip to a concert of Molly’s Revenge.  With all members of this Celtic band as equally interested as their audience in having the time of their lives, there is absolutely no reason to miss this foursome when they arrive on your local stage. Band mates are as follows: Pete Haworth on bouzouki and lead vocals; David Brewer on Scottish bagpipes, whistle, uillean pipes, bodhran and flutes; Stuart Mason on guitar and mandolin; and John Weed on fiddle.  Often joining the band with a high kick, jig or reel is Irish dancer Bethany Duff.

Molly’s Revenge played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall and the joint was packed and lively.  Explaining their music, bandleader Haworth said: “For those who aren’t certain what Celtic music is, we don’t do the Irish tenor songs.  Ours is the stuff that often was written for the local dance halls.”  Concert goers unacquainted at music start, were soon nudging each other with winks of satisfaction.  Maybe that had something to do with the way Haworth could spin a yarn then use his vocal tenor and bouzouki to take his story over the moon.  Or maybe it was Brewer’s towering skills on bagpipes, flutes and drum.  Then it again it could have been the detailed savvy of Mason on guitar and mandolin, or the absolute barn dance swing of John Weed on fiddle.  Musically riding through songs such as: “Mary And The Gallant Soldier;” The Battle Of Waterloo;” “Rover Seldom Sober;” and “The Clumsy Lover” – Molly’s Revenge took the sting out of some of the history we are living with a mighty nod and a clink to the history that’s been lived.

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Stompy Jones hits the switch on jukebox jumpers

May 11, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Stompy Jones

There was some seriously great dancing music that belted out of post-war 1940 juke boxes. Song smiths like Louis Prima, Louis Jordan and Joe Liggins gave people a spin on their 78s that set dance floors across America awash in Lindy Hop, Shag and Balboa. Couldn’t make it then?  Well set your blast to the past with a front row seat to one hot San Francisco based sextet, Stompy Jones.  They play Tuesday nights at the Verdi Club in San Francisco, Thursday nights at the Mark Hopkins and this past Friday night at Pacifica Performance’s Sanchez Concert Hall.

Even before the jump blues band lets loose with its outrageously fine boogie strut; the gentleman of the band have got their audience whistling sweet.  That has to do with the sextet showing how white bucks, clipped ties and vintage big-checked jackets can still make the ladies swoon.  Members of the band: “Little David” Rose on stand-up bass; Leor Beary on drums; Rob Dehlinger on trumpet; Jeff “Erv” Ervin on tenor and alto saxophone; Scott Lawrence on piano; and Chris Binnings on vocals – are pound for pound the best jukebox full of treats since Decca Records recognized that talk on the corner, accompanied by blistering musicianship, had chart-topping merit.

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Guitarist Richard Smith burns up the strings at Pacifica’s Sanchez Concert Hall

April 28, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Richard Smith, guitarist
Richard Smith

A Bach, Brahms, Scott Joplin and Heitor Villa-Lobos appearance on the same performance menu is usually explained through the might of a concert grand.  Fagetaboutit!  When musician Richard Smith takes his eight digits and two thumbs and blazes a path of glory on his Kirk Sand guitar, there is a string symphony that is breathtaking and phenomenal.  Smith is a guy who was a prodigy on the guitar by age 5.  By age 11, the English born and raised Smith was sharing the stage with Chet Atkins at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.

It’s not just that Smith can make his instrument sound like a symphony.  He can play melody notes on the bass strings and a freight train on the treble strings and then switch the train and the treble.  He can mute the strings and bell the notes.  He can crack out arpeggios and slap, hammer and swing out bluegrass and classical jazz in the same song sentence.  Somebody, check this guy for a third hand.

With a night of tunes by such composers as previously mentioned plus: Ned Washington and Leigh Harline (When You Wish Upon A Star); Lennon and McCartney and Harrison; Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Hoagy Carmichael, Will Hudson and Irving Mills (Moonglow); and a crashing cymbals, piccolo and brass salute to the John Philip Sousa chart topper Sempre Fidelis, of course on six strings only – Smith’s formidable guitar technique(s) is enough to be the band.  Charming all the way, even his rough foray into the vocal arena, he thoughtfully limited himself to singing along on just two songs, could not dampen the roar of the crowd.

A natural on stage with ease, wit and fingerstyle finesse, this Nashville residing, guitar-picking Englishman is ‘the bomb.’

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ADORNO Ensemble and soprano Lucy Shelton play it with words

April 22, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Adorno Ensemble
Adorno Ensemble

Lucy Shelton
Lucy Shelton

 

Sunday afternoon in Pacifica the San Francisco based ADORNO Ensemble and the two-time Naumburg Award-winning New York soprano Lucy Shelton presented a collaborative musical experience entitled: “Songs and Words.” The concert introduced folklorist Hans Christian Andersen and poets such as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to composers which included: Jon Deak, Oliver Knussen, Aaron Copland and Elliott Carter. What exactly happened? One vocalist, two violinists, one violist, one cellist, a pianist and a double bassist (who spoke duck), explored lyrical speak and inventiveness with instrumental playfulness that was crowd pleasing and jaw dropping.

The ADORNO Ensemble is a group of young, educated and extremely gifted musicians absolutely dedicated to making the concert experience a reason to catapult out of one’s home theater and into their audience. They are scrupulous in technique, full of color and form and exciting at every turn of the note. Then of course there was that woman, that lovely soprano Lucy Shelton, who delivered thrilling, golden, hushed pyrotechnics with the ease of morning on the water while the band, ADORNO Ensemble, played on. Ms. Shelton can command notes, laugh with them, or dangle them freely like so many ribbons of air. Her delivery is full of charisma and her acting is superb.

A wonderful fly-out-of-your-seat-to-applaud performance.

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Triskela Celtic Harp Trio, on the edge of wow

April 21, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Triskela Celtic Harp Trio
Triskela Celtic Harp Trio

Musicians and composers all, Diana Stork, Portia Diwa and Shawna Spiteri are the three harpists that form the group, Triskela Celtic Harp Trio.  Recently performing on Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall Stage, Triskela immediately reconfirmed the importance and the beauty of the fetching lever harp.  Spiteri, the group’s amiable MC, is also the lead vocalist and plays the Irish frame drum, the bodhran.  Stork also plays flute, bodhran and has a rich vocal which chimes in on backup.  Diwa adds penny whistle and quiet soprano backup.  The three women are extremely talented and easily able to stir their audience with the sweetness of their harps.  Their program was mostly Celtic, either plush in sound or lightly dancing and Spiteri has a lilting vocal.  She is also very funny and her interaction with the audience was natural and enjoyed.

Underneath the Trio’s sound is an occasional undercurrent of world music and bass line boogie.  Now that is particularly hot and more of that should find its way into their program.  Ethereal and well educated, I suspect this Trio can turn up the volume a bit and get down.  Right now Triskela is absolutely a lovely sounding group of harpists – but should they take the leap into the thrill of their individual musicianship, they will cross the line into wow.

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Charisma inferno, the sweltering magic of Bud E. Luv

April 14, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Bud E. Luv
Bud E. Luv

Bud Euripides Luvalopolis, that hunkalicious of daring vocal-ease do, set his star-studded sail for Pacifica and crooned on in for some kind of get-down extravaganza this past Saturday night at Pacifica’s Sanchez Concert Hall. Mr. Luvalopolis, more secularly known as Bud E. Luv, came with his long-time fantabulous anchor men in tow; that would be Mikey Luv (Michael Ludwig von Luvinksy) on backup vocals, keyboards and synthesizer and Markey Luv (Marcus Aurelius Luvinowitz) on backup vocals, guitar and saxophone.  Also ka-chinging in on the groove was the big band sound of the new Bud E. Luv Orchestra.  Frankly the hip and hotness of Mr. Luv and crew came within a smelling salt’s breath of total charisma inferno.

What did Bud E. sing?  He sang the hits he wrote for the careers he saved.  Tunes for Sinatra like: You Make Me Feel So Young; I Got You Under My Skin; and New York, New York or the Bob Dylan tapper Blowing In The Wind met shortly thereafter by Peter, Paul and Mary’s - Puff The Magic Dragon.  He didn’t have to tell us that he put the ‘Jimmy’ in Morrison, we knew.  We didn’t question that it was his hit writing ability which put the samoir-faire back in Sammy Davis Jr. after that unfortunate eye incident.  The evidence hit us like a musical freight train.  Whether writing chart toppers for James Brown, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones or Iron Butterfly, Bud E. Luv vowed he would always be there for ‘the little people’ and that he would always arrive dressed to the nines.

If you are looking for a singer who really can sing, extraordinarily well, has a fine sense of the dazzle all curled into the fun and comes with a band of not so secret instrumental virtuosity, then put on your seatbelt, cause this Bud’s for you.

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Viviana Guzmán and Divas Latinas explore the body music

April 7, 2007

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Viviana Guzman
Viviana Guzman

Flutist, composer, arranger, photographer, poet, dancer Chilean born Viviana Guzmán brought her measure of the world in music (and photo slide journal) to Saturday night’s Sanchez Concert Hall in Pacifica. The program featured the Divas Latinas, Guzmán on flute and dance and Rosa Rojas on voice and dance. With the profound accompaniment of Gyan Riley on classical guitar and John Waller on world percussion, Guzmán and Rojas opened the doors to a night air touched by the flavors of: Rio, Native American mystic, samba, tango, Andean panpipes, the waters of the Nile, a Scotsman’s march, an Irish yarn, the heel-and-toes steps of a folkloric Mexico, and so much more. Ms. Guzmán is a virtuosic flutist, able to translate the complex into curvaceous lines of world auditory storybook. Rojas is fire and quiet poetry as her vocal gathers all the magnificence of the song’s emotion. Together in dance their moves were ribboned, celebratory, ancient and fun. Divas Latinas offered their audience a colorful, whispering travel guide that roared. Four stars.

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