Monday, December 07, 2009

Cold Weather & Hot Music!

Is this really California? Low 40s in San Leandro? Snow in Modesto? Given the (relatively) frigid temperatures, I didn’t expect much of a turn out for my gigs this past weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was a good weekend…

On Friday, I visited The Zoo, a new recording facility in Oakland, run by a few notable Oakland movers and shakers, including former Google engineer David Watson, Namane Mohlabane (manager and brother to singer Goapele), and others. What an amazing facility! It’s a space, conveniently located in an industrial section of Oakland near Jack London Square, that combines music, art, high tech and businesss saavy, encouraging collaboration across the disciplines. If you’re looking for a space to be creative, check it out!

After being inspired at The Zoo, I performed at E-22 Café, of course donning my Santa cap. I included a few Christmas songs in the set, as well as a bit more jazz than usual. As I performed, I started thinking that it’s way past time for me to upgrade my keyboard set up. I’ve had the same set up for many years, and I’ve grown weary of it. I’m grateful for the many performances that it’s gotten me through, but I can’t take it much longer. The sounds have grown irritating, the keys don’t feel good in my hands, and the entire set up feels desperately inadequate. Sigh… Nonetheless, I had fun playing and singing for everyone. Thanks to Jefrrey S., Wayne and Tim for listening, to Dale for playing percussion, to Bruce, Dwayne, Brad, Nina, Adrienne and Atiana for singing, to Steve for playing flute (the Mozart was fun!), and to Jeffrey M. for the superb tap dancing! You’re a GREAT dancer!! Wow! By the way, to all of you classical musicians, I LOVE to sight-read, and no challenge is too great for me to attempt (I’m rather fearless, musically)! So come to a gig and sit in! Let’s play through some masterworks!

On Saturday night, despite a rather cold and blustery evening, I had another great turnout at Marcello's Restaurant! I tried out a couple of Christmas songs that I’d just learned, most of which worked well. Thank you to Dale for playing percussion, to Bruce, Nina, Mayzella, Chelsea, Larry, Michael, Brad and Regina for singing with me! And kudos to Chelsea for playing piano and singing while I took my break! You’re awesome, lady! Bruce always brings down the house, and anyone who knows Regina, knows that she can’t help but be exceptional. The crowd was blown away with the talent of my wonderful friends, and my heart was filled with love and joy at seeing their beautiful faces and hearing their tremendous talent. I love you all!

On Sunday, I performed at 1300 Restaurant with Michael Cheadle for their Gospel Brunch. Michael is a singer whose talent I’ve admired since high school when we both were in the Young Musicians Program. What a pleasure to perform with him and his very talented daughter Mickala Cheadle, as well as the other guys in the band: Dante McClinton, drums, Cedricke Dennis, guitar, Nelson Braxton, bass. Everyone in the band exemplifies why I’m so blessed to be in the Bay Area. They’re consummate professionals, excellent musicians, and all around GOOD PEOPLE! People of the Bay Area! I encourage you to get out and support local musicians. We have more than our fair share of world-class musicians in this region. Many of us, like myself, get called away to work with Superstars, but we often come home and revisit our musical roots. Make it a goal to get out at least once a month and hear live music. I’d love to see you in my audience, but even if the performance doesn’t include me, I hope you allow yourself the opportunity to take advantage of the musical cornucopia that waits in abundance for listening ears. You won’t be disappointed!

Speaking of musical abundance, I attended Goapele’s concert at Yoshi’s SF last night, the last of an 8 show run. Despite my fatigue from working all weekend (teaching, practicing, rehearsing, performing, etc.), I did not want to miss an opportunity to listen to Goapele, Mike Aaberg, Errol Cooney, Stanley Randolph and Dewey Tucker. Goapele sounded great! Her voice was clear, warm and beautiful, and her background singer, Erica King, was also excellent, and blended perfectly with Goapele’s. The guys in the band rocked the house! Errol and Stanley are my band mates in the Wonder band, Mike is a Bay Area legend on the keys, and Dewey is awesome on bass, so I knew to expect incredible musicianship. My expectation was definitely met! The grooves were ridiculously strong, and I was virtually dancing in my seat the entire show. Oh, and, Goapele, Mike, Errol and Dewey all have Bay Area claim. ‘Nuf said…

And for you animal lovers, a video of my dogs sleeping:
Sleeping Dogs

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