My friends can’t believe it when I tell them I’m headed to the French West Indies next month for a two-week stay…well…a gig, really but I think it’s probably gonna be hard to call it work when I’m playing music with a great band and living on a tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean, right? Right. So, yeah, I can’t believe it myself but there it is and in a few short weeks, I’ll board a plane headed for beautiful St. Bart’s, where I’ll be backing up a badass youngster whom I’ve known for a little while now, Jonah Smith.
He can sing. He can write and he can damn sure play. Dig it,
Should any of you fine folks happen to be in the neighborhood while we’re there, come to the Baz Bar and say hi! Meanwhile, I’ve got sunshine on my mind…
Four nights at the Great American Music Hall in SF this past weekend…what a great time we had. The crowds for the CRB were not only cool but very respectful of us. Not a single person got rude with their cell phone nor did anyone have to be thrown outta there for bad behavior, and over the course of that many shows, it’s worth it to make note of that. The music, the energy, people dancing, the gorgeous venue & sound was just wonderful and we soaked it all up. I am quite literally exhausted.
So, here’s to all the beautiful folks who came to see us…thank you!
Off to San Diego for a two-night run at the Belly-Up Tavern.
This Christmas, my lovely gal and I will be traveling to Memphis together for the first time and I am delighted beyond measure. She’ll get to meet my folks, hang with some of my dearest friends, see where I grew up and get a rare opportunity to see me preform with my long-time friends and musical comrades, The City Champs. The trio hasn’t done a show together for more than a year and the three of us are definitely looking forward to dusting off those cobwebs. It’ll be a gas.
Hittin’ the road again next week and I’m super pumped for this next run. Having had some time-off to be at home, relax, practice and be with my gal has definitely done my soul much good, preparing me for the work ahead.
Just got home to Los Angeles after having been gone for a week and even though it’s good to be back, I’m already missing my friends, family and all the crazy food we ate. My Candida Diet suffered a little bit while I was gone and I’m trying really hard to get back on track but it’s tough. One or two mistakes here and there is okay but it’s a slippery slope, (as my girl put it) especially when all I can think about are those delicious tacos we were eating in El Paso, Texas last week. Man, they were so good. Of course, there’s a taco truck just around the corner from my house here and I’ve been really tempted to go but I have to wait a couple more weeks in order to make sure enough Candida have been killed off. So, it’s quinoa salad for a few more days. What a frickin drag! Not really, though. Quinoa is pretty good, although not the same as a bean burrito!
Anyhow, it was a fun trip.
About a month ago, I received a phone call from my old friend Terry Manning, asking if I’d like to play a gig with him down in El Paso and that the band was gonna be comprised of several of my longtime comrades who would all be rehearsing together in Memphis for several days beforehand and then flying over to El Paso. Man, that sounds great, I said! He wasn’t aware that I’d moved out west nearly three years ago but was more than happy to get me back there for this gig. I was jazzed. Terry is a great guy and if you’re not aware of him, his credits are way too crazy to go into, so check out the link I’ve attached to his name and you’ll get the picture. A total badass who’s produced and/or engineered some of the biggest selling albums of all-time and he has, as they say, Been there, Done that with just about everybody who’s anybody in the music biz. A very intense, talented and seemingly ageless man – who enjoys referring to me as, “The Polish Miracle” (my favorite nickname ever!) – Terry Manning gets the job done at whatever the cost. He takes his job very seriously and having worked with him in the past, I knew this would be a lot of fun.
So, plans were set, flights were booked and a few weeks later I was back in Memphis…and for the second time this year. What joy to be home again and as expected (Memphis is never disappointing) it was as much fun as it’s ever been. I got to see my mom & my wonderful sister Dawne, play lots of music, hang with some close friends, relax in a luxury condo and eat a little bit of BBQ. Not too shabby for only four days and before I knew it, I was back on a plane headed for Texas.
Originally from Oklahoma, the Manning’s lived in El Paso for a short time where Terry attended high school, just a few years before they all made the move up to Memphis. He’s still pretty well-known among the locals, as everyone seemed to know him and were well-aware of his accomplishments. It was great to meet so many of his childhood friends. His high school band, The Wild Ones, were a very poplar group in the early 60’s.
Anyhow, the gig was called the Border Legends Concert and featured many name acts from west Texas and the surrounding area. Various members of the Bobby Fuller Four, the great guitarist Rod Crosby and even the one and only Peggy Sue Gerron. Our group performed for nearly an hour and in all honesty, it sounded like we’d been together for years. My good friends Marc Franklin, John Whittemore & Jim Spake, all kicked major butt and my newest friends, Leo Valvassori, Christine Ganglehoff and Jen Harrison were amazing players and a wonderful bonus. Terry was absolutely amazing and of course in typical Manning-fashion…an eight piece band wasn’t gonna be enough and he had to take it one step further with the addition of two go-go dancers at either ends of the stage. Dancing nearly the entire time we were playing. Ten people all rocking out together…it was really fun!
Thanks Terry and I can’t wait till the next round!
A few weeks ago, my buddy Dave Palmer called to ask if I’d like to join him on the Tonight Show to play a song with the great Patty Griffin from her upcoming new release, American Kid. I nearly dropped the phone. Would I? Well gosh, I’d be honored! Dave is an incredible piano player and local LA session guru, whom I’ve only known for a short while, so I was extremely flattered to get this call from him. The date was set, emails and info were exchanged back & forth between the parties involved, and the rest is (or will soon be) history. Wow.
Once again, I sit in my room pinching myself.
But here’s the fun part…her new album was recorded down in North Mississippi at Jim Dickinson’s world famous Zebra Ranch Studios, along with my very good friends and amazing musicians, Luther & Cody Dickinson So it’s got this nasty, dirty, down home, delta swamp funk feel on it like only these Mississippi guys can do and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ve been listening to this song every day and the groove is so ingrained into my bloodstream that I’m having dreams about it at night. Her voice is irresistible…
That was a favorite phrase of my dad’s, whenever we were on-stage together and he wanted a certain section to get louder or grow with intensity, like during a guitar solo. “BUILD IT!”, he’d yell. So, I would play a big roll or something and come crashing down on the cymbals and the crowd would go nuts. It was a good lesson in dynamics and Dad was (is) such a pro when it comes to putting on a show. “It’s all about the people”, he’d tell me and he was right on. “Son, you look out there into the crowd and if they’re shaking their butts and tapping their feet, then you know you’re doing you’re job.” I’m so lucky I’ve had him around to show me what’s really important in life. His words have had me thinking a lot lately, about where I’m at…in music, in life and living out here in Los Angeles.
This place gets a bad rap sometimes cause it’s so big and there are so many millions of folks out here, all trying to get a piece of the same pie and I’ve listened to a good many complaints. Of course, some of them have a point. It is definitely crowded, there are too many cars, it’s very expensive and so spread out that it’s hard to get around town. There’s the crazy traffic, the smog, crime and on and on and on. Well, I can see all of that but I also see a place where folks are working really hard at their craft and trying to make something of themselves. Full of hope and passion and there are a lot of inspiring people here who are more than willing to share their art with you. I actually am beginning to love it here and I’ve realized that no matter where you live, you’re going to find lots of things you wish were different but the good things are probably there too, just a little more tucked away. It’s worth it to look around and seek them out. Or, just sit back, relax and be true to what you believe. The people will find you.
Like this kid for example, whom I did one gig with and made an instant friendship… Trevor Menear …a baddass young guitar player from Chicago. We’re doing a residency at a small club in downtown LA, every Friday night this month. Me, him and a bass player. There are some originals and a few covers but also a lot of ideas that we’re gonna try out on the crowd and on each other. Hopefully, we’ll get some of it right and as long as everyone is having a good time, then they’ll let us keep playing there. I’m looking forward to it and will be ready for those sections that need a little more intensity. When we get to them, I’ll keep my dad’s words close to me and when the time is right, I will build it!
If you’re reading this and you live in LA, check us out at The Escondite, 410 Boyd Street, every Friday in April. We play from 9 till 11PM.
Yes, that’s right. 2012 is nearly done and it’s been one helluva nice ride for me and the CRB. Two records out, five tours and many miles around the country. What a time. This week we wrap it all up with a five-night run at one of my all-time favorite venues, the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.