**South Beach (Florida) http://www.visitsouthbeachonline.com/history.htm is a horse of many colors! Talk about a triple head-on cultural collision between Hispanic/Cuban/Puerto Ricans, flashy African-American/Jamaican/mixed baggers showing off their pimped out rides, and the smattering of a Caucasion minority. On one side of the bustling street, Ocean Ave. is the never-ending sandy beach with the most beautiful turquoise blue water. On the other, are the ‘beachinest’ Art Deco buildings, each one dating back to the 1930s, standing proudly and beautifully, side by side along this busy avenue. The stories these hotels/resataurants could tell us about the early days of Hollywood movie stars, crooners, musicians, and politicians could tell would be priceless! To think that these buildings have stood the test of time and, thank goodness, were not sacrificed in the name modernization!
Another hot spot, on the corner of Ocean and 8th Street, with the very catchy name of ‘Wet Willie’s’ is a two story hang out with positivity overflowing from the rafters and beams. Willie’s specializes in delicious frozen daiquiris of a multitude of creative and exotic flavors. It’s hard to walk past this place (location, location, location!) and not want to join the party!
Miles of white sandy beach, stunning aqua blue water, warm, tropical weather, and people from all over the world make this place a happening hot spot. South Beach is the place to see and be seen when in the Miami area of Florida, as it draws in the rich, famous and trendy. Nightlife abounds, but South Beach is also a historic district, a people-watching haven and a beach-lover’s dream. If ever you have a chance to visit, you’ll be glad you did.
**Yes, it’s smack-dab in the middle of winter and I find myself strolling amongst palm trees, basking under sunny skies, and dressed in sleeveless tops and sandals. No, not in Hawaii, but in southern Florida on a Mommy Mission – helping my kid get situated into college. On a break from our duties, and in pursuit of a restaurant that serves seafood, we managed to stumble upon Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach last night and coincidentally came across their Art Festival (http://www.artfestival.com/Festivals/Delray_Beach_Festival_of_the_Arts_Delray_Beach_Florida.ASPX). A mile of downtown Delray Beach was closed off to traffic and featured musicians, artists, crafters, and street lined restaurants overflowing with diners. The place was buzzing as if it was the height of summer, not the ‘dead of winter,’ which doesn’t seem to exist in this very warm southern state. Restaurants, bars, art galleries, Starbucks, ice-cream shops, and more were filled with people happy to be out and about in the balmy January weather. My cohort and I popped our heads into various places when we heard music filter out their doors. Music was everywhere, from the British Pub ‘Blue Anchor’ to one of the local art galleries, a few outdoor stages with what must have been local musicians, to an area designated to karaoke. It was festive and lively, and obviously the place to be on this Thursday evening kickoff in Delray Beach, Florida. The big ta-do would happen over the weekend when over 300 vendors would be displaying their works. But, we got the idea….we have South Beach on our agenda next, as well as some football playoffs!
**I have adored music from the first time I discovered my parents’ album collection. I recall, at about four years old, putting a recond on the turntable, the needle on the record, and mimicking what I had observed my mother doing in order to fill our home with the wondrous sound of music. Apparently, I foiled the attempt, and mom scurried over to give me a proper lesson. From then on, I had a field day filing through all my parents’ albums and sampling each song on each recond until I discovered my favorites, playing them over and over again. Then came the discovery of our transistor radio, auditorally experiencing the British Invasion, Hippie Era, Disco Days, etc, all the while my interest amped up and intensified. And, having been plopped down in that historically rich musical period, (which included massive quantities of mind-altering substances) I am very interested in hearing about other peoples’ experiences, as well as sharing my own. My biggest regret is never managing to get myself to a Beatles concert. Any time I meet someone who did manage, I get goose-bumps and touch them, in hopes that some of their experience will rub off on me sensorily. If I could only feel what they felt and saw, it would be the next best experience of a lifetime! I remember vividly those Sundays of my childhood when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show (http://www.edsullivan.com/artists/the-beatles/). Mom was very excited for us to watch them and made sure we kids were bathed, jammied and comfortably seated on the couch, well in advance of the start of the show. I remember just about jumping out of my skin in anticipation of their appearances. And I loved them! So much, in fact, that I was practically in tears when they finished, just like every other girl on the planet, these guys moved me so much that I could barely control my emotions with the letdown after all was said and done. I could’ve listened and watched them for days! A few months later, I remember peering over my backyard fence high on a hill watching every airplane land at the SF airport on the day the Beatles were coming to town for their Cow Palace concert debut. I begged my mother to take me to the show, not having any idea at the time that tickets needed to be purchased long in advance. When my mother dismissed my request with a half smile (interpreted: Yeah, right kid!) I was devastated. They were so close, yet so far away! I can feel the pain of disappointment to this day! I will never get over that near miss, as well as the day about three years later when I threw away my collection of about 200 Beatle cards because of peer pressure. I will never forgive myself for being so weak that I wilted because of criticism for adoring my Beatles cards so intensely that I had to prove my friend wrong by tossing them straight into the trash. Ugh….it hurts just to write about it… Many years later, having told my kids about this horrific experience, they were so sweet and thoughtful to think to indulge me with another collection, which I have now and will NEVER part with. It’s not quite the same thing as the cards from my childhood, that were collected over a period of a few years by purchasing one pack of bubble gum at a time from the corner ‘Smoke Shop.’ Inside each pack were four Beatle cards, and I collected them like they were gold, trading duplicates with friends, and putting them chronological order being careful not to scuff or bend them in any way. They were my pride and joy, but the new batch is also very special to me because of the fact that my kids knew how much I adored my card collection and had the thoughtfulness to present me with probably the best gift the ever chose for me. I will be forever touched by this gift to me. They ‘Love Me Do.’
**After the two winning groups of musicians, Wendy & Kirk and Paula Harris & Blu Gruv started the show off with a blang!, the audience was then treated to more electrifying music that was infectiously delivered by three big Bay Area talents – Chris Cain, Kenny Neal, and Tommy Castro, who came out individually to accompany last year’s winner, ‘Tip of the Top.’ (http://tipofthetopmusic.com/home) The gorgeous gold sparkly Gretsch drum kit was removed from the stage to make way for the foot-stompin’ Tip of the Top band – Jon Lawton (guitars/vocals,) Frank De Rose (bass,) Aki Kumar (harp/vocals,) and Carlos Velasco (drums,) who sat side-by-side in their dapper dress and stylin’ shoes! They got down and dirty, playing like a house on fire, and mesmerized the crowd. At one point, the drummer blew on his fingers to keep them from burning! Smokin’! This band is tight, with a musical style that is reminiscent of the 1950’s. They delivered primitive pulsating rhythms, repetitive chord changes and gritty amplification that was felt to the core. Aki’s harp steals the show with his passionate and captivating performance that gets everyone tapping their toes and stompin’ their feet!
After four terrific songs, the band was joined by Chris Cain (http://www.chriscain.cc/Cainband.html) a master guitarist described by Blues Revue like this: “Cain is a phenomenally gifted musician who has refined the pure match of strapping guitar and husky vocals. If his string attack doesn’t devastate, his voice will.” I concur!
After Chris’ enthralling set, on came another very talented, yet very different musician, Kenny Neal (http://www.kennyneal.net/family.html.) Kenny began playing music at a young age, having come from a very musical family. He is known as a modern swamp-blues master and multi-instrumentalist, that draws musically from the sizzling sounds of his native Louisiana. His charismatic charm and big smile drew the audience in with delight.
And, to cap off the night with the piece de resistance, was none other than our own Tommy Castro (http://www.tommycastro.com/.) He is an award-winning blues and R&B guitarist/singer/songwriter who has become the honorary Captain of The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises, where famous blues stars perform together on the open seas of the Pacific and the Caribbean. In his jeans and sneakers, he sat amongst the dapper gentlemen of Tip of the Top and filled the room with spellbinding tunes that enthralled the crowd.
It was a night filled with the love of music, especially the blues. There was so much talent in the room that the walls were vibrating and the audience was buzzing. The packed house was hypnotically entertained for the duration and not a chair was empty until the last notes were played. Thank you, performers for bringing us your heartfelt music!
**Blues musicians from around the world will compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition, performing in 18 venues along Beale Street, as The Blues Foundation (http://www.blues.org/ibc/#) presents the 28th Annual International Blues Challenge January 31-February 4 in Memphis, TN. The 2012 International Blues Challenge will be the 28th year of Blues musicians competing for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. The world’s largest gathering of Blues acts represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated organizations for Blues bands and solo/duo Blues acts ready to take their act to the international stage. In 2011, 110 bands and 83 solo/duo acts entered, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the competition. They are expecting at least that many this year.
Two Bay Area acts, Wendy DeWitt with Kirk Harwood (solo/duo) and Paula Harris & Blu Gruv (band) will be representing San Francisco in Memphis, having won the competition at SF’s Biscuits & Blues (http://www.biscuitsandblues.com/aboutus.html) in November. To send these wonderful musicians off, and for a night of fun and fund raising, B & B held ‘The Road to Memphis’ show on Sunday, January 8. Three of the Bay Area’s finest guitarists/vocalists—Chris Cain, Kenny Neal, and Tommy Castro—were joined by this year’s winners, as well as last year’s winners ‘Tip of the Top’. All proceeds from the evening will go directly toward airfare and hotel costs for the winning. ‘Tip of the Top’ who represented The Golden Gate Blues Society (http://www.tggbs.org/home.cfm) at last year’s IBC. Scoring criteria categories included Talent, Vocal, Blues Content, Stage Presence and Originality.
Because a good friend of mine happens to be the drummer for Blu Gruv, I went to support him as well as get my fill of excellent San Francisco Blues at the very cool and happening, Biscuits & Blues. The night started off with the very energetic and upbeat sound of Wendy DeWitt and Kirk Harwood. (http://www.wendydewitt.com) This put everyone in the house in a boogie mood and the positive ions began to fly! Check out Wendy’s lightning fast fingers and Kirk’s quick hands in action here to see what I’m talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQyBBupxU3Y
Next up was the powerful and sexy Paula Harris, who belted out her blues with determination and pizzaz and was backed up by great guys in behind her: the fabulous Terry Hiatt on guitar, with Joey Fabian on bass, Al Diaz on drums, and Doug McKeehan on keys.They continued the evening, delivering a totally different sound than Wendy and Kirk, but highly talented and equally as engaging. Check out their video to get a feel for what they offered: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ0Y6e3nZH8
These two bands were thoroughly entertaining, lots of fun to watch and hear, and we all here in the San Francisco Bay Area wish them the best of success in Memphis! I’m just sorry I can’t be there to join the festivities…
Next post: Tommy Castro, Kenny Neal, and Chris Cain.
*For those traveling in and out of the San Jose International Airport in Northern California, (http://www.sjc.org/) Bluz By-you is perfectly located right down the street – it is a terrific place to stop into, before or after a flight, and chill like (and with) the Southern folk. Check ‘em out some time.
- The moon rises over SF.
So’s y’all know, I’m a Booking Agent (no, not a Bookie) for local San Francisco Bay Area bands that I’ve come across over the three short years that I’ve been in this business. Tho, I hate to gamble, I love being immersed in music-great live stuff delivered by talented musicians. So, after years of working in odd jobs, as a teacher, a retail rat, a Mom, and blah, blah, yawn, yuck, I found (actually, it found me) this highly lucrative career (yeah right!) representing local bands and booking them into nearby venues. It’s creative, social, and just plain fun! I meet tons of people, go on ‘Field Trips’ (my excuse to get outta dodge and check out new people & places,) and mix things up a bit. Since the SF Bay Area is my territory, most stories will take place in those parts, but this will be the year of seeking and searching out bigger and better, new and different vehicles and locations for delivering music. In all honesty, I’m all about Rock and Roll, Blues, with a dose of Motown and R & B thrown in for good measure. Tho, I’m not huge on jazz or country (or hip-hop and rap) I suppose an occasional reference couldn’t hurt- that is, if it’s huge breaking news that we can’t live without. (*written with a touch of sarcasm.) I am VERY interested in the South, and all the great musical history that came from them thar parts, so that countrified stuff is bound to seep in eventually. I feel a lassoo pulling me to the southern regions, so that is where I will be venturing to in the coming months. Feel free to come along for the ride…
Happy New Year, party people! I hope to ROCK WITH YOU in 2012!
I decided to start this blog after realizing that wherever I go, it’s all about the music. Okay, not ALL about the music, but darned near pretty much! At my age (old enough to have been there, but too dazed & confused to clearly remember) I have decided to share my adventures with others who might be interested, and/or might not be able to get out there themselves. So, because of my love of travel and music, (and of course, food and drink!) I am beginning on what I’ll call a ‘Music Quest’ and am inviting you along for the ride. I have been ‘Goin’ Mobile’ and keeping a photo record of my journeys (via Facebook) for a few years now, so it’s high time I go to the next step and actually write/inform/explain these travels. (Bear with me while I perfect the art of blogging, as I’m new to this.) Not being a self-absorbed person, it won’t be ‘all about me,’ rather it’s for YOU…to join in , enjoy, kick back and go where the wind blows us. So, put on your seat belts…and let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!!!
For info on me, see: www.nadinerocks.com