Friday, July 30, 2010

Joe Lev and Friends

Of course by now I need to tell you that I do most of my work as a sideman for various recording artists and bandleaders. I love being an "essential sideman" to paraphrase Ron Carter.

On occasion I get a call for a gig myself and I usually assemble some of the fellas under the name "Joe Lev and Friends". This time I was contacted by the great jazz piano player Jim Martinez. He said a friend of his worked at a winery and was interested in doing a a blues show and he thought of me!!

So after some negotiation, I booked a show for JL &F at the Gold Hill Vineyard Aug 28th @1 PM.
Now the fun part!! I have a lot of very talented friends so who to get?? I told Bryna at the winery that I was gonna bring her a band of bandleaders. Putting together a band is like casting a play or making soup, you need ingredients that compliment each other. I was also loking for maybe some guys that could help sell tickets. I really want this to be an off the chart success.

I got the line up booked, it's an embarrassment of riches, the Miami Heat of the blues.
Read it and weep: Steve Foster guitar/vocals
Aaron King guitar/drums/vocals
Kevin Burton keyboards
Wingnut Adams drums/harmonica/vocals
and your humble blogger on bass/vocals

Looks good on paper, I just hope there is enough ball for LeBron and Dwayne to stay happy. Everyone of these guys can carry a whole night by themselves, it's a gas to call them my friends.

Advance tickets are just $20 and you get lunch and wine or beer.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back home patching my bones

Well I made, and better than I had any right to expect. I guess there are a few more rodeos left in this old guy.

Played 5 gigs in four days, drove 700 miles. Played a lot of great music. The set with Frankie Lee at the Redwood City Blues Festival stands out. Frankie rose above his recent health problems and put on a stellar show, turned back the hands of time for 45 minutes. That's the power of music, it's life!!!!!

Had a good time with Wingnut too, so good in fact I hired him to be a friend on my JL&F gig coming up next month. I already got Steve Foster too. It's gonna be a band of band leaders, all people that I have worked for and with many many times.

The last gig was last night down in Madera with the Stardust Cowboys. It was hot and miserable in Madera and I got there with several hours to kill(my GPS took me a quick way there from Groveland) Now waiting is the hardest thing and musicians got to hurry up and wait all the time.
It being like 104 and with no place to land, I went down to Fresno and saw the latest very forgettable Tom Cruise movie "Knight and Day". Pretty medium stuff, but it was cool in the theater and the light weight entertainment was just what I was looking for.

Then back to Madera to set up in the Lion's Park. It was hot and sticky, the PA sucked and we were all drained, but the smallish crowd loved our Western Swing and Stardust Cowboy originals. I guess there is a tradition of Western music there, our fiddle player Olen told me of a Bob Wills veteran living near there.

So a little teaching today, a jam session gig, then a well earned day off tomorrow, if I do say so myself.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On the Road

I'm gonna be burning up the highway this weekend, it's always a part of being a musician.

I've always loved traveling, starting with our great family vacations as a small child, reading Kerouac as a teenager inspired more highway dreams. Hit the road quite a bit with club/casino bands as a young man. (plenty of stories there)

I still love to travel, but sometimes it just becomes a chore driving 3 hours to play a 45 minute set somewhere. Don't get me wrong, I love to work, love my work, but as I get older it gets tougher. And getting better gigs usually means traveling more.

For example this week: last night(Thursday), was an easy drive to Lodi to play the Farmer's market with the Bayou Boys. I was home on my couch by 10 PM. Today it gets a bit harder; tonight it's a couple hours to Groveland with Wingnut Adams, Saturday afternoon it's 3 hours to Redwood City for the blues festival with Frankie Lee then another 3 back to Groveland. Sunday you can find me in Madera for a park concert with the Stardust Cowboys, then back another 3-4 back home.

Like I said I do what I love and love what I do. I love seeing new things, meeting people, playing music in a variety of places. But many hours this week will find me out on the freeway on the open road, winding over a mountain pass, or making my way through bay area traffic. If you see a dusty gold Chevy HRR, honk and wave!!

TJ and Lindsey bought me a GPS(we call her Mandy) for Father's Day. What a great invention!
It's been especially helpful on the bay area freeway system, which always confounds me, being directionaly challenged.

Time to get back truckin, see you next week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Making hay while the sun shines

Thats' what they say about show biz or business in general: feast or famine. Right now it's feast, August is shaping up pretty undernourished(have bass will travel!!! Call me please).
5 gigs this week:Monday at the Station, Wednesday at the Hacienda, for the weekend Friday with the Jokers in Sacramento, then I hit the road with the Stardust Cowboys, ending up in Lake Almanor on Sunday.

I have spent hours slaving over a hot computer learning the Cowboys songs. They do mostly originals plus some great Western Swing mostly by Bob Wills. I am really falling for the whole Western Swing thing, it combines many of my favorite musics:Jazz, Blues, Country, Bluegrass into something entirely it's own. Makes me want to get another upright(bass violin), it's the right instrument for the style.

Next week 7 gigs. After the usual Monday and Wednesday jams, Thursday it's the Lodi Farmer's Market with the Bayou Boys, then I hit the road: Friday, the Iron Door in Groveland with Wingnut Adams, Saturday Day the Redwood City Blues Festival with Frankie Lee, then back to the Iron Door for Sat. Night. Sunday, I head down to Madera to the Cowboy Festival with The Stardust Cowboys.

I am a bit nervous about working so much in so few days, but I got to get it whilest I can. I can sleep in August! Doing double gigs and working night after night really wear me down these days, even though I am in maybe the best shape of my life, the years do take their toll.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Still here......

I have been real busy these past couple weeks, lots of gigs with the Bayou Boys, the Jokers, and Frankie Lee. Now I am knee deep in Western Swing getting ready for my gigs with the Stardust Cowboys. Takes a lot of time to learn a repertoire and I am dealing with diverse styles.

So rest assured there will be more stories of the past and present and until then thank you and leave it on!!!