A BLOG-STYLE PAGE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW
Year End Summary: Most links are to pictures, mostly from the 2011 page.
Several highlights occurred this year. I wound up onstage backing Marilyn Maye. (See January 18.) She is scary good. She's in her mid-eighties now and still scary good. She stopped a song in the middle and chewed out the drummer for missing her cues to slow the song down. Holy shit! Right in front of everybody, over the mic! My only goal from then on was to just get through the set without her chewing me out for something! Most younger people don't know who she is, but she is big-time, people. She has the record for most appearances on the Tonight Show. She has appeared on the Tonight Show (mostly when Johnny Carson was the host) more than anybody, ever. I was thrilled to be onstage with her.
Another highlight occurred when I hooked up with Jose Hendrix. Jose is a pop singer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The story is too long to go into here (see April 14th and following). Jose was a joy to work with, he's very good, very humble, and just has a good spirit about him. I broke my "no-rehearsal" rule to work with him. I learned 8 or 10 of his tunes and we rehearsed probably 5 or 6 times just for one show. He's got some pretty big-time doors opening for him - we'll see where it all goes. I played two shows with him, one on the sprint campus and the other at the Crosstown Station. Also did a recording session with him, and another tracking session on the same song after he'd gone back to Africa. Because of the situation with Jose, I met Gordon Williams, a multiple Grammy-winning producer. Gordon does the soundtracks and music for a ton of movies, TV shows, corporate videos and the like. He was impressed with me, told me he'd been hearing about me and took 3 of my CD's with him.
I got to play a gig with Go Go Ray and Tyson Leslie. Actually I did a another one with Tyson this year. Go Go has been the drummer for Woodstock Flashback but I'd never played with Tyson before. He's a young guy that's really got it going on. He plays everything, but mostly bass and keyboards. He's a monster bass player. He plays in many different bands (like me), does solo work as a pianist, runs a production company etc, etc, etc. I'm going to angle for more Tyson gigs next year, I want to work with the guy more. For one thing, it opens me up to a whole clique of real good younger players. Most of my career I've been the youngest guy in the band. I'm old enough now that's that's no longer a selling point! Jeez! "If you're the youngest just how freakin' old is everybody else!" It's now one of my goals to be the oldest guy in the band. Maybe Tyson can help me achieve that. Now that I think about it, except for Mark Valentine, who sang a couple of tunes on the gig with Tyson and Go Go, I think I was the oldest guy in the band.
Got to play a Jazz/Blues gig with Mark Lowery. He's one of those younger guys I'm talking about. Real, real, good. I first met him when Valentine put a band together to play the KC Jazz and Blues Festival back in 2006. That was the first time I played with him. Then he was involved in the first Woodstock Flashback gig in 2010. I hope to work more with him in 2012. He's also (like Tyson) got a lot going on.
Mark Valentine produced some memorable gigs - that's par for the course for Mark. One of those was a black tie benefit for a Leukemia/Lymphoma Foundation. He put together an awesomely great band he called "Los Unos" - "The Ones". The concept was all number one hit songs done in a Pop Latin style - see entry below for May 1st. Another memorable Valentine gig was at the Liberty Theater in Fort Scott, Kansas. It was a double bill. Valentine and the Knights opening for Woodstock Flashback. Both bands were the same guys, we just did a costume change between shows! It was a Halloween event and for the Old School Knights we all dressed in black and Mark had the classic Dracula movie - black and white - starring Bela Lugosi, with German subtitles, on the backdrop screen behind the band. I didn't realize how cool it looked until I saw the pictures later.
On the teaching front, Guitar Source went out of business at the end of February and Roy DeWitt retired (See Feb. 3rd entry below). Truly the end of an era. I rented studio space from Roy for 20 years. I saw it coming but it was still a shock in that I only had about 4 weeks notice. I was somewhat prepared in that I had been spreading out for a couple of years. The manager of Guitar Source, Dan Miller, opened another store (Guitar Dock) just a block away 3 months later. So I moved all my Guitar Source students there - 2 very full days a week. I'm also teaching 2 days a week up north of the river at Guitar Syndicate. I like that place a lot as well. And I'm teaching 1 day a week at my home studio. As I write this (Jan. 23rd, 2012) my load has increased 20% over about the last 2 months. So maybe things are starting to pick back up. At this point, I'm playing a game of both ends against the middle as far as these music stores are concerned. Whoever gets my load up first will be where I wind up.
The Faithfulness Montage, featuring my song, "Faithfulness" (from my CD "My Ship") is now at over 20,000 plays on YouTube.
There were many other things that happened during the year that I could write about but these are what come to mind first. For more just scroll down this page and read the entries. There are also a ton of pictures from various events through the year on the 2011 photos page.
December 13th, 2011: I immensely enjoyed the set I played at the Rick Hendricks Benefit jam at BB's on Sunday with Everette DeVan and David Basse. I thought it was the high point of the afternoon, musically speaking.
Later that night I was playing with The Brew at Kennedy's and Gerald Spaits sat in on a couple of tunes. I enjoyed that immensely as well. All in all it was an immensely enjoyable day. Great musicians all!
November 24th, 2011: Found another one:
November 21st, 2011: Ran across this picture on Facebook. It's a bystander's picture of about half of the Kansas City jazz and blues musicians that gathered at the Mutual Musicians Foundation at 18th & Highland for a group photo in August of 2009. I was in the middle of the group but here I'm in the far right of the frame. There was just as many people to my left as what is shown here to my right.
Here's a blown-up section of the pic:
To my left in the colorful shirt is Max Groove. In front of me with his face partially obscured is my son, Eric.
We were all supposed to receive an official poster of the photograph that was taken that day. I haven't heard a word about it.
November 6th, 2011: Uploaded a video of me at the jazz kitchen last summer playing Eagle Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight" with a Loop Station.
November 2nd, 2011: Andy DeWitt's (bass, vocals) wife Nancy tagged along to the gig at Liberty Theater in Fort Scott last Saturday and took a bunch of really good pictures. She's a good photographer and is often around, snapping pictures. I have used many of her pictures on this website.
October 22nd, 2011: Did a duo gig tonight with James Albright on upright bass. James is a superior musician in addition to being a monstrous bass player on both upright acoustic and electric bass. Plus he's not a musical snob. I like that. He's just as happy playing some 2-step slappin' the doghouse country song as he is doing sophisticated jazz or classical music. I enjoy working with him. We've done a duo at least once before. It's just a strong and versatile unit. BTW - James is the bass player on my live video "Feel the Flame".
October 16th, 2011: Mark Lowrey did great (I figured he would) - here's a photo. Played the main stage at Crown Center yesterday - the redesigned pedal board worked fine. All is well.
October 3rd, 2011: Alan Monroe will not be on the gig this Saturday. I crossed paths with Mark Lowrey this last weekend and asked him if he would be interested in subbing. I just heard from him that he wants to do it! This will be cool! I'm looking forward to it! I've worked with Mark in Woodstock Flashback (he's the one with the marijuana necklace) but this will be the first time in a Jazz/Blues situation. He's very good - great time/feel - and I'm excited about it.
September 11, 2011: Redesigning pedalboard = confusion.
September 9th, 2011: I'm liking this '72 Tele more and more (see entry for March 6th below). I've played it on several gigs over the last 3 weeks and I'm really starting to like it. At first I didn't like it so much. I've always preferred Gibson type guitars - humbucker pickups, separate volume controls for each pickup, etc. So much so that when the PRS McCarty landed in my lap (that I play all the time now) I had a 2nd volume knob installed so I would have separate volume controls for each pickup. I also swapped the pickups out from an old Ibanez Artist I played for years. So I've always been kind of partial to Gibson type guitars. I think the thing that put this Tele over the top was I had Keith George do a fret job on it. He put in Gibson type jumbo frets and it just feels good now. I do miss the whammy bar on the rock stuff (maybe I'll buy a whammy pedal) and I've been frustrated by the master volume thing - I can't always get the finer gradations of tone that I like to access without separate volume knobs but I'm beginning to discover other ways of finding tonal variations with just the master volume and the master tone knobs. The tone knob has a different dynamic than what I've been used to. It seems like it doesn't just add or take away treble but the tonal characteristic changes somehow as the knob is turned - I'm still figuring it out. Anyway, this guitar just has a kick-ass rock tone and sounds real good to me through the pedal board I already have. So I'm going to keep playing it and see if I can make it my own. It'll take some time to get comfortable with the fact that I am now a "Fender Guy" - as well as the "Gibson Guy" that I've always been!
August 29th, 2011: I have to say Kevin Johnson had an awesome outfit for our Woodstock Flashback gig last Saturday. Woodstock Flashback: we dress up like hippies and we only play songs from Woodstock - the original one, 1969. Not the ones since then that have all been so much BS and pale imitations. Check out the photo.
August 8th, 2011: This Saturday the 13th at BBís is Mama Rayís 25th Anniversary Jam! In honor of this historic occasion the hours of the jam will be extended. We will go from 1:30 to 6:30. There will be many special guests but the big news is that Colt 45 will play a reunion show at BBís on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th. Both shows start at 9pm. The band will also play at the Jam on Saturday afternoon.
Colt 45, also known as the Kansas City Blues Band, consists of Larry Van Loon (who once toured with Mama Ray) on Hammond Organ and vocals, Rick Hendricks (whoís also played with Mama Ray) on guitar, Tom Bark on bass and vocals, and Mike OíNeill on drums and vocals.
This band has worked with many greats like Papa John Creach, Jimmy Weatherspoon, Willie Dixon, BB King, Son Seals, Rare Earth, Mitch Ryder, Muddy Waters John Hammond and Chic Willis just to name a few. All the band members now live and work in Nashville but will make the trip to pay homage to The Mama!
Also, on Thursday the 11th, Mama Ray and band (Alan, Jay, and Don) will play Sullyís Pub & Grille, 99th & Holmes, for the KC Blues Society Open Meeting. Itís open to the public and starts at 7pm.
Make your plans now to attend Mama Rayís 25th Anniversary Jam at BBís Ė it will be a memorable Saturday afternoon Ė guaranteed!
July 26th, 2011: Mama Ray sent me an advance copy of the Kansas City Blues Society's Blues News Magazine. Our 25th anniversary jam and Mama herself are the main feature of that issue. Here's a few pages of it.
July 18th, 2011: Tyson Leslie will play bass (and maybe double on keys) with Valentine and the Knights at the Sand Bar gig in Lawrence this year. Looking forward to that. That gig is always a good party. The cops rope off a block and a whole city block just packs with people. (Here's some footage of a previous Sand Bar gig). I've played one gig with Tyson and want to do more. I liked what I heard on that gig. He's an interesting guy with a lot going on. I'm thinking it would be a good thing to get in on some of the stuff he's got going on and also get him into some of the stuff I've got going on. Good bass players are hard to find. The best ones are always working. I'm very fortunate in that I work a lot with two of the best, Andy DeWitt and James Albright. Here's hoping that Tyson can be added to that mix.
Played this last weekend with my old compadre Brian Tracy and his band, Oasis, at the Argosy casino. Me and Brian go back to 1979. I met him when I joined a touring outfit called The Norvelles Show. We spent a few months on the road as well as playing together over the course of the next decade in various situations. I like Brian a lot and enjoyed playing with the band. However, I think Casinos are evil places. Hundreds if not thousands of people with zombie-like expressions sitting at machines just feeding them money. I got this saying from Mark Valentine - "Gambling - voluntary taxes for people who are bad with math." I know several people who have lost everything - cars, houses, life savings, retirement - as the result of a gambling addiction. I used to play a particular casino on a regular basis and I noticed that they scheduled their employees based on when the social security and welfare checks were mailed out. There was always a spike in the business at that time of the month. That is sooo wrong! Besides that, you know a place is evil when you walk in and there's a very realistic looking fake sky. They don't want you to know what time it is. It makes me think of the movie, "Logan's Run." (Shudder).
I've done a couple of recording sessions recently at LA Audio. I didn't even know the place existed. It's basically what happened to Berry Music - Max Berry's place. Berry Music was where I recorded my CD, Channeling Harold. As far as I know, Max still runs Enneagram Records, an independent record label/publisher, but the recording studio has somehow morphed into LA Audio. LA is Lynn Allred, who was the main engineer at Berry Music. I liked the room and the whole atmosphere of the place in general. I was there working on a Jose Hendrix tune. (photo) Last I heard, Jose will return from Africa in September and we'll see where we go from then. For the story on my relationship with Jose Hendrix, you can start reading from April 14th below.
June 29th, 2011: "Kansas City Jazz & Blues; Past, Present, & Future" will air on KCPT tomorrow, June 30th, at 8:30pm. Here's a trailer.
One of my students is local radio personality Steve-O from 105.1 Jack-FM. He recently featured me on his blog.
May 24th, 2011: Jose Hendrix update: Doing a gig at Crosstown Station on June 5th (promotional poster). We've added a bass player (Brian Padovic) and Jaisson will play drum set so we are no longer acoustic. We don't have more than a set with Jose and the gig is 3 hours so I'll do an acoustic set with Jaisson, Mama Ray is gonna show up and do some tunes and Don Schmidt from the Clique will be there as well - I don't know what Don will do. Should be fun - it's a pretty big venue.
May 20th, 2011: I'm liking the folks at Guitar Syndicate. It's at 8115 N. Oak. I've been teaching 6 or 7 students up there on Fridays for the last 3 weeks. Fridays is the hardest day to book students so I think the place has potential. I'm going to try and consolidate elsewhere and open up another day. I now have a teaching location north of the river! I'm covering the greater Kansas City area pretty good now.
The expensive guitars - behind glass! Special permission is required to play them!
May 18, 2011: Kelly keeps putting up stuff from the Sprint campus gig:
May 3rd, 2011: More footage of the Jose Hendrix gig:
May 1st, 2011: Played an event last night produced by Mark Valentine (the Leukemia/Lymphoma Black Tie Benefit). Mark put together a 12-piece band to play all Latin Pop dance music and called it "Los Unos." That would be the Latin version of a band we have called 'The Ones". The concept is we only play number one hits. Anyway, the band consisted of myself and Terry Swope on guitars, Andy DeWitt on bass, Kevin Johnson on drums, L.A. Smith and Ray DiMarchi on percussion. The horn section consisted of Dave Cooper (trombone), Phil Brenner (saxes) and Stan Kessler (trumpet). Mark did some singing and the keyboard player was my old friend Alex Cordero, who I haven't played a gig with for 4 or 5 years. It was great to work with him again. We had a girl vocalist named Sara Brazil who I've known for years (she worked at Guitar Source) but have never heard sing or seen her perform. I've heard about her through the grapevine though, she plays with a rock band called "90 Minutes". She was great. When she came to the set-up and rehearsal in the afternoon she said that when she saw that I was on the gig she was very relieved. She'd never done a throw together gig like this, didn't know anybody, and was very nervous because she'd never just walked in and performed with people she didn't know. I was like, "Don't you worry, these musicians are some of the best in town. You're playing with the old guys now!" Here's a picture of me, Sara, and Alex. She did great, the band kicked ass (of course!), and we were done by midnight. Piece of cake!
April 29th, 2011: The Jose Hendrix gig went very smooth, no problems. I was able to get 3 CD's into the hands of Gordon Williams who said, "I guarantee that you will hear from me!" Well...alrighty then! The last-minute-surprise keyboard player was Laura Ann Lavi-Jones. She is a singer/songwriter on A&M Records and Gordon is producing her next CD. She wanted to know if I was available for them to fly me out to LA to record (yes) and was I available to tour (probably not but make me an offer anyway). So, it was a good day. I got paid to play my guitar and made some interesting connections besides. Here is a clip of the show. Also a press release.
April 26th 2011: Last rehearsal today before the show on Thursday. We've added Phil Brenner on sax/flute and Ayo on congas. Ayo sits in with Mama Ray's band on a regular basis at our jam at BB's on Saturdays. So the band now consists of me on acoustic guitar, Jaisson on djembe, Ayo on congas, Phil on sax/flute, and Jose. There will be a keyboardist from LA who has been involved in the songwriting process with Jose, Kelly (the local writer who co-wrote all the tunes), and Gordon Williams, the Grammy-winning producer who's involved. No rehearsal with the keyboard player so we'll see how that goes. And....I was informed today that it's not a freebie, we'll all be paid. Once again, the best of everything!
April 24th, 2011: The following is copy-and-pasted from Jose Hendrix's web site blog:
|Posted by Jose Hendrix on April 16, 2011 at 12:50 PM|
April 15th, 2011: Jose Hendrix update: So before today's rehearsal I suggested that we punt the whole band idea in favor of me playing acoustic guitar with Jaisson on djembe. Jaisson is an awesome djembe player and I've done acoustic gigs in the past with Jaisson. (Years ago we had a steady Thursday night gig at the Levee with me, Jaisson on djembe, Andy DeWitt on bass and Alex Cordero on keys.) Kelly and Jose went for it. We then ran through the entire set list in one sitting - bam, bam, bam. This will be so much easier! No complex arrangements with 5 or 6 guys all having to rehearse parts. Just me and Jaisson. Because of the djembe, the African flavor is retained, and Jaisson is willing to put some vocal harmonies to Jose's singing. We will add a 3rd guy, either a bass player so I can play some solos, or a horn player as a soloist. This just took a fun turn! Here's a picture of me, Jaisson, and Jose.
April 14th, 2011: There's a singer in town from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His name is Jose Hendrix. He's got some tunes that he co-wrote with a local writer by the name of Kelly Myers. He's got a Broadjam page up with these tunes he recorded in Africa. The tunes were recorded under less than ideal conditions, lack of equipment, lack of instruments, extreme poverty, violence, etc. I'd classify it as Afro-Latin Pop. He's in the US trying to get a tour going, record deal, and so on. He's pretty good. I like the guy, he's got a good spirit, and has overcome some pretty overwhelming obstacles to get this far. Kelly is trying to get a band together to back him at a gig on the 28th at the Sprint campus. I'm going to play guitar. My understanding is Jaisson Taylor will be on drums. There is a Grammy-winning producer involved, Gordon Williams. So...while I don't normally do freebies or anything that involves rehearsing, I make exceptions every once in a while and this is one of them. I like Jose personally, I think he's a very good singer, there's this Grammy-winning producer involved, it's all original material, and who knows what will come out of it?
April 6th, 2011:
March 19, 2011: So according to Thumbtack.com I am #1 among top-rated guitar lessons in Kansas City. Don't really know what this means. I haven't noticed a huge influx of new students lately. Oh wait a minute. It must mean they want me to do this:
There. BTW, here's my Thumbtack page.
March 13, 2011: Someone told me to YouTube "Saturday afternoon at BBs" So here ya go - Green Onions. Me, Don Glaza, and Alan Monroe, with Ayo on percussion..
|March 6, 2011: I got a sweet deal on a '72 Telecaster. Bought it from my friend Jerry Chambers. Jerry and I had adjoining teaching studios for many years. Jerry was in the '70s era band, Morningstar. He also has his own entry in The Who's Who of Rock-N-Roll. Morningstar released a couple of albums on Columbia/CBS Records in the late '70s. The Morningstar story is a Spinal Tap/Almost Famous/That Thing You Do all-rolled-into-one potential movie. Van Halen was a young upstart band that opened for them. Anyway, the guitar has been stripped and refinished (don't know if Jerry did that) and a body-contour routed out of the back. Don Glaza replaced the neck pick-up which was bad and did the intonation and set-up work for me. Don did a great job. I'm going to find a psychedelic pick guard to put on this. I've never owned a Tele - now I have one!||
February 21, 2011: Found some amateur footage of The Knights at The Sandbar in Lawrence, Kansas last year. This was when we had Stan Sheldon on bass. We also added Stan Kessler on trumpet for this gig.
February 3, 2011: On Monday of last week Roy DeWitt (the owner of Guitar Source, my main teaching location) told me he is shutting down the store at the end of February. Basically, the corporate chains like Guitar Center as well as the Wal-Martís, Samís Club, etc selling starter guitar packages were just too much for him to compete. Iím very sad about it. Iíve been renting studio space from Roy for 20 years. Before then I was never in one place more than 2 or 3 years at a time. I was always scoping out the next place. I havenít had to think about doing that for a very long time, thanks to Roy and his proclivity for making the right business decisions at the right time, and his VERY teacher-friendly policies. I will miss him and Guitar Source a lot. He was instrumental in providing a very stable teaching situation for me during the period of my life when I was raising 5 kids and really needed the stability. Much thanks and gratefulness to Roy DeWitt, I hope we can stay in touch.
A couple of years ago I began to see the signs and so I put an exit strategy in place. I have decided not to implement it however, because the manager of Guitar Source, Dan Miller, will be opening a small store less than a mile away from Guitar Source that will be light on retail and heavy on the teaching. As far as I know all of the teachers at Guitar Source (about a dozen) will follow him over there. So there will be no change in the schedule and only a matter of blocks as far as location. Dan will have the same teacher-friendly policies in place as Roy had at Guitar Source. When Dan gets the place up and running Iíll link to it. Letís cross our fingers and say a prayer for Danís (and all us teachers) success.
Also, Guitar Syndicate, a small store in the Crossroads Art District downtown is moving to 8115 N Oak. The way things are looking right now, I will likely commit to 1 day a week up there and see how it goes. More details TBA as they become available.
January 18, 2011: Sunday was a good day. The Nancy Van Fleet Memorial Jam at BB's was very enjoyable. I got to play with a couple of people I've never been on stage with before. Marilyn Maye was there and sang a couple of songs. That was a thrill for me! She is so good it's hard to describe. The band backing Marilyn was myself, Everette DeVan, Don Van Fleet, and Kent Means. I also got to play with Mike Ning. Mike has been a jazz pianist around KC since the '60's and I've never played with him - until last Sunday. Also got to reconnect with Doug Auwarter - man, what a great drummer! St Thomas just kicked ass! Nancy was a wonderful person and a wonderful jazz singer. I was honored to be in the host band at her memorial. Her two sons, Don and Dave, are both great players as well (drums and trumpet/flugelhorn respectively). Don was the drummer in the Danny Embrey Trio back in the 70's. I used to go listen to Danny, Don, and bassist Greg Whitfield play every Sunday night at a weekly gig. Danny has been a huge influence on me, not to mention he was the one who referred me to John Elliot. Back in those days it was an aspiration of mine to get good enough just to keep up with those guys. I fulfilled one of my bucket list items a few years ago when I hired Don and Greg to play a gig with me. I finally played a gig with the Danny Embrey Trio! Ha! Only it was me instead of Danny! Don was nonchalant - just another gig for him - but I was giddy as a schoolgirl! He looked at Greg and said, "You just never know how you're gonna affect somebody, do you?" It was a pleasure to play with Don again last Sunday. RIP Nancy. (More photos)
After the gig I had enough time to run home and eat. Then I drove over to the 75th Street Brewery and played the Brew Jam. Valentine hired me to replace Andy DeWitt who is in Jamaica at the moment. Terry Swope is one of the most unique and quirky guitarists around, and I mean that in a good way. He consistently surprises me with the things that he chooses to play. I thought we were a good fit, I played acoustic and generally kept to the low end, playing bass lines and chords and letting Terry do what he does best - come up with odd parts and chord voicings and idiosyncratic solos. In my opinion, Terry has a very unique and personal voice on the instrument and I always enjoy him, whether we're playing together or I'm just listening. Of course, Ray DiMarchi on percussion doesn't hurt! I've worked quite a bit with Ray and his playing is also pretty much beyond description. I'm pretty sure he's completely ambidextrous, and that includes both feet as well! You just have to be there. Of course, the whole thing would not exist without Mark Valentine. It is not without reason that he has earned the title, "A God Among Bandleaders". He holds it all together and his guitar playing and singing and just general good-vibe entertainment is the focal point of it all. I've sincerely enjoyed working with and for him over the last 20 years. Thanks Mark, here's to 20 more.
So - this is what I'm talkin' about! This is why I do this! 2 gigs in one day, completely different from each other in style, content, and personalities. Both gigs were wonderful. Both gigs had a high level of musicianship going on. Both gigs were loads of fun. It was a joy being involved in both of them, and on top of all that....I got paid! Life is good.
An undated (early 2000's?) photograph of me backing
Myself and Don Van
Fleet, Jan. 16, 2011,
January 2, 2011: The China situation is not resolved. Michael is really pushing me on this so I threw a promo pack together and FedEx-ed it to the address he gave me on Dec 31st. I'll know by the end of May whether or not I will tour China under the auspices of Ola Marketing and Entertainment and the Chinese government. My understanding is; If I'm accepted a contract will be offered. I'm not sure if there is any room for negotiation but I know what the minimum is that I will be willing to accept. If I get it the trip will be worth it money-wise.
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