By B. Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude
May 17th, we traveled to The Basement Lounge for an evening of jazz, produced by Max Viltz – To the Max Promotions. On this evening’s bill, we saw saxophonist Alvin Hayes Jr. & Friends. Alvin Hayes, Jr. is a saxophone player that has been compared to Kirk Whallum, Boney James, and Gerald Albright. The rest of the friends playing that night were Mikal Majeed on keyboards, Jeff Suttles on drums and Benorce Blackmon on guitar. The two sets we stayed for were very good, everyone shined at each solo. I could not have enjoyed the evening more.
If you have never been to this room, it is located in the Broadlind building. on the corner of Broadway & Linden in Downtown Long Beach. It is worth going over the bridge to check out this really unique space. Low lying seats and couches, with a really cool bar centered across from the stage. Unfortunately, To the Max Promotions last show at this location will be May 31, 2012. Max will pick up these intimate jazz shows again at a new location yet to be announced.
May 18th, the original plan was to go up to Los Angeles to Barbara Morrison’s Performing Arts Center for first Annual Springtime Blues Festival. This would be going head to head with very well financed and heavily promoted Doheny Blues Festival all that same weekend. There were performances nearby at local venues in the area around Doheny making it the place to be from Friday all the way through to Sunday. However the show up at Barbara Morrison’s facility was as good a show one would want to see. Bernie Pearl’s band working was the backline group and featured performer throughout the weekend. Guitarist Kirk Fletcher of the Fabulous Thunderbirds was set to play as well as Sister Sherry Pruitt, and the Lady of the event herself, Ms. Barbara Morrison was among the many who came to play at the three day event. Too many other conflicting events made it impossible to travel to either location on that Friday.
Saturday May 19th, we started out again with renewed vigor to The L.A. Wood Show. This time the intention was to catch Jerry Butera’s surf band The Reef Rammers. His group is celebrating their 50th anniversary and is releasing a new CD Taboo Surf. “At the latest it will be out by the end of June,” According to Butera. Unfortunately the soundman was not ready for the 9:30a.m. downbeat to kick off the music part of the event. By the way, The Reef Rammers were ready at 9:15, but was left waiting for whatever work that needed to be done. We couldn’t wait so down the road, we rolled.
On the road to El Segundo for the 22nd Annual Dylanfest on that same day, we really hit pay dirt at this event. Andy Hill and Renee Safier have produced this event year after year bringing some of the best talent from throughout the South Bay and Metro L.A. to perform. James Lee Stanley returned to play, “Don’t Think Twice, and You Go Your Way.” Evan Charles (Who is a mainstay at Tony’s on the Pier) joined Hill and Safier with the Hard Rain Band singing “Forever Young.” There were a load of musicians playing more than 70 songs over a period of seven and a half hour with no repeats. And this didn’t even touch the surface of Dylan’s catalog. It was an afternoon of some of the greatest music ever written in the last 50 years.
Also on the agenda, but just could not fit in for us, was The Golden State Pops Orchestra and their tribute Film Composer John Williams. Renowned cello soloist Cecilia Tsan, a regular on Williams’ recording sessions, performed the haunting “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha. There were the John Williams classics that were performed to a crowd of over 800, which by accounts wowed the audience. This is world class orchestra with guests like Ms.Tsan playing a various shows that the GSPO put on.
Finally, we rounded out the day with The Hellhounds and Seatbelt at the Grand Annex. This was without a doubt nothing short of fantastic. In a third set during the show guitarist Dave Widow joined the Hellhounds, the four men smoked the room with some old school blues. Seatbelt had Sean Lane on for a couple of Rockabilly songs and later Scott McLean did the same with The Hellhounds tearing it with a barn burning version of “Peter Gun.”
These were some of the 13 events we were invited to in the end only four of which were covered.