Love, Love, Love--John Pertle, aka Johnny Love, specializes in songs of the heart.
Thursday, July 30, 1998
When John Pertle was 12 years old, he began writing songs. Since then, the 29-year-old guitarist/vocalist has amassed about 1,000 originals, mostly about love, he says. Evidently that''s why he has taken the stage name Johnny Love.
Pertle''s musical influences span a wide territory. He has a background in musical theater and jazz vocals as a young man; he''s taken strong interest in early rock pioneers Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly; he derives rebellious vitality from the ''60s (represented by The Beatles, Velvet Underground, The Doors and Led Zeppelin); and he pulls inspiration from the traditional lyricism of Tin Pan Alley writers Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin. It''s an understatement to say Pertle has a wide-ranging repertoire available to draw on as a writer trying to produce a refreshing new sound. His quartet, The Buddy Garland Show, with Mitch Fadem on keyboards, Jesse Jones on bass and Jeff Johnson on drums, is set to play Saturday at Whitey''s Place and will debut four new songs from a whittled down list of 35 he has chosen to produce from his vast collection of tunes.
"[All the above] is the stuff that I listen to," he says in a relaxed afternoon conversation that included a chat with his 3-year-old daughter Dorothy. "My guitar style was influenced by Lou Reed or Sterling Morrison (guitarists in Velvet Underground). I learned a lot of their songs. And Bob Dylan. Somewhere along the way Gershwin entered the picture. All the songs I had assimilated at that time were so simple and like each other, pretty much imitations of each other. Then I heard Gershwin and there were all these different chords. I thought, if I''m going to be a songwriter, I want to be this good."
In the early ''90s, Pertle and his pal Sean Michael White made their presence known locally in the sizzling-hot rock group Nectar of the Gods. With strong vocal harmonies and stage presence, the band amassed a rabid following for the music which was written primarily by Pertle--probably close to 90 percent of the music, he says. Their breakup disappointed many, but over the last year they have worked together again in The Buddy Garland Show, although White has recently departed to concentrate solely on the band Juice.
Pertle and band have been gigging about town sporadically, introducing the raucus and infectious cocktail of influences that has emerged from his fascination with Judy Garland, taking her songs and other golden oldies into the ''90s with rock arrangements.
"I listen to Garland a lot," he says, strains of her playing in the background while we talk. "Probably I listen most to her teenage years and when she was in her early 40s. I''m pretty well-read about the poets of Tin Pan Alley, and Judy just goes along with it because she debuted those songs first and hung out with those people."
At this juncture, The Buddy Garland Show will begin to showcase the original songs written by Pertle, some that are influenced by swing music but presented in the more upbeat tempos found in funk and rock. And of course, with lyrics about love.
"I think love songs are easier to write, and easier to relate to because everyone feels the same way," he says. "In the past I went through a political phase. It seems so didactic and preachy. I''m all for everything that''s liberal, but I''d rather write love songs. They''re more timeless rather than topical."
The plan is to introduce about four new songs each month, so that audiences will have new material to look forward to each time Buddy Garland plays. Make room on your calendar to hear this band Saturday, which follows a repeat performance on Friday by Juice and The Recruits at Whitey''s.
The Buddy Garland Show, Saturday, 9:30pm, Whitey''s Place, Monterey, no cover, 646-8383.
The occasion of James Carter''s debut performance at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz warrants attention from those interested in witnessing the growth of a jazz giant. Pretty heady words, I know. But from the looks of his resume, this Detroit-born multi-instrumentalist is bound for glory.
Skilled on most reeds, Carter chooses to play primarily the tenor saxophone, producing a huge tone reminiscent of saxophone masters Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. Stylistically, he is a walking jazz historian with the ability to play early ''20s and Dixieland through swing, bebop, avant garde and free jazz, sometimes switching midstream without losing his own voice in the process. The Los Angeles Times said that while his music "resonates with the sound of jazz history," he "incorporates without imitating, synthesizes without parodying. And everything Carter plays, whatever its source, is filtered through an utterly personal musical vision."
Steeped in music through his musical family and summers spent at jazz camp, by 1985, while still in high school, he attracted the attention of Wynton Marsalis, an adept talent scout along the lines of Miles Davis. After a series of appearances with Marsalis'' quintet, he was recognized by Arts Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie, who brought him to New York in 1988 to play on an uptown stage. Bowie is quoted as saying, "The greatest sax player to come around since Coltrane...James Carter is the man. He''s the tenor player of the future. I haven''t heard anyone who can touch him...I mean, he can wipe regular cats out."
James Carter, Monday, 7:30pm & 9:30pm. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, $15 advanced, $17 at the door, available all BASS outlets, 427-2227.
Long-time-no-see-on-the-scene Laura Chandler will do a solo acoustic show Saturday at Borders Books. Busy at work on a re-release recording of material done prior to 1995 (but never on CD before), the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter reintroduces herself to this area with this show and a slot in October''s Indian Summer Music Festival at Seascape Resort in Aptos. Her recording Mapping Territories, available at Borders, demonstrates her beautiful vocals and talented guitar playing that rocks, swings and shines through her poetic, emotional compositions. Following the Indian Summer gig, she sets off on a cross-country tour with Acoustic Alchemy, starting in New York. Welcome back, Laura!
Laura Chandler, Saturday, 7:30pm. Borders Books and Music, Sand City, no cover, 899-6643.