Johnny Moezzi returns to Monterey with his star on the rise.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A couple weeks ago, Parviz Gharib-Afshar – known as the Johnny Carson of Persian television, a man who has interviewed everyone from Liz Taylor to William Holden – invited Salinas native Johnny Moezzi to be a guest on his television show, which has taped live out of Los Angeles since the early ’80s and broadcasts throughout the Middle East.
Gharib-Afshar was turned onto Moezzi after viewing a tape of one of his performances and came away impressed at the way a Persian played the blues. The timing of the appearance was perfect: Moezzi’s father was visiting Iran at the time and he, along with other Iranian family members, caught the interview.
“It was cool because I’ve had little to no contact after all these years and I’m sure they’ve all been hearing about their musician American cousin,” Moezzi says.
Moezzi was born in Tehran, Iran, but moved to the States when he was just 3 years old, leaving behind grandparents and cousins alike. He may look like the lovechild of Raul Julia and Antonio Banderas, but his voice and guitar style (he plays a black and white “flying Y” guitar he named Vivian) is a culmination of The Strokes and Albert King.
After many years accompanying blues legend Miss Mickey Champion, who’s played with everyone from Billie Holliday and Ruth Brown to Johnny Otis and Roy Milton, Moezzi embarked on a solo career and recently released his first EP. The six-track album features some tunes written while he stayed in an apartment in Paris that coincidentally faced the spot where Ernest Hemingway once lived.
But for the true standout of the album, “Mother,” Moezzi didn’t have to cross the Atlantic to find inspiration. The simple acoustic tune is nothing more than a heart-on-the-sleeve ode to Moezzi’s mom, and his adoration comes through with every line he delivers: “Mother you are the saint that saved my life/ Mother you’ve been the reason I survive.”
On Saturday night at East Village, Moezzi – a graduate of Robert Louis Stevenson School – will play his first show on the Peninsula in more than a decade. The show will be a fitting opportunity for him to play another one of his new songs, the percussion-fueled funk anthem, “Monterey Bay.”
JOHNNY MOEZZI plays 8pm Saturday, Nov. 26, at East Village, 498 Washington St., Monterey. $5. 373-5601.