Arts & Culture Blog
Young Jazz Jams and Uncool Country Honors
April 4, 2011
SOULFUL SOLOS: The people who keep saying jazz is a dying art form apparently forgot to give the memo to the kids at the Monterey Jazz Festival’s annual Next Generation gathering at the Conference Center and other venues over the weekend.
Lots of youthful and talented folks gathered together for the occasion—including a contingent from the high school band from the Japanese city of Tomisato, who made it over despite the disaster in that country and received a standing ovation for their efforts—along with donations from MJF and the Marin High School of the Arts, San Marin High and Hill Middle School of Novato, who got together for a fundraiser with proceeds going to the Red Cross.
Among the winners: CSU Long Beach in the college vocal ensemble contest; USC’s Thornton School of Music Jazz Orchestra in the College Big Bands; the Los Angeles High School of Arts for the Arts in the High School Division and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania drummer George Heid for outstanding soloist among the high schoolers for his role in the Center of Life Jazz Band.
Many of the winners will be returning to the scene of the crime for the Jazz Festival itself later this year.
But, honors aside, it was a kick to see the youths jamming together at the open audition session, and the general aura of enthusiasm, seriousness of craft, and talent.
Apparently the buzz was shared by others. Among those checking the scene out was mega-producer Don Was, who has worked with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt and Brian Wilson and is currently helping Jimmy Iovine sort out the various hopefuls on “American Idol."
Here’s a clip of Don’s cult band, Was/Not Was, doing a soulful version of “I Can’t Turn You Loose" fronted by Sweet Pea Atkinson, who was around these parts not too long ago as part of the back-up band accompanying Lyle Lovett at the Golden State:
DIVERSE OPTIONS: Some people can’t seem to catch a break.
The folks behind the Mi Pueblo grocery chain, which opened an outlet on Fremont Boulevard in Seaside over the weekend have been getting it from the left—including smaller local merchants who think their business will be hurt—and, more conspicuously these days, from the right—with Seaside Chamber of Commerce president Jim Vossen recently complaining to the local daily that the signs in the store were in Spanish, making for what he felt might be an unwelcoming climate for Anglos.
Brickbats aside, the place was packed on Sunday, with La Banda providing lively sounds as customers, store employees and little children danced, amid welcoming banners from La Tricolor 99.5, the Spanish- language radio station.
We picked up a caramel dessert, then dropped by Mi Tierra down the street later for a chicken burrito to support both causes.
By the way, the store was giving out pamphlets in Spanish—and English—with a big headline called “Extra!"—to celebrate its inaugural weekend in Seaside, and the 20th anniversary of the chain, which started in 1991 with a small store in East San Jose.
Seems like there’s plenty of room at the inn for all parties – and it will be good for the tax base, which presumably the Chamber supports. Unless they prefer those perennially vacant store fronts at the City Center.
“What would Charlie Rich do?" blogger Adam Sheets asked, in a reference to the time the great songwriter and incorrigible good old boy showed up under the influence, and burned the Entertainer of the Year Award with his cigarette lighter.
"Back In 1999, George Jones was told by the ACM that he could only sing one verse of his song, ‘Choices,’ which was widely regarded as something of a comeback for him and his best song in years," the rant continued. “Alan Jackson was slated to perform “Pop a Top.’’ Take a look at what happened.’’
Jackson wasn’t invited back; their loss.