Friday, February 1, 2019

Maggie


I ran into Maggie on 43rd Street today.
We were both headed down the same
hot endless sidewalk that seems to be everywhere
in Gainesville this time of year.
White cotton clouds drifted above
as the sun cooked everything below.
“Hey Jason,” She said with a smile. “Long time no see.”
“For sure,” I replied.
I watched her smile fade and her eyes grow a little more serious.
“I’m sorry about Ellis. I know you two were close.”
Ellis Amburn’s smiling face raced through my mind. “Yeah, I’ll miss him.”
“His stories of the times he spent with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg,
Susan Sontag, Anais Nin, Edie Sedgwick,
and so many more were incredible to hear.”
“I bet,” Maggie said.
“Most of all I’ll miss his friendship.”
“I know you will.”
We began to walk.
She glanced at my journal.
It was cradled in my left hand.
With each step it swung like a pendulum by my side.
“What have you been working on recently?” she said.
“I’m trying to put something together about the past.”
Her brow lifted. “Your past?”
“Like a poem or something?” her eyes now widened.
I sighed. “Yeah something like that.”
Maggie smiled. “I’ve always liked the way you see the world.”
“Through the eyes of a poet I guess?” I said.
“Jason you’re more than a poet. I’ve never liked the title poet for you anyways.
You’re more in the thick of it.
You give us the scraped knees and blackened eyes of the world.”
I chuckled a little. “So true my friend.”
Maggie stopped and turned toward me. “Remember Bob?”
“Irish Bob?” I said. “How could I forget?”
“What was wrong with that guy?” Maggie laughed.
“What was right with him? Is the better question,” I said.
“Remember the stories of Bob shooting rats
with his pistol behind the pub downtown?” Maggie said.
“I remember. I’ve heard the stories of Irish Bob
and seen the stories in real time,” I said.
“Being a Seal in Vietnam kinda made Bob a little off.
But hey, a little off isn’t all bad.”
“Remember that time the two brothers and you
got their jeep stuck on the train tracks?”
“Yeah Maggie Girl, I remember. It was freezing that night.
We slept by the tracks till morning. It was miserable.
I woke up and walked to
a friend’s house to get help to push us off
before the 8 am train came through.”
Maggie glanced my way. “Yeah, that would’ve been bad.”
“Remember that late seventy’s Vega
With a 350 motor stuffed inside?” she said.
“I remember that beast. At 110 mph the car felt like
it was floating. It had no seatbelts but that
didn’t matter much at those speeds.”
We walked a bit more. The humidity turned the air into a blanket of moist hell.
Cicadas called loudly all around us like an insect orchestra begging for rain.  
Maggie pulled out her phone and checked the temperature, “97 degrees so far.”
Putting her phone away she asked, “Remember when you were grazed by a bullet?”
“I do. It went right across my left hip. A little trickle of blood stained my shirt.”
Maggie slid a cigarette from her pack.
She flamed its end.
“Jason, you remember the Gainesville Mall?
That was the first place I saw an escalator.
I would always jump onto the first step and off the last.
I was sure that thing would suck me under.”
“That’s funny. I thought the same thing.”
Maggie’s voice climbed in volume as she reminisced some more.
“It seemed every time we went to the mall
there were rumors that Tom Petty
had been seen walking around the same hallways that day.”
I laughed, “Yeah, I remember.”
“Remember all the good times at The Jonesville Ramp?
I can’t believe it was in your back yard.”
“Believe it, Maggie Girl. I rode with the best back then.
They were real pioneers in the world of skateboarding.
Mike Frazier, Sam and Donny Myhre, Monty Nolder, Billy Rohan,
Buck Smith, Chris Baucom, and many more,” I said thinking of all the folks I’ve
skated with over the last thirty something years.”
“Jason, wasn’t a movie filmed there that had Tony Hawk in it?”
“Yes, it was. Mike Frazier’s part in Powell Peralta Eight
was filmed at my home on the Jonesville Ramp.
Tony Hawk also has a part later in the film.”
We approached Archer Road.
Maggie pulled hard on her smoke.
Its end glowed bright even in the sunlight of midday.
She exhaled, “Remember the Hang On Sloopy guy?”
“I do. Bobby Peterson. He played with The McCoys.”
“That song was their big hit in the 1960s,” I said.
She punched out her cigarette then placed its butt
in her back pocket.
She then turned toward
me wearing a half smile, “I hate litter.”
“Me too, Maggie girl.”
We walked a few more blocks. Maggie was quiet for a bit.
Then spoke as we were almost at the intersection, “Remember Harry Crews?”
“Yes, my friend. I’ll never forget that day!”
We came to the end of the sidewalk. 
“This is my stop,” I said.
“I’ve got to pick up my truck from the mechanic.”
“Yeah, I’ve got to get back to work.” She smiled.
“Take care of yourself, Maggie.”
“You do the same.”
She turned and walked off into the blazing afternoon.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Dani Wilde


Joan Jett once said, “My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am.” It’s easy to see and hear this in Dani Wilde’s music. The feeling in her voice along with her emotion-filled guitar playing is a breath of fresh air in the music world today. She’s opened for Johnny Winter, Foreigner, Journey, and has collaborated with Samantha Fish. Dani Wilde is a powerhouse in the Blues world today. She is one of my favorite musicians and someone I believe is making an impact in the art of the Blues.

This is Dani Wilde
Have you always been drawn to The Blues as a musician?
Yes, although I love all music. I was born in the mid 80s and so pop artists like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston really inspired me to become a singer. I also love country music and Americana- artists like Lyle Lovett and Patty Griffin. And I really love soul music and Motown- Al Green, Smokie Robinson etc. But I was brought up being taken to lots of blues gigs and festivals. I heard lots of John Lee Hooker and Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters on my dad's hifi at home. When I saw Susan Tedeschi and Sue Foley performing live in the early 2000's I knew that was what I wanted to do. By 2007 I had signed to Ruf Records and was on the same label as some of my heroes Sue Foley, and Eric Bibb. 
I’ve noticed many of the guitar players from England don’t use a pick when they play. Starting out, was it a cultural thing for you to play this way or were you looking for a warmer sound that fingerpicking gives you?
Neither, when I was 11, I picked up my brother's acoustic guitar and started to figure out chords and songs. I didn't aspire to be a great guitarist. I wanted to accompany myself singing my favourite songs and to be a songwriter. I started out playing solo gigs in local pubs when I was 13 playing mostly originals and Bob Dylan covers. There were no plectrums in my house nor any other musicians to offer me one, and so I played with fingers and my own style developed. When I was 15 I met bluesman Louisiana Red who also played finger style guitar and he encouraged me to keep playing like this and taught me a thing or two. When I gigged with Girls with guitars, I used a pick occasionally, and when playing back up guitar on Samantha's songs which requires a harder and more heavy rock tone than my own material :) 
If it were possible and you could cover any song with the original artist singing along with you, what would it be?
This is such a hard question to answer. In regards to living artists, I would love to work with Van Morrison. I love all of his songs. I play "It stoned me" in my love set. I’d love to sing Tupelo Honey with him. I would've loved to have performed with John Lee Hooker when he was alive... Boom boom boom or Dimples. I love everything about John Lee. 
I read you opened for Johnny Winter. I saw him play in 1994 and he put on a flawless performance. How was it to meet and open for such a legend in the Blues world?
It was a dream come true. It was at BB Kings club in Times Square NYC. It meant a lot to me. A week after that show I bumped into Johnny and his band again at a festival in Spain and we opened for them again. They were kind to me… really down to earth yet super talented guys. 
Could you tell us a little about your humanitarian work?  
Yes, I have visited Kenya many times and have been deeply saddened by the horiffic poverty that children have to endure in the slum communities. On my trips I worked with a wonderful charity called Moving Mountains to build classrooms and provide education and protection for the most vulnerable and poor children. I also fundraise to help Toto Love Orphanage in Embu Kenya. The orphans there have HIV. Some of the kids appear healthy and are doing well in school. Others are clearly very sick.  The money we raise at my concerts helps to provide medicine and to cover hospital fees and food for the children. Ruth Ndwiga who runs the orphanage is a wonderful lady who works so hard to keep the orphans safe and loved. 
What have you been working on lately, and what would you like for the reader to check out?
I have an album out entitled Live At Brighton Road which was released on Vizztone Records. The album is half electric and half acoustic showcasing the two sides of my music. It can be bought on vinyl and Cd/Dvd. My friend, filmmaker Philip James shot a beautiful video of our live in the studio performances and a video interview with me to accompany the audio recordings. I've recently been on tour in Europe promoting the record. I'm a mum now. I have a beautiful little girl called Poppy, and I took her out on the road with me. It was fantastic fun. 
I also have a new single out. A cover of Joni Mitchell's Case of You recorded with my brother Will Wilde on harp. Will and I tour as an acoustic duo called The Wilde's when we are not touring separately with our electric bands. You can find the music video on YouTube.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chloe Feoranzo


Along with an incredible voice, Chloe Feoranzo plays the clarinet and saxophone. She pulls you back in time with her music. As you listen you’ll feel like you’re sitting in a 1920s speakeasy enjoying a night on the town. She’s put hard work and dedication into her craft and it shows. Every note, whether voice or instrument, shines bright in her performance. Truly a modern-day link to the past, yet a gem in our musical present.

Chloe studied under Jazz great Charles McPherson. A friend of mine’s father, Mario Rivera was also a Jazz great. He played with Tito Puente for many years. He recorded an album with Dizzy Gillespie, Afro Cuban Jazz Moods in 1975. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed hearing stories from my friend Mario about his father and that magical time gone by. Chloe’s music is reflective of this era.

Music from the past is always a treat to look back on and take in. All of its emotion captured in the recordings of the musicians from years ago. But there’s something special when you see the past alive and well here in present day. Chloe Feoranzo is that present day musician making a lasting mark on the Jazz world.


This is Chloe Feoranzo.


How old were you when you started playing clarinet and saxophone?


I was about 9 or 10 when I first started playing the saxophone in Elementary school band. I was around 12 or 13 when my middle school teacher needed an extra clarinet player and I said why not? Haha.


Have you always been drawn to Jazz as a musician?


I definitely grew up around Jazz even before starting to play an instrument. My parents used to swing dance and loved to listen to the songs they heard in classes at home so I got a taste of it then. After starting music, I was drawn to the older styles of jazz after hearing it live for the first time at the San Diego Jazz Fest. So yes, but I’ve also been drawn to other forms of music as well such as classical, Brazilian choro, old R&B, Irish music, and even pop.


Which artists inspired you when you were starting out?


A lot of my inspiration came from the musicians I heard growing up live in town (I grew up in San Diego), especially the ones that would take me under their wing such as Ron Hockett, Chris Klich, Zzymzzy Quartet, Charles McPherson and practically any group that went to the Traditional Jazz Festivals. Recording wise I loved Billie Holliday, Peanuts Hucko, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Prima, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman... I could go on.


I watched a clip of you playing on “The David Letterman Show.” How was the experience for you?


It was a pretty crazy day! A few of the highlights for me was finding out they kept TV studios extremely cold so no one sweats on television, so I basically walked around with my travel blanket for most of the time. Another is right before we did our take (and we were really only allowed to do one even though it wasn't live) Paul Shaffer sees me with my clarinet and goes "Oh! A clarinet!" and proceeds to play a polka beat. To which I then, of course, start playing some vaguely polka-like improvisation and we just jammed on this improv polka for a little bit before the TVs were filming. Lastly, right as we ended our take and Letterman walks off I look down on my mouthpiece to see my reed had completely shifted almost off the mouthpiece, which thankfully waited until after the take to do so or else there would have been some serious squeaks haha. In my excitement to perform I had forgotten to tighten my ligature enough (the thing that holds the reed in place) and luckily the reed cooperated. Whoops.


If it were possible and you could cover any song with the original artist singing along with you, what would it be?


I'll Be Seeing You - Billie Holliday version. Her version is so hauntingly beautiful and perfectly captures the message of the song.


What have you been working on lately and what would you like for the reader to check out? 


I have an all women traditional jazz group called the Shake 'Em Up Jazz Band that is based in New Orleans, also where I currently live. Our newest album called 'A Women's Place Is In The Groove' is an album dedicated to women composers of the 1920s-30s. We have done a couple overseas tours and various festivals around the country. You can find more about the band on our Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ShakeEmUpJazzBand/) and at our website(www.shakeemupjazzband.com) I really love these ladies and the way we make music and hope your listeners enjoy us too!




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Lilly Hiatt


Like Loretta Lynn and Neil Young, Lilly Hiatt sings from the heart. Her lyrics and style are reminiscent of the greats I grew up listening to in The Seventies. Yet she also has that rocking edge that rolls along in rhythmic chords much like the bands I loved in The Nineties. Lilly is someone special, someone whose spirit soars high when she picks up her guitar and sings. Truly an original.

From the first time I heard her, I was enthralled with her music. The more I heard the more I wanted to hear. As time went by I would find myself singing her songs as I went through my day. So, after work one afternoon I messaged her and asked if she would do an interview. I put my phone down and collapsed onto the couch. I started to drink some coffee and watch TV. A short time passed and my phone buzzed. It was Lilly. She agreed to do the interview. 

This Is Lilly Hiatt  

How old were you when you started singing and playing guitar?

I have sang for as long as I can remember! And 12 for the guitar.

With your father also being a singer/songwriter, music had to be a large part of your childhood. When writing songs today do you reflect back on the songwriters and storytellers you first heard in your youth?

I certainly do.  I remember Prince being a soundtrack early on.  Purple Rain.  That stuck with me, as did Neil Young's Harvest Moon.  Liz Phair's Whipsmart, that's what my mom jammed when she was letting loose. They all crept in and influenced me amongst the many things I discovered on my own,  I think also just seeing the shows with all kinds of musicians.  Ya know my dad toured with Hootie and the Blowfish, he toured with BB King, Jackson Brown...they all became a part of my musical journey.  My brother was obsessed with Slayer and hip hop, my sister loved Weezer and the Spice Girls.  Everyone was bringing something to the table.

You have a wide range and very unique style of music you write. Who have been your biggest influences over the years?

Why thank you.  Well, I could write a book on it, but I won't.  At least not now.  It's hard to reduce it to just a few folks, but big writer influences I'd say would be Liz Phair, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, Prince, Conor Oberst, Lucinda Williams and my dad of course. But, different eras have occurred and I am an avid fan of a lot of music.

You’ve covered “Guy Clark” with Aaron Lee Tasjan and “The Beatles” with Margo Price. If it were possible and you could cover any song with the original artist singing along with you, what would it be?

See, I am already stressed I left John Lennon out of that last question haha! Well, I want to sing "Daughter" with Eddie Vedder. I plan on it. I also badly want Cardi B to sample a song of mine, and I would happily sing that with her. 

On your third and latest album “Trinity Lane” you worked with Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst from the band “Shovels and Rope.” How did that come about?

I knew them both, and liked them very much as people.  When Michael was suggested to me as a possible producer, I was intrigued and began a musical conversation with him.  We vibed quickly and I knew he would push boundaries with me without pushing my buttons.  I like working with people that are willing to go to the edge and beyond, and he is! Yet with such a chill and respectful attitude.  Great listener. We had a blast if ya can't tell! 

What have you been working on lately and what would you like for the reader to check out?

I am writing up a storm planning to make another record.  Excited to be in a creative haze at the moment.  Next up tour wise is a fun run with Margo Price that goes through New Year's Eve. Should be a fun way to ring in 2019!