Endings & Beginnings

The lesson of the universe these days seems to be “Take your vitamins, you’ll need to keep your strength up.” Lots of good stuff happening, lots of bad stuff, lots of sad stuff. The rains, as everyone knows, brought havoc to many in Central Texas. I was lucky, just some property damage from a 100 year old oak falling near my house. Many of my friends are cleaning layers of mud from their houses, sorting through flood-damaged possessions, etc.
Many artists and musicians are lending their talents to raise money to help, and I’ll be playing with a group to do just that on June 13. Global to Local: A concert for Central Texas Flood Relief will feature world musicians from Texas and India in a night of great music for a good cause.

Over the last few months several friends passed away, including music brother Slim Richey. I first met him in 1983, at a jazz jam at the Driskill Hotel. I thought “Who is this guy with the long beard?” But when the jazz started coming out of his finger tips, all questions were answered. I had the real privilege of playing a bunch of shows with him, with the Jazz Pharaohs and later with the Jitterbug Vipers. So many many songs!

I have a few more shows lined up for June (check the calendar), and then June 19 I’ll be heading out of town, making my way back to Boston to see my parents, and playing some shows around New England for much of the summer.

Spring 2015

After cold rains, cedar pollen, and other hints of winter in Texas, the skies have been blue, the sun has been warm, and I have tried not to feel too guilty about enjoying it, as my family up North weathers huge snowstorms and cooooold.  Of course, snow is beautiful too, in its own way, but here my thoughts are turning toward the harbingers of spring: blossoms on trees, plans for SXSW and, of course, Mardi Gras.

This year I’m helping to put on a pretty big deal Mardi Gras party, as an alternative to the 6th Street stagger-a-thon.  Of course I like to see people in skimpy costumes screaming for beads, but that only can take you so far.  If you’d like a more lasting memory, join me at the Skylark Lounge on Feb 17 for good food, drinks, and dancing to great music.  I have been playing with a fun new band lately, Gumbo Ya Ya, dipping into the New Orleans funk bag.  It brings back a lot of memories from my days with Marcia Ball and all the Mardi Gras shows we did in New Orleans.  The songs have deep roots, and it’s a joy to play them again:  Professor Longhair, Dr. John, The Funky Meters, Fats Domino… All kinds of down and dirty beats to sink your teeth into.

After Gumbo Ya Ya, the John Gaar Band will finish out the night, with their trademark rich vocal harmonies.  Mmmmm!


Free Music Workshop: “Using Blues In Jazz” @ TX Historical Society

On June 15, noon-2:00pm, Paul Klemperer will lead a free workshop: “Using Blues In Jazz.”  The 2-hour workshop, sponsored by Diverse Arts Culture Works and the Austin Jazz Alliance, is aimed at beginning to intermediate players who want to learn jazz, but may be coming from other musical styles like rock, blues, folk and classical.  Some knowledge of basic major and minor chords, and the minor pentatonic scale, is helpful but not essential.

Paul will demonstrate melodic and rhythmic phrases that occur in many jazz tunes, and are helpful for playing solos over various jazz song forms.  Participants can bring their instruments and will have a chance to play.

This workshop is an introductory sample of other workshops and classes offered by Paul.  Handouts and links to helpful online PDF’s will be available.

Summer In Austin

May has given us a taste of summer with some  sweltering days, but we still get reprieves of cooler weather and spring rains.  As a sometime gardener I do appreciate the rain.  My big satisfaction this spring is a crop of artichokes which I’ve started sharing with friends.  My mom makes a delicious hollandaise sauce and I always associate that with artichokes.  But I’m too lazy and set in my ways to learn how to make it, so I make do with lemon & butter, or throw together some kind of remoulade with mayonnaise, hot sauce and whatever else falls into my hand.  Really, the artichokes are so deliciously fresh they taste magical just by themselves.

Musically it has been a productive spring as well.  I finished up a semester playing with the ACC big band under the direction of Tom Husak (I love his arrangements, always fun & challenging to play).  We closed the semester with a fun concert at the Clive Bar, with Redd Volkaert as the featured artist.

I’ll be playing a show in June with my old compadre Graham Reynolds and the Golden Arm Trio.  It will be a concert in the park in Houston, June 6.  I’ll have a few more shows in June and then it’s off to New England to play and teach for several weeks.  That will still leave plenty of Texas summer for me when I get back in August.  Gotta love it!