Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shout out to the Starry Plough in Berkeley...

First a shout out to Joan Pez and Girl George, who host the Tuesday Night Open Mic there.Joan also did some fine studio magic on "Streetwise".

I'll be playing there on Friday, February 2 with the Happy Clams and Picken Trix. Hoping to see lots of the rest of the Muffin crowd there, too.

In the meantime, I will be hosting the Open Mic at Slabtown here in Portland on Thursday December 28th. So come on down and tune those pipes up to sing "Auld Lange Sine" on New Years eve.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sad News

On Friday, Oct 21 at 6:15pm, Pat Quinn of the Unreal Band died of liver failure.

Pat has been mentioned on this Blog several times; he was a musical cohort, Telegraph Avenue's Santa Claus, and a very dear friend.

He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Playing at the Melody Ballroom, October 2006; Photo courtesy Ted Carpena.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Portland days

On Wednesday Night, I played at the Melody Ballroom for the Cascade Blues Association's monthly meeting; a great old hall. I opened the ceremonies; the Inner City Bluez Band played the later set, and they busted the joint up.

Sunday Night, I'll be back at the Mock Crest Tavern, 3435 N. Lombard St. Portland, Oregon 97217 - show starts at 8 pm.

I'll also be back at SLABTOWN, 16 NW Marshall, on Thursday October 19 and Thursday October 26 to host the Open Mic - so grab an instrument or just bring your voice on down and have a great time - signup starts at 8 pm.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Back from the Bay...

And we had a great time.

Hit all my favorite spots - even hit the Hot Shoppe in Albany twice for their amazing Tropical Lamb Burrito - that's a Lamb Curry Burrito, and one of the tastiest things to be got in the Gourmet Mecca that is the east Bay.

Mark and Molly's wedding was a blast, and Guy Michel's surprise birthday party was fantastic - I'm glad I was able to make it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


My newest release, 'Streetwise", is now available. It can be purchased and clips can be heard at CD Baby - here;

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Booth

I'm pleased to present these pictures of my new practice space; a Whisper Room isolation enclosure, 5' by 3.5'.

I can play and sing in here at all hours without fear of disturbing the neighbors - or waking Jane.

Back to the Miz...9/22

My trip back to the East Bay is coming up soon, and Paul Pot from the Clams included me in one of his dandy posters to advertise the fact.

I'll also be playing at Doggie Jomo's unplugged Jam Session at Connolly's on Sunday September 24, (5 pm onwards, 4822 Telegraph, Oakland) and I'll be stopping in at the Starry Plough open Mic on Tuesday night to see Joan and Girl George and all my other friends there (3101 Shattuch Ave., Berkeley)

Of course, I'll be hosting the Open Mic up here in Portland at SLABTOWN (1033 NW 16th) on Thursday Sept. 21 andThursday Sept. 28 - signup at 8.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

First show at the Mock Crest Tavern

Played at the Mock Crest in North Portland tonight, and man, I had a ball.

Sunday evening crowd; playing for the regulars, and well-known Slide Guitarist Rollie Tussing showed up to welcome me to town.

I settled in behind the Mics and did my thing; played songs from the last CD, from the new one, and some old Delta Blues. The folks at the bar were appreciative; and the Mock will be a regular stop on my Portland route if I have anything to say about it.

An 11 minute cab ride from our loft in the Pearl. Convenient, and Jane enjoyed the food. ( I don't eat right before a show - makes me loggy.)

I'll be playing there again on Sunday, October 8th.

Hopefully, the first of many happy returns. There was even another old Philly boy there, Albert. Funny how at home That makes me feel.

Now I must head back into my box and play a little late night guitar.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Missouri Lounge in Berkeley

To all my friends in the East Bay, I'll be playing at the Miz with "Happy Clams"on Friday, September 23rd.

Here in Portland, I'm pleased to announce that I'll be playing a set at the Cascade Blues Association's October meeting on Wednesday, October 4th. That's at the Melody Ballroom.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Portland Beginnings

We've been here for a couple of weeks, and I have a show booked at the Mock Crest Tavern, 3435 N. Lombard St. Portland, Oregon 97217, Sunday September 10, at 8 pm.

I'll also be hosting the Open Mic at SLABTOWN, 1033 NW 16th AvePortland, OR 97209, most Thursday nights. On First Thursday, Juan will still be your host. Signup starts at 8.

Monday, July 10, 2006

First One's Free...

Here's a link to a soundclick page with one of the songs - "Reality Check" - from my forthcoming Cd release, "Streetwise".

It's a dark shot of honesty - I wrote this one after removing a musician from my life because of his substance abuse problems. He died recently - right around the time I recorded this version of the song.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tattoo Chalie and the Hired Guns

Tatoozala was a BAD man - a gun carrying coke dealing criminal type of person.

He was also one hell of a harmonica player.

A big redhead with tats everywhere, he dressed sharp onstage and his personality pushed the whole band to a kind of recklessness that audiences loved.

Our outfit was the "Hired Guns Blues Band", and he, Tim Pikunas and I formed a nucleus around which we hired bassists and drummers (sometimes a keyboard player). We played in Philly and in the outlying areas.

The band formed after we'd met up at the Jam Sessions at the Barbary Coast, hosted by Blues legend Sonny Rhodes.

We were playing out 3 nights a week and more. After rehearsals, we barnstormed the local open mics and jams - a typical tactic was to show up in the middle of the evening and strongarm our way onstage - no one was ever quite sure whether we were kidding or not. We'd play a few high energy numbers, tell the audience that the host was a great guy and a good pal of ours, and then take off for the next joint.

For a while, we hosted a late night session at an after hours club on Saturday nights - Sunday mornings. We'd tear ass to the "Palmer Social Club" after a gig somewhere else and plug in, hosting players from other local bands that still had the urge to play. The clientele was mostly restaurant folk and off duty bar staff, and off duty cops. It was a rowdy, boozy scene - and a lot of fun.

After a while, things started to pale - Chalie was getting more erratic, less reliable.

One night, I couldn't get his attention onstage at J. C. Dobbs - I tried to signal him to take a solo, and then to play the song out, but he was faced away from me, silent in the amp. I later found out from someone in the audience that he was pulling on a Vics Inhaler - obviously doing a "toot" - at the time.

Tim and I discussed the best way to "shoot the dog" - Tim's concern was that if he and Chalie got into it, there could be a fight, which seemed like a BAD idea.

It was assumed that I was the more diplomatic choice. I laid it out to Chalie - that we needed coherence onstage, that while a tough guy image was cool and went over well, we didn't want to get arrested off the stage, that some of the crowd he attracted was scaring off other paying customers.

He took it with aplomb - joking that instead of a Hired Gun, he was now a Fired Gun.

Not long after, he was arrested - after bar closing, running a red light, he was pulled over. There was a bag of powder and a handgun on the passenger seat. I shit you not.

We visited him in the Fishtank while he was waiting for his arraingment - Tim, a Drummer named Ian, and I. He was sent back to what he'd called "The Harmonica Academy". Within a few months, Chalie caught a cold and we all found out that he was allergic to penicillin - his heart just stopped.

Funny old world.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Goodbye to the Bay

Jane and I are packing our bags and leaving the San Francisco Bay Area for Portland, Oregon at the end of July.

The Bay Area has been an exciting musical adventure - there are so many people involved with music making, at every level, that I've really had to get my game together in order to make any kind of steady cash at all.

But I've played lots of shows, hundreds in the years that we've been here, bars and clubs and store openings, block parties, farmers markets and street corners.

My performance style has evolved and I've made some great friendships and started some professional relationships that I hope to continue.

By far, my favorite watering hole in the East Bay has been Dago Jack's Connolly's at 48th and Telegraph in Oakland - an island of East Coast attitude, with New York, Jersey, and Philly well represented among the staff and clientel. Every Sunday evening, Doggie Jomo hosts an unplugged jam session at the house piano, and they throw parties with good food pretty regularly. A friendly, welcoming spot with some great people on both sides of the bar. And Jane says to check out the delightful wallpaper in the women's room.

I'd also like to bring your attention to some nice writing about a rather different experience of busking posted by a regular on the "Big Road Blues" forum;

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Starry Plough Open Mic

One of my regular stops these past 7 years has been the Tuesday Night Open Mic at the Starry Plough in Berkeley.

Hosted by Joan Pez, with an assist from the infamous Girl George, it's the best all around open Mic I've ever been to. I've been an occasional guest host, and a featured act on several occasions.

The Plough has great food, a good stage and a good house sound system.

Joan is brilliant and witty in her role as MC, and a savvy engineer - much of the material for my upcoming CD, "Streetwise" is coming out of her studio.

Last night, the joint was jam packed - and with good reason. There was very little musical slack in the line, with performances by "The Picken Trix", "Electric Nomad", with "Little Boy Blue" in the Featured spot.

Julie Larson and Ed Critchlow shot video of the performances last night, and Tom O'Connell (one of the organisers of the Meadow Muffin) celebrated his birthday. It was an excellent evening.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A sweet night at the Miz

Paul Pot from the Happy Clams has been hosting the Wednesday Night Open Mic here for a while. A hip little bar, "Berkeley's most elegant Dive bar" in fact. I've done a slew of Friday and Saturday nights here, as well, and "Please And Thank You" is on the Jukebox.

A lot of the "Muffin" crowd are regulars here, and the scene is smooth - it's a likeable bunch, and a welcoming one.

Like Open Mics in general, the performances cover the gamut - from bare beginners who need (and recieve) encouragement to crusty vets like yours truly.

At 11, the man from the local pizzaria shows up selling off pies at half price. An ancient German Shepherd nearly takes my hand along when I pass him a chunk of cheese.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Muffin !

This weekend was "Meadow Muffin" XXXI.

There was a TON of great Music on hand.

Some good friends of mine were on the bill;

Smart-mouthed Country folk duo "The Picken Trix"

The ever lovely "Happy Clams"

One of my regular accomplices, "Doggie Jomo" held forth as did the legendary "Unreal Band" - featuring the Telegraph Santa himself, my buddy Pat Quinn, on Bass.

I opened the show on Friday afternoon, and then played my main set set at 8:pm on Saturday night, after a series of kickass Bluegrass acts. I was followed by "the BBC",
a Beatles Tribute band.

Awesome party. A great bunch of people camped out in a field - what more could you want?

Oh yea - cool T-Shirt, too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006