On Friday January 9 in Lakeland FL I was humbled to play a benefit concert for my old friend, musical and golfing buddy, Kristine Allman (guitar/vocals) at Preservation Hall. The lineup was strong and included B-3 master Tony Perrino (Delbert McClinton, Blue Oyster Cult), young guitar phenom Jared Alpern and many others.
OK, Back to keeping news updated in 2015!!!
Started the New Year 2015 right playing January 1 with Joe Alterman, John Sandfort and Justin Chesarek. This makes our 3rd New Year's Day at Churchill Grounds on Peachtree. Joe's ever evolving playbook had us swinging Motown, Bacharach and other hits for an enthusiastic crowd.
Well, ahem, 2014 went by with no posts but that won't be repeated! One hit at the Painted Pin on Sat Dec 27, 2014 was a plumb pleasure! The group was Buckhead native and guitar legend Jody Worrell, versatile and fiery keyboard wizard David Ellington on piano and B-3 and the "drummer who must rock" Paul Fallat. Having B-3 in the group let us get into music heavy on organ including Procol Harem, Booker T and the MG's and more with plans to get into Mountain, Deep Purple, ELP, Yes and Uriah Heep for the next one!
No words to describe the hit with Col. Bruce Hampton at the Northside Tavern last Saturday August 3. Known as the great facilitator to musicians' best playing, Hampton offers so much also in the way of creative lyrics and delivery. His guitar playing is not spoken about enough! His style is individualistic and instantly recognizable. He is a master song caller on the band stand and can turn a 90 minute set into the blink of an eye. A transformative and unique experience...
Had a ball playing La Grotta, Ravinia on July 27 with the incomparable Jim Pearce, Atlanta's answer to Dave Frischberg! The folks at La Grotta come out to dance - and, of course, for the great food - and we play. Always a pleasure and great music with Jim.
Played the jam at Queen of Sheba on July 25 with Azure McColl, Nick Rosen and Lorenzo Sanford. Great bop with the swinginest vocal stylings of Ms. McColl.
The MOJO DOJO was honored to be the featured entertainment for the Center for the Visually Impaired's True Blue Do Fundraiser on Thursday May 2, 2013 at Druid Hills Golf Club. We presented an evening of music featuring songs which have been composed and/or performed by blind or visually impaired musicians. Our versatility showed strong on this one!
Songs included Blind Boys of Alabama - Way Down in the Hole (Tom Waits), Clarence Carter - Road of Love, Clarence Carter - Slip Away, Ray Charles - Georgia, Ray Charles - Just a Little Lovin, Ray Charles - What Would I Do, Snooks Eaglin - Oh Lawdy, My Baby, Jose Feliciano - Light My Fire, W.C. Handy - St. Louis Blues, Al Hibbler - After the Lights Go Down Low, Blind Willie McTell - Statesboro Blues, George Shearing - Lullabye of Birdland, Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride, Stevie Wonder - Another Star, and more.
Sunday April 28 the MOJO rocked a wedding at Sandy Springs Heritage Hall on Bluestone Road next to the outdoor amphitheater. On the gig was Dianna Crawford, Rick Hinkle, Jez Graham and John Lewis. Turns out that in the 70's Hinkle lived in a house on that site!
Saturday April 27 was a fine hit with Tyrone Jackson on keys and Kinah Boto on drums at the renovated 3109 Piedmont Road (formerly Anthony's). We jazzed and rocked for the McKenzie wedding. Got to try out some new and old songs including Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed". Thanks, TJ!
Saturday March 2 was a fantastic night at the Hungry Ear Coffee House at the Unitarian Church on Mt. Vernon Hwy in Sandy Springs. I had the pleasure of playing double bass with my old friend Captain George Hergen and Bob Bakert on guitar. Twas a fine crowd of 150+ with Cap regaling with stories and singing his folk steeped repertoire including: Irish Rover, Black Velvet Band, Four Strong Winds, Scotch n Soda, San Francisco Blues and others. National treasure Frank Hamilton (Woody Guthrie's pickin pal and longtime Atlanta resident and yogi) followed on guitar and vocals with his pal Bill Rappaport (32 years with Atlanta Symphony!) on clarinet enchanting the crowd via their eclectic list of early 20th century music.
On Wednesday February 20 at Blind Willie's we followed up on our January wing-ding of Chicken Pluckers (Ag Expo 2013, poultry industry's annual get together in Atl) with a smokin night featuring Mace "Hip Hurt" - tenor, Melvin "Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones" - trumpet, Geoff Haydon - piano, Nick Johnson - guitar, Marlon Patton - drums and yours truly. Great crowd. Lots of music and story telling - all for the sake of entertainment! Lessons learned along the way have reminded me that this band can play anywhere. The musical talent in Atlanta GA is phenomenal. Thanks, cats!
Sunday January 27, 2013 saw the celebration of the 125th Anniversary of Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta featuring the debut of an hour long "Ken Burn's style" documentary on the history of the "AA". Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, City Councilman Julian Bond, Jr. and State Attorney General Sam Olens was on hand along with a crowd of about 1200. Our great band kicked off the proceedings with a medley/overture covering the 20th century including songs by Jewish composewrs Berlin, Gershwin, Arlen, Kern, Doc Pomus, Carole King, Paul Simon, Bert Berns and ending with "To Life, L'Chaim". The band featured Sam Skelton-tenor, Melvin Jones-trumpet, Alan Dynin-piano, Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal-guitar, Judge Andy Margolis-drums and Scott on bass playing an Eric Alexander arrangement. My niece is 5th generation in the congregation!
Friday/Saturday December 28-29 at Churchill Grounds (on Peachtree next to the Fox Theater) in Atlanta was an inspiring weekend of swing with the Joe Alterman Quartet with Joe on piano, John Sandfort-tenor sax and Justin Chesarek on drums. Joe's energy is infectious on stage and off. He plays with verve and a unique sound with roots in jazz classics. The sold out houses were right there with every note!
Saturday December 1 in Oxford GA at Emory University's Old Church, I was on bass with the Sonny Houston Band (bluegrass) for the Southern Folk Advent service. It was an honor to be included in this 20 year old tradition. The house was full to hear the choir and band with the preacher weaving the narrative between musical selections. Totally worked. Was in Roswell in time for 4th quarter of Georgia-Alabama game!
Thursday November 8 Laurence Rosenthal rocked Steve's Live with Will Groth-drums, Judge Andy Margolis-piano/vocs and me on bass/vocs.
Thursday November 1, 2012 7:30p - Sincerest thanks to Matt Wauchope and Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur for putting together "A Love Supreme Interfaith Concert featuring the Music of John Coltrane." This concert benefited Heifer International and the Decatur Food Bank. I joined Matt Wauchope-piano, Justin Chesarek-drums and New Orleans' incomparable Clarence Johnson-tenor sax and a full house for what was much more than a musical experience.
Friday October 25, 2012 was the end of a great 8 years on AM 1690 radio in Atlanta. Boss Joe Weber the Man and the Mind behind AM 1690 gave me the bad news after my broadcast that day that economics dictated sweeping changes at the station. What a ride! Great music, great interviews, great moments in the studio and fantastic listeners made the experience one for the ages. Best gig in town! That said, 8 was probably enough and now its time once again to reinvent, move on and "keep on pushin"!
Thanks, Joe - you've made Atlanta better - and Thanks Listeners and Guests!!
Have rocked Steve's Live with Randy Chapman once each in August and September. Chapo has a great selection of rock, funk and New Orleans grooves for dancin' and partyin'.
Have travelled the South recently with the Jody Hughes Grassperience playing some far flung bluegrass weddings in Andrews NC and Comer GA with Jasper GA on the horizon.
We've so been enjoying our run at Steve's Live Music in Sandy Springs, a brand new venue on Atlanta's north side which opened in mid-June. Folks there have been receptive and welcoming. Our Thursday June 28, 2012 show with special guest Oliver Wood was a sellout and a wonderful night on the eve of Wood's moving to Nashville. Atlanta guitar legend Glenn Phillips sat in on Thursday July 26 and blew people's minds with his singular voice of guitar mastery. The regular band consists of Nick Johnson-guitar (in-demand rising star). Mace Hibbard-tenor sax (amazing Grammy winner), Kevin Lyons-trumpet (classical master/blues man) and Chris Burroughs-drums (providing the groove that makes it all move).
Thanks for partying with us on Saturday May 5 Cinco de Maio at The Family Dog. Mace Hibbard-tenor sax, Kevin Lyons-trumpet, Dave Ellington-piano, Justin Chesarek-drums, Nick Johnson on guitar and Scott G all combined to rock the house generating good music and good times. We much enjoyed our first appearance there!
Recent interviews on Backstage Atlanta have been fantastic including chats with Robert McDuffie (violinist), Lalo Schifrin (composer "Mission Impossible", "Mannix", Gillespianna, Coogan's Bluff [Clint Eastwood films]), Idina Menzel and others.
March 9. Martini's and IMax at Fernbank with the Electromatics was a ball in one of Atlanta's great rooms with a brontosauras.
March 7. Purim Jam with my 'brother from another mother', Sam Glaser of Los Angeles proved a time shift. Upon leaving at what I thought was the 10 o' clock hour, 'realized it was 1:15am!
Fine run of "Ain't Misbehavin" by Atlanta Lyric Theater at the Strand in Marietta with 7 piece pit band including Eric Alexander, Ryan Whitehead, Neil Newcomb, Jeff Macko, Chuckster and others with Brandt Blocker on baton. Ended March 4
Thanks to all Chicken Pluckers who made January 25, 2012 a record night at Blind Willie's on the monthly get together of the MOJO DOJO featuring Mace Hibbard-tenor sax, Russell Gunn-trumpet, Marlon Patton-drums, Kevin Bales-piano and Nick Johnson-guitar. Big Thanks also to Col. Bruce Hampton for his singular rendition of Bobby Blue Bland's "Yield Not to Temptation."
Still the champ, Col. Bruce Hampton (Dykes High, '65) was in rare form onstage and in storytelling backstage at the Downtown Kitchen in Canton GA. on Jan 21 2012. Along with Kinah Boto, Rev Jeff Mosier, Lawson Feltman, I had a joyful and rare experience jamming the classics including Yield Not to Temptation, Basically Frightened, Working On a Building. Indescribable!
Really enjoyed renewing the 1940's Radio Hour experience at Theater in the Square for a 2+ week run in December 2011.
Crazy weekend of November 18 Friday Jazz at the High was swingin' hard with Joe Alterman, Justin Chesarek and tenor master John Sandfort (a marathon gig), Saturday night a good rockin warehouse party with Hinkle, O'Rourke and Williams and rounding it off with a 7am rehearsal followed by a service at Ptree Corners Baptist.
Gigs have been good! Monday Nov 7, 2011, however, it got surreal when I shared the stage to introduce Holly Firfer (CNN, Star-94) who introduced Erica Jong (Fear of Flying) at the Book Festival of the Marcus JCC of Atlanta. Lot of female energy in the room! I did not admit to the crowd to having snuck Fear of Flying way back when! Thanks for all of the enthusiasm for AM 1690 at our table in the lobby.
Wednesday October 12 saw the MOJO DOJO back at Blind Willie's in a 7-piece config which included Mace-sax, Melvin-trumpet and Wes on trombone. Mayhem and great grooves were the order while Jay Brown manned the video freestyle and from the tripod.
Wednesday August 24, the MOJO DOJO was onstage at Blind Willie's with a revamped lineup and a fresh repertoire including new - to us! - songs from Wilson Pickett, Percy Mayfield, James Cotton and other soulful performers of the 50's and 60's. It was a fun crowd, a smokin' band and a rockin night in the Highlands in Atlanta. The crowd included Col. Bruce Hampton and Pharoah Gummit.
On Saturday July 9 'headed west out past my old home on the Dallas Highway to beautiful Paulding County's Raccoon Creek Bluegrass Festival. It was a pleasure to revisit this festival after many moons. Saw the Grascals fine show on stage and picked in the summer heat in the camping area with some great musicians including Atlanta's Jody Hughes. Atlanta, Paulding Co. and Nashville's Emory Gordy (bass w/Elvis, Billy Joel, Emmylou, etc) was keeping the crowds fed with great bbq from a hard working food service crew.
On Wednesday July 6 was honored to sit down to record an interview with pianist Johnny Knapp at his home, along with Col. Bruce Hampton. Knapp played with jazz and showbiz legends including Billie Holiday, Tal Farlow, Paul Chambers and Mary Martin. He was in the house on his steady gig at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel when Bobby Kennedy was shot, had the only parking space at the Apollo Theater and enjoyed a friendship with Miles Davis. According to Hampton, Knapp is the Forest Gump of the music biz!
A fine vibe from the crowd and great playing on the bandstand at Churchill Grounds on Peachtree in Atlanta made for a memorable night July 2 over the holiday weekend as my quartet took the stage. Justin Chesarek-drums, Mike Kelly-guitar and the incendiary Mace Hibbard-alto and tenor left the crowd happy. They left me with some good laughs as well; good times!
An interesting and beautiful day of gigs on April 23, 2011 starting with a country wedding in Rutledge GA in Hard labor Creek State Park with Jody Hughes and Bob Knysz followed by an evening party in Roswell GA with Hughes and, new to Atlanta, Austin TX native Brent Warnock, a force on mandolin and banjo. An all-Latin first set followed by smokin' bluegrass in the second set.
Recent 2011 editions of Backstage Atlanta on AM 1690, the weekly interview segment, have included conversations with piano virtuoso Jean-Yves Thibaudet - in town for 4 nights as soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Conyers GA native - jazz trumpeter Marcus Printup and Kenny Ascher (Dykes High, '62) - pianist and composer including the music from the Muppets Movie and A Star is Born and Joe B. Mauldin, bassist for the Crickets with Buddy Holly. Peabo Bryson stopped by to spend some time talking about his career and show at Georgia Tech's Ferst Center.
Had a fine December 2010 in Atlanta playing some nice affairs. Played one in the most scenic downtown event space - Ventanna's - where the activities for the guests included helicopter rides from the helipad on top of the building. The trio was cut loose early that night so the dj's could get the funk going. When heading upstairs to retrieve gear cases, I was conscripted to fill the last seat for a helicopter flight. Without success I tried to explain that I was in the band and just working. The ladies would not take "no" for an answer and the next thing you know I was on the roof walking around the front of a 4-seater chopper, then getting strapped in with head-set and mic! There was a couple in the back and Pilot Ken Rogers and I in front. It was windy and clear as we took off heading south over downtown then over a lit up Turner Field in a big counter-clockwise turn over the city. Grant Park was a black swatch in the night. Rogers brought her back & set it down right on top of the pad ending my first (and only mildly harrowing) chopper ride.
To start the Thanksgiving weekend, on Wednesday evening November 24 I sat in with the Mike Veal Band at their long running weekly session at the Tin Roof Cantina (on Briafcliff @N. Druid Hills). This group has a great sound and is unafraid to tackle any song out of classic rock. The group is made up of some of Atlanta's best rockers including Barry Thrasher-guitar, Tommy Vickery-bass, Tom Grose-keys and vocals, Sean O'Rourke-drums and Mike Veal on vocals. Thanks, cats. Enjoyed m'sef!
On Monday evening November 8, 2010 at the Atlanta Jewish Book Festival visiting author, ethno-musicologist, filmmaker, composer and violinist Yale Strom was in town to promote his new book on the legendary clarinetist Dave Tarras: King of Klezmer. In a demonstration lecture at the Morris and Rae Frank Theater in the Marcus Atlanta Jewish Community Center with Sam Skelton-clarinet, Don Discenza-accordion, Scott-contrabass, the author Strom on fiddle and an enthusiastic audience, the group performed never recorded songs from Tarras' archives for the first time ever in the Southeast.
Played solo guitar and sang on Sunday October 24 for the North Buckhead Civic Assoc Fall Fling block party on Mountain Drive. It was great to be in the old neighborhood playing for the folks including so many kids that attend Sarah Smith Elementary where I was in the First Grade class of '63!
The crowd, the music and the band was electrified Thursday October 21, 2010 at Blind Willie's as the MOJO DOJO hit till the wee hours. Lester Walker-trumpet, Mace Hibbard-tenor, Yonrico Scott-drums and Nick Rosen-piano were in high gear the whole night. Special guest vocalists included the one and only Tommy Dean and Rhonda Scott.
On Sunday September 5, 2010 the MOJO DOJO performed in a benefit for our friend Nick Longo who has been beset by a health issue. The benefit was at the Northside Tavern and was organized by Jon Liebman. In the band Dr. Gordon Vernick (trumpet) and Dr. Geoff Haydon (piano) were Nick's teachers at the School of Music at Georgia State University. Sam Skelton (sax, now Director of Jazz Studies at Kennesaw State U) was a contemporary of Nick's one year behind him at GSU. On drums was Justin Chesarek who recently completed his Masters in Jazz Studies at GSU. We've known Nick many years now and were honored to participate.
On Tuesday June 29, 2010 the craziness continued when I attended soundcheck for the Sting concert at Chastain Park . I was with my friend Teri, whose sister and bro-in-law are close with Sting. Some corporate types from Xerox were also there. As we arrived, onstage was Sting, the Royal Philharmonic and a couple of corporate chicks sitting in singing.
He asked for some guys to come up next so I raised my hand and he asked me and three others to head up for "Englishman in New York." Once up there one of the Xerox guys said, "Hey, this isn't Roxanne." Sting graciously switched songs and we commenced to singing Roxanne. He got it started and we had fun singing and switching off from verse to chorus, etc.
Told him who I was with & pointed her out. He said hey over the mic to her. Leaving early, he spotted us at the top of the stairs and asked, "where are you going, Teri?" I mimed the sledge hammer. "Oh, going to work. See you. Your friend's a good singer and is ready for his second career."
Right on, Sting!
On Friday June 25, 2010 the one and only Emmylou Harris came to visit on the Midday Mix..and stayed on air for an hour-and-a-half! She was eloquent, natural, beautiful and completely humble. I didn't want to see her go! The response was overwhelming on the AM 1690 website, facebook, twitter and in-person.
Atlanta music legend Emory Gordy, Jr. was also present. He was a gracious guest with a shared history with Emmylou. They met in Gram Parson's band in the early 1970's when she was singing and he was playing bass. They continued to work together in Emmylou's Hot Band and many other situations. Gordy was the producer of Emmylou's Ballad of Sally Rose. He has compiled a dream list of musical credits as a player and producer including work with Elvis Presley, Bill Monroe, Billy Joel, George Jones, Neil Diamond, and many many others.
At Emmylou's concert at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens that night, well wishers enthusiastically offered encouragement and support for me and AM 1690. As well, Emmylou - at two different points in her concert - waxed poetically about WMLB and independent radio, as she had during our on air interview.
Liked her a lot! Thanks, Emmylou and thanks, Emory.
I began 2010 with the debut of 3 new songs on January 4 2010 at Atlanta Symphony Hall in a film short shown at the Gala Concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.