Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, The Tin Men and Paul Sanchez & The Rolling Road Show, The Mint

September 14, 2013 Saturday’s NOLA triple threat at The Mint was as close to Frenchmen Street as you can get on Pico Boulevard (in fact, last time Sanchez and company played the room in 2010, their gig was billed as the “Return of Frenchmen Street West”). But this evening was as much Napoleon or Carrolton Avenue as Frenchmen Street, with Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen’s satisfyingly feisty 90 minute performance (and long overdue LA appearance) starting the night before the Tin Men and the Road Show took over for a later show. Cleary’s set wasted no time, diving right into “Fools Game” (from his 1999 release, “Moonburn”) and “Just Kissed My Baby”  (from the Cleary & AMG, self-titled 2002 release). The former a propulsive soul blues romp with enough barroom piano rollick and get in your bones undertow to make every beer go down like an Abita. The latter a showcase for the best of the band, with its sticky Cornell Williams bass break and Cleary’s clavvy keys. Naturally, Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” was in the mix (featured on Cleary’s 2008, “Mo Hippa Live” release) and Cleary and the AMG had ample opportunity to display […]
May 27
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Reflections and Musings of a Jazz Fest Photographer

The 44th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a few weeks past and my rear view reflections only seem to sweeten the experience. This Jazz Fest, my 10th overall, is best summarized by an exchange between two Festers NOLA bound from NYC by train, one a dear friend, composer and 3-timer, the other a vet from a krewe known for their affection for Fezs (yeah, you heard that right). “Hope to see you next year”…. “You will, and every year after that until I die.” What Rolling Stone calls the “greatest music event on the planet” inspires such pure devotion. 60+ acts a day, 12 stages and tents, 7 days (no repeats, Coachella, you listening ACL?). Most of my time these days is in the pit or hustling from one stage to the next, trying to burn more calories than I eat while keeping up with artists and bands older and younger than I am (not in my 40s anymore). Fest photographers do not get to enjoy whole sets. Far from it. With 3 and outs for most big names, as well as other random acts, and much ground to cover, the feast becomes a mountain of nibbles […]

Donald Harrison, Jr. Electric Band and Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew, Santa Monica Pier

September 8, 2011 As a native Angelino, attendance at any of the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series performances truly is a rite of summer.  Gorgeous nights, ocean air, sand between your toes.  Hard to beat.  Despite a rap that Southern California indulges in the frivolous and expensive – 8 figure “homes”, 6 figure cars, $15 cocktails, every summer Los Angeles and environs offers abundant opps to hear great music for nothing from downtown to Hollywood to the beach, and we are spoiled for it.  2011 marks the Pier Twilight Dance Series’ 27th year and if the last performance is supposed to mean that summer is almost over, it’s so not true.  We all know SoCal doesn’t really bake until October while the rest of the country tastes the first chill of autumn and winter ahead. I profess to only catching a few Pier shows the past few years, but could not miss Jon Cleary and his Philthy Phew (aka, Piano, Bass & Drums) with Donald Harrison’s Electric Band for the series closer on September 8th.  NOLA funk, meet Santa Monica mellow. I’ve seen Donald Harrison, Jr. in many configurations at Jazzfest, be it in full Indian regalia or blowing […]