Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy 2011!

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Live Alive Tour 1987, on his famously beat-up '59 Strat
Stevie lays it down

My backstage pass

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!

Recently, a good friend reminded me that life is short, and that it’s up to us to recognize miracles as they happen, and to participate, or not. In honor of the New Year and all its forthcoming opportunities and miracles, please allow me to reminisce:

I was reminded of a wedding I attended while living in Los Angeles in the mid-‘80s: Delaney Bramlett's wedding. Although Delaney has been dead now for 2 years, it seems like just yesterday. Music for the ceremony was provided by a young and spry Leon Russell, and singer Rita Coolidge. Several well-known musicians were in attendance, including my friend and blues harmonica great, John Juke Logan, and many of the cast of the TV show, Roseanne.

It was an inter-connected social web in L.A. back then. Bonnie Bramlett went on as a guest actor on Roseanne; my friend Juke played the now-famous harmonica line in the opening sequence of the Roseanne show. Around then Albert Collins was in town recording for Alligator Records. I met the executive producer of Alligator Records at a party, who invited me to meet Albert later on. At the time, I was working as a graphic designer for a small firm in Los Angeles, whose owner attended the same Musicians’ Alcoholics Anonymous as Stevie Ray Vaughan: we designed all of Stevie’s tour advertising and merchandise that year, even his Christmas card.

The Wiltern Theater was host to one of the greatest single displays of rock musicianship I’ve ever witnessed: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble playing in front of 1,000 people in May 1987. Stevie was an absolute MONSTER on his beat up ’59 Strat, and, with tremendous authority, blew all our minds! Our design firm had the entire 10th row of the grand old vaudeville theater, and during intermission we went back stage to meet Stevie. We shook hands, and I was surprised at how small physically a person he was. I was wearing a backstage pass and was looking around for something he could autograph, and Stevie just took the Sharpie out of my hand with a smile and signed my backstage pass, right on my chest!

Around this time, Stevie was travelling so much, it’s a miracle he stopped over in L.A. to record, and even more of a miracle that I was in that place at that time. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

After weeks of mixing the Live Alive album in Los Angeles, Vaughan and Double Trouble went on tour in Europe, where they were scheduled to play 28 shows. On September 26, the band shared the bill with ZZ Top at the Circus Krone Building in Munich where Stevie continued a downward spiral with drugs and alcohol. After spending two months in treatment, Vaughan and Shannon went back on the road with Double Trouble, playing their first sober show at the Towson Center in Maryland. They would often attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while on the road. The tour took the band to Radio City Music Hall in New York City and Atlanta's Fox Theatre for a New Year's Eve show with Lonnie Mack. In January 1987, they played at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, which was Vaughan's first sober performance in his hometown. The band appeared with The Fabulous Thunderbirds in New Orleans for a Mardi Gras television special on MTV.

In April, Vaughan made a guest appearance on a Cinemax television special called B.B. King & Friends: A Night of Red Hot Blues. Filmed at Los Angeles' Ebony Showcase Theatre in tribute to B.B. King, the special featured musicians Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Dr. John, and Albert King, as well as vocalists Etta James, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, and Billy Ocean.

Musicians such as Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Colin James, Jonny Lang, Los Lonely Boys, Mike McCready, Eric Johnson, Orianthi, John Petrucci, and Doyle Bramhall II have cited Vaughan as an influence.

On August 27, 1990, after a sold out concert of 30,000 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, featuring an encore jam with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and Robert Cray, Stevie’s helicopter crashed, killing instantly everyone on board. Stevie was 35.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jar of Rain

Julio Posada on bass, John Thornburg on vocals, Russ Thornburg on lead guitar

John Thornburg tearing it up on the drums (photo from

Hot Young Band

I had the great pleasure of seeing Jar of Rain play at the new 88 Keys jam on Wednesday night, and Whew! These boys rock! They showed up on the radar about a year ago at the old Oddfellows jam in Redmond (by the way, how’s that Martini bar going??), and what a wonder a year makes.

John Thornburg has matured significantly as a musician, and at the tender age of 18 is already cultivating his explosive style of drumming. Sharp, powerful, and with unexpected artistry, he is a drummer to watch, now and in the years to come. His younger brother, Russ, plays a fine lead guitar, and to round out the sound, they’ve got sure-footed Julio Posada on bass.

The threesome play mostly their original material, which is also maturing. Is it loud? Yes. Is it raw? Yes. Does it show huge potential? Yes. Original songwriting is tricky; it’s partly craft and partly genius. These guys might just have what it takes.

In the meantime, when Jar covers a song, they take it further than it’s ever gone. Most young bands wouldn’t attempt the Beatles’ Come Together, or fall short in the effort, but these guys absolutely smashed it to the moon.

"Like" Jar's Facebook page to get posts about upcoming shows. Go see them in small venues while you can; rumor has it they are gaining interest with all the right people.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Jam Night at 88 Keys in Seattle

Powercell: Lynn Sorensen on bass, Doug McGrew on drums,
and Michael Johnson on lead guitar

Manuel Morais on lead guitar

Pete Butterfield on bass

Lynn Sorensen on electric violin

Eddie Mendoza on drums

Wednesday Nights at 88 Keys

It’s hard to overstate how gleeful I feel when I’m sitting in the audience at 88 Keys listening to the amazing Powercell, house band for the new jam at 88 Keys on Wednesday nights. I think to myself: Wow! I can’t believe I’m seeing/hearing this superb musicianship and rock music that I love, live and in person, 20 minutes from home!! Not to mention no cover, and free parking!

My favorite jams right now are at The Barrel in Burien on Tuesday nights, and the newcomer, 88 Keys in Pioneer Square, both 8-12p.m. Both jams are organized by the fabulous Doug McGrew, who is not only one of the finest drummers out there, but an unflagging promoter of live music. The new jam at 88 Keys on Wednesday nights is not to be missed. In an old wood and brick warehouse with high ceilings supported by huge ancient forest beams, the sound is clear and rich. And it’s great that the owners wired the place with the right equipment and enough juice to really crank.

Last night was no exception. Lynn Sorensen (of Magic Bus, and Bad Company) absolutely smoked on a gorgeous fretless bass (“Aww, I’m just goofing around,” he said later, modestly), then switched to his cherry-red favorite, and then electrified the room with his violin while Pete Butterfield grooved on the bass. They played some of Pete’s originals, which are screaming towards iTunes availability. ( can help with distribution.) Back on bass, Lynn took us to another world with Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs, then a rocked out a Guns n’ Roses song not usually my favorite, but when these guys play it, it just about takes the house down. Then Doug invited some notable locals up to play. Some surprises from Supertramp, Steely Dan, Stones, and Beatles from an ever-changing showcase of fine musicians. Among them was the Joe Satriani-meets-Stevie Ray Vaughn-meets Eddie van Halen—like awe-inspiring lead guitarist Manuel Morais, and the great Eddie Mendoza, both from the Aury Moore Band.

I can’t wait for next Wednesday at 88 Keys. From what I hear it’s going to be packed, with some very Special Guests playing, so get there by 8:00 for good seats.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Royal Fragrances From CREED

Rock your world.

In the past week, I’ve become aware of a natural and historical perfume that has rocked my idea of what “fragrance” is.

“CREED adheres to unrelenting high standards, using natural ingredients and methods of hand production instituted at the company's founding 250 years ago. For these reasons, CREED has a loyal clientele that includes royalty, Hollywood stars, political leaders, legends in business, sports, music and the fine arts, as well as discerning members of the public who value beauty and quality in scent.”

CREED was founded in London in 1760. It’s the world’s only privately held luxury fragrance dynasty, and has been passed from father to son for over 250 years. It’s one of the 100 oldest family businesses in the world! Today, based in Paris, CREED is led by the legendary Olivier CREED, sixth generation master perfumer and company chief.

The only two places to get CREED in Seattle are Nordstroms downtown, and at Niemans in the Bravern Bellevue.

Try one of these for a heady experience:

Love In Black, “evokes in dusk blooming wildflowers the enigmatic beauty of the 20th century’s most intriguing First Lady,” Jacqueline Kennedy.
Irisia, made with one of the most expensive raw materials in the world: oil derived from the root of the Iris. The Iris is the royal flower depicted in the famous symbol of imperial France, the fleur de lis.
• CREED’s mens’ fragrances are also sublime. My favorite is the royal and spiritual splendor of Original Santal.

You can shop online at
Or search “creed perfume” on Ebay.