Metheny Concert at Spreckles
Troops, I just pulled in from the Metheny concert at the Spreckles. It was off the charts! It just doesn’t get any better than this. They were hitting hard, fast and furious, black and white graphics as a backdrop, electronic rock loudness, and thenthe next moment it was a gentle solo guitar reharmonization of Last Train Home, a duet with Lyle on “In Her Family”, a band synergy on “First Circle”. They played a bunch of the new stuff and touched on all the eras of this cat who walks on water. Total cult hang too. Like the Grateful Dead culture of swarms of folks who know every tune, from which CD it came from, how old Lyle is, the bios on all the new members, etc. I love all this. And the coolest thing, unlike the Dead situation, all these fans are centering in on a band that can actually play full on creative music. I loved the whole Grateful Dead story but as much as I tried, as much as some friends kept persuading me to listen, I just couldn’t hear any magic in their music. But over here you have Metheny’s tripultra creative, adventurous to the hilt and some of the best music ever to fill the air on this earth.
And at one point Lyle stood up and had a guitar in his hand and was looking down at the pick to make sure it was hitting the right string. That’s cool! Guitars rule!
All The Notes You Know
Last week Leonard Patton sang the heck out of Marley. No Woman, No Cry was so cool we had to loop it again at the end of the night. I’ll let you know down the road about a return visit to this program. We put a lot into getting this one to take off and we’re not about to let it just drift off into thin air. Marley’s on the box baby!
Johnny “O” at Dizzy’s the following evening had a roar going on. His tune “Igor’s Day Off” had such a groove that both John and I soloed probably too long. The foundation was so on that we had to ride it until the ideas dried up. Good low end and rhythmic magic by Kevin and Duncan. What a band! And Sri “O” ‘s body of music is expanding in all directions both Latin and bopblicity. We have plans to track this music when the schedules open up.
Starting of the week was a hookup with guitarist Art Johnson and his music series “The History of the Jazz Guitar”. It was a really cool format with Art opening it up with a solo guitar piece. Then the two of us talked about our roots in learning music followed by a beautiful guitar duet on “All the Things You Are”. Or as the musos from G.I.T. used to call it, “All the Notes You Know”. The program then morphed into some trio tunes with myself, Kevin, and Duncan. And the highlight was Art switching to fiddle and blowing some Jean Luc Ponty lines through some modal explorations. Yeah, cool electric violin….
Attempt At Greatness
This week I’m recovering from last week. That was a bunch of music to prepare on top of my usual sprinting recording schedule. Crazy! This week I’ve got San Francisco vocalist Jennifer Lee in the studio and we’re prepping the music for her upcoming recording featuring myself, along with bassist Bob Magnusson and percussionist Tom Aros. Jennifer sings up a storm and her ballads are stunning explorations of space. Look for this one.
Also this week, I’m cramming in late nights putting the finishing touches on my Guitar Concerto. This is one big pile of notes cueing up to be played on May 25th with Jung-Ho Pak conducting the San Diego Symphony. Also on the concert is the world-class fiddle hero Mark O’Connor performing one of his orchestral works. This promises to be a roaring night of symphonic voodoo embracing the madness of jazz and bluegrass. What is it all coming to ladies and gentlemen? “Greatness” I answer, “or a least an attempt at greatness!” Actually, I’ll settle with just the satisfaction of getting this 100 page score completed and out the door. It’s horrifying to say the least….
Breaking The Law ‘Cuz It’s Moving Slow
I’m breathing again! I actually made it to the ocean yesterday. This morning I practiced my cello for half an hour and then replaced the batteries in my synth guitar. I called the tech support about a mic pre that was crackling and later I’ll practice some solo guitar material. I could tap into this flow very easily. The last 5 months have been so hard core busy that this level of activity seems downright illegal. Breaking the law ‘cuz it’s moving slow. Hope to see you all at the Dizzy’s solo show.
Streaming Realtime is the One
Every night I’m staying up late running over the tricky parts to the “Width of the World”. This is the name I gave my guitar concerto. We’re pulling together an enormous group of musicians and trying to make sense of a bunch of dots on paper. Now this is actually rocket science!
I hope you all can make it. I’m even requiring my young daughter Kylie to make the show. She’s not really that into jazz or seeing her old man play, however, it may be a long time before she ever sees me sitting in front of an orchestra. I figure, for the length of the piece she could maintain her sanity. I did a little research and found out that there are still 400 tickets left, but they are moving fast. There are some discounts available too. If you’re a student and wait one hour before the show, all tickets are $10. Seniors get $3 off. Otherwise, if bucks are a problem, head towards the balcony and hopefully that’s affordable for the rest of you all. And surely another option is to just hear about the show after the fact. Streaming realtime is the one though!
Beaten Musos Dozing Off
Friends, hope this is arriving to you well. Last weeks highlights were many. First off, Kevyn Lettau singing with Bob Magnusson conducting the Mesa College Big Band was so off the charts! Kevyn sounded the end. They played Gershwin and Cole Porter and as I sat with Kevyn’s mom listening to Kevyn sing so beautifully, she whispered to me, “Kevyn still has it”. No kidding! It was good.
Next up, our gang of merry pranksters gathered at Dizzy’s and played the samba. It was a one of those special eves with loads of friends sitting in. Monette made the gig and blasted some wonderful conga solos. Leonard Patton went off on Marley’s “Redemption Song”, and John Minchin played stellar harmonica on Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave”. You may ask, “what’s up with these non Brazilian tunes on a night of samba?” Well friends, you’ll just have to make the next hit to see what actually goes on.
The following night Duncan, Kevin, and I drove to Laguna Beach and did a hit with saxophonist Ernie Watts. Now we’re talking about a cat who has mastered the horn. Perfect notes, intonation and time. During a break I overheard a fellow from the audience ask Ernie, “man, wonderful playing. You sure are gifted.” Ernie said, “all I did was hang out in the practice room for twenty years and play five hours a day.” And that’s what this cat does and it shows….Bravo!
The next day found me and the Samba Devotees driving to Palm Springs to play a party for an older gal that loves Brazilian music. She invited a bunch of her friends and they danced to Jobim and Djavan. One of the waiters fell into the pool with a tray full of desserts. The fellow that ran the catering company for the party sat in and sang “Mona Lisa”. We didn’t really know the tune but he sounded really good! In the end, the long drive home through the backside of Idyllwild was magical. Beaten musos dozing off. Except for Duncan who was driving…
Music Is One of Life’s Great Rides
Yesterday I put the old Na Pali Coast recording on and took a spin as one of my computers was shuffling through some routine backup maneuvers. I’m planning ahead for this Saturdays hit with Kujala and Magnusson at Dizzy’s and doing some R & D as to what we were up to seventeen years back. On comes Chick’s “Japanese Waltz” and it’s been a long time since we’ve played that beautyweaving minor chords down major thirds. Carving! Ellington’s “I Didn’t Know About You” is a masterpiece and right away I’ve decided to put that one back into the repertoire. Peter Erskine and I put it to the floor on “I Could Write a Book” complete with the Coltrane “Giant Steps” substitute changes and Kujala wails on the vamp at the end. But the magic really lives supreme inside the tunes “Magic Mizz Mellisa” and “Na Pali Coast”. This is where we really found our place. Relaxed, flowing, just playing the right amount of stuff, nothing extra in there.
After my listen through, I’m thinking that we’ll revisit these tunes for this weeks show. I was up late last eve getting the notes back in my fingers. Music sure is one of life’s great rides!
Young Hippie Musos Waxing Poetic
I’m just coming off a cloud after the samba hit in Point Loma last week. We had a great turnout, the sound system was tuned in, and most importantly the band was cooking. Monette started the concert with a percussion jam and from that moment to the finale, with a stage full of friends, it was samba California style.
Some years back I did a couple of records that until recently were only available on vinyl. Tell me, who out there still owns a record player? Apparently not many because from my website, only a few people have ordered the old plastic warhorses. They’re a hassle, they warp, and if you’ve heard one of them lately, man o’ man, scratches unlimited, (and this is from a new record just out of the shrink wrap)! I’ve taken two of my old favorites and had them transferred to CD. “Napali Coast” featuring Steve Kujala, Peter Erskine, Bob Magnusson, Tripp Sprague, and myself along with my other recording called “Musica Del Mar” are both available to order in the CD format from my website.
These are two “Sprague Classics” if there ever were Sprague classics. Maybe it’s all just a sales ploy, but in any event, the tune “Magic Mellisa” on the Napali recording still tears me up. Also on the “Musica” recording I’ve included a tune that never made the original record called “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”. Vinyl had a time limitation of around 24 minutes per side and even though this tune has some pretty slamming bop, it got left out in the dark because of the old “run out of grooves” syndrome. Not anymore folks, gotta love this digital world.
Also appearing for their first time in CD are two of the early Dance of the Universe recordings “You Make Me Want To Sing” and “The Space Between Two Thoughts”. Young hippie musos waxing poetic in Del Mar, in between headstands and veggie burgers, Kevyn Lettau in her early years, Tripp and Lefty with beards, epic long complicated musical interludes (triple codas) courtesy of me. These two essential sides are also available through the website.
Lots of Air In Her World
Friends, just got home from the Dizzy's hit last eve. Man, what a sound! This gal Jennifer Lee from San Francisco, singing some pretty wicked ballads. The gentleness of it all. Her voice is precise and she worships space. Lots of air in her world. And Bob Magnusson, wow, what a swing factor that cat possesses. It's like riding a bicycle on a 12 lane freeway. Stability supreme, wide with tons of room to wobble. It was a good night of music and I'm hoping Jennifer makes it down again. I'll let you know...
Here is what's going on this week. Also included is the news on the big Nikki's Rose concert. I'm fine tuning the music details for this concert this week. It's gonna rock! Hope to see you all out there....
Standing Room Only and Bustin’ at the Seams
Friends, I thank all of you that made it out to the Nikki’s Rose concert last Friday. I also thank all of you that didn’t make it out and the reason is, I don’t know where all of you would have parked your bodies. It was full on, standing room only, and busting at the seams. What a thrilling ride!
Highlights For Me:
I spent a lot of time practicing my opening solo guitar number. I know from experience that when you go out into a full room and play solo and need to burn from moment one, well it’s a lot to ask from a handful of 46 year old digits. But it worked, I was loose, and felt free with the guitar and the tune. And then the blend of this into the opening band number “The Rose”, that was pretty special.
Amber sang beautifully throughout the night and the tune “Rick” was beckoning Marley’s magic. Dani Carroll’s reciting on “Just Accepted You” was an enormous moment set up by Mary Lindloom’s cello intro. Man I loved the serenity of that elapsed set of time. Lisa Hightower wailed on “Believe In Me” and her blues at the end was like a disease that worked in reverse. Bravo! Bro’ Tripp carved great wisdom on “Rick” and then switched to many other instruments throughout the concert, including keyboard. A true multifaceted warrior of sound! The low end was secure with Kevin at the helm and Duncan womped out some darkness on his “exploration of sound” intro on “Dark and Light”. Good man! Tommy Aros added rainbow colors and then unleashed the demon on his high energy conga solo on “Only Love Will Keep Us Alive”. Rob Whitlock played ridiculous solos throughout the eve and a highlight for me was his Zen intro on “Rick”. Leonard’s moment on “Caro Mio Ben” was so something! Pure as light and it moved me to the hilt! Maureen sang beautiful bossa nova on “Reflections” and I sure dug the whole ensemble of singers backing up each other throughout the show. Lush harmonies, nothing like that sound to get you thinking about the direction of your life and what it might all mean. Deep bizness really! After all that we had John Minchin, our resident blues harpist, join in and offer up a taste of New Orleans. What a nice last glimpse!
Chris, Nikki’s mom, was in a great place that night, just loving the experience of Nikki’s poetry book coming to life in 3D. And it was her who bought 225 roses and gave one to each concert attendee. Pretty awesome!
The slide show put together by Barbara Rix was a really cool feature. I loved sharing the images of the making of this record.
We had great sound by Dave Leyton and exquisite CD sales by Regina and Michelle. Justin did magic in keeping the box office from exploding. Karl Anthony got in there and kept the audience from charging the stage when we switched into the “standing room only mode”. And my lovely wife Stef took care of an enormous mountain of responsibilities and details, all of them done with love in her heart, and “I’m gonna kill Peter for getting me into this” under her breath. Bravo! This concert was like producing a movie….
That was it folks. And believe it or not, twelve midnight that night found me not at some club or restaurant celebrating the concert and the hardcore preparations that had for months led up to the show, but instead, taking on the roll of the night janitor and tidying up the theatre after the dust had settled. Guitar star in one moment and four hours later humbled to the plight of the common man. It’s a good thing really and folks, they ain’t lying when they say, “there’s no bidness like show bidness”…
Historic Sprague Recordings Re-released
We’re leaning into the end of 2001. I hope it’s been a good one for all of you as it has been for me and my gang. Yesterday we procured a Christmas tree and my daughters sacred LIST is in the works and growing every minute. Only fifteen days until Christmas!
I recently received a shipment of “historical” Sprague music CD’s. The graphics on all of these titles have been redone and some new photos have been added. “Musica Del Mar” now has me playing the guitar right handed instead of the original vinyl release version that found me playing left handed. Also on “Musica Del Mar”, a lost track has been added, “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes.” “You Make Me Want To Sing” was our very first recording ever and it was finished in December, 1977. The Dance of the Universe Orchestra made a second recording that never really saw the light of day until now. This gem is called “A Space Between Two Thoughts.” It’s a cosmic adventure into samba and jazz, and it cooks! “Napali Coast” is still one of my all time favorites and it features Steve Kujala, Bob Magnusson, and Peter Erskine on drums. On this CD I’ve included a lost mix that Chick Corea’s engineer Bernie Kirsch did for me. This one was never originally released. The producer, who was a pretty traditional jazz fellow, thought the mix was too “modern” and had it remixed to his taste. This story goes on and on but this was also the episode that led me to bowing out of that record deal and instead doing recordings that followed my vision. Enter mighty SBE Records, Strivin’ to Break Even, create some art and maybe a little cash too. “Magic Mizz Mellisa”, recorded on “Na Pali Coast” is now presented in the way that I’ve always envisioned it. All of the CD’s make tremendous Christmas gifts, but you probably already knew this. If you’re interested, please visit my site:
www.petersprague.com and go to ACTUAL PROOF and there before you is the recorded world of Peter Sprague.
If you have notions of mass Peter Sprague Music with autographs and three dimensional holograms in place, please call us and we’ll figure out how to make this happen. All in all, best wishes for this holiday season and remember, keep the sky in your head….
Loud Jazz in Back Alleys
Friends of sound, hello after a two week air supply tour. Breathing now! What a hurricane that was leading into the Symphony hit. And for those who went, major thanks to all of you for coming out and taking in the wide sound and the dressed up musicians. It was a great one! I loved the intro to “Width” and could of easily just melt in that world, not even playing, for a good spell. And of course it was great playing too. I sure hope someday all of this will happen again. Orchestras and all of their inherent baggage and explosive materials rule! Long live the tradition…
I’ve been in the studio for the last two weeks, taking in extra breaths. But it’s summer and of course I’ve fit in some great surf sessions too. The pacific is almost 70 degrees and that’s built in bliss. The swell has been from the south and sun is out. All the elements to make this salt water devotee smile. Hope to see you down there…
Coming up are some shows that I’m really excited about. Please check from time to time at my website for further tales of loud jazz in back alleys. It’s all good….
Easing the Grip of the Days Details
Dear Friends of Sound, hope the summer is working it's magic on you. I know it is on me. Yesterday the gang and I explored every imaginable way to surf waves so small that even my 8 year old was relaxed and calm floating beyond the breakers. There’s nothing like 70 degree water and a bit of sun to ease the grip of the days details.
Our show with the Strummers last week was all time! Thanks to all of those who made it and man, that was a packed show. Sean and Sarah positively shredded the jazz stuff. One of the golden moments occurred as the dust settled from a thrashing "Taxman" and Sean and Sarah chucked the mics and played an old Irish ballad, just the two of them. Folks, it doesn't get any better than thisthe beauty of a G chord on the guitar and the pristine spirit of Sarah's voice and fiddle. We all left thinking that the world's spin was actually on the right course...
Motown Living on Bop Alley
Friends, just leveling off here after an outrageous Coyote hit last night. That has got to be one of the coolest gigs ever invented!
Set one found us carving through some bop and samba, just the core group. Set two started with epic Opferkuch Zen-ing within Metheny’s “The Fields, The Sky”. This one hangs in the key of G pretty much the whole tune yet captured within this framework a whole mid-western story unfoldstales of flatbed trucks, Ornette Coleman growing up in Texas, and endless rows of grain swaying in the summer heat. After this song we had a couple of vocalists join in. Wonderful Lisa Hightower belted a song before she hightailed it to another gig. She sounded great and the scat exploration on the turnaround at the end shook everybody up. Next on the line up was Leonard Patton singing Djavan’s “Alagoas”, outrageous! The set moved through Marley and ended up with a snip of Stevie’s “I Wish” morphed into my own tune “Seattle Stomp”. Motown living up on bop alley…
We took a break and retooled into The Strummer’s mode. Sean and Sarah, tanned and just back from a surf session at Malibu, jumped on board and threw down some ridiculous, hard hitting notes. It was the end! The recent gigs that we’ve been doing sure helped pull some of these loose details together and rather than just surviving through some of the tunes we took hold. “Reasons Why” was the last tune of the whole evening of music could of gone on except Duncan had some iTune downloading to attend to plus the Coyote would of been fined if the music leaned too far into the night. With the last pouncing on an F minor chord we proceeded to deal with the gear and share some laughs with friends. The train went by and the July summer eve came to an end. It was good….
Pendulum Towards Art
Greetings for this last minute reminder,
The tall man with the flute is currently battling traffic from L.A.
Tonight we’ll meet up at Dizzy’s and exploit various hi and low sounds.
We’ll lean into open space and then for contrast, blast a zillion notes.
We’ll set the pendulum towards ART. It may not make it out but we’ll try.
Hope you can make it.
It’s my last gig ‘till the end ‘o the month.
Family surf time in which we’ll let the details die.
Can’t wait for both tonight to start and for the vacation to begin.
I’m having a good summer!
Tales of Surf, a Documentary, Ballot Stuffing, and Potential Magic
Greetings Friends of Sound,
Today I have possession of stories of a forbidden surf spot, the release of a documentary about a much loved artist, the horror of ballot stuffing, and the potential magic of a North County musical happening. Before these new tales are told how about a little rewind?
From the last time we left off I’ve again been living the scramble of studio guitarist and producer. We had a nice escape there at the end of August to the wide life of vacation and zero details. Short lived and hopefully soon to return, but for now there is work to do.
Folk songstress Cici Porter has been coming to the studio and we’re in the flow of creating a wonderful record. Her singing is exquisite and her songs are strong. This will be one to look for.
Songwriter and vocalist Randy Phillips is just finishing up her newest CD. We’ve got a stellar crew on the recording with Dennis Caplinger, Joe Payne and the Posse of SpragueLand Stranglers, (Duncan Moore, Kevin Hennessy, and Tom Aros). This CD has a wonderful EARTH feel.
On Friday the thirteenth Bordertown guitarist and vocalist Dan Conner did his final mix and zipped off to a L.A. mastering house. We’ve been at it for a while but this recording is worth every inch of the wait. Dan has a first rate collection of original songs and they are played by a great gang of folksters. Look for this one to surface in a month or so.
Last week Fred Benedetti, Tripp Sprague, and I took the stage at Dizzy’s and played the new songs from the Blurring the Edges recording SOMBRA. Like magic, the CD came back from the duplication plant the day of the gig so we had actual product in hand as we tackled the zillions of notes that we composed two years prior. Sorry folks it takes us so long to get our own CD’s out there. Dig this, Tripp has two kids, small ones, Fred has two kids, medium sized, and I have one small medium prankster. This family hurricane mixed with ridiculously full music schedules reveals the inner workings of Blurring the Edges. Chaos aside, at Dizzy’s, we tranced out and had a magical concert. We’re pretty inspired now and have plans to do more shows and a CD Release Concert. More on that later…
And with that past news this brings us up to the present.
North of Santa Barbara, way off the beaten path, at the absolute end of the road, lives a perfect surf spot called Cojo. It’s on a plot of land called the Bixby Ranch and is open only to a select few outside of the actual ranchers themselves. Somehow a surf friend of mine got in good with the owners and has a once a year pass into this magic land of right point breaks and offshore wind. I’m going in a next month. All we need now is a big south swell and some bran muffins.
I recently composed the music for a documentary about the Julian artist James Hubbell. If you know about Hubbell, you know what a special man he is. On all fronts this fellow emanates the joy of life and creativity. His art comes in all shapes and forms. He designs buildings, does sculpture, paints in watercolors, and works with stained glass. KPBS producer Marianne Gerdes has put together a wonderful hour-long show on James and accompanying the images is the music from my brother Tripp and myself. We hunkered down in the studio for a couple of days and came up with some cool stuff. Hope you get a chance to see and hear the show. Details about air times are below.
Ballot Stuffing 101. I’m not really sure where I stand on this one. Turns out I’ve won the SD Music Awards a couple of times and even though the whole notion of getting up there and giving an acceptance yap was awkward as all get out, there was some positive career boosting momentum created from the circus. And on the other side of the whole issue, take for example this: Hero Pat Metheny has won a Grammy Award pretty much every time he puts out a new record and I don’t think he has ever shown up to the event once to receive his award in person. He’s always too busy actually making REAL music. This in my opinion far outweighs the Hollywood-ization of Career-dom.
So the way I see it, all avenues are positive and possible. If I get voted in, rock on! Maybe it’ll lead to a couple more gigs and a few CD sales. If I lose, I get to take in another sunset ocean hit with Ky and I don’t have to fight the traffic. Here are the links to the two award events running right now. Best way to cast the vote is to vote online. I’m nominated for Best Traditional Jazz.
Thanks for reading all of this. I hope these words find you and yours in a good place. Happy trails and until the next time….hang ten, Peter
These words are sneaking out from the far corners of my practice room. Last night was a total wacked exploration of McCartney’s “And I Love Her.” With so many possible chord moves, which combinations are the right one? Ever heard of the phrase “Jazz Damaged?” The delicate blend is held in balance with monkey-ing with it enough but never at the cost of warping the songs original intent. Go too far and you’ll damage the gem.
I’m working out the music for this week’s solo gig at Dizzy’s. I’ve written 3 new tunes and I’ve also put together a medley of some of my favorite John Coltrane songs. I’m rounding out the evening with some blues, some poetry, some Beatles, some Metheny (“Travels”, one of his greatest tunes), some calypso, and I think an obscure Paul Simon beauty. I’m really into pulling this together…
Hoping you all can make it out….best, Peter
60 Degrees Water Helps Blur Boundries
Friends, just here digging the magic of California and making music with a band of surfers. This week we’ve got two Blur hits and today we gathered the gang and threw a rehearsal to polish up the details. It also turns out that after a couple of days of rain and wind that California presented us with a crystal clear day with semi big surf. Pulling off the practice with a little abbreviation left some time for Fred and I to make our way to the ocean. We had a great surf sesh and cleared all the dust from our heads. 60 degrees water will do that to you. Now we’re ready for two nights of blurring the boundaries of music. Hope you all can join us…
Did you know that a shooting star landed in Escondido last night? Pat Metheny and the Group tore it up for three unbelievable hours. Not only did the Earth’s rotation alter slightly, but how a bunch of us listeners view music will probably be forever changed. He had guitars in all shapes and sizes, altered tunings, continually evolving groupings of players within the band, loud out of control contrasted with simple diatonic beauty. Completely ridiculous, (in the best of ways).
And this all blends into what we’ve got shaping up for this week at Dizzy’s. We’re gathering the tribesfolk of syncopation to stir up a celebration of samba. Coral and Leonard will sing while Tripp, Monette, Duncan, Ken, and myself lay it down underneath. We’re adding some new music for this show. I wrote two new ones after my return from a recent surf trip in Santa Barbara. Leonard will sing a samba reggae version of Bruce Hornsby’s “Every Little Kiss”, Coral will weave through my Coltrane influenced arrangement of Jobim’s “One Note Samba”, and together the two vocalists will harmonize on Jobim’s “Passarim”. We’ll have smoke and mirrors and percussion jams too. Hope you can make it…
added possible swayable element:
This looks like the last public hit for me until mid December….
Frantic Level Six
Frantic level six heading on up
Holdsworth played a bunch of notes the other night
Traffic is getting steeped
The “right gift” scramble is upon us
The holiday parties are starting their fervor
I pulled out the Christmas music folders the other day
And that’s the precise reason I adhered some wacked out chords to “Santa’s Coming To Town”
It’s lunacy and it’s love
It’s Christmas time in SoKal…
Ho, ho, ho, friends, hoping to see you all down at Dizzy’s for the Blur group’s exploration into Spain, Brasil, India, and Greenwich Village circa 1956. It should be some great sounds and maybe just the right blend of moving air to soothe those semi-tattered nerves of yours….I know it’s gonna heal my soul….
Bows And Arrows
I’m just pulling back from a weekend in Catalina camping with my daughter and 200 other dad and daughter teams. The water was clear and cold, the Frisbee golf was enormously fun, the fish were not jumping for us but no worries because the bow and arrow archery setup provided hours of concentration and laughs. A peak moment found us all circled in our bungalow singing Beatles songs. Music is wide and brings it all together…
We rehearsed the Samba group last week and the show this week should really be great. I spent some time listening to our last show and made some new arrangements and ditched a few tunes. Tightened the whole thing up….I hope you can make it out….
Also this week is the reunion of NYC pianist Bill Mays, Bob Magnusson, Jim Plank, and myself. We made some records and had some great times. This show should be a great one….
That’s it for now.
Happy trails, Peter
Paying A Visit To The Zoo
Yessirree Friends of Sound, hope all is well in your sphere. Extremely good times over here. Had some serious fun with the Samba group at Dizzy’s. The band is really coming together and I’m thinking we’re gonna take it into the studio soon for some tracking. Also, we got an offer to take the band to Hawaii to play and this makes us all happy…
Then the next day was a day of absolute madness at the NAMM Show in L.A.. Basically a 6 hour headache with all of the music companies turning it up to eleven with an added plea to be heard and sold. Acres of ticky guitars and digital reverbs, not a soulful note of music within miles. I think this happens not because the players aren’t capable, but that the actual venue for the NAMM show (the Anaheim Convention Center) is possessed with some weird spell that won’t allow SOULFULLNESS to take place. Instead everyone gets brainwashed into thinking that they need to play fast and impressive within a 20-second span…Weird science, but a fun hit nevertheless. A lot like paying a visit to the zoo…
The next day found our group Road Work Ahead meeting early at Dizzy’s for a rehearsal and a show. Friends, this was ultra magic all the way through. The camaraderie and pathos that exists is pretty special and the music that came from that was stellar. Bill Mays played a blues solo that was as good as it gets anywhere, Mag and Plank laid it down clean, solid, and inventive, and I was the fortunate one to sit on top and play my favorite lines. There were loads of good friends and family in the audience and it was definitely cool doing the Sunday matinee show. I hope this all happens again…
That brings us up to this week. Mark O’Connor, the unreal violinist is doing a show and I’m happy to be included. If you haven’t ever heard Mark play live you’re really missing something. He’s got it so down the violin simply channels his thoughts. He’s CONNECTED!
I’m glad, too, this week that we’re getting the samba group, PASS THE DRUM, together to do a North County hit at Ki’s in Cardiff. We’re bringing a slightly smaller version of the group to not blow down the walls but certainly the spirit will be high octane…
Blessings every which way, Peter
It Never Ends
Hi Friends, here is the report direct from the music front. I had the good fortune of scoring a last minute ticket to the Chris Thiele/Mike Marshall Mandolin Levitational Conference at the charmed La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas last week. My friend Barnaby Finch called with an extra ticket and we sat together in awe as the two master musicians played everything from Bluegrass to Bird to Bach to swamp swirls. Unreal, fully inspiring, off the charts, quiet and slow, loud and beating the mandos, big mandos, small mandos, tapping toes, effortless melodic lines, memorized music, reading from a chart, popcorn, excellent friends, cold blustery Cali winter evening, some actual parking available, going home and practicing ‘cuz it never ends and there’s tons more to learn, all of this with the included soundscape of Thiele’s ridiculous fluency as the backdrop.
It was a happy moment…best, Peter
Decomposing In Paradise
Hi Friends, I’m writing today after a wonderful last week of recording with the gang of musicians we call Pass The Drum. We eased into some Jobim, threw down some Marley, sprinted over a couple of my originals, and basked in a Beatles tune. It went well and for the next two weeks we’re putting the final touches on a CD that I can’t wait for you all to hear. After completion of the CD we’re heading off to play some shows in Hawaii at the end of May. I’ll let you know more of the details coming up and if you’d be kind enough to pass on the word to anyone you know in the islands, we’d be much appreciative of that. Gotta pass the drum every which way. Can’t wait to decompose in paradise!
Illegal Amounts of Fun
Hi Friends, I hope this note finds you well. I'm right in the last sprint of finishing up my new recording called "Pass The Drum". I'm having illegal amounts of fun swimming in the long days of guitar and computer with low level interruptions. I'll let you know when this one hits the pavement. Until then, I hope to see you out in the real world.
Proper Burn Taking Place
Dear Friends, I’m hoping this note finds you well. I’m still finishing up the mixing on our new project. It’s funny how things get extended when you’re thinking “forever”. Recordings last forever, unlike the fleeting moments of live music, thus bringing up the issue of it needing to be right. This one’s gonna be as right as I can make it and I’m throwing another week at it to bring it around. I’m having fun…
Out in the analog domain we’ve got some cool shows this week. The SD State gig will find our trio along with the poet and performance artist David Antin. He’ll do some of his stuff, we’ll do a little together and then we’ll end the show with our own music. It should be great.
On Saturday we’ll samba at Dizzy’s with Pass The Drum. Our tunes and arrangements are tight and a proper burn should take place.
I’m strumming solo on Sunday at the Chula Vista Library. I’ve got a few obscure Jobim gems to let loose and I’ll swing an Ellington classic. It’s always a good roll spending some solo time with the guitar.
That’s it for now. Happy trails, Peter
Tainted Oxygen of Computer Fans
Friends, I'm once again breathing the air of earth. For the last spell of time all that my lungs experienced was the tainted oxygen of computer fans and the exact detailed atmosphere of the recording environment. All good things of course but nothing beats the salt of the pacific and the wind through the trees. I'm with you again folks, I'm among the living.
The Pass The Drum cd is being replicated at this very moment. I'm happy with it and it'll be a fine day when I can share it with you. I'll let you know.
On Friday, May 30th the band and I will play a show on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. We've got a great deal spinning in which we'll fly to Kona to play a jazz wedding, then zip to Kauai for some desperately earned R & R, and the night of music playing samba in paradise. If you have friends over there please let them know that we'll be in town.
For this week we've got some cool things planned. I hope to see you out there...
Taking Down the Brick Walls
Aloha,the band was just over and we took a spin through the tunes. Man, it’s gonna be a good one at Dizzy’s tomorrow eve. Hope you can make the trek to downtown SD. We’ve added a new tune that Coral and I co-wrote called “Bumerang” and she’s singing in Spanish at full volume. Can’t wait to hear that one take down the brick walls! And the pervading spirit is high ‘cuz we all get to expand out to Hawaii soon and we’re liking the way that that feels…
A fellow from the Big Island wrote me and told me he was flying over to Kauai for our show. He also shared this piece ‘o wisdom in response to my enthusiasm of getting to visit the Hawaiian “paradise”.
“Stay mellow. Hilo is rainy. By the way, Hawaii is NOT paradise. Paradise, brother Peter, is in each moment.”
I dig this!
The Gentle Summer Evening
Yes friends, pretty good to be back here in SoCal, but let me tell you, some great things are going on in Hawaii right now too. The Na Pali coast is offering up some insane views, their ocean water temperature is easily in the high 70’s, and the sun is out. And one of the best things is that the good folks of Kauai love music and that makes me and my gang of merry pranksters extra happy. Nothing beats sharing one’s weird angle on music with others and having them GET IT in a true way. We hung with some high school kids and did a music clinic, played at a wild post wedding party, and then performed a full on concert at Kauai’s state of the art theatre in Lihue. It was good and in between all of this we snorkled, fished, kayaked, walked, biked, surfed, and played baseball. I left out a lot of other things too but you get the idea of high class non-detailed fun. It’s nice to leave the hurricane at home…
I’m back into it and this week I’ve got 2 shows I’m really looking forward to. Bob Magnusson and I are playing it simple and sweet at Ki’s and then the next night it’s just me and my guitars hanging at Dizzy’s for a solo hit. I hope to see you out in the gentle summer evening….
Happy trails, Peter
The Next Day Grogginess
Hello Friends, all is well over here at SpragueLand. There’s been some summer surf, some new music, the vegetable garden is offering up some parsley, and I’ve got almost 2 whole weeks to daydream into my own world before the gigs begin again. This is good…
I’m really excited about the Road Work Ahead concert coming up on July 10th. We’re doing two shows because the first show (7:30PM) has sold out. There is space open for the 9:30PM show and I strongly urge you to make it out. So it starts a little late. Even in your next day grogginess you’ll be happy you hung out into the eve catching Bill Mays going stellar on the piano and Mag’s unreal bowing. Jim Plank won’t let you down and for me, I’m already transcending at the thought of us all stirring it up together again. We’re spending a couple of days leading into the show recording at my studio for a new CD. Road Work Ahead indeed!
A guitarist that influenced me enormously in the Brazillian style is Oscar CastroNeves. When I heard him play the samba and bossa nova I then realized that there were some missing elements to my way of doing it and I needed to examine more closely the way it was really done. He’s a great player and a beautiful fellow and he’s doing a show at the Athenaeum as well on July 17th. His 7:30pm show is also sold-out, so they’ve added a 9:30PM show also.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, check here for my concert dates further of into the distance: http://PeterSprague.com/eyeandear.shtml
If you’re the kind of person who likes to watch North County wacko’s creating even more WHACK kind ‘o music, click here: http://PeterSprague.com/video/MakingPassDrum.mov
And if you like the samba and want to dig into my latest and greatest effort, click here: http://PeterSprague.com/proof.shtml
Music Makes Sense
Friends, just reporting back after a great weekend of music. The Road Work Ahead hit at The Athenaeum was fairly off the charts. Excellent music and friendship. We also recorded that week with the group and this week I’m mixing the tracks. We should have a CD hovering in the near future and I’ll let you know when it lands.
Yesterday we gathered the troops of guitarists and held court at the La Paloma Theatre. Peter Pupping and his gang led the way to a delightful afternoon of classic tunes delivered in a humid and spirited room of 400 folks. I got to distort the guitar at the end and that made me happy. I dug out a couple of Santana licks and worked them for proper levitation. Music makes sense…
Coming up this week are some trio gigs of mine up in the North County beach area. Make the trek and see how it is to sizzle into July with good food, good samba, and the pacific…
Also coming up this week is a book signing event for a friend of mine named Steve Denyes. Steve is a longtime Del Mar resident and in addition to playing music, writing and acting in plays, teaching grade school, he now has written a book about the inside curve of musician’s lives. His book is called “Gigging for a Living: Candid Conversations with Independent Working Musicians.” He’s gone around and interviewed a bunch of musos and asked them the inner workings of how they make their lives with music work, or not work as the case may be. My story is in the book in addition to some of my friends including Deborah Liv Johnson, Steve White, Eve Sellis, Jeff Berkley, Gregory Page, Joy Eden Harrison, and others. This is interesting stuff and the interview with guitarist and vocalist Steve White is worth the price of admission alone. This fellows life has more wild spins than all of us combined and the way he tells his story is a humor poetic sandwich with extra mustard added. Rocking! And if you don’t know about Steve White check out his link: http://www.stevewhiteblues.com/
Steve recorded his last CD at my studio about a year ago. This fellow plays guitar, taps his boots on a miked up platform, and sings the blues full on, all at the same time, with lyrics that tell the story of the gamblin’ Tahoe “Keno Girl”. This cat’s the real deal…
Now back to the book signing event. It’s happening this Sunday and look ahead for the details. If you’re interested in buying the book on line, follow this link: http://www.giggingforaliving.com/
that’s it for now, hanging ten, Peter
Battling It Out In a Squelched Economy
Friends, it’s been a great summer so far and I’m thinking this good thing will just keep on going.
This week we’re officially celebrating the release of our new CD “Pass The Drum.” We took a spin through the songs today at rehearsal and we added one new tune to the mix. Do you remember Stevie Wonder’s song called “That Girl?” Stevie threw some great jazz moves into this tune by way of altered chords and a magic groove. I took his stuff and then added my own insanity to it. It sounded good and Leonard was the magnet for Stevie’s brilliance. I can’t wait for you all to hear it. Also, relatively new to our song list, is a salsa tune that Coral and I wrote called “Boomerang”. This one terrorizes with tricky unison lines and pretty hefty tempo. Coral sings the story of a person caught in the confusion of love and dealing with the issue of moving on or returning back. Her story is sung in Spanish…
And back to this CD release week we’ve got going. Turns out the press machinery is rocking and rolling and looks like this week we’ll be on the radio (KSDS & KPBS), on T.V. (KUSI), and in a bunch of newspapers. Look out in all directions if you want, but what we’d like most for you to do would be to make it out to one of our live shows, dig the music, and then buy twenty CD’s for you and your friends. You’d spread the word of sound and you’d be supporting a gang of musos battling it out in a squelched economy. It’s a happy thing…
The Search For The Elusive Magic
Hi Friends, we’re just back from an incredible weekend of playing samba and doing the promo dance. Many thanks to all of you for the support and making it out to the shows with great spirit.
We’ve got one more concert planned before we cash in on a little hard earned summertime R & R. We’re assembling the group in downtown Del Mar at the Ocean Song Gallery and this annual show always proves to deliver the ever elusive magic that us musos are searching for. Maybe it’s the sound of the place or maybe it’s the wonderful gal that runs the store. I won’t try to figure it out but instead just get the guitar tuned and the transcendence kicked into gear.
I hope you can be with us….adios, Peter
The Ever Morphing Planet of Groove
Friends, I’m surfacing after many days of saltwater immersion. I can tell you that the world looks good and promising from that vantage point. Keep it up, we’re gonna make it through.
Speaking of making it through with ease, this Sunday a bunch of us musos are gonna make it up at the Coyote and retrace our steps from twenty years ago with Rob Schneiderman’s band “Manzanita.” Rob wrote the music and it’s funk and Latin edge struck a strong chord for all of us bopsters to explore the ever morphing planet of groove. Nate East played bass and set the launching pad for Tripp, Mark Lessman, Rob, and myself to spring from. We made a record (anyone got some stray copies?) played concerts, and disbanded just like you’re supposed to do. It was good and it’ll be good to warp it back for a day…
Rob is sticking around for an extra week and on Wednesday we’ll meet up at Dizzy’s for a roaring night of bebop. Jim Plank and Bob Magnusson will round out the group. We’re gonna play some Sonny Rollins tunes…
Check out the other two events coming up next week. Steve Kujala will be in town and also my group Pass The Drum returns to the Coyote for a live recording.
Keep the sky in your head, Peter
The Land of “If Only”
Friends, I hope this is arriving to you in a well state.
All good on this side of the cables. Turns out that as the summer eases out, the studio work is easing in. I’m slammed with recording projects and gigs and it was a nice slow summer while it lasted. As time marches on, one major hovering chunk of wisdom dominates; “gotta dig what you have at this moment.” In the land of “if only”, dissatisfaction reigns…
This week we’re steering our cars into the futuristic world of Street Scene to throw down some samba admidst the moshing and piercings. We’re the gray hairs trancing out on Caetano Veloso and Jobim all the while, all around us, subwoofers will be redirecting the heartbeats of a million volume worshippers. It’s gonna be a good one!
Johnny “O” Steps Out
Fellow Followers of Sound, it’s all been good over here on planet Sprague. I’ve been totally buried in digital decisions broken up with short blips of sleep. Me and the gang cranked out a CD and I turned it in at the end of the day yesterday. Freedom is upon me once again and the first thing I’m thinking about is getting back into the blend of yoga in the sand followed by the reward of the blue pacific. Coming on up!
This week we’re celebrating pianist John Opferkuch’s first solo recording project “The Kennedy Files.” It’s just now making its way into the world and is being released on SBE Records. You probably know John from his work with my group over the years plus he’s been a busy freelance muso in the San Diego jazz scene for the last ten years. We call him “Johnny ‘O” and he’s one bad boy on the keys…
“Kennedy Files” was tracked at SpragueLand in early 2003 and it features John on piano, Duncan Moore on drums, David Enos on acoustic bass, Tom Aros on percussion, and myself on the guitar. All of the songs are John’s original tunes and live in the world of modern acoustic ECM jazz. My connection with John and his music seems to balance on our common history of bebop, Chick Corea, Lyle Mays, and Keith Jarrett. All of these elements have been and still remain a big deal in my life and I get the sense that John resonates in the same way. I’m always asking him how he voices certain chords and when I bring a new tune to him he instantaneously knows how to approach the piece. He’s got a deep knowledge of many styles of music and this is a great moment for him to step out and present a vision that’s his own.
I’m listening to the CD now as I write and I’m remembering all of the highlights from the project. “Roll ‘Em” is one of my favorites and it’s cool ‘cuz we hit hard in the key of Db. “Amerique” explores the expanse of Aaron Copland while “Adults Only” explores the grease of an un-gentrified downtown side street. “BDA Blues” floats mysteriously above all barlines known to man and “Sixths Sense” has a boatload of twisted sixth intervals served up for the piano man. This is challenging music and I’m pretty sure we pulled it off. I wish I had the quote on me right now but I remember one fellow who knows a lot about music in the San Diego area said he thought this was one of the coolest jazz recordings to surface out of our town in a while.
You all need to at least entertain the idea of buying this recording not only for its audio rewards but also for the show of support to John’s artistic leap. This guy’s stepping out and he’s got a story to tell and your life might be enriched from the exchange.
Here’s where you go to find out the details on the “Kennedy Files”: http://www.opfertunes.com or http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/opferkuch
And we’re gonna carve it live at Dizzy’s too! I’ll be shedding the music as soon as my ocean sesh is over. This stuff is tricky…
Wide Thinkers “It Was Meant to Be”
The air is filled with sound and there is only perfect Chet Baker melodies hovering above. Heaven? Nope, just a typical day over here in Encinitas. It’s a good time and there is more good music waiting to be played…
Last week’s hit at Dizzy’s with Sri Johnny O was pretty stellar. Some cool complications, some Curtis Unit playing the Taylor bass in the upright tradition, Tim McMahon doing some great Elvin morphing, Opferkuch playing strong and then selling CD’s on the break sweating it ‘cuz he had no dollar bills for change. I was there too playing and man I had fun. Finally got to the place with John’s hard music where there is less brain involved and more musical daydreaming going on. For us musos this is the ultimate goalpretty much brain dead emoting fools laying it out over some Giant Steps derivative chord changes. Now that’s a pretty good definition for heaven…
On Sunday all the cars pointed to the Coyote for a quintet hang. It was one of the best seshes of the summer. All the inebriated and opinionated folks who bugged us incessantly at the previous Pass the Drum show were thankfully absent. Instead, and in their place, we had some listeners and they we’re concentrating on into it. The band delivered and forged some new real estate on “The Fields, The Sky” and “Luiza”. An impeccable synergistic activity took place every time Duncan laid into his floor tom. A white truck that was parked close by, complete with a sound activated alarm system, infused it’s horn alarm into the band’s sound mix in the most humorous way imaginable. Dig thisit only happened on fast loud tunes and when it did happen, the rhythm of the horn always seemed to line up with our bar lines. Also, in complete total North County cosmic alignment, the pitch of the horn always seemed to fit with the band’s chord changes. Now you can call it a coincidence but up here in the coastal surf zone of wide thinkers and dreamers it’s called, “it was meant to be.” We we’re cracking up during the tunes and this interaction lasted all night. In the future, along with hauling all the drums, guitar amps, and instruments, we’re gonna bring along the white truck with the alarm system for some added interplay. I’m gonna alert the CAR TALK guys on KPBS Radio to do a special report on the new North County religion called “CarMa”….
Scheduled for this week is a Pass the Drum gig at Dizzy’s. Monette is in town and will be in the loop along with the regular merry pranksters. Our plan is to work out some slightly new vocal arrangements for the tunes and attempt to arrive at the aforementioned brain dead state of musical bliss. Oh, and I’ll save a parking spot for the Karmic White Truck just in case the story line runs a little low on car horns and humor.
Hope you can all make it out,
The Photo From My Camera
What it really does is add this extra zing when they introduce your band. A little added spice that lets the listener know before you start laying it down that you might know something about music. But then a second later the listener is listening and they can make up their own mind as to weather or not you have something to say. Other than this it’s a little promo dance that we’re all circling around. Hopefully we all know we’ve got something unique to add to the sonic landscape of San Diego regardless of how the votes tally up. I’m hoping that we all remember this…
I’m talking about the annual San Diego Music Awards which functions kind of like the Grammy Awards but on a much smaller scale. You the folks out on the street get to vote for us. You’re the patron Kings and Queens and we’re the modern day court jesters shoveling it out in the form of music. It’s an age-old equation and it’s laughable except that the music itself is so special that it rises above the politics and functions untouched in a holy place. At least that’s the photo from my camera. I’m digging it…
So friends, if you want to afford me, your loyal court jester, the 2003 San Diego Best Jazz moniker, click over to this link before October 4th and cast your vote. Happiness abounds… http://SDMusicAwards.com/ballot.shtml
Also, the young Nickel Creekster’s are up for best Artists and they are the best. So throw them your vote if you’re thinking like me….
And this week the Trippster, brother Leonard, and I are continuing the revolution over at Ki’s. Food designed for streamlined living, music played from an educated but highly illegal vantage point. An evening that leans into the freedom of the weekend…
Grooves We Haven’t Found Since
Hola Friends, tonight from 8PM to 9PM on 88.3FM KSDS Jazz Radio they're going to broadcast a live show we played at the Coyote Bar and Grill. The band is the mighty Pass The Drummers and this all took place at the pinnacle of summer. It was August, it was hot, the trains we're going by, the audience was inebriated, and we we're playing the samba. The fellow that recorded it had a remote truck and got some good sounds. Luckily he taped the whole four hours 'cuz we had some bad moments mixed in there too. He widdled the show down to 1 hour and I know for sure the last jam we had on Sting's "Love Is The Seventh Wave" was some pretty stellar stuff. It contained grooves that we discovered right then and unfortunately haven't found since. This alone might be worth the price of admission.
Hope you can tune it in....
The San Diego Kid With the Weird Chords
Hi Folks, hope the spin is good in your world. This week I’m playing at various venues complete with some built in humor on one of the gigs.
Some year’s back when Ki’s Restaurant in Cardiff was the Bella Via, I had a chance to gain some priceless wisdom from Joe Pass. Joe was one of my favorites and his solo guitar playing to this day is some of the best that’s ever happened on the guitar. I’d been to many of his concerts and then luckily progressed to a place of being able play the opening act for his shows. On a couple of occasions, after my playing segment and then his show, we’d end the whole evening with the two of us playing together. He seemed to like me and referred to me as “the San Diego kid that plays all of those weird chords”. I’ll take that. I like weird and they (the chords) are really legal in nature. I went to music school and all of that…
So, this one winter eve finds Joe and I in the Bella Via parking lot talking after the gig. I’m so thrilled ‘cuz we played together and it went well and I’m young and it’s all possible as far as I can tell. I relay to Joe that I sure would love to have the chance to travel and play in all the incredible places that he performslike Carnegie Hall for crying out loud. Joe hears me out and then imparts some of his traveled wisdom. He says, “yeah it’s all well and good, but the real deal is to play the music. It doesn’t really make a difference if you’re playing at Carnegie Hall or the Bella Via. Just as long as you’re into the music.” In other words, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Every gig holds the possibility of containing magic and the locale isn’t the important thing. Maybe he was telling me this ‘cuz he didn’t want me to compete with his gigs….Hmmmm…. probably not. I think his Zen came from the wisdom one accumulates from the reality of the baggage claim measured against the feedback of the sound-system weighed in with the drama of an audience paying attention fed into the outcome of the whole experience divided by two. And the answer turns out to be, dig what you got now ‘cuz it’s most likely as good as it gets. Right on Joe! You old-world Italian, bebop playing, cigar smoking, holder of supreme wisdom…
So friends, right along with this train of thought comes a gig that will require every ounce of Joe’s Wisdom. I’ve played a bunch of weird chords at a bunch of weird places but this weeks gig might make history for being the weirdest of them all. This week Tripp and I are playing at the San Diego Airport’s Terminal #2 baggage claim area. I’m laughing! Who knows why, but the folks that book the gig say it’s a bunch of fun and we’ll set up next to a coffee cart and people get totally into it. My mantra for this one is “find a good parking spot, leave the luggage at home, and remember, it’s just about the music.” Hope to see you there…
Also on for this week is my October 11 birthday. I’m getting old but I’m having a blast doing the dance…
On Sunday we’re stirring it up at the Coyote for the last hit before the winter frozen fingered cold sets in. Come on out and see us off into the hibernation mode…
On Tuesday, Tripp, Bob Magnusson, and I are pointing our cars up towards L.A.’s premier music spot Largo to team up with Sean and Sarah Watkins for a night of collaborative music. They have an ongoing night they call The Watkins Family Hour and they play up there whenever they’re on the west coast. This should be fun and the young Creeksters never fail to play some good fast notes….
That’s the world over here for this week.
Happy trails, Peter
Too Much Music Being Funneled Down a Short, Narrow Pipe
Friends, many thanks to all of you that made it out to the airport gig. It went well and as you know, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. The future of music may have a life in places that don’t usually sponsor music. Maybe this is the way to make sense of these twisted times of music business mayhem and plummeting record sales. You bring these beautiful colors to a space that usually deals with the nuts and bolts people aren’t expecting it so right off the bat there is a PLUS going on. From there you deliver your sound and when the whole affair is over there might be a sense that something good took place. Compare this to the whole war of trying to get booked at a jazz festival or big time jazz club complete with an agent that refuses to answer your phone call and who dislikes you for even thinking that it might be possible. Too much music being funneled down a short, narrow pipe.
So, don’t be surprised if down road I’m telling you about a new gig at the Caltrans construction site at the I-5 / 805 merge using the new onramp being built as a stage. I’ll plug my guitar amp into the extra socket on the gas generated light machine and turn it up to eleven to attempt at getting louder than the roar of the commuter traffic. New music in new places. Jump right in…
Set for this week is a trio gig at Dizzy’s. One of the things that I’ve done over the years and continue to do is to make an attempt at bringing new groups and new repertoire to my shows. This isn’t the easiest road. It takes a lot of time writing new music, coming up with new arrangements, and rehearsing new bands. But compare this with the alternative Stale City. When I toured with David Benoit for those two and a half years, we pretty much played the exact same set of tunes for the whole time I was with him. That’s twelve songs for eight hundred and ninety five days. Stale City. And the reason that he could get by with this survival stance is because each show you’re doing takes place in a different town and for a new audience. It’s new to them but it sure wasn’t new to me.
So to keep the creative stuff coming I hibernated in the studio all last week and constructed some new stuff. I wrote three new tunes. “Unmarketable Math” is dedicated to Rob Schneiderman and the brilliant symmetry of the diminished scale; “The Voice of Joao” lives in the delicate world of samba according to Joao Bosco; and “Joe Farrell” flies down the road of the late Joe Farrell’s dominant pentatonic saxophone explorations on the twelve bar blues.
Next up I did some arranging of some of my favorite songs that I’ve wanted to explore. “Stars” is a Dan Folgelberg gem that Allison Kraus recorded on her “New Favorite” CD. This tune is beautiful from head to toe. “A Nivel De” is a samba by Joao Bosco that has more syncopation per square inch than anything else I’ve seen it took me three hours straight to make sense of this ditty. I’ve played Coltrane’s “Satellite” before but I’ve always wanted to add a few extra bars to give a little more breathing room before the onslaught of chord changes hit. “Satellite” is “How High the Moon” overhauled with “Giant Steps” chord substitutions and it’s one tricky road to ride. Also in the new song category is a classic old Paul Simon number called “Something So Right”. You’d recognized it if you heard it. The last new one to enter our fray is a cha cha grooved gem by Don Grolnick entitled “Medianoche” a good minor six-chord excursion.
So we’ve done our homework, we’re a new trio, and we’re excited to share it with you if you can make it out. We’ll probably include some mistakes too because of the newness of the tune list and the difficulty incurred. But what are a few blips between friends.
Hope to see you there,
Full On Blendo
Friends, the waves have come up, the fog has lifted, and the ocean remains warm. We’re styling in the glow of the Indian Summer. I’ve been in the water catching waves and during the lulls practicing triplets in groups of five tapped over a steady four rhythm. Poly madness, India beckons, tabla burritos…
Years ago I heard a folk rock group called Bordertown tear it up at an outdoor concert somewhere in San Diego. I can’t remember where it was but I do remember that these locals we’re writing their own music and the roots of what influenced them musically felt similar to what I’d grown up with. Sixties rock and roll, the Beatles, Hendrix, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. They we’re dedicated, putting out their own recordings, winning some big national Musician Magazine Award for best unsigned band, and gigging throughout San Diego. Over the years we’d cross paths and I always dug what they we’re into.
It’s cool how the flow overlaps if you hang in there long enough.
A year ago, Dan Connor, one of the guitarists and vocalists of Bordertown, came into my studio and made a record. It’s called “Writes of Passage” and it finally emerged into the world after a good chunk of time working out the kinks. I collaborated with Dan on some of the arranging ideas and really got inside his music. I love his stuff. Clever and sometimes humorous lyrics mixed in with beautiful acoustic guitar, Bongo Bob’s percussion, and guest appearances from Dan Burns, Duncan Moore, Kevin Hennessy, Dani Carroll, Jeff Berkeley, and many others. Also, a tiny bit of me on strat guitar offering it up on one song. “Busted Love” is a story about the twisted flip side of romance. “Green Light” sings “I got the green light from you. First I was stuck in your traffic, then I was stalled on your shoulder, and now I find, after all this time, I’ve finally gotten more than just older.” Bob Magnusson covers the low end on this tune and it sounds like classic Gershwin. On “Goodbye to the Moon” Dan sings “Goodbye to the hills, goodbye to the canyons, truth be told, you’re my truest companions.” This cat is a mountain man and he’s come down to the city to sing his wonderful stories.
You might want to check out Dan’s “Writes of Passage” by following this link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/danconnor
Cici Porter, the vocalist with Bordertown has been a pal of mine for many years but we’ve never played a show together. It turns out we that we have a bunch of current musical ideas in common and it was in the experience of creating her latest recording that we discovered our overlaps.
Last year Cici and I hung out at SpragueLand and went through her songs, picked out the best ones, wrote some new ones, put new chords on old ones, and tuned the guitars fifty six times. We had a wonderful three or so weeks working with some great musos and the fruit of all of our labors is her new CD “Emergence”.
This collection begins with Cici singing a solo invocation called “Power of the Sun”. Her voice is beautiful and strong and she’s got this looseness, this freedom, to be out there in her planet of sound and emotion, to leave the world of real estate and financial investments to the folks wearing the suits. I dig this ‘cuz this is precisely what you’re supposed to do when you play. Cici lives it strong and wild and often visits the outer concentric circles. She also has to pay rent, unfortunately. Ahh, the equalizing light of the real world.
Next up it’s “My Story” finding Cici and I on acoustic guitars, Cici singing, Ken Dow on the big wood bass, and Tom Aros on percussion. This is the primary instrumentation for the whole recording. The direction is folk but with the addition of all of these jazz cats “Emergence” has a cool blendo thing that makes me happy. Check out the outro on “My Story”, the metric modulation and the serenity of where we’ve been and where we’re going. I like the relaxed space in this music.
Cici sings the samba on “The Well”, sings Americana on “Ode to Stephanie” (Dennis Kaplinger on banjo and fiddle), and sings India on “Secrets and Lies”. “Emergence” is one of the highlights from all that took place last year.
To explore further into her CD follow this link: http://www.wholenessproject.com/archives/cat_amusic.shtml
And so friends, this week I’m thrilled to be giving a concert at Dizzy’s with Dan Connor’s group and also a group with Cici, Roy Gonzalez, and I, celebrating new recordings and first shows together. Dan’s group will play his “Writes of Passage” and we’ll play some of the music from “Emergence” plus other tunes we’ve been thinking about. At the very end we’ll all play together and we’ll celebrate the goodness of life and the fact that we found a parking space…
Also up this week finds our wonderful Pass The Drum group coming together in a new North County music spot for a classic slice of North County pie. The place is the 101 Artist Colony and it’s in the heart of Encinitas. Check this possibilitySaturday night, dinner first at one of Encinitas many restaurants, loads of space to park the cars, and then stroll over to the Artist Colony for an immersion in Brazilian music played in a listening environment with lots of wood and high ceilings and paintings and coffee. Now that’s what I call a tremendous possibility and full on blendo…
I hope to see you soon.
all the best, Peter
Friends, thankfully the sound continues…
The recent show at the Artist Colony 101 in Encinitas was the absolute good moment. What a space, what great sound, loads of friends, kids, musos, and surfers showed up and our Pass The Drum troupe dialed it in and LAUNCHED! We’re trying to pull together a Strummer’s show there in December…
Last week a good friend from Kauai was here making a new CD. Char Dyer is a wonderful songwriter and vocalist and we added into the mix Bob Magnusson, Duncan Moore, Tripp, and myself laying down 13 of her original tunes. It went well and keep on the lookout for this one down the way a bit…
This week Tripp and I are working with our father Hall Sprague on a new recording featuring our Dad’s drum work and also 3 of his original songs. It turns out this cat can write some cool tunes. Bob Magnusson is joining us and we’ll be doing some jazz standards as well.
At the end of the week our Blurring the Edges group will play a show at Grossmont College featuring Fred Benedetti. On Saturday we’re Passing the Drum at Dizzy’s. “El Boomerang” is the new Radio Latino hit…
Eye of the Hurricane
Friends, hoping this note finds you in a good place.
I’m happy over here. We had a wonderful weekend of music and thanks to all that came out and helped support it.
Friday eve at Grossmont College with the Blurring the Edges group was a great moment for the band. We hadn’t played in a couple of months so we arrived early and navigated and got reacquainted with a complex collection of tunes. It’s fortunate how quickly it all comes back because two hours later we were standing in front of the audience trying to make it sound easy. The music flowed and once again, our role of the magician, pulling off the sleight of hand, was fulfilled. Musicians and magiciansriding the same ethereal wave.
We Passed the Drum at Dizzy’s on Saturday eve and the jam segment at the end of the eve was about as good as we can play. All night the music was operating in truly good fashion but the full on transcendental lift off really occurred in the last twenty minutes. “A Felicidage” morphed into a socafeel on Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave”. We we’re traveling in new territory and each band mate had their moment of magic. Coral emoted in Portuguese, Leonard scatted with a Jamaican edge, Tripp blew some angular tenor, Ken traveled in the low underworld of thick strings, Dunkkkk spiked the punch, Monette summoned the spirit Africa, and I was fortunate to be standing in the best seat of the house. In the eye of the hurricane, strumming along with this madness. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Set for this week are two shows I’m really looking forward to. On Wednesday, Bob Magnusson and I will play at the wonderful PB Library. I’ve played this venue a couple of times before and it’s a great space with good acoustics. On Friday, Duncan and I will meet up for the first time with LA bassist Kevin Axt to explore my new trio arrangements. I met Kevin six months earlier when he was down recording at my studio. He sounded superb so I’m thrilled to get a chance to play some live notes with him.
That’s the view from Encinitas today. I hope to see you out there…
Soundscape to Your Holidaze
Dear Friends Resonating in the Bliss of Jazz or in the Tolerance of Random Noise,
Either way, the frantic month of December is upon us and Christmas is sprinting nearer. Over here at SpragueLand Studios we’ve decided to not be left out of all the bendable deals out there. Here is our deal and may it provide a soundscape to your holidays.
Buy any 4 Peter Sprague CD’s and get the 5th one for FREE! You need to order between now and December 24th, 2003.
Follow this link to check it out: http://PeterSprague.com/proof.shtml
I know ordering 4 is already a big deal but man, dig into the old CD’s and make your collection complete. Live a happy forever life with that FIFTH one paving the way to a life without worries. Financial worries maybe but not in the spirit…ha, ha, ha…
That’s it friends. Thanks for all the great music and believe me, there is more coming…
Voice of Joao
Friends, I know the scrambling is in high gear right now. Only nine days left! May I offer an interlude that could equalize your insanity? My favorite gang of sambistas is pulling together the melodic elements for a night of music at Dizzy’s. Leonard will sing the story of Love’s Seventh Wave, Coral will describe the lovely Luiza, Tom Aros is back from South America and will fill in the rhythmic information, Tripp will Trane, Ken will Dow (Tao), Dunkkk will dunk it kick drum style, and I’ll gently strum the Voice of Joao. Should be good and I hope you can make it out…
good times, Peter
Revisiting Old Friends
Dear Friends, it’s been a great time over the holidays. We had family times, music, food, surfing, Mac computers, and Indian food. Our show on Christmas Eve in Del Mar was a great time and the new location was an absolute win. This is where we’ll be every December 24th from here on out. The Strummer’s hit at 101 Artists Colony was magical as well. The band pulled off the high velocity, high note count numbers, and eased on into the ballads. Sean and Sarah played beautifully and thanks to all the made it out in the cold December evening to hear our music. Sorry to all of those that didn’t get their tickets in time. Next time we’re thinking we’ll play two nights to get you all in…
This week we’re pulling the Blurring the Edges group together and celebrating the music from our first CD. We’ll play all of the pieces from that recording including the ones we haven’t played for quite some time. One of my pieces called “Canticle for Richard” was on that recording and it’s fifteen minutes of pretty much fully composed music. The sheet music for this one is ten pages long. Fred, Tripp, Hall, and myself are spending our time this week getting to know those notes again. It’ll be fun revisiting some old friends.
Speaking of old friends, check this out. Chuck Perrin, the man that runs Dizzy’s, is a fellow that I’ve known for many years. I didn’t really know about all of his young life experiences in the music biz but I knew that music was his life. He’s a great fellow and I think he operates Dizzy’s for all of the right reasons. Having Dizzy’s as a place to play has inspired me to put together many creative new projects, it’s inspired me to practice my instrument more, and it’s inspired me to compose new music. Chuck’s vision of how this place flows is enormous. We’ve had full on magical moments there and I’m thinking this will keep continuing.
Chuck has a wonderful website telling about his story of a life through music and I highly recommend you checking it out.
Click here for a very creative experience and for a glimpse into the fellow that takes your ticket at the door, introduces the band, books the band, sets up the chairs, and most importantly sings and writes some great music: http://www.chuckperrin.com/index.php
Click here to sample one of his newest tunes. This one is really cool! http://www.chuckperrin.com/audio/turn%20lights%2012-2-03.mp3
and if you dig this like I did, tell Chuck that he’s doing the right thing the next time you enter the doorway at Dizzy’s…
That’s it for this week. Keep the sky in your head,
The Joy is the Journey
Hi Friends, it’s been a wonderful weekend. The Blur transcended at Dizzy’s on Friday evening. I stayed up late on Saturday working on my cello playing. Gotta long road ahead but as they say, “the joy is the journey.”
This week Tripp, Leonard, and I will play at Ki’s on Friday night. This gig is always fun complete with first class food, the view of my favorite Pacific ocean out the window, and sharing notes with two creative musos. Hope to see you down there.
I’ve recently added some new photos and stories to my website. Check out “Awards and Big Events” http://PeterSprague.com/propaganda/awards.shtml to tune into the story of the String Band (circa 1988); photos from the big moment of me and SD Symphony performing my guitar concerto; the KPBS documentary that I wrote and performed the music about artist James Hubbell; never before seen photos of our Pass The Drum group heating it up Kauai; the episode of my story in the Gigging For A Living book about the inside deal of a musos convoluted life; and finally the photo of me that appeared in Surfer Magazine, (after all of these years), true ego-Mecca for any living and breathing surfer.
There is newness in the Discography section of the site. Click here to see the big list of CD’s that have circled out of SpragueLand. http://PeterSprague.com/propaganda/discography.shtml
Click here for new potent quotes: http://PeterSprague.com/propaganda/quotes.shtml
here to view the latest newspaper articles: http://PeterSprague.com/propaganda/reviews.shtml
I’ve got some new audio samples for some of my really old “vintage” recordings. Check out Bird’s “Cheryl” from the “Message Sent on the Wind” record. Also the title cut “Bird Raga” from the “Bird Raga” recording. Hopefully someday these will be available on CD. For now, they’re vintage through and through and the only way you can dig them is to embrace the vinyl. Barbaric indeed…http://PeterSprague.com/proof.shtml
That’s what I know now. Looking forward to a good ride in 2004…
Group of Gifted Musos
Friends, salutations every which way. It’s a good day when you can play some music and also get a slice of nature. This is why I like San Diego so much. City and nature held in a wobbly balance. And if you play your cards right you can have a taste of both. I’ve been in the studio all day and I then graduated into the salt reality of the wild blue. Evened out and ready to hit the next set, I’m writing to fill you in on the music for this week.
Pass the Drum comes together for a celebration of samba this Friday evening at Dizzy’s. Roy Gonzales is filling in for our other percussionist Monette Marino. All of the other pranksters will be on hand and we’re hoping to launch from where we left off right before Christmas. We had a Dizzy’s show and the band took it down. I love this group of gifted musos.
Hope to see you there.
Hang ten, Peter
A Gentle Kiss From the Pacific
Friends, all is well over here in the north part of San Diego. I spent the weekend skiing in Big Bear with a gang of dad’s and daughter’s and actually ten million other weekend warriors. It was cool but you know, this planet is crowded! I’ve never seen lift lines like this and it was a maze cruising downhill. It was good to be with my daughter and it was fun skiing again after an easily 15 year hiatus but I still dig surfing by a multiplier of 30 though. It’s like flying downhill, but this time, the mountains moving and morphing, and if you fall, the reward is a gentle kiss from the pacific.
From Big Bear I made my way to 29 Palms and played with the Pass the Drummers at the 29 Palms Inn. We had a great time and the folks who live the slower paced life clued right into our music. From 29 we then made our way to Palm Springs and played a show for Earl Hagen’s Jazz Series. We set up the gear and proceeded to take down a full buffet of the fanciest food, the kind that the big time country club members regularly paw through. Once fueled up, we hit the stage and told the story of the magic of samba, our SoKal version at least. It went over well and the night ended by us all taking to our cars and making the midnight drive back to San Diego. Talk radio saved me ‘cuz I don’t do coffee and actually don’t navigate late night drives that well either. I get tired. But once tuned into some angry filled radio personality interacting with both liberal and conservative callers stirred up enough stimulation to keep me awake and guide the car safely back home. And it’s nice being home.
This week I’m looking forward to connecting with Amber and Bob and exploring some air paintings. I hope to see you out there…
all good, Peter
Hi, I just got back from the tax prep man and don’t that feel good? Nothing like a slew of numbers to numb the creative side. Gotta do it though, gotta dance the dance. So with that out of the way it’s time to start daydreaming and figure out how to make the best music imaginable.
Speaking of nice music moments, last week we pulled the trio together and had a spectacular evening at Ki’s in Cardiff. Duncan and Ken were running a little late so young Jonathon Mattson played some polyrhythmic drums on one tune with me. This cat has it going on and even at their young age, he and his twin guitar-playing brother are adding a nice sonic edge to the San Diego jazzscape. You’ll be hearing from them. Duncan and Ken pull in and then the mischief begins. We explore through some samba, some Chick music, the divinity of Metheny, and come to rest on a percussion jam with whale sounds off the drums, bass bowing chaos, and timbale sticked guitar. That’s our world, creativity mixed in with number crunching details.
This week our Pass the Drum group zeroes in on Dizzy’s for a night of explorations in samba. Monette Marino is back with us after three months of recuperation following an automobile accident. It wasn’t her fault but her car was totaled and her wrist was hurt. She’s taken it easy and has healed up. If nothing else, come on out to greet her back into the fold of the wack world of musos. I know we’re thrilled to have her hitting the congas again.
We’re adding a couple of new tunes for this hit. I morphed Trane’s “Giant Steps” into Jobim’s “One Note Samba” and did a re-haul on Stevie Wonder’s “As”. These are the launching instructions and from there we’ll see where it lands.
I hope to see you out there.
Sleeping Under the Piano
Hi Friends, hope all is well. We discovered some sweet notes at Dizzy’s last weekend with Pass the Drum. The new version of Stevie’s “As” went surprisingly well. You gotta had it to my fellow band musos, they can really read music and pull of some tricky stuff on the spot. I’m fortunate to have them in my loop.
This week I’m connecting with Andy Villas Boas to celebrate Antonio Carlos Jobim’s magic songs. And on Saturday eve I’ll join Professor Paul Seaforth for some jazz from his recently released CD. I think I’ll sleep under the piano at Dizzy’s instead of going home…
All the best, Peter
Full On Ear Blendo
Friends, hope all is well for you. I’m doing great over here.
This week I’m into serious R & D and the subject is Pat Metheny. We’re gathering our disciples and we’re convening at Dizzy’s for an evening of Pat’s music. Are you familiar with his stuff?
The bottom line, Pat Metheny shreds. As a guitarist, he’s an absolute original. He’s navigated new territory with his lines and has a great sense of time and melody. As a composer he’s written some classic music that brings in elements of jazz, country, Brazil, Africa, folk, and pop. Full on EAR BLENDO. As a bandleader, he assembles some insane musos and plays 3 hour concerts with a huge panoramic view of sound. Hanging first in the zone of “First Circle”, to Ornette Coleman-like wack bop, to David Bowie metal volume, to the folk beauties of “Last Train Home” and “Travels”. All of it as good as it ever could be. Should I go on? Well, I’m not sure it’s necessary to go on ‘cuz most folks are already full on Metheny fans and see his art in the same way.
So, this leads us to our current endeavor. We’re getting together at Dizzy’s to play his songs and experience the world from his launching pad. We’ve got the epics in there “Minuano”, “Yolanda You Learn”, and “Fields, the Sky”. For jazz we’re examining Pat’s “Question and Answers” with a new lyric added and Ornette Coleman’s “Jazz Connotation”. “Travels”, “Last Train Home”, and “Letter From Home” will work nicely for the times when there has been enough sound and racket and some pastoral beauty is in order. There are many others and it was actually hard to decide which ones to include and which ones to save for another time. Maybe down road will have a 48 hour Metheny marathon and leave none of his tunes out in the cold. Would this work for you?
Also this week I’m trio-ing it in Del Mar with Leonard and Ken. We’ll play some sweet notes and then slowly drive the coast highway home.
I hope to see you out there…
Hello Friends, reporting back from Planet Metheny. Our last Saturday hit at Dizzy’s was maximum fun. Dig thisplaying some great tunes with some exceptional musos for a huge grouping of enthusiastic audience members. What more could an artist want other than a direct deposit of $478,000 into each of our bank accounts? It was all spinning there including some mistakes, some beauty, some great low notes, some false count-offs, some good snare wacks, some new lyrics, and some solo piano TRUTH. I’ll remember this night for a long time coming…
And for this week we get to do it again. Yep, I’m rounding up the crew and heading to North County, Encinitas to be exact. We’re doing the Metheny Show version 2 at the Encinitas Artist Colony. If you’ve never been to the Colony you must go for three solid reasons. First off, the Colony will close their doors in 3 weeks ‘cuz their lease is up. They may relocate but nothing is set as of yet. Second, this place just screams MUSIC, ART, and CREATIVITY and you couldn’t find a better spot to set up the gear and start the sound. We did a show there with the Strummers a couple of months back and I’d say it was pretty much one of the stellar moments of 2003. And thirdly, in a small, lowercase, trying to remain humble way, us. Yep, Sri Opferkuch on piano, Duncan drumming, Ken with his insane new bass amp, Leonard singing new lyrics to Pat’s tunes, and me too, all coming together to bring some Metheny music to the Colony. We’re ditching a few of the tunes and we’re adding in “Straight On Red”, “Farmers Trust”, “Better Days Ahead”, and “So May It Secretly Begin”. This is gonna be fun!
Also this week, the transcendent flutist Steve Kujala will fight the Friday traffic down from L.A. to meet up with the low-end specialist Bob Magnusson and myself to play a night of music at Cardiff’s Ki’s Restaurant. The three of us love to eat good food, check out the sunset, and improvise on a good set of chord changes. That’s what we’ll do on Friday evening and we’re hoping that you’d like to be part of it…
Signing off, thanks for the read, keep the sky in your head….Peter