For once, I’ll happily let someone else create the words: the eloquent guitarist Little Charlie Baty (who goes by Charles Baty on Facebook) whose delight shines through first in prose, then in the music:
Back in May 2019, I had the opportunity to play with Carl Sonny Leyland, Marc Caparone, Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Dawn Lambeth and a host of others (not to mention Rick Estrin and the Nightcats!) as part of the Redwood Coast Music Festival. I played with different groups of people on different stages, which also implied different tunes and different set lists. For instance there was jazzy Sonny Leyland – and bluesy Sonny Leyland. A Tribute to Charlie Christian. A reunion with the Nightcats partially due to fog at the Eureka Airport and the inability of Kid Andersen to land in time to do the performance (he got as close as 30 feet off the ground!). Anyway, it was a beautiful week of music and collaboration – on stage and off. I had many pleasant conversations with Harry Duncan, Danny Caron, and others in the hospitality area.
I was only scheduled to play on 4 shows but the opportunity to play on a fifth set came up and I jumped at it. I would be playing a jazzy set with Carl Sonny Leyland. We had rehearsed for this set – I just didn’t think that I would have the stamina to do it. So this was my last set on the festival and Sonny called out perhaps the most difficult tune that we would perform – a nicely arranged version of How Deep is the Ocean. We performed in an old building – a library, a bank, or a museum? The grand piano filled every nook and cranny in the packed house. Marc Caparone’s trumpet washed over the melancholic ballad like a warm snifter of cognac, the solid bass of Clint Baker providing the framework and the light and airy drums of Jeff Hamilton felt like a slow fan turning on a languid afternoon. Such a moment should be caught on tape – and it was. By our good friend Michael. So Sugar Ray Norcia, Michael Mudcat Ward and Duke Robillard – this is the kind of environment that you have to look forward this year at the Redwood Coast Festival. Not just a festival but an opportunity for musical collaboration. Sugar – we ought to play that tune about Josephine, Please Don’t Lean on the Bell!
Sonny Leyland is the deepest piano player that I’ve ever come across. The first tune that we played was in Db – that tells you something right there. He can play jazz, swing, and blues with equal ease and abandon and he knows what he wants and can articulate it. We played many hours of music over that festival – and every second sounded great.
It was an honor to be there, and an honor to be able to capture these moments — supercharged and subtle — what Kansas City must have sounded like, but not historical, charging towards us now.
YOUNG J.C. BOOGIE, in honor of Master James Caparone:
That masterpiece, HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN? (I apologize for stage-managing at the start, something I rarely do.):
After Berlin’s deep passion, the rocking KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN (doesn’t every set need a train tune?):
An even more ferocious LIMEHOUSE BLUES:
At this point, a phalanx of fire marshals approached the band and warned of increased temperatures within the building, and said that if they didn’t perform something a little less violent, the set would have to end. To the rescue! Dawn Lambeth with BLUE MOON:
Here’s Dawn with a tender entreaty, swung like mad, MY MELANCHOLY BABY:
When Sonny began SONG OF THE WANDERER, no one went anywhere:
and to close, the declaration of emotional independence, LOW DOWN DOG:
This Frolick was created extemporaneously by the Doctors of Groove (my admiring name for them) on May 12, 2019, at the Redwood Coast Music Festival. Bless them and also Mark and Valerie Jansen, patron saints of Redwood Coast sounds.
AND the next Redwood Coast Music Festival will be their 30th, and will take place May 7-10, 2020. I am ready to book plane tickets now.
May your happiness increase!