Local Live

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Local Live is On the Air! 97.7 FM, Eureka, CA

Where can you hear the local musicians in Humboldt Counties finest Cafe's and Restaurants for a warm and welcome atmosphere? Local Live, that's where. Open Mic will never be the same when the folks from Blue Ox Radio, a local non-profit school for socially challenged kids, has taken on an elaborate variety of programing, including the best of Open Mic performances featuring local artists. We have musicians, poets, and even a few exotic instruments to wow your ears and sooth your soul. That is every Wednesday evening from 9PM till 10 PM, and every Saturday from 8PM till 9 PM for a taste of Humboldt County and its unsung heroes of the Open Mics. Community powered, locally produced, and free to all. We are currently raising funds to stream across the Internet, so please have patience. They will be available in archives soon!
Come on down to Old Town Coffee and Chocolates on Wed nights from 6PM till 9 PM to perform, and Saturday nights at Has Beans from 6PM till 9 PM Cafe, both located in Historic Old Town Eureka.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Austin Alley , Soulful Troubadour of Humboldt plays Has Beans

Its 5:00 PM on Friday the Thirteenth in Old Town Eureka and you can see the fear in eyes of the people passing you on the street. The CEOs are getting fatter while the rest of us stand in line for unemployment checks, or work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Street corner talkers wonder what their going to do. The sirens wail up the street as the court house employees march along the sidewalk with satchels in hand. Where do you go when the world is in trouble and it gets you down? (Downtown) Me? I choose to escape into a small corner of international flavors and order myself a nice hot beverage from my local barista in Has Beans Café, on the corner of Second and I Street.
A small group of regulars are sitting inside as a slender man with short cropped hair and steely eyes of blue sets up a microphone in front of a stool. Out of his case comes a beautiful amber colored acoustic guitar with what must have been a pick guard, now frayed with play like Willie Nelsons favorite axe. I was in the presence of the infamous Austin Alley, minus the Rustlers. “This should be interesting.”
Austin Alley is a native of Northern California and has played in clubs, festivals, concert openers and private events. He has completed over 100 songs, and continues to flourish. He formed Austin Alley & the Rustlers in 1983 in Eureka, CA with James Raymond on drums and Robin Cobb on bass. Austin recorded "We Are the Rustlers" in 1987. The current lineup, together since 1999, features Bill Moehnke on drums and Norm Crawford on bass. But, today, we were all in for a treat as Austin flew solo.
With very little set up, Austin launched into a Cat Stevens song, “The Wind” ( released 1970 on Tea for the Tillerman), followed almost immediately with an unreleased original of his own from 2006 titled “Pandora”. He sings with a low vibrato that’s a cross between Willie Nelson and David Nelson (NRPS) and picks the guitar like ringing a bell.

“Baby the Rain Must Fall” was set up with a little history. Austin explained about how he heard this song written by Glen Yarbrough when he went to see the film by the same title. Yarbrough left the Limeliters in 1964 and recorded the theme song from the film Baby The Rain Must Fall, which reached US number 12 in 1965 with Steve McQueen as a troube-prone country singer and Lee Remick as his estranged wife.” Steve McQueen has always been a hero to me”, Austin proudly beamed, “He was the King of Cool.”

When Austin was a kid, he watched the most famous variety show just like the rest of us. “At the time, Ed Sullivan had all types of acts, including animal trainers and handlers. So, when I heard that the Beatles were going to be on the show that night, it wasn’t a big deal. Then all of a sudden there is a band on playing a sound I would never forget.”

It was only befitting that he chose to perform “Norwegian Wood” (Rubber Soul, 1965) which he ended with a little tap on his guitar with the palm of his hand. He then played a beautiful ballad; “The Locket” based on his Mother, his Father and the Second World War. Thankfully, Austin’s Dad made it back, unlike the character in the song.

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald “a Gordon Lightfoot song, told the saga and the mystery that surrounded an infamous American Great Lakes freighter launched on 8 June 1958. Until the 1970s, she was the largest ship on the Great Lakes. Although it had reported having some difficulties during a gale on Lake Superior, the Fitzgerald sank suddenly on 10 November 1975 in 530 feet (162m) of water without sending any distress signals. “Sweet Whiskey” is another unreleased original from 2006, edgy and rough, yet romantic and inviting, followed by “Wonderful World” (Sachmo aka L. Armstrong, 1968), ”Knight in Rusty Armor” (Peter and Gordon,1967), “Rock-a-bye Sweet Baby James” (James Taylor, 1970), and then another Austin Alley original “Under Your Spell Again”.

One of the audience members called out to him, “I really appreciate hearing you without the band. I think they overshadow your vocals, and that is a shame. You have such a beautiful voice!” A hint of red flushes over his face as he thanks the kind lady for the compliment. Then, just to surprise us all, he does a Led Zeppelin song! “Hangman” is based on an old Blues song called "Gallis Pole," which was popularized by Leadbelly. The song is considered "Traditional," meaning the author is unknown. Jimmy Page got the idea for this after hearing the version by California folk singer Fred Gerlach.. Popularized again on Led Zeppelin 3, 1970, this is the only Led Zeppelin song that features a banjo. With only his trusty guitar, Austin made the strings chime as you imagined the impatience of a man on death row waiting for salvation. To end his show, he played another original, “Just Can’t Get it Right” from his latest release, Country Metal, a collection of hard edged country songs written and performed by our own Austin Alley and the Rustlers. Look for it in stores near you. I had the good fortune to pick up a copy of this when I was interviewing Austin. Of course, the audience wouldn't have it if he didn't play an encore. Aiming to please, Austin whips out a fiery version of the Beatles classic "Hide Your Love Away".
And, now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Austin Alley Interview!

1. What was your first instrument and what convinced you to learn how to play?
It was Guitar and it was seeing The Beatles live on The Ed Sullivan show that made me want to play.
2. Who do you think is the greatest influence on you and your music?
My mother, she got me started. As far as the famous people are concerned, it's probably Hendrix though as much for recording technique and the 3-piece format as anything else.
3. How do you feel about the growing numbers of Rock, Funk and Punk musicians getting on the proverbial Country band wagon?
There has been for 40 years or better a huge influx and turnover of people in the music business in the areas you mention. I'm not aware of it being anything new although I agree the numbers of people trying their hand appears to be growing. The Country Band Wagon? I didn't know there was one. That doesn't mean there isn't one. It just seems to me for every Bonafied Country Band or Act (here in Humboldt anyway) there must be a dozen acts in other categories
.4. If you could play with one person that has passed on, who would it be?
My Mom. I miss her. Ok, you meant someone famous. Keith Moon on drums behind me. That would be a blast. Or Felix Papalardi on bass. Woops! That was two. Sorry.

5. If you could play for one person that is here with us, who would that be?
Depends on what mood I'm in. Today? Willie Nelson. Tomorrow? Who knows?

6. Where is your favorite music venue in Humboldt County?
That's a difficult as well as delicate question. I play for so many venues, I would risk offending all the ones I didn't pick. But let me be honest. The club that I enjoyed playing the most (which is no longer in business) was the Angelina Inn at Fernbridge. I played that club for years and for three different owners. The acoustics were good, the dance floor was great (some thought it was a little small) the stage was band friendly and you weren't in anyone's way. Much fun and great memories.

7. If there was one thing you could change about Humboldt Co., what would it be? That's a tough one. So many of the things that would be candidates for change are the same things that make the subtle differences that make life good here. I'd be afraid of upsetting the balance. Change seems to be slow here be it for better or worse. I guess one thing would be fewer white powder drug abusers and less alcoholism. Less crime.

8. Who is your favorite Artist?
I have a pretty broad range of artists that I consider myself a fan of. How do I pick one? I guess I'll use who I first ever bought a record from as the qualifying criteria. That would be The Who.

9. What do you think about digital recording as opposed to tape?
Digital as opposed to tape recording? Don't get me started.( Just kidding). I definitely like the warmth and honesty of tape. But let's be real. They both have advantages and disadvantages. Tape disintegrates in a few years. But Oh, you can back up your tape recordings by transferring them to some sort of digital media! Right, but now you are back to digital. Although I suppose if the original master was on tape, your digital back up is at least "of" tape.

10. What does the future look like for you and the band?
I don't have a crystal ball. I do know that as long as I am physically able, I will play/perform music for who ever will listen. That's not the answer you wanted was it. Ok, we have bookings going a few months into the future and I have more recording projects in the not too distant future. Some new out of town ventures coming up and we are coming into the wedding season so we like playing those. That's been a staple for years.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Carlos Bertonatti Charms Has Beans

It was a late night for me, up until 3:00 AM and then up at 8:00 AM. I took a quick shower and tossed some cloths upon my back to meet the new day. It had been uncharacteristically warm and sunny the past days with occasional cloudbursts. It sort of reminded me of Dade County how the humidity hung like a friendly ghost, yet the sun was piercing right through all the moisture. I heard that my nearby coffee cafe, Has Beans, were having morning concerts, the first being a young man by the name of Carlos Bertonatti. As I payed for a cup of Brazilian Organic blend, a sleek tan man with dark short cropped hair walks into the room carrying a guitar case. He was wearing a designer sweater and clean jeans, so I knew right away he wasn't from here.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, and raised between there and his current home in Miami, FL, Carlos has experienced a fascinating life from an early age and has always been searching for ways to express his adventurous and artistic side. He spent long periods of time skiing in the Argentine slopes of Bariloche, where he became part of the Argentine Ski Team. His spare time was focused on surfing every wave available, taking art and culinary lessons, and mostly teaching himself how to play guitar.

The room was still sparse at this moment, people were trickling in for their daily caffeine and the clouds were billowing about. I found a seat by the door and was joined later by a friend with video camera in hand. The shy looking man with a sparkling white smile settled into his corner stool and proceeded to check his guitar's tuning. Then the music began to flow. Simple chords with a latin rythem played softly as his honey sweet voice accompanied the strings. All of his songs were original, simple, yet catchy. Being the chick magnet was obviouslly his rep, but I listened to his words, and they somtimes were very deep. People have compared him to Jack Johnson, but I can hear a voice of his own wanting to come forth. Some of his songs are jazzy like Micheal Franks, some are meloncholy like Donovan, but whatever it is., it's from the heart. He gave some backround on each song, flirting with the militia of women that came to hear their latin lover coo to them. I was fortunate enough to speak with him privately after his show. He explained to me that he had done the band touring thing, and found it hard to book more than himself in many stablishments. He feels that playing small coffee houses gives him a more intimate experience with the audience, and he can maintain an more anonymous profile. "I've played for 5,000 and I've played for five, it's all good." His songs are somtimes cute, somtimes biting, sometimes tragically sober. As in the "Story of a Little Girl", he explained to me that" It's a song of personal nature. My sister fell off a building and died. Definately a personal tradgedy." I sympathized with him, and told him of my step brother who had been partying in Madrid during the bull runs and stepped out onto a non existent veranda the morning after, only to plummet to his death five stories down. I had lived in Miami for a short spell and we talked about sailing. He described sailing like servitude,"My father took my brother and I sailing when we were 8 and 11 years old. It was really tough, being just a kid. But my Dad didn't want to hear it and just told us to be men!" I made a quip about the Great Santini, which either he didn't get the reference, or he just let it pass. We traded CDs and I was fortunate enough to have listened to it before his second performance, which he did with a PA and michrophone. This time it was standing room only and the place was jammed with perfumed and painted ladies, so, being the gentleman I am, stood outside to give the ladies room to move.

He began writing songs in his early teens while he was living in Venezuela for a short time. Once back in Miami, he met Multi-platinum producer Chris Rodriguez who immediately recognized his talent and took him under his wing. Together they created a unique and undeniably feel good album. It’s comprised of catchy hooks and melodies, acoustic sounds sprinkled with an array of eclectic instrumentation and Latin percussion. Songs such as “The Little Things,” show his pop, yet determined to make a statement side. “Story of a Little Girl” and “A Million Miles” give us a sneak-peak into his soul, but “It’s so Easy” and “One Two Three”gets the party started and lifts you right out of your seats.

During the recording process, Carlos began promoting his songs exclusively through MySpace. The response was phenomenal and soon enough he was showered with messages from fans requesting to buy his music. He released an independent album online that he sold through his website and quickly sold out. The buzz continued to spread and early in 2008 he signed the first ever joint venture record deal between Sony ATV Publishing and Epic Records with both acting as record labels. While they plan the release of his upcoming album “Times are Good”, Carlos continues to do what he’s always done.

Feb 22 2009 8:00P

Cafe Gratitude San Francisco, California

Feb 24 2009 6:30P

Cafe Pomegranate San Jose, California

Feb 25 2009 7:30P

Good Karma Cafe San Jose, California

Feb 26 2009 8:00P

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company Santa Cruz, California

Feb 27 2009 7:30P

Ugly Mug Soquel, California

Mar 1 2009 7:00P

Blue Rock Shoot Inc. Saratoga, California

East Village Coffee Lounge Monterey, California

Mar 3 2009 9:30P

The Cellar Door Fresno, California

Mar 4 2009 6:30P

Sequoia Brewing Co. Fresno, California

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kingbees Open Mic, Mondays at the Boiler room where you can't play too loud!

Last Monday, my buddy Franko and I showed up at the infamous Boiler Room, a small bar on the busy side of Broadway, Eureka. (You can't miss it, the only building that looks like a 57 Chevy painted with side flames) As I made my way past the neon signs, bar perchers and pool tables, I could see my old pal Lester belting out his own style of outlaw rock. Next to him strumming away, is the host Kingbee, with JP on Bass, Dave on drums, Rockin Rick on Harmonicas and Joe on keyboards. I wanted to get a feel for what kind of crowd was there, so I hung back in the shadows for a spell. Being a regular there, Franko makes himself at home. He walks in, sets up his amp, tunes his guitar and joins in with the boys. Its just that friendly! Really! Now, that doesn't mean any anyone can walk up and start jamming; there is a certain code of honor when attending these Open Mikes. Generally, one either asks to join in or waits to be invited. Kingbee is very good about giving stage time to others, yet, not afraid to give gentle reminders to any over-enthusiastic players. ( I believe the term is Ball Hogs)

Everyone that wants to play, gets to play. After some liquid courage a smoke, I strolled in and set my bass up in the corner. When the time was right, Kingbee approached me and gave me an idea where I stood in the lineup of players. Frank and I started out with a little number byParliment "I Just Want to Tell You", then we went through some rock standards and I even got a chance to premier my own composition, "Endless Maze". The boys joined us on stage while we rocked to some Rolling Stones, Violent Femmes, Ted Nugent and even Iggy Pop! Of course, one of the other players heckled us when we took too long to start, muttering "Blah, Blah, Blah" as he passed by the stage. I quickly shot out,"Heres a song I wrote , and I'd like to dedicate it to that guy. It's called Blah, Blah, Blah!" Turns out he was one of the two guys playing Metal Instrumental with only guitar and drums, with a surprising full sound. It wasn't too bad, but the ego of the guitarist was almost as big as his hair, while making what must have been intended as sexy moves. (I thought his guitar strap was bunching up on him, but, I could be wrong. ) He was pretty entertaining for mindless virtuosity. I think he was trying real hard to impress these two young ladies enjoying cocktails at a table up front, one of which got up and played a few numbers on the drums. She was pretty decent for such a waif, and you got to give her credit for stepping up to the stage with all that testosterone amidst.

Some cat with a flat top hair do played a bunch of Jimi Hendrix covers with a slight heavy hand, but still decent. I don't know, but, it seems people equate loud with good when playing at these venues. Not so. I was wincing a few times at the off notes when hit. The louder you are, the more mistakes are noticed.
Justin Brown and his posse showed up to celebrate his birthday (30?) and we all jammed with him.

The stage is small , but accommodating, the drinks okay, audience so-so. However, on the positive, Kingbee provides a mike and PA , Bass Amp, and usually a decent drummer or two in the house. The show starts at 9:00 PM, but get there earlier and sign up if you want to be in the early line up.

Keep on Rocking Kingbee!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Local Musicians Play Has Beans, Eureka 08/12/06

Your old Pal Stevo has stepped up from sidekick to main host of the Open Mic Nights at Has Beans Cafe, Old Town, Eureka.

Stevo has graciouslly taken the reins to the wagon wheels from Fiddler Bob. We'll all miss Bob and his old timey tunes and stories, but, he's not leaving town, so, maybe we'll catch him periodically. Apparently, the reception was great. Many old friends showd up, including Brother James , Bob Huck, Paul Dillon and Paul Sanderson, Jim Bowen,, Pat, Lester, Rod amongst others.

Stevo and Jimi Jack played the night previous for the Friday series of performers at the Beans. Be sure to check out both nights for a taste of local entertainment that is definately Humboldt grown.