My talented friend Jack Mccoy and his latest surf film, A Deeper Shade of Blue will give you a view into surfing you’ve never seen before. The history, characters and way of life around the ocean is truly inspiring. Beautiful footage, beautiful story. Playing in theaters Thursday, March 28th- one night only! I’ll be at the Arlington in Santa Barbara. And look out for my silly grin in the opening sequence; I got a little cameo appearance in there!
When I was twelve years old I remember seeing the Buena Vista Social Club movie and feeling swept with intrigue… these charming Cuban men ripped on their instruments, sang with profound soul and wisdom, and were only just discovered in their old age! Their weathered skin, smile-creased faces, and slurred rough-around-the-edges Spanish formed distinct characters in my mind… ones of passion, artistry, and timelessness.
This curiosity brought my mom and I on a recent journey together. Guitar in hand, I found myself on the streets of Havana, soaking in everything I had imagined the city to be. The buildings were in complete decay; the salty coastal breezes and heat of the Caribbean slowly melting the once regal architecture. Exhaust filled the air as 1950’s American automobiles barreled by, honking their horns while the driver yelled something incomprehensible out the window. Men tried to woo me at every turn, showering me with not so discrete compliments or desires. People hung out of their apartment windows, puffing cigars, observing the happenings on the street and watching the day drift by. At any hour (but especially once the sun set), incredible rhythms and melodies of salsa, bolero, and merengue could be heard at every turn. Our very first night we stumbled upon a small understated restaurant where a trio of musicians played together; two guitars, and percussion. I joyfully sung along to the tunes I knew, and they noticed… offering up a guitar for me. It felt like a bit of a dream… the flaking turquoise paint on the walls, the banner of Che on the wall, the shake of the maraca, the irresistible rhythms… I was really playing music with locals in Cuba.
The expedition continued west to the Valle de Viñales, a town in an agricultural valley with dramatic rock formations jutting skyward from the red fertile earth. Tractors, old cars, horses, pedestrians, oxen carts, and bicycles all shared the road. We mostly tended to the home stays and this particular family showed us the warmest hospitality. Marcelo, the man of the house was a proud man, a salt of the earth pig and cock fighting rooster farmer. My mama and him enthusiastically exchanged their thoughts, stories, and passion with raising animals. Our neighbors who shared the back yard space were both musicians. Arturo and Isidro play at one of the restaurants every night with their band– soulful, warm, and classic music. It was an honor to sing and play with chickens clucking around our feet, laundry hanging on the line, and children curiously popping in and out.
Cuba is a stunning, raw, and complex country. The people are hungry for more opportunity and access to resources. They are grateful for the good education and health care, yet they are frustrated that nearly all their income goes to the state. We were baffled that many of our taxi drivers were educated professionals: doctors, university professors, engineers!! They were driving taxis because they were making much more money through tourism than they were through their vocational careers… Farmers failed to get the water and tools they needed for a successful crop (we were there during a dry spell, and many were suffering). There is so much potential for their economy, yet the loopholes in the system limit movement forward. That being said, it was refreshing for me to feel like we went back in time. There were very few computers anywhere– it was nearly impossible to find a place with internet (and I gladly embraced this cyberspace vacation!). The environment and biodiversity is much healthier than it would be if there were economic incentive to exploit resources. The simplicity of life allowed for meaningful relationships and time for creativity, togetherness, and community. I do hope to go back someday. Perhaps to record an album with the maestros and reyes/reinas of colorful life and music.
I wish I had a better video recording device to capture these sounds… nothing compares to listening to them live in Havana!!
Connor Forsyth from Austin Texas joined me last night for a gig in Santa Barbara. He definitely keeps things rhythmic and buoyant… Naturally at home on the keys and lifting spirits. It’s automatic party time when Connor and a piano are in the same room.
San Francisco’s skies have brought a cleansing rain to us… A perfect time to get cozy and enjoy some live music. I’ll be playing for the MAPP series (Mission Arts Performance Project) tomorrow, Saturday December 1st at the Red Poppy Art House (23rd and Folsom St.). 9:50pm
And make sure to enjoy the rest of the evening’s creative concerts, readings, and galleries! http://www.sfmapp.com/
After a beautiful weekend of filming, and much love and collaboration… we present to you the finished “Pacific” music video! Big thanks to Chappellet studios and the musical farmstead community that made it all possible.
***Note, there has been a change– a double booking occurred, and we are playing Friday eve, NOT Saturday. Same time, same groovy bands!
SF Giants in the World Series, Halloween weekend, and Anastasia and the SunKeepers at Tupelo! A night you don’t want to miss. Join us at this merrymaking club in North Beach! Friday Oct. 26th @ 9pm. 1337 Grant Ave. SF