"We lived about six blocks from where the fires stopped last October," said smooth-jazz guitarist Patrick Yandall about the title of his latest album, From The Ashes. "We very narrowly escaped the devastation, and the album came after that so it seemed more than appropriate." Yandall's fifth album will be released by New York label Apria this week, celebrated with a party at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge on July 4; the same day, he'll perform on KUSI's morning show.
"We recorded it at Tony Bennett's studio in New Jersey, and we were able to pull in some great players," Yandall remarked. The album features members of jazz combos Spyrogyra and Hiroshima, as well as multi-instrumentalist Randy Brecker and bassist Will Lee (from the house band on David Letterman).
"He's a funny cat," Yandall said of the late night perennial. "The label had used him on other projects, and he heard my demos and decided he wanted to be involved."
While the bulk of the album was recorded in New Jersey, Lee and Yandall also worked extensively with MP3s sent back and forth over the Internet.
"He'd send stuff over and I'd figure out if the part worked," Yandall explained. "Of course, with guys like Will Lee, it very rarely didn't."
While Yandall doesn't expect teen pop stardom with this release, he's hoping that it opens a few doors.
"The contemporary jazz scene is dwindling in San Diego," he noted, "so I'm hoping to get into doing more festivals and that sort of thing. Right now, Humphrey's seems to be just about it."
The Seoulmama's daughter
New York transplant Matt Curreri seemingly fell out of the sky and landed in the public eye earlier this year. His debut album, How to Play the Songs of Matt Curreri, garnered the singer-songwriter more media coverage (comparisons to The Beatles and Bright Eyes were common) in a few short months than some veterans will ever receive.
But behind every good man, or at least this one, is a kick-ass multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter named Joanie Mendenhall. Mendenhall usually backs Curreri's "solo" gigs on keyboard, along with bassist Pete Hamilton, but she's not likely to stay in the shadows very much longer.
Mendenhall received an honorable mention in the 2002 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her composition "Patience is a Virtue," and a glimpse of greatness to come can be found in a dozen or so songs at www.joaniemen.com. If the lyrics to "The Loneliest Highway" or "All These Years" don't prove this girl's got an abundance of heart to accompany a remarkable voice, then at least be warmed by the fact that on the front page of her website she links to her mother's restaurant-the North County Korean joint, Seoulmama.
Mendenhall is currently playing a handful of New York and Virginia dates with Curreri, and they'll play a homecoming show on July 10 at M-Theory Music.
Pirates go arrrgghhhh...
One of pirate station Free Radio San Diego's stated goals is to be the voice of the community. Though local music has always figured prominently in that goal, the recent addition of a regular show (Sunday nights, 6-8 p.m. on 96.9FM) has strengthened these claims.
FRSD jock Johnny Nonsense's utter disregard for genre boundaries, production values, bad language or perceived "buzz" of a band in deciding his playlist makes his show one of the more truly eclectic mixes at a station dedicated to the dying art of freeform radio. No diss to the numerous local specialty programs at bigger, legal stations that are excellent and reach a few more million people, but with a smaller station comes the easement of quality controls: if you send it, Nonsense will play it. Good or bad, it makes for some exciting car-crash radio that adds to the local scene.
Primarily, his show serves up a snapshot of who's out gigging in San Diego in the coming week, from apartment BYOB parties to megasuperclubs. It also serves as an aural history of San Diego music, playing long-dead local bands that never got their day on FM radio next to up-and-comers who'll soon be overplayed.
In other FRSD news, the station-which is commercial-free and funded by DJ dues and supporter donations-is hurting from the high costs of relocating their covert headquarters earlier this year. Those interested in lending a helping pocketbook should check out the station's website (www.pirate969.org) or tune in for more details (note: the station's signal only covers a few miles surrounding South Park in central city). If that's too much work, you can go knock back some grog at Sparky's on July 10. The South Park bar is hosting an FRSD benefit party-the third it's thrown since the station's inception more than a year and a half ago. Sadly, donations to criminal enterprises (righteous or not) aren't tax deductible.
(Note: Unlike big-time FM stations, 96.9 operates from a small antenna, so the signal can occasionally suck. Reports are that the station can be heard from El Cajon to the ocean and from Mira Mesa to Tijuana. Reception is generally better in cars, but even a speaker wire antenna can help your home stereo pick it up.)
Jason Mraz's "The Remedy" was given an award on May 11 by BMI as one of the most performed songs of 2003.
Beatles fans can now find the Baja Bugs, featuring former members of The Zeros and Trebles every Thursday night at the Silver Dollar in Chula Vista.
At this year's San Diego County Fair, Rookie Card frontman Adam Gimbel took first place in the "Most Unusual Collection" category for his caboodle of Dr. Pepper knock-off cans (Mr. Pibb, Dr. Thunder, etc.). Geek.
The next album from ace singer-songwriter duo Berkley Hart will be called A Baker's Dozen, consisting primarily of outtakes from their last three albums, and their version of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up." Also look for the return of the duo's theme shows next month at Lestat's-including the Berkley Hartburns (the music of the Rugburns) Berkley Hart Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar music) and Oh Berkley Where Hart Thou (Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack).
Local Christian band, Something Like Silas, has signed with EMI CMC Records and released Divine Invitation this month. SLA is also the worship group for College Avenue Baptist Church, dubbed The Flood.
"Contort," the rock and indie-DJ specialty night has moved from Live Wire to Landlord Jim's every Tuesday. DJ Ratty will continue to spin funk and rare grooves at the Wire on Wednesdays.
The Biddy Bums will hold a CD-release party in conjunction with BandVibe.com, for their new album On the Verge and in the Moment, at the San Diego Center for Moving Arts on July 3.
Saxophonist James Moody and 17-year-old pianist (and Francis Parker student) Eldar Djangirov were among the performers at a National Endowment for the Arts concert held at the White House on June 22. Dubya and wifey were there diggin' on the tunage.
July 6 is the date for Swami Records' reissue of Rocket From the Crypt's Circa Now, originally released by San Diego's Cargo Records in 1992. When they signed the band, Interscope Records planned to reissue Circa Now, so the band recorded four new songs for the project-"Lamps for Sale," "Crazy Talk," "Flight of the Hobo," and "Over the Rail." Interscope never followed through, but Swami's version includes those songs, plus remastered versions of the others. And, like all RFTC releases, it has bitchin' packaging that looks pretty.