Takes me back to my early days playing
latin jazz and salsa in Tucson bars.
When we were all the way on
whole rooms full of sweating dancers
would cheer, spinning, singing along. ¡Baila!
Me, a 20-year-old white kid with no business
among these grizzled Mexican and Puerto Rican
veterans of the local music scene. Playing the claves
like an elementary school kid with woodblocks.
“If you’re going to play them,” Ismael said, “PLAY THEM.”
Later he would tell me, during a flamenco tune:
“Clap like my mama’s making tortillas.”
(He offered me cocaine, drank Scotch during every set
till the tempos were elastic as putty.)
Later I would lay jazz melodies over the dance rhythms.
Will, the bongocero, said to a new trumpeter:
“Can you play them jazz songs like my man Jason?”
I floated off the floor in my cap-toed spectators.
MCA Records offered us a deal, so we got together
at Izzy’s house to lay down a bunch of music.
Izzy got coked up, missed the meeting with the execs,
the deal was off. But when we were on, man,
we were all the way on.
This is my first attempt at a rudimentary multi-track recording. I played all the instruments (diddley-bow, pandeiro, cajon) and wrote the poem. I recorded it using a Blue Snowball microphone and Audacity, neither of which is really designed for this purpose. But what the hell, I dig it and I’m learning. Enjoy!
Last night I joined Eric Ian Farmer (guitar, vocals) and Desiree Dennis (guitar, vocals, shaker, djembe) for a show at the Full Circle Center in Mill Hall, PA. It’s a magical space dedicated to healing and mindfulness, and the acoustics are amazing. Enjoy this video of the first half of the show. This was originally on Instagram Live, thus the vertical video. Sadly my phone died while filming the second half, and that video disappeared into the mists of time. I guess you had to be there. 🙂
I recently had the pleasure of performing with Ady Martinez (cuatro, vocals, shakers) and Eric Ian Farmer (guitar, cajon, vocals) at Chumley’s in State College, PA. Here are both sets. These were originally on Instagram Live, thus the vertical video. Also the first 16 minutes of the first set are sideways, but the music isn’t. Enjoy!