Monday, June 30, 2008

Tanned Tin Sur

Spain and my solo project Dead Sea Scrolls played at the Tanned Tin Sur festival in Cádiz, Spain.

The beautiful, old theatre is located in the town of Puerto Real. Red velvet is everywhere.

A great band called the Clientele played. They were awsome and really nice people too.

Tanned Tin's guru and our host Jesus Llorente took us to El Yaky Restaurant, well-known as the greatest restaurant in the universe.

We had lunch there again the next day and one of the waiters was kind of enough to snap a picture of us across the street.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Charlie Haden still keeps it in the family

Charlie Haden still keeps it in the family
By Ken Eisner

Life is full of many odd circles and repetitions, but it's a rare person who starts performing in a family country band at only 22 months old and then sails past his 70th year heading his own brood of blood-related musicians. That, however, is exactly what jazz veteran Charlie Haden now finds himself undertaking.

After moving to Los Angeles in the 1950s, the Iowa-born Haden lent his probing bass lines to some of the most outré saxophone players the jazz world has ever known (Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, and Dewey Redman among them), as well as performing with idiosyncratic solo artists like Keith Jarrett, Carla Bley, and Yoko Ono. Over the years, Haden has also made his deep affection for rural folk music come alive, most notably in collaboration with fellow midwesterner Pat Metheny in 1997's Beyond the Missouri Sky.

When the Georgia Straight catches up with him, he is putting the last touches on a new album to be called Charlie Haden Family and Friends: Ocean of Diamonds. The record features the bassist-composer with his wife, singer (and producer) Ruth Cameron, son Josh Haden, and triplet daughters Petra, Rachel, and Tanya. (The last named is better known to some for having married Jack Black.) Other performers onboard include Metheny, Vince Gill, Béla Fleck, Rosanne Cash, and Elvis Costello.

"We've been talking about this ever since Pat and I did Missouri Sky and we went to visit my mom in the Ozarks and everybody sang for her 80th birthday," Haden says, reached at his L.A. home.

That was more than a decade ago, and the veteran musician is talking today because he's about to launch another tour with a different favourite entity, Charlie Haden's Quartet West. Now into its third decade, the foursome—with fellow Californian Ernie Watts on saxophone, New Zealand–born pianist Alan Broadbent, and new drummer Rodney Green—does have some connections with Haden's interest in Americana.

At its upcoming Vancouver International Jazz Festival show, Quartet West will play a blend of jazz ballads and obscure songs associated with old Hollywood and film noir in particular, as heard in a best-of album recently released on Verve. Using sampled snippets of dialogue, orchestral soundtracks, and the occasional Billie Holiday vocal, the group is known for its hushed sense of reverie, nostalgia, and surprise.

"You'll definitely get all that," Haden says. "We play music from an era when what was on the radio went a little bit deeper. I keep discovering and rediscovering things through whatever projects I'm working on. I love finding out more about the music that comes from America. The inspiration for Quartet West came from the beauty of our culture in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. But we don't just do older material. In Vancouver, we'll be playing new tunes of mine, and by Ornette Coleman and others."

After his Quartet West tour, Haden has some family-band dates, including a big August show at New York's Lincoln Centre—the culmination, perhaps, of a documentary on his life that's being filmed for Swiss television. Mostly though, he's still about the music.

"I've always been interested in all kinds of music and all kinds of musicians, ever since I was a kid," says the bassist. "My main goal has been to meet people who were on the same track—which is playin' music to help make the planet a better place."

To that end, Haden has had several runs at holding together—with pianist-arranger Bley—the Liberation Music Orchestra, a large group devoted to political provocation. (The LMO's most recent release, Not in Our Name, came out in 2005.)

"That group's about a lot of things. But mainly it's about wanting the governments of the world to appreciate life. We're playing at the Blue Note the week of the [U.S. presidential] election, so let's hope that has some small effect," he adds with a chuckle. "We're starting to have some expectations of change now, and that came into being because of the cruelty and greed of the government that came into power. Most people have finally opened their eyes to what has been going on; Pat wrote a song for the new record [Ocean of Diamonds] called ‘Katrina, 2005: Is This America?' Now these guys are in their anterooms, counting all the money they've stolen in the past eight years, and it's really sad that they won't be held accountable for their crimes."

If the bassist feels some glimmer of hope regarding U.S. politics, he still worries about the state of popular music in general.

"It's always been about good ears," he says. "If people are born with good ears, they can appreciate good music of all types. And people who weren't at least have the possibility of educating their ears. As it is now, the culture is in really deep trouble, musically. Of course, it's hard to know what people are listening to, with everyone walking around with iPod buds in their ears. I'd like to think they are into things that express deeper values, but how can you know when everyone is so isolated?"

In contrast, Haden just keeps getting more connected with his growing community of musical colleagues, and with the prairie populism that inspired him as a child.

"There's a kind of progressive innovation that comes from this country and keeps popping up," he notes. "When it happens, it can be very timely. But at its best, it's also timeless."

Charlie Haden's Quartet West plays the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on Saturday (June 21).

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I got word today that Esbjörn Svensson died Saturday June 14 in a diving accident.

Aside from being an incredible person and musician, composer, and arranger, leader of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (est), and award-winning jazz pianist, he played all of the keyboards and did all the string arrangements on the 1999 Spain album "She Haunts My Dreams".

I worked with Esbjörn two other times, on Freddie Wadling's 1999 "En Skiva Till Kaffet" and I had the honor of singing on est's 2003 album "Seven Days Of Falling", on a song co-written by myself and Esbjörn entitled "Love Is Real".

Spain's "She Haunts My Dreams" would not have been the same without Esbjörn's musical insight and expertise and anyone who hears it will agree with me.

I was always struck by his musicality, his sensitivity, professionalism, passion, and sense of innovation. He was also just a really nice guy. I will always have great memories of working with him.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and bandmates. It's an unbelievable loss.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nice Night

Last night Spain played at the Echo. It was fun.

Beck played a "secret show" as the opening band. He has a new band and new songs and new sunglasses and he sounded great.

Alt-Country/Folk artist Daniel Ahearn played next. He was great too. Very charismatic presence. That's Heather Lockie from Listing Ship on viola!

Of course I don't have any photos of our set, but a fellow-blogger posted some he took along with a review of our set (not very favorable!) on his blog called Classical Geek Theatre. There's also some photos on the LA Underground flickr page.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Spain At The Echo Wed. 6-11-08

Spain will be playing new songs and some oldies but goodies too this Wednesday, June 11 at the Echo in Los Angeles, California. We have an unlimited $5.00 guest list for the show so if you'd like to be included on it feel free to send me an email at and let me know.

June 11, 2008
Spain 10pm
Daniel Ahearn 9pm
Correatown 11pm
the Echo
1822 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
$7 ($5 unlimited guestlist, email to be included)
(213) 413-8200

Monday, June 2, 2008

Neil Hamburger - Jug Town Live

Last night I was lucky enough to see Neil Hamburger and his Too-Good-For-Neil-Hamburger-Band perform their L.A. debut at Spaceland in Silver Lake, California. They were performing songs from their just-released cd "Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners", buy it today!

Here's a portion of their "Jug Town", as performed last night.

Here's some photos.

The Too-Good-For-Neil-Hamburger-Band (from left, Dave Gleason, Prairie Prince, Atom Ellis) laying down some choice country licks, setting the stage for the entrance of America's Favorite Funnyman.

A new band, a new sound, and a new look for Neil Hamburger. Yes, that's my sister Rachel on backing vocals!

Country guitar whiz Dave Gleason.

You can ususally tell how a Neil Hamburger show is going by looking at what's going on around his shoes.

Neil and his band will be performing soon in a town near you! If you are looking for some great entertainment, this is the show you've been waiting for.

Tue June 10 - VISALIA, CA - The Cellar Door
Wed June 11 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Great American Music Hall
Fri June 13 - PORTLAND, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
Sat June 14 - SEATTLE, WA - Sunset Tavern
Sun June 15 - BELLINGHAM, WA - Rogue Hero

For those of you who can't attend the above shows or if you don't like music, Neil will be performing his solo stand-up show soon in the following towns. Highly recommended!

Thu June 5 - PONTIAC, MI - The Pike Room
Tue June 24 - GAINESVILLE, FL - Common Grounds
Wed June 25 - TAMPA, FL - Crowbar
Thu June 26 - ORLANDO, FL - AKA Lounge
Fri June 27 - MIAMI, FL - PS14
Sun July 27 - LOS ANGELES, CA - Spaceland
Thu July 31 - NEW YORK, NY - Knitting Factory
Fri Aug 1 - BALTIMORE, MD - Ottobar
Sat Aug 2 - CHAPEL HILL, NC - Local 506
Wed Aug 6 - WASHINGTON, DC - Black Cat
Thu Aug 7 - PHILADELPHIA, PA - Johnny Brenda's
Fri Aug 8 - NEW HAVEN, CT - Cafe Nine