Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hama Sushi

Last night Lisa and I had dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant, Hama Sushi. It's located in Downtown L.A.'s Little Tokyo on 2nd St.

My sister Tanya and her husband Jack first introduced us to Hama Sushi and we've been eating there ever since.

Our favorite is the spicy tuna hand roll with avocado and green onion, but everything here is amazing.

The prices are also very reasonable.

"See you tomorrow!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hangin' With The Gutter Twins

Today I interviewed Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan for the German music magazine Spex. We talked about L.A., spirituality in music, the record business, and most of all about their upcoming cd release as the Gutter Twins.

The Gutter Twins cd called Saturnalia will be released Mar. 4 2008 in the U.S. Its a great cd and everyone should buy a copy when it comes out.

There was a photographer there and I asked her to take a picture of us on my iphone.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Band Practice Of The New Year

We practice in a castle.

Matt plays drums.

Randy got a new keyboard, and its red.

Tom lays down some tasty licks.

Earlier in the day I went to Jasmine Blue Flowers in Sherman Oaks.

Jasmine Blue is owned by Dokhi Mirmirani. Dokhi is an old family friend and she is the best. She supplied and arranged the flowers for mine and Lisa's wedding, and they looked amazing. Everyone at the wedding told me how beautiful they thought the flowers were.

If you are in Los Angeles and need unique and amazing-looking flowers arranged in a beautiful way make sure to visit Jasmine Blue at 13607 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, you will be pleased.

Dokhi gave me some flowers to bring home to Lisa.

I love flowers.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Yukkin' At Yuca's

On Friday my sister's boyfriend Atom Ellis and I went to the NAMM Show at the Anaheim City Convention Center.

NAMM is the annual International Music Products Association gathering where music product manufacturers get to connect with buyers and artists from all over the world and show off their latest gear.

I attended the show as a guest of Gallien-Kreuger amplifiers. My family has had a long association with Gallien-Krueger; my father through his feedback has helped design the G-K acoustic bass amp into the best in the world.

The two biggest posters at the G-K booth were for my dad and Flea, side by side.

Although my dad helped create the Gallien-Krueger acoustic bass amplifier, their electric bass amps are equally incredible. I've used Gallien-Krueger amps exclusively since I was a teenager. Here I am with a whole stack of G-K amps at the NAMM show G-K booth.

Here I am with Gallien-Krueger founder & president Bob Gallien, a nicer guy you couldn't meet.

Also at the NAMM show I visited my friends at the Dana B. Goods booth. Dana B. Goods are the exlusive distributors of Warwick basses in America. I am very proud to endorse Warwick basses, their sound and design have inspired me to no end. Watch for me playing Warwick basses in my upcoming Dead Sea Scrolls gigs.

In addition, while I was at the NAMM show I bumped into my old friend and fellow bassist Eva Gardner. It was great to see Eva, she is an amazing bass player and an incredibly nice person too. She was getting ready to go to Israel where she has a gig playing for Pink.

All in all, I had a great time at the 2008 NAMM Show.

The next day was a typically beautiful Los Angeles day and I took Lisa to a few of my favorite L.A. places.

Our first stop was the Mission San Fernando.

The Mission San Fernando was one of several Missions founded by Spanish Catholic devotees in the 1700s.

The devastation to Native American people and culture by the arrival of European settlers was (and continues to be) immeasurable. The problem of the destruction of life in the name of religion and spirituality by those who purport to be believers in God is not adequately addressed at the Mission San Fernando, and if it was, I didn't see it.

I will say, however, that the Mission San Fernando is an important part of Los Angeles history, and much spirituality and redemption can be found here, even out of the ashes of death and despair.

The Mission grounds itself are breathtaking. In the late 1800s the grounds had fallen into disrepair, and an earthquake further damaged many of the buildings which still stood. The Mission as it is today has been mostly reconstructed but is a faithful recreation of the original edifices, right down to the use of original furniture and wall ornamentation.

Here's the original Church organ.

Every room of the Mission has been recreated using original furniture, including kitchens, workrooms, dining areas, bedrooms, etc... This bed is from the Bishop's room, check out that headboard!

The real attraction to me of Mission San Fernando is the "Madonna Room", a room filled with trinkets, ephemera, novelty items, statuettes, statues, pictures, and paintings both old and new all relating to the holy mother of Jesus. The light in the room and soft music start automatically before even reaching the threshold and it is a sight to behold!

The Mission Church is incredible. There had been a wedding in the church minutes before I took this photo.

The Mission is also home to the final resting place of entertainer Bob Hope! This definitely sets this Mission apart from all the other California Missions. Very Hollywood, but also very charming, serene, thought-provoking, and kitschy in a good way.

After leaving the Mission I took Lisa to the nearby Historical Landmark known as "The Cascades". This is the exact spot, where, in 1913, William Mulholland, after who-knows-how-many crooked dealings it took to bring water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles, stood in front of a gathering of hundreds of people and stated, "There it is, Mr. Mayor. Take it.", turning the valve which brought water down this slope and into the L.A. water distribution system forever, or at least until global warming dries it up.

After leaving the Cascades we drove five minutes to the historical Pioneer Cemetery. Originally called Morningside cemetery, it was established in 1870 (last burial there was in 1939) and is reportedly the second-oldest cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. When I last visited here in 2003 I was able to enter the grounds itself and walk around but now it's all but closed to the public, due to vandalism no doubt. I'm glad the San Fernando Historical Society is helping to preserve it.

Our historical mini-tour finished for the day, we were famished. Where else could we go but our favorite lunch-time Mexican food eatery, Yuca's in Los Feliz.

Yuca's is only open during the day, and is not much of a sit-down place although there are a few tables and chairs outside the front counter, but they have some of most delicious and unique Mexican food in L.A. Their menu is limited because of the size of the kitchen (tiny) but what they do serve is amazing, my favorite is the bean and cheese burrito. Don't forget to ask for chiles!

Thus concludes another fascinating couple of days in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more incredibly interesting idiosyncratic events in my life!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Stood On The Stage At The Grand Ole Opry

We spent our last day in Nashville sightseeing and acting like tourists.

Our first stop was the Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum.

The Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum has been in existence in Nashville since 1967, and has been in its current $37 million dollar home since 2001. Its purpose, according to its literature, is to "identify and preserve the evolving history and traditions of country music and to educate its audiences."

The day we went was appreciation day and admission was free!

It's housed on two huge floors, and the tour starts on the second floor, moving through the evolution of Country music starting in from its roots in the 1800s to the present day.

Here are some early instruments.

Here is a guitar Hank Williams used to play, along with a suit he used to wear on stage.

Here's a couple of guitars Chet Atkins used to play.

Here's the Gibson Maybelle Carter used to play.

They used to record music on consoles like these!

It was fun following my dad around as we made our way through the museum. He would stop at a display and say "I toured with them in 1955!", or, "My dad was friends with him!" Pretty amazing.

Here's Johnny Cash's 'Man In Black' suit. Wow!

After dinner we went to the Grand Ole Opry. The Whites (Sharon, Cheryl, and their father Buck) put us on the guest list and we met them backstage before the show.

The Grand Ole Opry is a country music concert broadcast as a radio show on WSM in Nashville every Friday and Saturday night, and in addition every Tuesday night between March and December. It is the oldest continuous radio show in America, having started broadcasting in 1925. During the winter months the Opry home is the Ryman Auditorium and that's where we saw it Saturday night.

It was my first time at the Opry and I was very excited! Here's a picture of myself and my sister Rachel standing on the Opry stage before showtime. What a privilege!

There are two sets a night, the second set lasts two hours, from 9:30pm-11:30pm. We attended the second set. Every half-hour the curtains close only to open about a minute later with a new MC and new musical acts. Every musical act performs two songs, and in between acts an announcer reads a "message from our sponsor", just like they did in the old days.

The Whites sounded great, here's a picture of them in performance.

Among the many other artists who performed were Bucky Covington from American Idol fame, and alt-country group Old Crow Medicine Show who got by far the best response out of the younger groups, which was heartening since they are one of the few young bands around right now that are keeping the classic Country and Bluegrass tradition alive. It was a treat to see the Old Crow Medicine Show.

After the show we returned backstage and I got to meet radio announcer Eddie Stubbs, a walking Country music encyclopedia and country music legend in his own right. You can hear him on the internet every Monday - Thursday 7 pm to Midnight CST, and every Friday 9:30 pm to 12:30 am on WSM online, link below.

The next morning before we went to the airport we met Mark Fain and his wife Jessica for breakfast. We couldn't have recorded the Haden Family album without Mark and we are all very thankful to him.

Here's a picture of me and Mark standing outside the restaurant just before leaving for the airport.

Thus concludes my first trip to Nashville, and how eventful it was!

On Friday I'll be attending the NAMM show in Anaheim, California, as a guest of Gallien-Krueger amplifiers. I'll have a full report posted soon!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Haden Family: Nashville Pt. 5

Please Note: Due to uploading problems with blogger I posted Haden Family: Nashville Pt. 4 on my MOG page, the link is in the column on the right, or cut and paste into your browser.

Today was the final day of recording, and what a day it was!

None other than country music superstar Vince Gill came by the studio to sing a version of "Ramblin' Boy", accompanied by my dad Charlie Haden and Dan Tyminski on backing vocals.

What an incredible sounding three-part harmony! I videotaped a short excerpt of their rehearsal in the control room. In the video are, from left to right, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Dan Tyminski, Charlie Haden, Vince Gill, and Steve Rodby. My dad's wife Ruth Cameron is working on the computer in the far right corner.

Vince Gill is such an incredible singer and he's also one of the nicest people I've ever met. It was an honor to meet him and listen to him in the studio.

Next we finally recorded the last two of the three songs I sing on. First was a faster, country-fied version of my song "Spiritual", with myself on vocals, Russ Barenberg on acoustic guitar, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Dan Tyminski on mandolin, and my dad on bass.

Country legend Johnny Cash recorded "Spiritual" for his 1996 album "Unchained", but he stayed more-or-less true to the tempo and arrangement of the song as it was recorded by my band Spain on Spain's first album, 1995's "Blue Moods Of Spain".

Russ, Jerry, Stuart, and Dan sped up the tempo a bit and gave it a much more defined country styling, and I loved it! It has a real country soul gospel sound, and singing to it was a joy.

During the lunch break we took photos for the inside of the Haden Family cd jacket and I snapped a picture of my sisters looking all fancy.

After lunch we started recording the final song of our session, a vocal version of my dad's composition "American Dreams" from his 2002 album with Michael Brecker of the same name.

A few months ago my dad asked me to write lyrics to "American Dreams", which appears as an instrumental (with strings beautifully arranged by pianist Alan Broadbent) in its original version.

Anybody who knows me knows how much I love the national anthem as an art form, and that was the approach I took when writing the lyrics to "American Dreams"; writing the lyrics as if I were writing a pretend or perhaps alternative national anthem (not that I'm suggesting we need another U.S. National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner" is one of the most beautiful and moving songs ever written, in my opinion).

In the lyrics I praised the core values and beliefs of my country's founding fathers, while expressing concern that these values may have changed over the years into something the founding fathers would never have approved of.

The words I wrote for "American Dreams" extol the virtues of true love (love in its purity, if such a thing is possible) over materialism and that these virtues are, in my opinion, the real meaning of the American Flag.

Anyways, to make a long story short, the version of the song we recorded in the studio was nothing short of amazing, and it was a perfect way to end a productive, nostalgic, joyful, emotional, melodical, fun, and amazing musical family recording experience.

A million thanks to all of the great musicians who helped us with their out-of-this-world chops, and the studio techs whose expertise and skill were indispensible.

A special shout-out to Mark Fain for helping make everything possible and for his friendship.

Most of all thank you Ricky Skaggs and everyone at Skaggs Place Studio for being such gracious hosts. It was a true honor and I will never forget your hospitality.

Here is myself and Studio Assistant Lee Groitsch.

Best Studio Intern awards go to Morgan Hobbs and Dean Berner.

Here is my dad and engineer Bil VornDick

Tomorrow night we'll be going to the Grand Ole Opry to see how its REALLY done!

I'll be back next week with a new blog detailing my interesting life. Until then...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Haden Family: Nashville Pt. 3

We spent today working on several songs that have vocals. Petra sang an Irish folk song that was very complex and very moving, and then after a break for lunch I sang my first song of the session, an anti-war song again in the Irish folk tradition called "The Green Fields Of France". Its a very famous song that's been covered by lots of different artists and I gave it my best shot, I hope I did it justice. After a short break my dad's wife Ruth sang another Irish song, I'll let the title be a surprise. Ruth sang it so beautifully.

In the studio with us today was Pat Metheny playing the most soulful and entrancing guitarwork I've ever heard, and Bruce Hornsby, who played piano in a way that made me feel like I was floating it was so heavenly!

I've known Pat ever since I was a kid. He gave me my first guitar when I was 13 and he's always been so encouraging to me and enthusiastic about my music. He is a true inspiration to me, and to my sisters as well!

Here's a photo of Pat with my sister Petra.

When I got to the studio this morning I wasn't completely awake yet and I turned a corner in the hallway and almost ran smack dab into Bruce Hornsby! That was a surprise! I'd never met Bruce before but I'd always admired his music and musicianship (and also knew that my dad is a huge fan of his), but I found out also that he is an incredibly nice guy, with a great sense of humor and positive attitude about everything.

Later that evening Pat, Bruce, and my dad (along with Russ Barenburg on guitar, Jerry Douglas on dobro, and Stuart Duncan on fiddle, these are legends people!) recorded a song with my sister Tanya on vocals solo this time. The song was an old folk ballad called "He's Gone Away" and my dad told me he remembers his mom singing it to him when he was a kid. With the guys playing and my sister singing they had the entire control room in tears! Bruce Hornsby had a particularly beautiful piano solo during that song.

Here's a picture of my dad in the session room during the recording of "He's Gone Away".

Here's Russ Barenburg, left, and Jerry Douglas in the studio during the same song.

But it wasn't all hard work today. We had a lot of fun too!

Party in the lounge! From left Rachel, Petra, Petra's boyfriend Fred Armisen, Bruce Hornsby, Jerry Douglas, and Tanya.

Today a cute dog named Pepper visited us.

Rachel and her boyfriend Atom Ellis went into town and bought some hip cowboy boots.

Drummer-at-large Jens Hannemann showed up unannounced with a new hairdo.

In the afternoon the man himself Ricky Skaggs came by to hang out for a few hours. He shook my hand and greeted me so warmly he made me feel like I was an old friend. He complemented my songwriting and I was tounge-tied! He'll be in the studio to record with us in the morning and I am so looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Haden Family: Nashville Pt. 2

First a little history.

The Haden Family were a country-gospel singing group that played in the 1930s-1950s all over the mid-west United States. They could be heard on gospel radio stations in Iowa, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, revival meetings and county fairs in Missouri. They were friends with many other country artists of their day including the Carter Family.

My father, Charlie Haden, was born on Aug. 6, 1937, and soon afterwards joined the act as Yodeling Cowboy Charlie, travelling and singing with his family until the age of 15, when a battle with polio damaged his vocal chords so badly he had to stop singing.

I don't have any photos of the original Haden Family with me but I did find a low resolution image from the 1950s online, go to the Springfield History Museum website at to check it out.

Later on my dad switched to the double bass, moved to Los Angeles, joined the Ornette Coleman Quartet, and became a jazz legend, but that's a story for another time.

For the past several years my dad has been trying to get a project off the ground which includes his kids, his wife Ruth, and various close friends and musical confidantes playing the old time gospel and country songs his family performed when he was a child and the world was a much more simpler and innocent place.

Well, this project is happening now and I'm so happy to announce it is proceeding as planned!

Today was a lot of fun, Béla Fleck played on a few tunes, and my sisters continued singing their vocal harmonies.

Here's a photo of (from left to right) Stuart Duncan, Buddy Greene, my sister Petra, Bryan Sutton, and my father rehearsing a song.

Here's Ruth and my dad with mandolin player Sam Bush.

Later on Pat Metheny came by and played an incredible version of...well, I'll just let that be a surprise.

Pat will be recording with us tomorrow as well and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures.

My sisters sang a rendition of "Single Girl Married Girl" with the band and I snuck into the vocal booth to document some of it.

Tomorrow I'll hopefully be singing on a song so I'm looking forward to that. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Haden Family: Nashville Pt. 1

Today was my first full day in Nashville at Ricky Skaggs' studio recording the Haden Family cd.

Ricky Skaggs is a huge country and bluegrass star with millions of records sold around the world, and his studio reflects this.

Grammy award statues, gold records, and country music memorabilia are everywhere.

It is an honor to even be around such greatness, I can't believe I get to record here!

My sisters sang all day today and I wanted to get some photos of them in the vocal booth but I was afraid I'd make too much noise. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.

Here's a photo of my dad and Petra working on some harmonies.

The musicians laying down the instrumental tracks along with my dad were incredible and I'll have some photos of them very soon.

It was a great day and I felt good despite the fact that I hadn't yet recovered from the jet lag from my trip over (delayed flights, awake for 24 hours straight, etc). Tomorrow (actually now its later today) I'll be a lot more rested.

Until then...