Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones at the Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, March 8th

I was thrilled when I learned late last year that the original Bela Fleck & the Flecktones were going to be touring. I had never seen this wonderful band at all over the years, so before I could talk myself out of it I bought a pair of tickets for their scheduled local show, which was to be the day after my birthday in March at the Warfield in San Francisco.

As it turned out, there was a venue change, and so instead of Market Street, my wife and I were on Van Ness at the Regency Ballroom.

The band was terrific. All of them have a mastery of their instruments that is astonishing, and while showing off is definitely part of the game, it's secondary to the music itself, which is by turns beautiful, soulful, dazzling, intricate, delightful, humorous - sometimes all at once. They also clearly are having a ball playing together.

The latest Flecktones album, recorded last year with this lineup, is Rocket Science.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A revived gig dies again...

In January I wrote about the return of live jazz to Turtle Bay Seafood & Grill in Foster City. I'm sad to report that it is gone again, this time because the restaurant has gone out of business. C'est la vie. Sigh...

Leo Kottke at Yoshi's San Francisco, February 16th

I had a wonderful evening at Yoshi's in San Francisco enjoying one of my long-time favorite performers, Leo Kottke. Leo is a wonderful acoustic finger-style guitarist, composer, singer, and raconteur. On his uptempo pieces there's an interesting and very personal thing about his sense of rhythm and dynamics - there's a motion that borders on minor discontinuity that gives it an almost lurching quality, or something like a drunk person valiantly trying to prove they are not drunk as they walk. I'm not doing it justice, it almost sounds like I'm describing flawed technique, but it's not at all, it is wonderful to behold and sounds like nobody else does.

Between his songs he weaves commentary, telling stories and relating anecdotes that are often hilarious and exhibit a keen mind, and whenever I have seen him I always end up laughing out loud multiple times during the show. His words have the quality of being completely off the cuff, which they very well may be. This evening he talked quite a bit about his childhood fascination with the Dick Tracy comic strip; plotting with friends to "roll" the school janitor; the quirky songwriter Bob "Frizz" Fuller; and other disconnected and unrelated topics. You can get a bit of the flavor of his monologues in his occasional writings on the Notes page of his website and in some of the liner notes of his many recordings over the years.