The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

The dating blues

Posted by keithosaunders on October 31, 2017

I began to gig in jazz clubs in my late teens back when I lived in Los Angeles.  I had decided to eschew college in pursuit of a career as a jazz musician – a decision that has netted me upwards of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  I was having a great time practicing 5-6 hours during the day and gigging at night.

One unfortunate byproduct of this situation was that I was invariably the youngest person in the club by over ten years.  Not being in the cocoon of college made it difficult to find a girl close to my age to date.  Where was Tinder when I needed it?!

Fast forward 40 years and all of the practice paid off.  I’m gigging most nights, and I play at an extremely high level.  However I’m now often the oldest person in the club by over 15 years.  Somewhere up in heaven Rod Serling is having a good laugh.

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Memory lane

Posted by keithosaunders on July 1, 2016

A few weeks ago my brother called me and asked if I remembered Maria’s last name.  Maria lived down the street from where we grew up in Van Nuys, California, which is a suburb of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.  Maria was best friends with Melonie and one summer when we were all 11 or 12 we hung out together.  Melonie’s mom was super hot –  a voluptuous  Meredith Baxter Birney-esque blond 30-something.  Even our pre-pubescent selves could recognize greatness.

Melonie and Maria were inseparable.  Our Dad nick-named them the Bobbsey Twins, which we thought was funny even though we didn’t know who or what the Bobbsey Twins were.  We spent most of that summer at Melonie’s pool hoping that the Mom would be home.  Nothing ever happened between us and the girls — it was still too soon for that.

But the next summer there was Cheryl and Laurie.  They were another set of friends that lived even closer — 4 houses away instead of 10. Cheryl introduced us to kissing – both my brother and I.  We would take turns in our backyard.  (What was she, the town trollope?!)  Soon we were discovered by my Mom who put a stop to it.

So we reconnoitered at Laurie’s house down the street. One afternoon Laurie had a great idea:  “Say, why don’t we all take off our clothes and march around the room?”  That was a crackerjack idea!  So we stripped off our clothes and began marching around Laurie’s room, Cheryl, Laurie, my brother and I, like a libidinous coed ROTC.  John Philip Sousa would have been proud.

After a couple of minutes we were busted by Laurie’s mom.  Why couldn’t we have been a little more discreet?! Thus concluded our summer hijnx of 1972.

Now if anybody out there knows Maria’s last name will you get back to me?

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Starman

Posted by keithosaunders on January 11, 2016

DD

I’ve been thinking about Diamond Dogs.  This was the first David Bowie record to be released after I had started listening to him. (Ziggy and Aladdin Sane already felt like ancient history even though they were only one and two years old) I remember counting down the days until DD came out and finally taking it home, playing it and loving it instantly.

There was this strange dichotomy with Bowie – here was this effeminate androgynous person who appeared more alien than human, yet his music was as muscular and substantial as anything heard before or since. Growing up in the staid, conforming, tract-home infested San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, listening to Bowie felt simultaneously thrilling and subversive.

Less than a year after Diamond Dogs Bowie would  help kick-start disco with Young Americans and I summarily rote him off.  This  was convenient for me since I had begun studying and playing jazz and wouldn’t listen to rock music for another three years.  When I did get around to checking out rock again my brother played me the Eno-produced records that Bowie had made in the interim – Low, Heroes, and Lodger – and they blew my mind.  Scary Monsters came out a few months after I had rediscovered him and it was like a satisfying coda to the frenetic and schizophrenic seventies.  Soon Bowie would don a suit and tie for the conservative 80s only to reemerge in the 90s as a cutting-edge post-punk industrial rocker.

Bowie is the most important pop artist we’ve lost since John Lennon.  He was like a rock version of Miles Davis.  He stayed relevant and innovative no matter how old he got and he influenced every generation that was lucky enough to have heard him.
 It’s a sad day.

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New Years memories

Posted by keithosaunders on December 29, 2015

And now it’s time for:  Keitho’s New Years gig memories!

Some of my fans have been after me to hate post about New Years Eve but I can’t. You hate it, I hate it, everybody hates it. In other words, it’s low hanging fruit. Instead I offer some personal memories of a lifetime of December 31st spent as a capitalist pig.

My first New Years gig would have been 1978. I was still in high school but somehow got called to do a casual in downtown LA. I had just gotten my drivers license 3 or 4 months earlier and my Dad was worried about me driving home amidst all the drunk drivers so he drove me to the gig, hung out somewhere downtown for 5 hours (we lived 15 miles away) and picked me up when it was over. Needless to say this was embarrassing for me at the time but looking back on it…what a Dad!

My first New Years gig in NYC would have been 1985. I remember Jerry Sokolov and John Ray were on it. We were somewhere in the Village and Soupy Sales did a set in the middle of it.

The next year I did a trio gig in Islip, Long Island at this redneck bar with Lee Hudson & Fred Lite . Islip is way out in Suffolk county – exit 60-something, which was about 60 miles from where I lived at the time on the Upper West Side. I remember that it was a freezing cold night with temps in the 20s and at some point the owner, to save money, turned the heat off! There were only 5-7 people in the place the entire night so needless to say getting paid was an adventure. I think we made $100.00. I was in a good mood, however, because I had gotten the waitress’s phone number, but by the time I had a chance to get back to Islip to see her she had become a lesbian.

New Years Eve 1994 saw me working at a country club in Stamford, Connecticut with my good friend and incredible singer, Richard Lanham. My firstborn son, Jake, was just 6 months old and since Richard hadn’t seen him I said to him Seinfeld style, “You have to come up and see the baby!”

So he came upstairs and of course Jake was really cute and we were mesmerized by this adorable baby. Soon it was time to go. We were a mile or so before the Whitestone bridge when I realized that I had forgotten my keyboard. D’oh! Needless to say we were late and to this day I am persona non grata at the Stamford Arms CC.

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Provincialism

Posted by keithosaunders on May 11, 2011

I grew up in Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley in a town called Van Nuys.  When I lived in L.A. I thought it was a the center of the world.  I thought it was a glamorous place full of hip movie stars, and great musicians. 

As I got into my teen years and was exposed to, and began playing jazz, I began to wonder about the wider world, in particular, New York City.  Both of my parents grew up in New York.  My father had great memories of his childhood there, and he vividly described what it was like to grow up in New York during the pre and post World War II era.

I got into my late teens and began hanging out with the great drummer, Dick Berk.  He had lived in New York in the early ’60s, and he would spend hours regaling me with stories of all the great musicians he had hung out with and played with.    

New York was like a mythical place to me, filled with jazz clubs, great sports teams, colorful characters, jazz musicians, and places to hang out until all hours to the night.  What could be better?

There was one problem.  Almost everyone else I talked to hated New York.  I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it was a crime-ridden, rat-infested, over-priced hell-whole, and that I should have my head examined for wanting to live there.  When you recall some of the films of the 1970s — The Out of Towners, Taxi Driver, and Mean Streets — you can see why it had a bad reputation.  Of course, most of the people I knew had never been to New York, but that didn’t stop them from badmouthing it.

Furthermore, they told me, the people were rude, unfriendly, and unwelcoming.  When I responded that I wanted to experience the greatest jazz scene in the world, I was told to grow up — that there was no future in jazz.

To be continued…

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