The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Keystone Korner

Posted by keithosaunders on July 10, 2017

This past weekend I took part in a 45th anniversary of the great, long-gone San Francisco jazz club called Keystone Korner.  The North Beach club was in existence from 1972 until 1985 – not terribly long by jazz club standards – but long enough to make an indelible imprint on the Bay Area jazz scene.  During its time it played host to the greatest names in jazz – from McCoy Tyner to Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, and Horace Silver.

This weekend’s celebration featured such luminaries as Azar Lawrence, Gary Bartz, and Charles MacPherson, all of whom still sound great.  I played in the host band, led by tenor saxophonist, Mel Martin.

It was a bittersweet weekend.  I realized that the era of local jazz clubs hosting top touring musicians for six night stints (at affordable prices) is long gone. Sure, New York still has the Village Vanguard, but you would have to practically float a loan to attend it more than once a month.

Furthermore, the Vanguard is very much the exception.  Many cities, San Francisco being one of them, no longer have clubs devoted exclusively to jazz.  Corporate arts centers such as SF Jazz and Lincoln Center help, but do little to foster the sense of a local jazz community.   Not only that, they will rarely host an act for more than a couple of nights.

We have to enjoy our few remaining jazz clubs while we have them.  One day we’ll only have youtube and our memories.

Image result for keystone korner

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Music has gotten too loud

Posted by keithosaunders on March 18, 2017

Music is too loud these days.  I played an early gig at a bar in the Haight and after we were off there was a band with a singer, sax, trumpet, hammond organ, bass, and drums.  They were pretty obnoxious overall, but even worse they were loud as hell.  Even the horns were miked.  It was god awful.  It’s acoustic music.  There’s no need to pummel the patrons over the head.

Just a terrible job out of them.

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Get off the phone!

Posted by keithosaunders on February 18, 2017

Last night I played a very enjoyable gig at a trendy new jazz club in San Francisco called The Black Cat.  (There used to be an old Black Cat which existed before my time living here) It’s a basement club with tables packed tightly together filled with 20 and 30-something techies drinking $15 martinis and fancy mixed drinks.

At one point in the gig I looked out into the audience from the stage only to see half of the people buried in their phones.  There was a table with four young women right in front of the bandstand, all of whom were looking at their phones.

Can’t people go five minutes without checking their Instagram?  What’s the point of hanging out with friends if you’re not going to engage?

Is there any wonder we elected a dullard such as Trump?  We are building a nonintellectual, incurious, self-absorbed populace that is vapid and disengaged.  Wake up, people!

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Close the damn door!

Posted by keithosaunders on February 2, 2017

I realize that it’s strange and somewhat ungrateful to complain about the cold when I’m living in California, but it’s my blog so clear the field, here I go.  It’s been a rainier and colder winter than normal.  The rain is good as it appears that our drought is all but over, but I’m sick of playing gigs with freezing hands.

It’s true that in the Bay Area we do not get bitter cold, sub-freezing temperatures, but it has been in the 40s consistently since November.  That still counts as cold in my book, especially when most of the clubs and restaurants keep their doors and windows open.  Why do they do this?  They don’t know from vestibules here.

Don’t restaurant owners understand the ‘open’ sign concept?  You hang the ‘open’ sign over the front door and then people know that you’re open.

Let me tell you something, there’s nothing charming about outdoor eating, even when you have heat lamps.  Do you like your food garnished with a sheen of exhaust?  Then outdoor eating is for you!

Even in the summer months it never gets that hot here.  Especially in the summer months!  Close the damn door already.

 

 

Posted in San Francisco, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Vestibules now!

Posted by keithosaunders on January 3, 2017

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and night

Folks, here is concrete photographic evidence of a clear and present danger in the Bay Area: An alarming lack of vestibules.

When people observe jazz in their overcoats they are not enjoying the music – they are counting the minutes until they can be reunited with their heater. Head colds and gig-related illnesses are predicted to spike in future years.

Stop the madness. #vestibulesnow!

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I get requests

Posted by keithosaunders on October 17, 2016

I have a solo piano gig in San Francisco which I do every Wednesday and Sunday.  From time to time people will request tunes and I’ll do my best to fulfill them no matter how corny they may be.  My unofficial data tells me that Billy Joel’s, The Piano Man is the most requested song while Dave Brubeck’s Take Five is a close second.

Earlier tonight I received a request that was as original as it was inane.  Someone asked me to play ‘video game music.’ I must have looked puzzled because the person quickly added, “You know, like Super Mario Brothers.”

This time, instead of stammering out an apology, I decided to try a new approach.  I reached around for the back of my trousers, took at out my new Glock 19, fired a few rounds into the kitchen (taking care to avoid hitting the chef) and set the gun down on the piano.

“Now,” I replied, “what was it you wanted to hear, some Bud Powell?  That’s what I thought you said.”

 

Image result for glock 19

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September weekend

Posted by keithosaunders on September 26, 2016

It’s late September and we’re well into the Bay Area’s yearly Indian Summer.  The days have been hot and sunny while the evenings are cool (ish) and fog-free.

The weekend’s gigs were a mixed bag – mostly good.  On Thursday I received a last minute call for a late Friday night (10:30-1:30) gig at a new jazz club in San Francisco.  At 9:30 PM Friday I boarded the gig mobile (Mazda minivan) and the weekend’s festivities were underway.

I arrived to find a nice looking restaurant/bar with a downstairs jazz club.  It was intimate, with a small stage and exposed brick walls.  The only trouble was that it was packed with puke-faced millennials who were more interested in their phones and their fancy mixed drinks than the music.

Worse than that, the band didn’t gel, due mostly to a weak bass player who played way too loud, as well as on top of the beat, making it impossible to find a pocket.  The result was that I overplayed and soon fell into a funk.

During the break the awkward moments kept coming.  It was one of those crowded clubs with nowhere to stand or sit.  The band had dispersed and there was no one to talk to.  I  didn’t feel like drinking – I already sounded bad enough – so I just stood around looking like the mamaluke of the year until it was time to reconnoiter upstairs for dinner.

The restaurant served us some nouveau cuisine – I had thought that these small portioned, tricked out presentations had gone out with the 80s.  Was this old-veau cuisine?

During dinner the bass player chatted me up, probing for my life story.  She managed to discover that the reason I had moved to the Bay Area from New York City was because my wife (now ex) had recieved a job offer.  “I guess that your musician’s salary wasn’t going to make it,” she opined. Needless to say this comment went over like a turd in the punchbowl.  I shot her the Keitho ray and she responded she responded sheepishly with, “Sorry if I touched a nerve.”

The dinner was mercifully short owing as much to our schedule as the minisscule portions. Then it was announced that this young pianist from Minnesota was going to sit in for a couple tunes along with a bass player.  (a good one this time) The piano player was great and he proceeded to cut me.

By now I was thoroughly dusgusted with the entire situation.  When it was my turn to resume playing I was fired up enough to find my good stuff and I played well the rest of the evening. (I’m a good mad player.)  In the end I was kind of glad that the other piano player (who turned out to be a nice guy) gave me a goosing.

The gig went overtime, of course, and I stumbled out of there around 2am. The rest of the weekend’s gigs went much better but this post is already too long.  On to this week’s gigs!

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Can I get a vestibule over here?

Posted by keithosaunders on September 20, 2016

For the most I love living and gigging in the Bay Area.  I’ve been here for six years now and am firmly entrenched in its jazz scene.  That said, I have a bone to pick.

I’m sick and tired of going to a gig at a club or restaurant only to discover they have left their door open.  ON PURPOSE.  I’m sitting there trying to play the damn piano and I’m freezing.  What’s more, I look around and the customers are freezing too.  They’ve all got their jackets and sweaters on and they’re rubbing their hands together like they’re trying to make fire.

Now I get that the management wants their establishment to be all charming and rustic, and that we’re in California with the year-round mild temperatures.  But here’s a news flash:  It gets unusually cold on summer nights in San Francisco.  You see, there’s this little thing called fog.  Face it, ‘Frisco, you’re not an outdoor dining city.  Get over yourself.

I’m trying to play music and I can’t even move my fingers.  This may be difficult for restaurant owners to understand but I have to manipulate individual fingers in rhythm at distinct parts of the piano.  It’s not like I ball my hands into fists and smash them against the keys and Our Love Is Here to Stay comes out.  NO.  I am moving my fingers to form patterns which in turn yields shapes and colors.  SHAPES AND COLORS, FOR GODS SAKE.

Would it kill these people to build a vestibule?  They don’t even know what a vestibule is out here – I had to explain it to somebody last week.  If they had vestibules a musician might be able to enjoy a damn gig instead of feeling like a character in a Jack London novel.

And by the way…how do you think they caught the Chelsea bomber?  He was lying in a vestibule in Linden, New Jersey.

Vestibules:  Is there anything they can’t do?

Image result for vestibule

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Naked Trump

Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2016

Naked Trump statues are happening, and apparently in more than one city.  There’s one in the Castro district of San Francisco, as well as four other cities.  That’s what you get when you brag about the size of your penis in the age of the smarmy internet.

That said, I am more amused than offended by the statue. In fact I’m not offended at all.  What has offended me is an incurious, docile media that has treated this man as if he was a serious, qualified candidate.  Too many articles take Trump’s proposed policies seriously rather than question the hubris and sanity of the man.

You’ve got a media that is in the pockets of corporate America, and in Trump, a ratings bonanza.  This is not a good recipe.  It is not in the media’s interest to question the man or to report on an America that is decidedly more racist than was previously imagined.

If all that is left for us plebes is to engage in locker room humor then I say bring it on!

Posted in media, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Gals ’round the Hood

Posted by keithosaunders on May 2, 2016

I figured I’d let you goes attach a face to the hater.  I’m the piano player shaking his head for no apparent reason.  HEY, ARE YOU LOOKING AT MY BALD SPOT?!

This is a really cool tune that my buddy, sax player Zan Stewart, wrote called Gals’round the Hood.  It was recorded at a book store called Bird and Beckett which runs a jazz series in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco.  Adam Gay plays bass and Ron Maributo is the drummer.

 

 

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