Monday, February 21, 2005

This weekend was a surreal one... went from watching one of my favorite organ players to hearing very unfortunate news about one of my favorite local singers. I'm still in shock. I'm still feeling a bit off the ground.

Pam Bricker passed last night, and like Hunter S. Thompson's death, it was most likely suicide. On a local level, Pam single-handedly made U-Topia one of the most popular jazz clubs in town and revived U Street as one of the most exciting landmarks in DC. She was U-Topia and a historical figure in Washington. On a personal level, Pam has been a great influence in my musical career. I went from sitting at the bar as a fan at U-Topia to being a frequent guest performer on her shows. Somehow she was one of reasons why I picked up the harmonica. Pam never had a bad show. Every one of her shows was just as exciting as the next one. She was very versatile, singing jazz, blues, R&B, folk, bossa nova, and playing some percussions (self-taught). She had the ability to put everyone in a dreamlike state, making eye contact with every customer, establishing a very loyal fan base. Her passing is really a tragedy to the DC music community.

Not long ago, I made a compilation CD called "The Best of Pam Bricker." If you'd like to remember Pam's voice and some of her best performances, I'll burn you a copy if you e-mail me. I hope the Lord takes good care of her. Funeral details to come soon for my readers.

In other departments, Lou Donaldson Quartet gave a dynamite performance at the East Coast Jazz Festival (aka the Rockville Doubletree Jazz Festival) as always. They're one of the tightest group in jazz today and must be seen LIVE! Dr. Lonnie Smith smoked the joints with two great solos, particularly the one on "Alligator Boogaloo." On excitement level alone, Lonnie brought the audience to their feet, moving their bodies and grooving to the rhythm. Technique-wise, he's top-notch and he's also meticulous in using the right phrasings in the right places and never overplays. With Jimmy's death, I am convinced that Dr. Lonnie Smith is THE premiere Hammond B-3 player in the world. He's also a very down-to-earth and soft-spoken person, giving me hugs and everything. What a guy!

I also hung with Pete Fallico, CA radio personality, and author of Doodlin' Lounge, and his wife and Matt, a videotographer from NY. We hung on Saturday and saw an equally exciting Bill Heid with Eric Harper and Big Joe Maher at 219. Pete and Bill go way back, including touring Japan together and Pete helping Bill get his first record deal with Westside in the early 90's. It was a genuinely good time. Haven't heard that much musical fun in awhile.

At the end of the ride, Pete and Matt both told me to watch out for this organ player: Rhoda Scott.

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