Thursday, March 31, 2005

May I just say a few words about a few things?

First, my condolences to Johnnie Cochran's family, friends, and people he'd helped. He was a damn good lawyer!

I'm so excited cuz I got tickets to a Bobby Blue Bland concert at Rams Head next week. I'm also finally getting to see Mofofunka tonight at the 13th Floor.

BIG GIG!!! Please come and show your support!
This Saturday, April 2, 9 p.m.
Bill Heid's Jazz & Blues Project
Featuring Bill Heid on organ, Big Joe Maher on drums, Clarence Turner on guitar, and yours truly on the Mississippi sax. Basically your Blues Alley lineup minus a bass player. But you have one of the world's best left hand players!
The Haven is located at Northwood Shopping Center, 1552 Havenwood Road Baltimore, MD
It's a very soulful please indeed.

Happy April Fool's Day!


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

48th Street Chicago Blues. Beginning or end?

So sad to have heard that 48th Street will be closed down soon. It is the only blues club in Hong Kong where musicians hang out and have a good time. Humbly speaking, I have paid my dues there. If it wasn't for Tommy for giving me the opportunity to play with his band when I was back home in the winter of 2003, I wouldn't have been where I am today. Tommy has left a few heartfelt words here and I truly feel it.

In the past four years, Tommy has provided a platform for musicians to find their edge and mature. Every time I go back to Hong Kong, I'd go to 48th Street to show my support for live music and to have fun. I have played with some of the best musicians in town and made a few friends. That is what live music should be all about. Thanks Tommy and Koya san and the like for turning me from a guy who plays almost no harp to a guy who plays some harp.

All we can hope now is for the best. The music will live, and the spirit will never die. Let's keep the blues alive.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Ode to Starbucks

I have heard rationale from some radical, tree-hugging environmentalists for loathing Starbucks. Let me make my position clear: I like Starbucks. I visit Starbucks at least once a week. I know its coffee is more expensive than most coffee shops but I'm willing to pay the price. I like its atmosphere. It's usually situated in crowded shopping malls or within a Barnes & Noble. I like their jazzy, loungy music playing in the background. I like bringing my work there or a book just to read while Dizzy Gillespie is playing a solo on "On the Sunnyside on the Street."

I have no problem with its coffee. I like its specialty coffee like Caramel Macchiato and especially Peppermint Mocha during winter time. Its regular coffee is kinda too strong for me. But I have found a substitute these days: Cafe Latte. No sugar. Just plain Latte. Need to cut down on the calories.

Or I just like sitting down on one of those comfy couches running my mouth with a mate of mine talking about politics or what's hot in literature these days. Shooting the crap! Ain't that fun? Most of all, when I'm at my most anxious mode, I feel sudden and automatic peace when I walk into Starbucks and order a snack and Cappuncino. All my trouble goes away for the time being. And then I may hear Louis or Ella or Tony or Frank, whispering "What a Wonderful World."

Starbucks is an Exxon Mobil for those who need a daybreak.


Happy Easter

It's my way of saying "How do you do" to Easter bunnies and Easter eggs. Anyway, it is a family time and be nice to one another.

I'm going to take this weekend completely easy, after one of the most stressful weeks I've had in a little while. I need peace, tranquility and quietness. I'm bummed that I can't make Kat Parsons tonight at IOTA, for Toulouse switched out date from Saturday to tonight (this week only). But it'll be a fun time playing with the Hawaiian-bound Clarence and the long awaited Kim Graves (well, I hope).

I'm going to catch up with my sleep this weekend. I may check out the Margolin/Wirtz/Brill/Maher/Radcliff show at State Theatre Saturday night. Or catch a mindless movie.

Going to church Sunday. Easter Sunday after all.

Shit, I just realized I haven't said anything interesting.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fans only

I haven't been to the cinema in ages. Frankly, there's nothing out there that grabs my attention, but I'm going to see Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda as it opens today. It will be the most exciting cinematic event since last year's Kill Bill Vol. 2. Ebert wrote a terrific review here. A.O. Scott of The New York Times also has something interesting, if somewhat negative, to say about Mr. Allen. You gotta love these photos:

Call it two hours of escapist entertainment in the dark, I'm in a New York state of mind. A dreamlike, romantic, neurotic New York created by the master himself.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Another jazz legend passed

Bobby Short, 80, jazz cabaret singer, died Monday of leukemia. I was first exposed to Bobby's unique music from Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters when Woody takes cokehead Dianne Wiest to Cafe Carlyle to hear Bobby Short and she falls asleep. He was singing the song "I'm in Love Again" and I was deeply moved by his powerful, elegant style with lush texture.

In fact, Cafe Carlyle was Bobby's musical home for about 35 years. Besides Short, Woody Allen and his New Orleans jazz band performs at Cafe Carlyle every Monday.

I was having a Woody Allen moment this Sunday when Count Basie Orchestra was playing in the background in Olsson's bookstore and my cell phone rang...

I'm in love again
And the spring is coming
I'm in love again
Hear my heartstrings humming

What a treat!


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Just want to share with you...

a little writeup about the Tribute to Pam Bricker at Blues Alley on Washington Post.


Friday, March 18, 2005


Hey my loyal readers:

Sorry I haven't had a real dialogue with you in a long time. This might explain the lack of commenting. Well, let's see. I didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day, which is a good thing. I don't want to be in mundane crowds these days. I will be swamped this weekend. I'll have a lot of free time after next Monday. So bear with me.

Heather has a new home. It's lovely and I feel like lounging upon entry. It seems like people aren't blogging a whole lot and socially, there ain't much happening. Maybe it's just the mid-March frenzy. Plus the weather is real cold. Can anyone explain that?

Everybody, please update me with what you're up to. Just tell me what's going on with your life. Anything will do. I need to expand my horizon once again. I need to be inspired! So feel free to say whatever.

Yours truly,
Sonny Boy


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Congratulations to Buddy Guy...

...The O'Jay's, The Pretenders, and Percy Sledge for being inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Thanks but no thanks to the induction of U2, for they ruined rock music. Sorry.For a detailed description of Buddy Guy's achievement, view here.

I was first exposed to Buddy Guy from his early Chess recordings when he was playing guitar for Muddy Waters, then his acoustic collaboration with Junior Wells. Buddy Guy has the most electrifying guitar sound of all blues cats I've heard, and his singing is as expressive as it is fiery. It's almost that he's always angry about something. He's got a nice stage presence. Some of his best recordings can be found on bootlegs when he did his trio thing with just guitar, bass and drums. And he fills all the voids with his almost flawless guitar licks or solos. I think Hendrix actually learned that from him.

Buddy Guy became a superstar in the rock world in early 90's when his recording Damn Right I've Got the Blues reached a wider CD-buying audience, and he became a household name ever since. His presence is still strong; approaching the age of 70, Buddy is one of the hardest working bluesmen ever, working 300+ days a year. I saw him on a Crossroad guitar DVD recently, and he looked as if he was in his early 40's. This guy's youthfulness is utterly unbelievable.

However, I must say Buddy's live performance these days is a hit-or-miss. I saw him at 9:30 the night after 9/11. Never finishing a song and often indecisive, Buddy would try to impress the audience by imitating Clapton, Stevie and Hendrix. His shows, even though still showcasing his guitar talent, have become a junkfest of haphazard chops and ego-boosting utterances. Therefore, to approach Buddy Guy's music and his influence on modern music, one should start from a historical perspective.

Like Johnny Winter, James Brown, the late Jimmy Smith, one must appreciate Guy's music simply because he was once great. I'll always remember this famous Guy quote: "A lot of people tell me, Blues, they make you cry. I say, then you better not come see me, because I will make you the happiest person you ever seen!"


Thursday, March 10, 2005


Dru Lore is on American Idol. Holy shit!

What has the world come to?


Greatest news for Hong Kong

Finally, Tung chee-hwa stepped down. This is a victory for Hong Kong and its people, and perhaps it signifies a more hands-off policy from China. I'm confident that Donald Tsang will do a much better job as chief-executive. This will stimulate Hong Kong people in the short run. I think we ought to celebrate. Bad luck is gone, more apt individuals are in to govern. Congratulations!


Wednesday, March 09, 2005


This is the official Pam Bricker memorial service:

Saturday, April 2, 2:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA
at the intersection of Route 50 and George Mason Drive.

Other musical notes: Mofofunka will be at Haven Lounge this Friday night; Dick Smith and Bill Heid Quartet will be at the Henley Saturday night; Whop Frazier and I will be at Cafe Toulouse later on Saturday night; Sam Smith Benefit this Sunday at the Henley; Mary Ann Redmond at Flanagan's every Sunday.

Lots of events, not enough time.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I just found this photo

from last year's NMH gathering at an Orioles game. Cool!


Monday, March 07, 2005

Compared to Jeff's colorful weekend...

...mine was tamer. Sat in with the funky Kelly Bell Friday night at Whitlow's, after a largely unpleasant Westminister experience. This was my second time playing with Kelly, though the first time was with Jesse Yawn and Kelly was just sitting in. This was the first time I officially sat in with KBB, and lemme tell you, it was a feel-good experience at its best. This band is mighty, mighty dynamite. In terms of musicianship, Kelly is perhaps one of the top three frontmen I've seen in this area. Possessing a tenor to baritone voice, he has great leadership and arrangements. The band is merely a mechanism for Kelly to channel his feelings and groove. Kelly is the head, hands, and heart of the band. It's a small band with a big sound. Kelly invited me to play on two of his most famous songs, "Ain't Like It Used To Be" and "Say One Thing" written by his pal, G. Love. It was an honor and the results were quite formidable. At the end of the set, Kelly told me he was sorry Whitlow's had such a small stage. He said I should play with them at a bigger venue like Recher Theatre. I said OK. Also great that Kelly's Mom shook my hands and said, "You're a talented player. No rehearsal, nuttin'?" No, ma'am.

Kelly is smart to market his music "Phat Blues music." It's blues, R&B, funk, rock, soul all packaged under the so-called blues masthead. In fact, I believe this is the direction blues should be going. It's happy music and it gets impressionable girls dancing. That's what really counts. And it's tremendously entertaining. Doing what he does best without losing track of the originator of all this: The blues. Another smart thing that Kelly does is to sell his CDs $5 each. That way, more people will buy his CDs and get exposed to his music. Kelly Bell's huge in Baltimore and Philly and has a burgeoning following in DC and Virginia. He's also huge on college campuses. I learned a lot about marketing just going to see his shows alone, not to mention his impeccable charisma as a frontman. Do me a favor, get one or all of his CDs. They're only $5 each. KBB is a phenomenon. Period.

Speaking of musicianship, the whole mindblowing Lonnie Smith show makes me re-evaluate the way I solo and express my feelings as a whole. I feel like learning to play the instrument from scratch, and really re-think my priorities while taking a solo. At the same time, I want to have fun and enjoy myself. There's a lot to learn.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Message from Chris Grasso

Benefit Performance for Henley Park Vocalist Sam Smith

Sunday, March 13, 2005, 8pm - 11pm

As you may know, our wonderful vocalist and friend Sam Smith was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. Like many musicians, he is without disability or health insurance. He is in the process of qualifying for Medicaid coverage and is receiving treatment through the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore. He is unable to work, however, so we'd like to try to help with the financial burdens his illness has created.

The Henley Park Hotel will donate all profits from this event to Sam's benefit fund, and our musicians will be donating their time. We hope you can join us and make a donation to support Sam. The only thing we ask is that donations NOT be made directly to Sam, since that might impact his ability to qualify for Medicaid. Instead, please make any donations payable to Sam's brother-in-law, Robert Smith, who is helping Sam through this difficult time and will be caring for Sam at his home when he is released from the hospital.

If you are unable to attend but would like to send a donation, please send checks to the following address:

Safiyyah Aleem
Sam Smith Benefit Fund
Henley Park Hotel
926 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001

Thank you so much for your support.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Supreme Court did it right again

In a landmark 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that execution of juvenile murderers unconstitutional, conforming to worldwide consensus on the issue. Before the ruling, United States was amongst a group of countries, including China, Congo, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, that execute juvenile killers. Perhaps this is a first blow to the newly elected Bush administration, but it gives the world hope that the Supreme Court will sometimes come out with the right decisions.

On a lighter note, a Manhattan restaurant hosts nudist night. Pretty wacky, huh? The article also mentions naked yoga. Hmm...interesting! But of course, I would not sit on the chairs after the nudists sit on them. Personal hygiene is still an important issue to me.


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