Hope you all are fairing well. Here’s a tale that leads into this week’s livestream concert.
There are many sonic textures one can explore on the guitar and one of my favorites is the Strum Factor 11. Strumming they call it —sheens of tonality glistening in the air, adding both rhythm and tonality at the same time. It’s like Duncan’s ride cymbal teaming up with the San Diego Symphony’s string section and then piping it through an iPhone speaker with no low end. Heaven in sound! Cowboy’s love it (in fact they sometimes call them cowboy chords), Metheny’s a master at it (listen to First Circle), and it’s part of my lexicon from way back in my junior high school surf guitar era.
For this episode of Live(ish) From SpragueLand we’ll explore how the the strum factor meets up with jazz. Wait, aren’t jazz musos supposed to despise country and bluegrass music? But then there’s Miles Davis being way into Willie Nelson and Charlie Parker digging on Hank Williams. Bird said “listen to the stories, man. These cats really know how to tell a story.”
My first glimpse into that story was back in the early 2000’s when me and the band we’re playing Sunday nights at the Coyote Grill in Oceanside. We continued to notice these two young kids checking us out and eventually we talked during a break. I came to find out that it was Sean and Sara Watkins who were already exploding in the music world of bluegrass and Americana. Their band is Nickel Creek and in their twenties had already lassoed a couple of Grammy wins. They too loved jazz.
We became friends and they told me about Alison Krauss producing their CD project in Nashville. I had heard of her but never “heard” her and when I finally did, I was knocked out. What a sound, what a vibe! Masterfully composed songs and (back to how this scribe started out) fully embracing The Strum—the strum of acoustic guitars, mando, dobro, and the percussive side of the violin. A train ride through the back hills of Tennessee…
We teamed up with Sara and Sean and explored how bluegrass mixed with jazz. We played some concerts and I think we learned a lot from each other. Today they have wonderful careers of their own and both live in LA.
So that brings us to now and for this show we’re thrilled to live in the world of Alison Krauss’ gorgeous songs of heartbreak. I’ve peppered in a few of my originals that’ll abide by the law of the Strum plus we’ll take a humorous jaunt along infidelity lane with Gus Kahn’s “Makin’ Whoopee.”
It ought to be a wonderful night of music and we’d love you to jump on in…
The band includes some of the best with Pam Pendrell on vocals (she sang with us on the Joni Mitchell episode); Tripp Sprague on sax, flute, harmonica, and piano; Andy Powers (guru of Taylor Guitars) on guitar, mando, and dobro; Mack Leighton on bass; Duncan Moore on drums; and me on guitar.
Price of admission? Actually the concert is free but we will have a “virtual tip jar” complete with PayPal, Zelle and Venmo info for you to donate whatever you feel good about. Also, old reliable snail mailing checks works too. You folks have been super generous with this and it makes us happy.
(It’ll show up as Satyam Music, that’s my music company)
Zelle: Peter Sprague firstname.lastname@example.org
mail checks via snail mail to: Peter Sprague
311 East Glaucus St.
Encinitas, CA 92024
A few notes:
You don’t have to watch the show live. The same YouTube link will bring up the recording for you to view anytime.
If you do watch it live (and we recommend this), you can participate in the live chat during the concert as long as you have a YouTube account.
Click here https://youtu.be/MEaCbZ-DlqQ to watch a vid, leading you through the easy process of creating a YouTube account. Maybe do this before the concert begins.
If you do have an account and you’re logged in, you can type something fun into the chat box and that’s how we create modern day jazz community in this era of the pandemic. Maybe start with something simple like “Hi, this is Lisa from Wyoming” or “Hi, I’m Reggie from Portland.” By doing this we’ve got an app that will magically take your name and location and drop a pin on a spinning globe. During the show we’ll visit all of the listeners and say hi and marvel at your exotic places of residence. No worries about privacy…How many Lisa’s are in the entire state of Wyoming? Or “Reggie’s in Portland, Maine?
That’s it and we’ll see you in the strum!