by Kalidasa (Sanskrit poet, 4th century AD)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
by Kalidasa (Sanskrit poet, 4th century AD)
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
- The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty -
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision.
But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.
at 2:17 AM
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
South Bay Guitar Society, San Jose, CA
The Fret House
Pensacola Junior College
More to come. Check back for updates.
at 2:04 PM
at 1:37 PM
Thursday, November 26, 2009
We just performed our Don Quixote with actor/comedian Phil Proctor at New York's 92nd Street Y while on our recent tour. Our start time at the Y had to be moved back 30 minutes to 8:30 because a special, mysterious guest was suddenly booked to speak from 6:30-7:30. It was kept fairly secretive, until we got there and found out it was Bill Gates. Phil Proctor saw this sign outside the hall by a container of pencils and thought it was funny, so he took a photo.
at 1:19 AM
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Guitarist Christopher Davis has created an informative new blog called simply the "Classical Guitar Blog". It would be worth bookmarking for all of you guitar fans.
Here is part 1 of a multi-episode interview he did with me over Skype. Amazing what you can do with technology these days.
at 9:55 AM
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I heard my first Christmas song in a TV ad this evening, and it took me aback a little bit.
Now I love Christmas, and everything about Christmas. I love Christmas songs, Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, and I like wearing my Santa cap when I go to the Christmas parties. Heck, I like Christmas so much, I even wear the cap around the house. I love Christmas spirit, and I love all the Christmas movies. I'm always sad to see Christmas end. I am all for the 12 days of Christmas.
But I remember being at a supermarket checkout stand last year after Halloween, and hearing some Christmas music. I remember the effect it had on the checkout woman. She was going on to everyone how depressing it was to think of the Holidays that early, and then she went on to reveal that she really didn't like the Holidays at all. By the time it was my turn to check out, she had worked herself up into a state of some miserable angry depression. I felt bad for her. I just wanted to pay and get out of there.
So tonight when I heard this Christmas song, I felt a little spark of joy ignite in me, until I thought of the checkout lady. Now if I can only remember which store it was so I can avoid running into her this season!
at 11:30 PM
Monday, August 31, 2009
It was quite a busy summer. I went to Europe twice within the course of 2 months, amongst a few other more local events. This last journey was quite a thrill. I went to Brno in the Czech Republic again for their festival; the second time I've been invited to go. It's a beautiful place with wonderful people.
my concert in Brno ...with Vladislav Blaha (middle) and friends.
Then on to the UK and the West Dean Guitar Festival with the Quartet. West Dean college is near the town of Chichester, about an hour's train ride south of London. I was completely taken by the surroundings of this estate, with some of the most beautiful landscapes and gardens one could ever see. I had a difficult time staying indoors. The weather was cool and breezy, and the sheep (numbering, I hear, around 2,000) were the perfect captive audience for practicing. I would go here again any time, and most certainly will!
West Dean College
Gerald Garcia trying out a guitar - John Dearman and Gerald, 2 iPhone masters!
my audience at intermission...
panoramic shot taken from my practice bench
Alfonso Montes and Gerald. I think they know each other.
with John Mills, artistic director of the West Dean festival
At the Chichester train station headed to London Stansted airport.
Then it was off to Hersbruck, Germany, and then to Poznan, Poland to round off the trip. All in all, great people, wonderful friends, incredible locations...but it's good to be home as well.
Hersbruck: Eli Kassner and Leo Brouwer, two legends in the guitar kingdom. Maestro Brouwer is celebrating his 70th birthday this year.
In Hersbruck with luthier Toni Mueller.
at 10:58 AM
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It's July, and 80º at night here in LA's San Gabriel valley. I had to get out for a while, and seeing as I only had these past few days to do it, I had to think fast. I needed a road trip. Where to go?
San Francisco was a no-brainer! I had taught at the conservatory from 1989-1993, and came to know and love the city. It's a packed place, something like 7x7 miles square. Each neighbor
hood or district seems to have it's own micro
-climate. Personally, I love the windy cliffs and the fog that rolls in at sunset. It's always hard to leave SF, knowing that I'm coming back to the LA heat.
For a guitarist, SF has been a pilgrimage for the last couple of decades, being the home of Guitar Solo, probably the world's most comprehensive guitar shop. Of course I had to stop in, and a visit which I intended to be quick, lasted over 2 hours. I ran into my old friend Dean Kamei (owner), and Carlos Barbosa-Lima, who happened to be passing through town, stopping by the store to say "hi" to Dean, and get his email while he was at it. Such is the laid-back nature of the store.
I am lucky enough to have good friends in SF, who always offer to take their time to show me around, and just generally hang out. Mark Simons and Marc Teicholz took me on walking tours of their parts of the Bay area. Marc T. guided me through his boyhood neighborhood in Berkeley, showing me an area called "Gourmet Ghetto". There are more top-notch food and beverage vendors in this small area than many entire cities can boast of. I had to make the pilgrimage to the original Peet's Coffee on Vine Street in Berkeley, then walked around the corner past Chez Panisse (book up to a year in advance folks!) and to a gourmet sandwich place called "Gregoire's". This tiny kitchen is basically just that: a kitchen, with a cash register, a 2-person counter, and 2 tables outside. But they have absolutely incredible, yet simple, sandwich creations for down-to-earth prices. Primarily a take-out place. Mmmmm-MAN!
I am a registered espresso addict, but I prefer the terms "coffee geek" , "connoisseur", or "lover". Regardless of what people call me, I have to visit the local best whenever I can, and the Bay area has its local best for sure. Caffe Trieste in North Beach is at the top of my list as the best espresso I've had in SF. Blue Bottle Coffee also roasts some incredible batches of beans. Peet's is still a sentimental favorite of mine, though.
Walked through the Haight-Ashbury part of SF. This place could be Beverly Hills, the Melrose district, or Amsterdam. Depends on your tastes. Regardless, it's a time capsule tribute to the 60's, and a truly fun place to visit.
Finally, I visited Kenny Hill's workshop near Santa Cruz, and picked up a couple of guitars to bring back home to LA for a couple of his clients here. I like his guitars, and I like hanging out with Kenny. I have been playing one of his signature models for a couple of years now, and I have not found any guitar that is easier to play. As I get older, I find I just want to do things I want to do, and playing guitars that are "fun" is one of those things. His guitars make you want to play them.
Overall, an incredible trip that was way too short. How does that song go? "I left my heart in San Francisco..."?
Kenny Hill playing his own guitar.
Marc Teicholz showing me Chez Panisse.
the kitchen at Gregoire's (and 2 customer counter).
the original Peet's Coffee on Vine in Berkeley
the "Trieste" mobile!
. Haight-Ashbury resident
at 12:07 PM
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Trilogy Guitars - Playa del Rey, CA
Brno Guitar Festival - Czech Republic
CSUDH Guitar Fest - Dominguez Hills, CA
Metro State Universtity - Denver, CO
Box Office: (303) 556-2296
USC Guitar Celebration
Los Angeles, CA
at 6:00 PM
Monday, June 15, 2009
Since this blog began as a platform for me to review coffee from my travels, I figured I should post something about my new espresso machine. It's the Rocket Giotto, from Rocket Espresso of Milan. The name is appropriate; it looks like a small spacecraft!
Rocket Espresso began in the 1970's as ECM (Espresso Company Milano) when two business partners, Friedrich Berenbruch and Ennio Berti, ventured into the fabrication and production of commercial grade machines for home use. They created the Giotto, which remains a classic today. (For more info, go to rocket-espresso.it).
During a recent week in Wilmington, Delaware while the quartet was performing and recording a cd with the Delaware Symphony, I discovered that their music director, David Amado, with whom we've collaborated in years past, was a fellow coffee enthusiast. No, actually, enthusiast isn't the word; he's an espresso maestro. He roasts his own beans at home, and has as much or more knowledge about espresso brewing than any coffee specialists you can find online. Just one look at his machine of choice, the Expobar Brewtus, says it all.
He introduced me to the bottomless portafilter, an object of true wonder. A portafilter is that metal basket with a handle you see baristas filling up with ground coffee, extracting a shot, and then banging out the used grounds. This portafilter has no spout; the bottom has been hacked off to expose the bottom of the basket. Extracting espresso through this produces the thickest, richest shot of espresso, finishing with a trail of crema the likes of which fantasies are made of.
The machine was waiting for me when I got home from tour, so I've only had it a few days. I'll have to increase my skills at it, but I trust that the resulting golden brown cups of distilled coffee essence will only get better and better!
at 11:08 AM
at 10:44 AM
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
In an evening of something completely different, actor/comedian John Cleese will join the LAGQ as narrator in "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote - Words and Music from the Time of Cervantes". Taking place at the Santa Barbara Guitar Festival on March 25th at the Lobero Theatre, it is one event in a stellar guitaristic lineup from March 22-29.
Living in Santa Barbara, CA, and having attended performances there by the LAGQ, Cleese met the quartet and, after realizing they had been followers of his work for a long time, they developed a mutual fan-ship.
In this unique production, Cleese will bring to life a dozen characters from Cervantes' classic tale, enlivened by music from the period by the likes of Milan, Mudarra, Narvaez, de Encina, Ortiz, etc, which was researched in depth and with great care by Bill Kanengiser. He also adopted the script, condensing the series of 3 books into a performance of 65 minutes.
If you're in the area next week, come on by! Follow the link below for all information.
at 12:31 AM
Friday, March 20, 2009
above: John in San Antonio, TX.
above: Odair playing a unique Humphrey guitar, San Antonio hotel lobby
above: OK, do you actually think I'm drinking coffee outta this? Come on now...
above: Trapped in the Chicago airport...again.
above: Tour van loaded, and it's off...to somewhere else.
at 1:46 AM
above: Paul O'dette, Tania Chagnot, Ana Vidovic, Paris cafe
above: Isabelle, Guitarreria proprietor, and Paris' most hospitable hostess
above: After masterclass in Mons; Fa and Odair.
above: Celso Machado giving a percussion lesson
above: Holiday cheer at Les Galleries Lafayette
at 1:36 AM
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