Monday, December 1, 2014

Music News You Can Use - December 2014

Uh Oh, Ho Ho !!  Here comes December.   
But let me reminisce November first.  I am in Washington DC enjoying the Thanksgiving week with my daughter, Jessi and her husband, Ty.  Been eating very well and it's been fun getting some real winter weather, a little snow even!!   
Saw the Seldom Scene at the Birchmere last night, along with the Dry Branch Fire Squad.   Seldom Scene hit the ball out of the park: fine songs, hot licks, great arrangements, and above all stunning vocals.   Watch this (or at least skip to last third) OMG gorgeous harmonies !!  Many more on Youtube you can cruise.  And, here is one of the Dry Branch monologues.
The Birchmere is one of the best places to hear live acoustic music I know of.   Next time you are in the Washington DC area, go to a show there.
Closer to home, check out Midnight North and the Easy Leaves, both very fine bands.  Born Lucky (my duo with Michael Hanna) had the pleasure of opening for them a few weeks ago at Toot's Tavern in Crocket.  Here are videos I posted to Facebook in case you missed them: here, here and one of Michael and me doing one of his original songs.  Put Toot's Tavern on your radar - cool place with good sound.
November was indeed busy with playing for a party in Bolinas; a night with my pal, Floyd Latimer, at Ruth McGowan's with the unexpected pleasure of swapping songs all evening with Larry Potts; and another very fun night at Mission Pizza with Dano Porter sitting in on bass and that boy can play !!
Got a couple of kid's parties to play in December, otherwise I hope to (finally!!!!!) wrap up my CD project.   After that, I'll be heading up to Portland to be with family for the holidays.
Saving the best news for last, Jessi and Ty were married at city hall in San Francisco in November.  They've been together almost five years now so this was not unexpected, but it was joyous and heartfelt.  Ah, love . . .
Hope you all had nice family and friend times over Thanksgiving and that the year end holidays are wonderful for you.
Merry Merry Happy Happy
John Roy Zat Croizat Whatever

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Music News You Can Use - November 2014

Here's November.   Time to VOTE !!   
And now about October.   In short, I spent the last half of October recovering from the first half.   The FAR-West conference was wonderful as expected -- the amount of talent crammed into four days was awesome!!  Go see Beth Wood, who closed the Friday night concert and is playing in the Bay Area through November 14.  She is phenomenal!!  Here is a list of all the other official showcase winners, well worth your listening/viewing time.  After the evening concerts, the music went on in the hotel rooms until the wee hours.  Here's a snippet of Vi Wickam putting some very sweet fiddle on one of my tunes.
Wrapping up my CD got put on the back burner with all my volunteering for the FAR-West conference, and at this point, if I can get it out by the end of 2014, I will be happy.    Here is one of the tracks: Back To The Mountains.   This is a traditional fiddle waltz, I wrote words to.  I like doing that when a melody grabs a hold of me.   I wrote the first verse about 20 years ago and finally brought the rest of it home a few years ago.   Sometimes good things take times.   Hope that is the case with the new CD.
Played two fun gigs recently, a set at the El Cerrito Folk Festival, and a radio show on KALX.  Got some video which looks promising and I'll be posting it in a week or so.   I have some more shows coming up this weekend and next (on my website calendar).   Then I'll be heading back to spend Thanksgiving with my daughter and her husband in Washington DC.   I am sure there will be frost on the pumpkin back there!!
Hope you all had a fun Halloween and are looking forward to the year end holidays.
Roy Zat



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Music News You Can Use - October 2014

October: big month coming up!!   The 11th annual FAR-West conference is only two weeks away now.   All you singer-songwriters out there hopefully already know about it and are going. For the rest of you, there will be concerts on October 16, 17 and 18 that are open to the public as well as a storyteller expo on the 19th.  The performers competed for a chance to play and are some of the very best.  Click here for more info.
Before I say any more about October, I have to tell you about September. I went to the Strawberry Music Festival in Grass Valley, and had a great time camping and jamming with friends, and of course I saw a load of great music.   Some of my favorites were John Jorgensen (John is an amazing picker, on mandolin here - lots of other great JJ videos on YT), Dave Alvin, Marcia Ball, and Patty Griffin. Many other great acts too. Strawberry used to be held near Yosemite, but got burned out last year, and this is the first time it was at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley.  My first time there also, and we had a campsite with a backhoe and a bleacher stand.  Can't beat that!!

  Saw a wonderful movie, This Ain't No Mouse Music, about Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records. What a huge contribution Chris has made in bringing roots music to the attention of the general public. The artists he discovered, like Mance Lipscomb, Lightening Hopkins, Clifton Chenier, Flaco Jimenez and on and on, have had such an influence. A great movie and you don't have to be an ethno-musicologist to enjoy it.
Also in September, I had the pleasure of hearing Carlos Reyes play.  He is a phenomenal fiddler -- jazz, bluegrass, pop, classical, he does it all.  Carlos also played the Paraguan harp and the bass that evening. Wonderful!! This was at  a show put on by Chappell and Dave Holt, and it was an evening of fine music from all of them. 

  I like to think I made some fine music myself in September. Had a very nice evening at Ruth McGowan's with my long time pal Floyd Latimer.  Cloverdale is a bit of a hike but Ruth's is such a fun place to play, and I'll be back there October 11th, this time with Gary GrubbI backed up poet Marv Hiemstra at his reading in Petaluma - that was fun! And I played a couple of fun parties, and my favorite farmers market (Kensington!) with Born Lucky.  It was a very full month indeed.
Tomorrow, I am headed down to Paso Robles to play my first October gig, at the Barrel Room.   Tim Jackson will be joining me and that will be a treat.   Tim played with us last April at Studio 55, and is one of the finest pickers I know.   Here is a video of him playing with Steve Key on Steve's song, He Could Play Guitar.   I have a number of other gigs coming up, and you can find them on my website calendar.
Now how about you?  Always great to hear what you've been up to.  Any good books, music, or movies to share?
all the best, John Roy Zat Croizat Whatever

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Music News You Can Use - September 2014

Happy September -- starting to feel like Fall in Northern California, fog season is winding down and Indian Summer is around the corner.

This last month, I took a couple of weeks off from my music business to visit family up in Oregon, eastern Washington, and Idaho.  Filled my heart with joy to meet two new babies, and to reconnect with nephews, cousins, in-laws and my 92 year old Uncle Robert.  On the way to Idaho, I drove through the Palouse country which I hadn't seen before, lovely rolling hills planted in wheat, barley, lentils, garbanzos and peas.  Beautiful!!

Back in the Bay Area, I caught Aireene Espiritu's excellent CD release show at the Freight last week.  She put together a fine band for the evening, and Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan did a nice opening set too.  No gigs of my own during August, but I sat in with friends Dave and Chappell Holt and Randy Rood, at their show at the Arlington, a favorite little spot in the Berkeley hills.  And I was honored to play the fiddle in my nephew's wedding ceremony this last weekend.  It is amazing how tunes come back that I haven't played in years, just takes a couple of hours of noodling.

I have been finalizing my CD project, which now has a name:  "Who Zat"  (hmm . . . wonder what I'll call the next one).  I put up a pre-view track for you here.   Would love your feedback on it, especially on the drums?   What do you think?  It is a bit of a departure from my folky, rootsy sound.

The FAR-West conference in Oakland is just around the corner now, and we are getting very busy taking care of the hundreds of details that go into putting on this wonderful gathering.  I confess I wonder sometimes why I ever agreed to co-chair it, but we'll get through the crunch, and it will be a blast as always.   The general public is welcome at the evening performances on October 16, 17 and 18.  The talent line-up is always amazing -- really the best of the best.  More info here.

Got a few gigs coming up this month including a couple of private parties.  This Saturday I'll be at Ruth McGowan's Pub in Cloverdale, with my pal Floyd Latimer.  I am looking forward to the fun and to seeing my Sonoma County friends.  I'll be at the Kensington Farmer's Market in September also, and I am backing poet Marv Hiemstra at a reading in Petaluma.   Please check my calendar for details.

That's a bit of my news.  Always love hearing what you are up to.

Roy Zat

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Music News You Can Use - August 2014

August!!   Vacation!!  I am hot and happy at Emigrant Lake near Ashland, Oregon on my way to visit family in Portland and then on to Moscow, Idaho, and then Richland, Washington and wind my way back down the Oregon and California coasts.    It is nice to have a break.

Part of what made the last few months so busy was wrapping up the recording and mixing of my third CD.  That is now done, and it is on to the mastering engineer for that magic something they do.  I'll be back to listening and obsessing when I get home in a couple of weeks.  I am lucky to have Dorcas Moulton doing the CD package design and art work, no small task.   I am hoping to have "product" in hand by the end of September, ready for the October FAR-West conference in Oakland.

And, preparations are heating up for that.  Once a month conference calls have become every other week; we'll be talking weekly starting in September, and always lots of email traffic.  Official showcase performers have been selected and showcase rooms are filling up.  Exciting seeing it really starting to take shape.  I like to refer to FAR-West and Folk Alliance, the parent organization, as a business organization for folk musicians, and it is; but the public is welcome at the evening concerts during the conference too, and those shows are a treat.   Getting a spot in the these concerts is very competitive and the performers are among the best.  I'll tell you more when we are closer to the conference.

If you are Facebooker, you already know that our show at the Monkey House with Steve Key and Kyle Alden went well.  Great turnout (thank you!!) and a great show.  It was a pleasure playing such a nice room and with such fine performers.  I have video from that night, and hopefully will have highlights of the show to share with you by the end of the month.   No promises :-)

That's it for me.  Hope you are all doing great and enjoying the summer.   Now, back to camping !!


Roy Zat

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Music News You Can Use - July 2014

Happy July -- I am just back from the Kate Wolf Festival, and just take a look at the KW website to see the line up of music they had this year. Amazing and inspiring, and humbling to see how good the pros really are.

My favorites this year were Tim O'Brien with Darrell Scott, Rodney Crowell, and Jackie Green   Here is a video of three of Rodney's songs -- a master writer with fine delivery.  Here is one of Tim and Darrell, and whew, those boys can pick!! And now for something completely different from Jackie Greene. 

More KW fun: on Saturday morning I heard some folks playing at a camp near me and walked over to see about jamming with them, and it turned out they were playing Midnight On The Water.  That gave me goose bumps (thank you, Kate).  Had fun playing with them on a bunch of songs; learned a new fiddle chop; and to top it all off, I bought a 5 string fiddle just to keep myself thoroughly confused.

The SF Free Folk Festival was also in June, with lots of good music, sing alongs, jams, dances and workshops. My "Sing With Your Fiddle" workshop was well attended.  What a very nice, relaxed, down home festival !! 

Played some nice gigs during June: with Don't Look Back at Cafe Leila in Berkeley, with Born Lucky at the Kensington Market, and the fundraiser for FAR-West at Mighty Fine Guitars in Lafayette was a treat.  That is a wonderful place to hear live music; if you don't know about it, check it out.  Here are a couple of songs I did that evening, here and here.  Videos of the other artists are here.

Coming up in July, in fact this weekend, I am playing kids shows for three days at the SF Zoo with Michael Hanna.  "The Wheels On The Bus" will be going round and round.  

I mentioned this last month, so I know that you already have it on your calendars :-).   On Friday, July 25th, I will be playing with Steve Key (video from our show at Studio55 in San Rafael in April) and Kyle Alden at the Monkey House in Berkeley.   I have raved about Steve before and Kyle is in the same league -- it is going to be a great show !! 

That's my news -- your turn.  How is your summer going so far?

Roy Zat

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Music News You Can Use - June 2014

Happy June!!   Got a lot coming up this month -- but first some things to share about May.

Had a real treat last night at Studio 55, listening to Run Boy Run -  gorgeous vocals, lovely and intricate instrumental interplay between fiddles, viola, cello, mandolin and bass.  Heaven!!  They are playing tonight at Thee Parkside in SF. If you are looking for something to do, you will not be disappointed.

Last Tuesday I played a set at the El Rio, opening for a duo from Canada, Jitensha -- another group for you to check out.  A unique and very engaging sound.   I had a fun gig earlier in the month, up in Cloverdale at Ruth McGowan's, with Gary Grubb joining me on guitar (that boy can sure sing and play!!) and with Dorcas Moulton on accordion; and at the Kensington Farmers Market (the best!!) with musical pals Michael Hanna and Dennis Calloway.

Much of my energy in May was focused on editing video from my April 26th show. Here are a couple with Dulcie Taylor and Steve Key, and one more that features Tim Jackson's amazing guitar picking.  I am happy to tell you that I'll be doing a concert with Steve Key again, with Kyle Alden, at the Monkey House in Berkeley on July 25th.  Mark your calendars; but I am getting ahead of things . . .

Coming up in June, in fact this next Saturday, June 7th, I am excited to be part of showcase of FAR-West artists at Mighty Fine Guitars in Lafayette.   The poster here says it all -- a nice line up; and it will be great if you could make it out to join us.   On June 21st, I am teaching a workshop at the SF Free Folk Festival on singing with your fiddle (that will be fun!), and that evening I'll be joining Don't Look Back at Cafe Leila.  On the 22nd, I'll be back at the Kensington Market.  Did I mention that I am pretty busy with music these days?

Hope you are doing well too.   Your turn to send me some news -- love hearing from you.

all the best,
Roy Zat

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Music News You Can Use - May 2014

Here we are in May, and I am still reeling (as in clogging, happy feet) from April's music.

   The first week of April, Steve Key was up to help promote our April 26th show, and we played open mikes at the Freight and the Ivy Room, where I had the added pleasure of sitting in with Maurice Tani on a tune.  (Saw his show at the Freight last night -- what a songsmith and performer!!)    The following week I sat in on a radio show at KWMR with Ken Frankel.  He had some rare tapes of him playing old time tunes with Jerry Garcia back in 1963.  Very cool!   Ken was promoting Vandaveer for his club, Studio 55; and the next evening I was there enjoying the show. Vandaveer is Mark Heidinger, backed by Rose Guerin (gorgeous vocals) and J. Tom Hnatow (such tasteful and expressive guitar) -- good songs, thoughtful arrangements, and very worth your ear time. 
The next weekend I was down in Atascadero, rehearsing with Steve Key and Dulcie Taylor for our April 26th show.  Steve invited me to play guest sets at a couple of his showcases, and as usual, I heard some excellent music.   Check out Trevor McSpadden and Tim Jackson
The two weeks leading up to the show were devoted to more practicing and promoting.  And with all of that, still working on my recording project with Kevin Harris, and volunteering at FAR-West and the Freight.  Did I mention I spend a lot of time on music these days?  (How does Dorcas put up with me?)
So all this chatter and you are probably saying well then, how did the 26th show go?  It went okay, I guess; I mean I didn't suck much. All right, I'll stop being coy:  it went pretty well, actually it was OMG awesome in so many ways!!   Studio 55 is such a fine venue, and we had a superb sound man, Pete Soper.  We had a great turnout, including a number of people I hadn't seen in years.  (What an honor -- thank you!!)   I have raved about Steve Key and Dulcie Taylor in a number of previous newsletters, and they really delivered exhilarating performances that night. Wow!! Tim Jackson, tasteful guitar monster extraordinaire, backed Dulcie and Steve, my friends Brian Bloom and Patty Hammond backed me so solidly, and Aireene Espiritu and Dorcas Moulton joined in beautifully on two songs as well.  What an evening!!  Thank you all, so much -- we'll have to do this again as soon as I've recovered.  Note:  all pix by Dorcas Moulton taken April 26th, more here.   I'll be posting some video in the coming weeks.
Hope you are all staying busy and having some fun too.  Your turn to send me some news.
all the best,

Roy Zat

Monday, March 31, 2014

Music News You Can Use - April 2014

Here comes April and I am pretty excited about April 26th especially.   I am thrilled to be opening for Dulcie Taylor and Steve Key at Studio 55 in San Rafael and hopefully you already have this date on your calendars.   Trust me, it is going to be a special show.  Studio 55 is a wonderful listening room, and Steve and Dulcie are such pros.   Treat yourself to an evening of well-crafted songs and support live music (we thank you!!)   Here is the link to more info.
Steve Key and I are doing a couple of songs at the Freight and Salvage tomorrow (no fooling) and then on Wednesday at the Ivy Room.  (Got to let people know about our Studio 55 show.)  On April 12th, we are having a full rehearsal down in Paso Robles, and I'll be doing a couple of shows down there (on my calendar).
A lot of what was happening for me in February was still happening in March: working on FAR-West conference preparations; helping with the Freight; and a lot of recording with Kevin Harris.  Wish I had a song link or two to share with you, but I am going to wait until the songs are a bit more finished.   I will say that I am very happy with how things are going.   Aireene Espiritu sang a beautiful duet with me on "A Promise And A Rose"  (what a lovely voice she has -- visit her website!!) and Dorcas Moulton played some very sweet accordion on a couple of songs and will be singing with me on "Going For A Ride."   Stay tuned.
I did get out a bit and heard some fun music in March.  "Do Wrong Right" played Cafe Leila and that was fun (come on guys get a website).  Had the pleasure of playing at a fundraiser put together by Andrew McKleroy.   He plays in an awesome  Brazilian band -- Zamico -- check them out.
And finally -- I have been dusting off "Orange Blossom Special" for my friends up at Ruth McGowan's in Cloverdale.   Here is a version played by a whole line up of amazing fiddlers.  How many do you recognize?
Your turn -- send me some news.  Always nice hearing from you.

Roy Zat

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Music News You Can Use - March 2014

Hi Ya -- Is February the shortest month of the year or something?   Where did it go?!!

I saw two fine songwriters at the beginning of the month.  Christopher Smith and Steve Key are such fine songsmiths and performers, and the Bazaar Cafe is a wonderful place to hear music up close and personal.    Check them all out.

The next day I had a fun time with my Don't Look Back pals at Cafe Leila in Berkeley -- and what a turn out!!  Thank you loyal fans -- even in the pouring rain!!   We are going to need to upgrade our sound system if this keeps up -- hmmm, Kickstarter?

What else happened in February?  A lot of work on the FAR-West 2014 conference, and some for the Freight.  And, two fun music parties!!   Thank you Phil and Melissa, and Jackie and Fred for your hospitality and bringing together so many nice people and fine players, yourselves included.    Jackie and Fred have a band to check out here -- Jackie has an amazing voice and Fred is a guitar monster.   The Bay Area is overrun with talent -- like about everywhere else these days -- just do a random walk through YouTube.

Which brings me to my latest YouTube discovery:   Kenichi Ebina doing his Michael Jackson tribute.   Beyond his very cool moves, his  flexibility and stamina amaze me.  I am still learning how to tap my feet and play guitar at the same time.   Check out his other videos too.

Big news:  I am recording some new songs -- long overdue, I know.  I am working with Kevin Harris, a veteran producer and writer who I chased down after hearing records he had done with Larry K. Potts and Laura Zucker.     He is very good at helping me sound good -- here is a preliminary mix of the first one we've been working on together.   More coming.

Coming up on March 14th, I will be playing at the Ruth McGowan Pub  in Cloverdale with some friends, which is always a treat.  If you are up that way, I would love to see you.   (If you are not up that way, go see Claire Lynch at the OCA -- she is one of the best!!)    Oh, and please do put April 26th on your calendar if you haven't already.  I'll be playing with Dulcie Taylor and Steve Key at Studio 55 in San Rafael -- it will be a very special evening.

That's a bit of my story.   It's raining now and California is very happy.

all the best,

Roy Zat

Monday, February 3, 2014

Music News You Can Use - February 2014

Hello and Happy February -- hope 2014 is off to a good start for you.   January was a 
nice break after the holidays.  I had a couple of nice gigs early in the month -- Ruth McGowan's and the Kensington Market -- and then I just laid around.  Well not really;  I don't know how to do that. Among other things, I've been going through videos made at the end of 2013. In case you don't spend all your time on Facebook and missed these, you can find them on my Youtube page, here.

I have been listening to a lot of blues lately -- looking for some blues notes to put on my fiddle. Here are few masters for your enjoyment:  here, here and here.   So much inspiration, so little time!!

Saw a great show last week at the Freight & Salvage, by another one of the masters of our time, David Grisman, with his jazz sextet. All of them are from Mars, clearly not mere mortals -- amazing chops individually and lovely ensemble playing.   Here are a couple of videos from two earlier shows to give you a taste:  here and here  - Wow !!

What a fabulous theater for acoustic music the Freight is!  If you live in the SF Bay Area, and even if you don't, I hope you are already aware of what a jewel the Freight is.   I am proud to serve on the Freight board; though it has been quite a busy job lately, with Steve Baker, the long time director, retiring and the search for his replacement starting up. 

Speaking of boards, I am also involved with the Folk Alliance Region West (FAR-West) Region; and we are already working on preparations for their annual conference in October.  It is in Oakland this year.   (Geez, I retired to play music full time, and this is what I get myself into?!!)  Folk Alliance is such a great community, and if you are a folkish musician of any sort you should check it out (here).   There are several shows open to the public at the conference, and they usually have an amazing line-up of talent you won't find anywhere else.  I'll be reminding you as we get closer to the event.

And speaking of events, I have two gigs to tell you about.  I'll be playing with the Don't Look Back String Band at Cafe Leila, in Berkeley on February 8th. DLB is always a lot of fun. 

Further out, I am VERY excited to be opening a show at Studio 55 in San Rafael for two fabulous singer songwriters:  Dulcie Taylor and Steve Key. I met Dulcie and Steve through FARWest, and they are both fine writers and performers. The show will be on April 26th -- Please save the date.  Here is the show info.

A bit of what I've been up to -- how about you?  Send me some news I can use.
all the best,
Roy Zat

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Music News You Can Use - January 2014

Happy New Year -- we survived the December holidays !!  Pretty hectic, but fun and heart warming for me, and I hope the same for you.

Good music discoveries in December:
I continue to be impressed by the Central California music scene and Steve Key is right in the middle of it.  I was part of  Steve's tribute show for Karen Tyler, a fine blues singer songwriter from Paso Robles.  I heard and saw a wonderful parade of talented performers, some of whom like Steve,  Dulcie Taylor and Phil Lee I have mentioned in past newsletters.  Too many to list all, and unfortunately, some don't have much on the web I can point you to, but listen to a bit of Dorian Michael. Dorian led the backup band for the whole Karen Tyler show -- hot !! 

And I discovered a great venue in Paso Robles   The next time you are in the area try to see a show at D'Anbino Cellars.  You will not be disappointed.  Or, catch any of the Songwriters At Play shows that Steve runs.

On that same December trip south, I was at Brad Colerick's concert series Wine and Song at the Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena.  Brad brings in a lot of excellent musicians from all over, and I had the privilege of sharing the bill with Marc Black from New York.  A number of other fine players joined, including Brad and Chauncey Bowers - and good music was made!!   Here's a video from that night.   And, here is a video of one of my favorite Brad Colerick songs.

Closer to home, I also had a good time playing at the Ruth McGowan Pub the weekend before Christmas with my long time pal, Floyd Latimer.  Ruth's is a fun place and we'll be back there this Friday (but without the Christmas songs).     I'll be at another favorite playing spot this Sunday, the Kensington Market.  Really looking forward to that!!  Please check out my website for more info on all of this:

My resolution for 2014 is to keep doing what I am doing:  playing music, staying in touch with family and friends, hearing new music, and making new friends.   I am a lucky man !!

Best wishes to you for a great year ahead --

Roy Zat