By October 27, 2014 Read More →


Jazz & Blues View
By Eric Benson

If you love Jazz you’re going to love this.
One of our own home grown musicians Johnny Valdes is doing a CD release party in conjunction with the Blue Monday Party Nov 3rd from 7-10PM at the Barkin’ Dog Grill. The CD is a duo Jazz guitar album with virtuoso guitarist John Stowell. Backing Johnny up will be the Straight Ahead band with Dave Hawks drums, Marti Martinez Sax, and John Adey on bass. As Mike Wolff Steinway endorsed Jazz pianist said,  “Right now everyone’s a jazz musician…everyone’s struggling”. But for Johnny he is one of the few making a good living playing live music, teaching guitar and doing what he loves. He plays Jazz, R & B, Funk and rock music with his partner in crime Kelly Ramirez. Life on the B-side, life was like that, livin’ on the down low, life in B-flat. He’s the drill: sleep late, pack your gear and play 5-6 nights a week in venues where the music is sometimes out front & personal, sometimes wallpaper. His day job (or rather we should say night job) allows him to woodshed the music he loves and share it with students and fans. Johnny has studied with Mimi Fox, mentioned in Downbeat’s top 100 guitarists, and John Stowell, and others. His influences are broad: from Jimi Hendrix, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, Mile to Coltrane. On the bandstand Johnny has played with: Chris Cain, Dave Mathews, Mic Gillette, Bruce Forman, John Stowell, Mark Little, Ro Rodgers, Gabriel Manzo of Malo, Lady Bianca, Barry Finerty, Freddie Roulette, and others. Some come down for a sampling of Johnny’s music with the Straight Ahead Band, you won’t be disappointed. Call the Dog for reservations: 572-2341, tell ’em Eric Benson sent you.

Some bright moments recently: the drama with the MAMA’s with a tearful Mike Vanek winning for promoting his metal mayhem, Patty Castillo won for her acoustic vocals prowess, Barkin’ Dog for best small venue and Hero’s for best large venue. Congrats to Big Earl & the Cryin’ Shame for a sellout at the Gallo, so if you don’t like the news go out and make some of your own, as Herb Cain once said.

The Gallo Center for the Arts continues with their diverse booking in November: 5th America, 9th Herb Alpert & Lani Hall, 10th Art Garfunkel, and the 22nd classic album: the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Got my tickets to Art Garfunkel, if you have not seen him he is amazing with or without his other half Simon.

Live music in DEWZ Wine Bar is back in November with live music Friday and Saturday nights 7 to 10:00 PM, incorporating the best local musicians playing in the intimate wine bar environment. The lineup for Nov:
1st TBA
7th & 21st Francesca Bavaro
8th & 28th John King & Robin Montgomery Jazz guitar duo
14th & 22nd Tim Allen best of Elton & Billy Joel
15th Stephen Bernd smooth Jazz guitarist
29th yours truly Eric Benson & Robin Montgomery Jazz trio with vocalist Rayleen Kemp.

Lowdown in the downtown: Barkin’ Dog Thursday night jazz jams with Dave Dow, Bella Vagos Thursday night music on the patio, Queen Bean Sundays open mike night, Speakeasy live music Thurs to Sunday, T’s Bar Jeremy Norris Nov 1st, Boardroom with Thursday to Saturday live music,

Newman Theatre brings in for Nov: 9th Highway 33 (deluxe rock show).  Congregation Beth Shalom Sunday series Nov 9th Joe Craven trio with MAMA Jowali at 3 PM. Joe is a seasoned multi-instrumentalist and entertainer, not to be missed!

Remember to please support our local live venues for live music and the arts. So take some time out to hear some live music and the arts of our own town as well this month, think globally and act locally.

Peace out, Eric Benson, hit me at:<>, or call (209) 918-7033.



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