Tour, Day 22 – San Diahgo

Tin Can Alehouse

Tin Can Alehouse

Today is a much shorter drive, just a wee 355 miles. My greatest excitement today is coming up over the mountains and seeing the temperature slowly drop from around 100 degrees in the desert to about 70 along the California coast. I’ve spent the past two weeks in Texas and Arizona and cannot tell you how happy I am to be in a cooler, wetter environment. Tonight I have two shows in San Diego: a happy hour show at a bar called Eleven and then an evening show at the Tin Can Alehouse.

Miles Driven: 355
States: Arizona, California
Lodging: With my friend – and world-class classical percussionist – Jason Ginter in San Diego

Another accordion snafu! Once again I went to my resource – the National Accordion Association website – and found a talented player to join me at the Tin Can Alehouse show. We spoke on the phone. He thought the gig sounded interesting. He was a bit older and wasn’t well up to speed on computers – didn’t have email – so he asked me to send him my music to a friend’s email address. I did so – both song sheets and audio clips. I get a call from him the next day. He’s looking at my email with his buddy and wants to know where the music is. I’m confused but I talk him through how the song sheets are attached…the music clips are linked below, etc., etc. Now he’s angry! “No! I can’t work like this!” “Every time I work with an outside musician I overnight the sheet music to them! Why didn’t you overnight me the music???” OK. Well, it would have been nice if you could have asked for such when we spoke on the phone. I could have done just that.

I hated to do it, but – even though he then said he would ‘somehow manage’ to make it work – I had to go with my gut and bail. I thanked him for his time and said that I was inconveniencing him too much, let’s just call it off. “OK. Fine. Bye.”

As it happened the last time around, the second person I contracted was much easier to work with. I had to call all the other accordionists in the San Diego area, which led to me speaking with some very lovely people. One older woman was just the most beautiful human being. I wish I could have met and played with her. She plays regularly at nursing homes and told me she didn’t know any songs after 1950. She was so sweet.

I ended up being joined by Al Jacobs. I gave him a run-down of the show over the phone. He said, “Great. Sounds good. Where do I need to be and when? And what do I wear?” I love working with people that are this easy! Al was a terrific player and a fascinating person. He turned out to be 87 (though he looked to be 25 years younger). Al is originally from England and played his first show at 14 years of age for British soldiers in London in 1940. During World War II, he toured around Britain performing for the troops. During World War II??? It is still hard for me to get my head around.

The downside. I thought Al and I could wing it – I’d been thinking this all along during the tour. If I could get a talented musician to join me, with song sheets we’ll be able to make it work without a rehearsal. While that may be possible, it turns out it is unlikely, even for someone as experienced and talented as Al. He was a superb player, but we got off from time to time and there was no way for us to get back on the same page. We both ended up just plowing through the songs as best we could. Because of this, the show was a bit off, although, per the usual, the crowd didn’t seem to notice as much as I did. And there was a pretty good crowd at this show. I wish I had had the foresight to run through the music with Al once; I think we would have really nailed it.

One of my friends, Jason Ginter, an incredible percussionist and owner of JG Percussion, lives in San Diego and caught the show. Small world. He was good friends with Al Jacobs’ granddaughter and her boyfriend. As I left the stage and went to say ‘Hi’ to him, he was sitting with the two of them, and I assumed that they had just met and were simply being friendly. Turns out the three of them used to work together. Wild.

We had a few beers and then Jason and I left to pick up Jason’s girlfriend, Amanda, and headed to their favorite taco joint, La Fachada, for some late night tacos. The tacos were great, and it was nice to meet Jason’s girl, who is a ballerina with the California Ballet. I was also impressed because both of them started speaking Spanish as soon as we arrived to La Fachada.


Eleven San Diego

DJ Night at Eleven

Love this poster

Let me back up real quick to tell you about the first show, which was at a bar called Eleven. It turns out that eleven is a reference to the film Spinal Tap. If you know my music, you already know that this venue is not the right one for me. At this bar, you are way more likely to hear shit-kicking punk than mellow folk/rock. In the end, this turned out to be nothing more than a warm-up for the other show. The bartenders were fairly nice and they had cooked up a wicked vegetable curry for all to enjoy. I did. It was spicy and I was sweating my ass off as I usually do with hot food. The sound guy had to go to a funeral and, therefore, wasn’t at the venue, so one of the waitresses and I had to figure out how to get everything working. It took a long while, but I finally got up and played for about 30 minutes. While I played, they projected “The Blues Brothers” film across me and the stage. (What is up with “The Blues Brothers”? People really love it. Everywhere. I have seen images of Jake and Elwood all across the US and abroad. (Writing this much later, one of the bars I played at in Turkey had them stenciled on the wall behind me.))

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