Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Night I Met Jimi Hendrix

Thanks to the internet I was able to track down the exact date of one of the greatest concerts of my life. There it was…staring back at me from the screen; Friday night March 22, 1968. That’s it! The night Jimi Hendrix and the Experience were in my hometown. They were touring the northeast and ended up in Hartford, Connecticut at the Bushnell Auditorium. I was a wreck all week in anticipation of the show. I politely sat through Boston’s Ultimate Spinach, the first of two opening acts. Then came the tour’s official opener; The Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge) from Canterbuy, England. I really liked them. Their set was progressive and left of center especially when you considered all the pop stuff that was released and on the air at that time. In fact, a few years later, I went on to play The Soft Machine on my FM radio programs. Drummer Robert Wyatt has always been a favorite. hendrix

Jimi, was frisky and engaging in between tunes as he blew the minds of this small town crowd. He played the hell out of his Strat with a mountain of Marshall amps towering behind him. You couldn’t have dialed up a better set that night. Axis Bold As Love was just a month old so it was one tune after another from that amazing, future classic. BTW, witnessing drummer Mitch Mitchell live with his jazzy touch was a real treat. Another drumming favorite (two in one night!).

As we floated around in front of the hall after the show reliving all the cool moments there came a bit of serendipity; a chance encounter with a rock writer. He said he’d earlier interviewed Jimi and that the band was over at the Statler Hilton Hotel on the the eleventh floor.

In a heartbeat we were over at the Hilton heading across the lobby towards the elevators. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. There I was in a flash trying to get up the courage to knock on the hotel room door. I finally did and in an instant the door to room 1136 swung open. And, there was the MAN staring me right in the eye, smiling and saying “hi”. Looking over Hendrix’s shoulder was manager Chas Chandler (formerly the bassist with The Animals) who was eyeing us with a protective glance. Wow, Chas Chandler (I was a bass player too) and Jimi standing there in front of me. I was speechless. Hendrix quickly surveyed this geeky little group in front of him. Meanwhile, his suite had one hipster after another partying it up with a bevy of the most beautiful young ladies hanging out with them. Jimi was cool and said “are you guys in a band?” A couple of us replied “yeah.” He asked for a minute with his party and then he’d be right back to BS with us.

1968.03.22Hendrix Contact Prints -sm

We stood there in the quiet hall for a good five or ten minutes wondering if that door would ever again open. A couple of our guys were ready to split. I whispered (we didn’t need the hotel detectives kicking us out) “are you kidding, Jimi said he’d be back. I’m waiting!” Well, he did indeed return with a hotel night stand notepad for autographs (I got four!) and immediately asked “so, who’s the guitar player in this group?” He was the greatest. Gentle, funny, cool and completely down to earth. He spent the next few minutes with us, then wished us well, shaking hands with each one of us and finally, saying goodnight. I’ve relayed this tale many times over the years as I’ve repeated my cool little rock and roll moment. Jimi Hendrix was truly one of the warmest, most genuine music stars that I have ever had the privilege to meet.

Over the next few days I spent time in my darkroom developing these pictures and needless to say, I didn’t come down from that little encounter for quite some time.

By | 2013-10-23T00:42:19+00:00 October 23rd, 2013|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Bernie Krause: Conducting the Great Animal Orchestra

On October 10th 1985, a humpback whale that was in the middle of a Mexico to Alaska migration took an uncharacteristic detour into the brackish depths of San Francisco Bay and promptly lost its way. The 40 ft, 40 ton leviathan then took a leisurely 69 mile easterly journey and eventually got stuck in the fresh water habitat of the Sacramento river – the worst place for an ocean creature – with no place else to go. The fate of the whale became an international obsession while U.S. Coast Guard boats tried to gently coax the whale into changing his direction, to no avail. Scientists played recordings of orcas and banged on metal pipes hoping to influence its path. School kids across America sang songs for the whale, which by now was given the name Humphrey.

But after 3 weeks of unsuccessful rescue attempts, Humphrey was stressed out and running out of time. In a desperate effort that inspired the climax of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, scientists filled the river with the sound of humpback whales, which miraculously lured Humphrey back toward the safety of the Pacific Ocean.
The recordings were provided by motion picture sound designer and musician Bernie Krause, renowned for work on Rosemary’s Baby, Apocalypse Now and hundreds of big name sessions with The Weavers, Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, The Doors and The Monkees to name a few.animal3

Dr. Krause’s singular understanding of the connections between animals and music is on full display in the book, The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places.
Krause takes the reader far and wide for riveting examples of how our comprehension and creation of music has been guided by the complex influences of animals and the natural world. The book also has a soundtrack, designed to be played as you read.

Bernie Krause celebrates his 75th birthday this year and he’s spent most of his life revolutionizing the way we see and hear our world. This book is an endearing affirmation of his game changing influence and astonishing career.

By the way, there’s also a terrific opportunity to spend time with the man himself, via a fascinating video of a recent TED Talks session.

Steven A. Williams is managing producer of The Animal House, which is heard on many public radio stations across America. Steven and Ray are long time buddies and worked together at WQCD New York and KKSF San Francisco.

By | 2013-10-22T00:43:32+00:00 October 22nd, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Bernie Krause: Conducting the Great Animal Orchestra

Chamber Music In Peter Gabriel's Studio

When British rock star Peter Gabriel took his profits from his big hit album So twenty-five years ago using them to convert an old English mill into a first class studio, the audio world was knocked out. Real World Studios’ location is steeped in all sorts of English history. It’s not far from Stonehenge and the city of Bath (settled by the Romans). Over the last few years Gabriel has been working with a contemporary classical composer and arranger named John Metcalfe. You might have seen Peter a couple of years ago performing in a crossover concert with a full symphony orchestra (New Blood Orchestra). Metcalfe is the composer who scored and arranged all of PG’s music for orchestra. BTW, hats off to John Metcalfe for keeping the schmaltz out of the charts.gabriel2

Recently, John has put out his own release of modern classical music in a quartet and quintet configuration. It’s got a cutting edge touch and minimalist feel that’s anchored in the chamber music tradition of old (Beethoven and Mendelssohn). He’s really come up with a winner. This video shows one of the new pieces (Copper Beech) actually being recorded at Real World Studios with John Metcalfe producing the session as we watch him marking-up his score in real time. It’s state of the art classical going down in a modern studio with top notch players,
(The Carducci Quartet along with Matthew Barley).
A fascinating look as we watch this musical flower
unfold in this old mill that has been turned into an audio factory.

Enjoy being a fly on the studio wall as you witness take #4:

By | 2013-10-18T00:39:06+00:00 October 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Quick Quiz

Here is a great photo that was recently shot backstage at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.  Four legends came together for a musicians benefit concert.  These are truly some of the heaviest cats in the world of entertainment on the left coast.  (left to right)  It’s George Lucas, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Steven Spielberg and John Williams.  So, quickly, off the top of your head;  how many Oscars and Grammys between these guys?  Cue the Jeopardy theme and take a guess!












By | 2013-10-16T00:44:36+00:00 October 16th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Quick Quiz