Americana Music has Rich Influences

AmericasInfluencesThat great Geoff Mack song from 1962 has been mighty good to me onstage. While I’ve been in 49 of the 50 states [Florida still to be sampled], criss-crossed Europe and performed in Japan, it might be appropriate in this first installment of the “I’ve Been Everywhere Series” to start with my birthplace of Pasadena, California.

Originally populated by Native Americans of the Hahamonga Tribe, it was settled by Spanish landowners near the San Gabriel Mission. And the large holdings were divided time and again as more people came to settle east of the Arroyo Seco, or dry canyon. If you ever hike in the wilder areas of the Arroyo, be careful not to disturb our rattling friends as you traipse the rocky terrain.

In the 1920s and 1930s, many African-Americans came to Los Angeles County. While some towns forbade their buying or renting domiciles, Pasadena allowed this influx. Some of this was due to the need of servants for many of Southern California’s wealthiest families. So, in its own way, Pasadena became integrated.

My Uncle Bill Macy had a playmate c. 1930 by the name of Jackie Robinson. This was the childhood days of 42 that featured bikes, rock throwing—all the boy stuff.

You’ve seen the Rose Parade and Bowl game in Pasadena, with the San Gabriel Mountains framing the day’s festivities. Those mountains are now more vividly observed than any time since pre-WW2 Los Angeles. The Second World War brought tremendous energy, industry, airplane factories and a massive influx of population to the Basin. And smog.

But today, we enjoy the SoCal that resulted after the catalytic converter. Pasadena, along with her sister city Altadena, traditionally Fahrenheit hot, has become a hot destination for travelers who enjoy taking in the museums, stages, mansions, history and shops.

They can also take in the air these days.

Larry Wilder on a Different Stage

Had a great time as musical director/performer in Molière’s “Tartuffe.” This timeless play, first staged 350 years ago, is set in present day Texas. The hilarious play’s title character is a religious charlatan who sets off a chain of funny fireworks.

Our director and veteran of LA stage, screen and TV Tobias Andersen, had a vision of traditional music interwoven with the scenes. The brilliant acting of my cohorts sets the stage for me to just have a blast singing, yodeling and playing.

Here is one review:

I experienced new dimensions of thankfulness for this marvelous experience.

Voodoo Doughnut Time!

VoodooDoughnutHere I am with Cat Daddy and Tres, the creative and business chiefs of perhaps Portlandia’s most flamboyantly famous enterprise—Voodoo Doughnuts.

My recent composition “Voodoo Doll Yodel” will be released by Voodoo Recordings in July. It tells the saga of boy-meets-vamp at Voodoo Doughnuts, where they eventually get married ‘neath the smiling Kenny Rogers, as many couples have actually done. My outré “Voodoo Style Yodels” vary on every chorus.

This epic opus was waxed, I should say computerized, at another Portlandia fixture for over 30 years–Fresh Tracks Studio, home of Grammy Award winning songs engineered by Jon Lindahl. Jon enhanced “Voodoo Doll Yodel” with his bass, drums and masterful use of funny sounds and effects.

We do our best to Keep Portland Weird.

Inspiration from Lily Tomlin

LilyTomlinSharing the stage with Lily Tomlin was a signal event. Her radiance, goodness and fierce lion mother care for the audience leave indelible marks on us all. When we sit at the feet of great entertainers as she, we are inspired and filled with an essence we cannot quite describe. Exactly what is it—greatness? Love? Brilliance?

America’s entertainers have always drawn from each other; Lily invites us down subtle avenues, sets us up and then knocks us over with tickling feathers.

We can’t get enough. And we rejoice in touching her heart as we laugh and send our love to her.

This entertainer owes Lily, for sure.