I remember NOLAthing

Kermit Ruffins at Tipitinas by Ferokh Herfat

I was sitting at Coupa Cafe yesterday with a backpack full of books and newspapers. On the table was Ann Savoy’s book on Cajun music; I am still digesting my experience of presenting The Magnolia Sisters in Lytton Plaza and the further experience of hanging with the band (actually, back at Coupa, Saturday) and checking out their in-store at Down Home Records in  El Cerritto on Sunday (which I hope to blog about, all the cognescenti there, or at both gigs rather).


A young man sat down next to me, gestured toward my (or Ann’s) book and offered the fact that he had just got back from his first visit to New Orleans. A conversation of course ensued, and he shared this photo (above) he took of Kermit Ruffins at Tipitina’s. Not to be too pedantic, but I told him what I knew of the venue (named for a Professor Longhair song) and in brief, of the town.

Which reminds me that I had been meaning to post somewhere on the internet something like a c.v., a bunch of links that encapsulate my work with music and musicians over these recent 17 years. The URL “earthwiseproductions.com” does not have much info.

So here are some cds that I had the privilege of working with, mostly as exclusive personal manager for the artist or act.

From New Orleans:

Henry Butler, “The Game Has Just Begun”, on Basin Street Records.


John Ellis, “One Foot in The Swamp”; “By A Thread” “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” All three of these recordings came under the deal that Noel Silverman and I arranged for John with Joel Dorn’s (and Bill Dern’s, and Kevin Calabro’s) Hyena Records/Ryko Distribution whatever that means; it seemed important at the time.


For “By A Thread” I was actually in the studio with the band at Mike Brorby’s in Brooklyn although I am not credited as such (“associate producer”? “rode shot gun when Tank asked for cheeseburgers”?). I remember Reuben Rogers really liking the play-back on “Old Man” which starts with a long ocarena solo before the grove kicks in. Reuben rose from his chair and started dancing, ad libbing “My butt. My butt. I can’t control my butt.”


John Ellis, “Roots Branches and Leaves”, Fresh Sounds New Talent. This was sort of a front list title during my time with John although I did not work on the record per se and certainly did not help negotiate his deal with Jordi Pujols. The cd did get a 4.5 star review in Downbeat and kind words from the venerable Nat Hentoff.



Charlie Hunter Trio “Friends Seen and Unseen” came out on Ropeadope during my term which in a parrallel world (or several, or infinite numbers of them) mean that I get 5 cents per cd sale because John got five writing credits and or gets 8 cents per song, 40 cents per cd, as mechanical royalties.


We are sort of leaving New Orleans but not before I mention that as a promoter I also brought to town acts like Galactic, New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, Henry Butler and Royal Fingerbowl. I also value my relationship with Glenn Hartman with whom and with Beth Custer I produced a project (not yet studio recorded) called Bone N Drone. Closer to home:

Doug Hilsinger and Caroleen Beatty, “Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy” Runt DBK Records. Doug and Caroleen created this tribute to Eno and then were pleased to get his blessings, which came out as liner notes. One contribution I made to this project was when I rang Jim Romeo (to tell him I had just met his then unknown client Ryan Kantner of Man Man, at Last Drop on Vine Street) he asked when I was working on and then invited Enorchestra into Noise Pop, on a bill with Devotchka.


I was actually the manager for Caroleen and Doug’s band Waycross but the nature of the contract stipulated that I represented five musicians “individually, collectively and professionally known as Waycross” which although slightly contentiously gave me some responsibility and authority to work with at least two sideprojects that came to the fore. Initially I was drawn to Caroleen per se having years prior tried to book her into the Cubberley Sessions with Bedlam Rovers. (There was also a slight faux pas during term in which I unsuccessfully suggested dredging up a collaboration between Caroleen and Jon Langford known sort of as Pre War Jewel; that experience had me on the Acela  between New York and Philadelphia and back on January 28, 2004 — my first visit to Philly, even for two hours — my fortieth birthday, to get Langford to sign off on my involvement; I ended up watching his soundcheck in Philly before zipping back to catch Patty Barber at Birdland that evening. I had no idea that I would be spending so much of 2005 and 2006 in Philly, or would join NARAS there, or take a class at UARTS from Aaron Luis Levenson).

Caroleen also, as sort of a follow up to TTMBS, released a solo record, with Mushroom and Ralph Carney backing:


Stew, “Something Deeper Than These Changes” on Image Entertainment Group. At the inception of what became the Broadway sensation “Passing Strange” Stew, which is actually a duo featuring Mark “Stew” Stewart and Heida Rodewald, I stewarded that act as p.m. through adventures such as opening ten dates in sheds (at t.m. as well) on the East Coast with John Mayer and Counting Crows, plus two dates at Joe’s Pub where Bill Bragin spotted the latent potential in these songs (mixed with “Naked Dutch Painter” and its “drug suite”).  I had met Stew through Susan James years prior and in fact had The Negro Problem appear with Cake and New EZ Devils, at Cubberley in September of 1995. (There is an awesome poster not quite out of print made my Mac MacCaughan and Lane Wurster, that I promised to John McCrea to send another copy, when I saw him last month in Santa Clara; at the time John said he would have played the Cubberley show just for the poster: I guess that means the poster is worth $500).


During my term working consciously for Jack Walrath, this archival video tape of Jack with the Charles Mingus quintet from 1975 came out on Eagle Rock Entertainment; at the time Benny Bailey was still alive, but all five of these other jazz immortals (who Jack thought of as peers, friends and bandmates) had already left the stage: Gerry Mulligan, Charles Mingus, Dannie Richmond, Don Pullen, George Adams:


We also were still working on promoting this Savant title, with Joe and Barney Fields:


For True Margrit (Margrit Eichler, like the popular house, designed by her cousin), I worked on this project during its release including handing it out at Folk Alliance Austin and then also, post-term, took Margrit to see a workshop version at Stanford of Stew’s “Passing Strange” because Margrit also composes for theatre:


Orange Peels, on Parasol, their third group cd:


For The Blue Eyed Devils, I introduced them to Jimbo Mathus, who I had met after booking Squirrel Nut Zippers into The Cubberley Community Center, in fall, 1995, and then chaperoned the band down to Efland, North Carolina, the home of Jimbo Matthews and Kathryn Whalen, and their daughter KC, and for at least part of our visit, the legendary four-legged wonderdog, Shorty Brown (see also “Shake Hands with Shorty” by North Mississippi Allstars). Post-term Chris Cotton got a deal on Yellow Dog Records, while Justin Markovits, the plumber drummer, lends his magic to numerous happening projects.


There are also what I call “project basis” clients I have had like Wayne Horvitz for his evening-length oratorio “Joe Hill” (which I still vow to bring to the Bay Area) or Beth Custer’s “My Grandmother” and Clarinet Thing (as well as her graciously backing me on my “Beat Hotel Rm 32” tribute to Allen Ginsberg and “Howl”).

And of course my travels with Dao Strom, in Chicago, Austin and San Francisco, were professionally fulfilling and allowed me to rethink what I have been told about recent history and the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Dao’s views on such, through her music and her books, are a unique contribution to our understanding of these things, sort of like Oliver Stone’s film depictions of his era and experiences. In terms of music reduced to data, there is always:


I started with Kermit Ruffins here,  who was not a client, but I met him during my brief emersion into NOLA 504 culture, also his manager Tom Thompson was my predecessor working with Henry Butler, and Kermit is on the same label as Henry, Mark Samuels’ Basin Street Records.  I like to help artists, as a promoter, manager, official or unofficial flack, whether or not they are actual clients — indeed, I have ongoing conversations with artists that are “consulting basis” or “project basis” clients on and off again, but well short of “exclusive personal management” and terms do not actually, especially if you do not bother to spell it out, have fixed starts and stop points — I like to try to help whether or not I am credited or paid. For instance, my long-standing  and on-going dialogue with Malcolm “Papa Mali” Welbourne apparently played some roll, if hermetic, in the formation of 7 Walkers,  Malcolm told me. I was the first person, apparently, to describe Malcolm as a cross between Dr. John and Jerry Garcia (something Bill Kreutzmann saw in him as well, when they finally met).

Anyhow, thanks, Farokh Herfat, for sitting down next to me, noticing Ann Savoy’s book, sharing your story and photo of Kermit, and launching me on this little trip down memory lane. And if one could reduce 15 years in the music biz to 15 clicks to an online store, this just about does it.

edit to add, April 29, 2011: As I am still revising this post, I notice that my former client John Ellis is in residence (again) at Jazz Gallery and got this pick of the week notice in The Times:


Also noted that Stew’s “Passing Strange” got favorable “highly recommended” review in Chicago by Hedy Weiss of the Sun-Times. I recall leaving voice for Weiss trying to get her out to the Dao Strom show at Common Ground by drawing my somewhat strained analogy about what I see or saw in both cases (i.e., Dao as a hybrid novelist and songwriter has the potential to do an evening length narrative ala “Passing Strange” but as she points out she is more likely to do something like Horvitz “Joe Hill…”)


edit to add, June, 2012, about 14 months later: not so much updating as revisiting, it is true that I have not worked any additional records beyond the 18 or so I link to and lay claim to hereabouts. Meanwhile, my practice has atomized into sundry other topics not limited to: writing about 450 posts for this blog; repping the visual artist Robert Syrett, who has an upcoming October, 2012 show at Zoe Cafe blocks away from his Menlo Park abode, our third such finding; I am interviewing this very night for the Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Committee although I am a dark horse candidate; my artist and repertoire development projects with literary and Native/Feminist themes churn slowly thru God’s rich brown clay towards a heliocentric satisfaction; I produced a poetry event and may continue on inputting to the further dissemination of the Alden Van Buskirk text itself; Beat Hotel Rm 32 tribute to Ginsburg pops up sometimes spontaneously; the comedic monologue regarding football pokes its shy head up, more like a ground hog than a wolverine, certainly; various relationships with Native American artists and curators, beyond the one referenced early in this graph; writing a white paper on electric cars, if only to please my long-dead grandfather and namesake MB Weiss, founder of Emkay Leasing, an ongoing concern; I could probably expand my practice to dog-sitting or gerontological consulting; I work out, as Ricky Martin would say; okay, truthfully, and unlike Ben Franklin it is not that I cannot tell a lie but I choose not to — I borrow a  lit bit — I flop around in the water for about 15 minutes and then traverse underwater to a point about three fourths of the way across the 25 meter pool in my complex. Or as Chicago music and culture legend and my rabbi Terry Abrahamson says: I will never outlive my ideas.

I could commit to and connect for the right p.m project and still keep most of the above moving glacially. Call me. “Earthwise” means “moves like the earth” which could mean something has a 17-year hibernation then explodes; rather than tick-tick-tick like a clock.  Earthwise celebrated 18 last week with a soitary busker, and then some lucid dreaming about post-colonialism and post-capitalism; But also: observe. Listen.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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8 Responses to I remember NOLAthing

    • Mark Weiss says:

      hi ruben. i enjoyed your show today. sorry if i took too much of your time on phone. check out doc cheatham. also, there is someone named stella brooks who played with sidney bechet and stuffy smith you could add to your list. (disclosure: i worked for her estate to rep her humble catalog which is five tracks on folkways — if you want i could probably still get a cd donated to kzsu or burn or buy your own downloads.
      i also i think i mentioned maybe not — to the lady before you modern donkey i said this — work sometimes at kzsu doing live mics and interviews with sarah bellum and raya zion.
      mark weiss eathwise productions and plastic alto blog
      to http://allthatswing.wordpress.com/wp-comments-post.php

  1. markweiss86 says:

    I have no relationship (as far as I know) to this work except that Terry is reading it and I allude to it in this post’s title:

  2. Pingback: Caroleen Beatty and Sunshine Haire are back, as The Upsets, kinda sorta | Plastic Alto with Mark Weiss

  3. markweiss86 says:

    I briefly managed this act, introduced by the label’s attorney, who I mistook for the artist’s attorney. Roy and I had a nice morning together driving from Oakland to Los Altos Hills and back, to be interviewed live at KFJC. Nice man. A year later I posted this brief review:

  4. markweiss86 says:

    Annie Lin wrote and recorded Truck Was Struck while enrolled fulltime as a J.D. law student in Houston. The cd is basically a song-suite that imagines a chain of events set in motion by an auto accident, as a metaphor for relationships, kinda like the movie Crash. The title of the cd comes from the concise and slightly awkward or esoteric wording of a description of a car crash in her torts class. Annie managed to tour not infrequently while completing her bar studies and then moved to New York City to further her ambitious dual careers. (She is friendly with lawyer/songstress Elizabeth Elmore of The Reputation/Sarge. Not sure if she knows David Scheltzel of Ocean Blue, another lawyer/rocker, or the lawyer dude from Austin Lounge Lizards, she just may). Annie’s work can be compared to her idol Lisa Loeb, and also Dar Williams or Ani DiFranco. She often tours as a duo with hip electric cellist Henna Chou, and/or as part of the Asian-American singer-songwriter movement (cf Mike Park, Jenny Choi, Emm Gryner et al). The cd is pretty consistently listenable, is are her live shows. Not sure if she soaked up any real Texas flavor during her southern sojourn — the one track where she tries to give voice to a local homeless person is the only misfire on the cd. I for one would kinda like to see her take a sabbatical someday in Mississippi and try to record a John Lee Hooker tribute or something.

    (Annie Lin is an attorney and singer-songwriter who relocated to Bay Area after finishing law school in Houston. I worked on the promotion of “Truck Was Struck” when it first came out, plus posted the above, shortly after that. I’ve seen her name on bills in SF not long ago. She also worked for Brooke Wentz, the amazing music supervisor.

    The other funny thing about that experience is that it was trying to find a Bay Area play for Annie’s tour that led to me producing about 10 shows at an art gallery in Palo Alto; Todd Inoue wrote up Annie Lin and that series in Metro.


    By Todd Inoue

    By day, Art21 is a downtown Palo Alto contemporary art gallery. When the weekend approaches and the sun goes down, the spot sets up a PA and opens its doors to live jazz and poetry. Independent promoter Earthwise Productions recently became part of the mix introducing touring performers ranging from wistful singer/songwriters to a Swedish jazz-funk trio. This Sunday, Earthwise presents an eclectic show with new folk artist Michael Fracasso, Chris Austin Songwriting Contest winner AJ Roach and Houston-based law student/acoustic strummer Annie Lin (pictured above).

    Lin has been on my radar recently with her latest album, Truck Was Stuck. Despite her professed admiration for Lisa Loeb, the songwriter appears to have more in common with Lois Maffeo, Aimee Mann or Mary Lou Lord. The album does a thematic Memento-style backtrack about a traffic accident, beginning with the hospital visit before revealing the distractions and drama that lead to it. She hits a comfy stride on the album standout “Ambulance Driver” before breaking into a gallop on “A Lot Like Me” and “Whole.” Suckers for concept albums (revolving around tragedy) and pedigreed indie pop nerds will both find Annie Lin a welcome spot on their iTunes playlist.

    As for the Swedish jazz funk thing, that’s EST, or the Esborn Svensson Trio, who perform at Art21 on Sept. 18—a pit stop along the way to the Monterey Jazz Festival. Most shows begin at 7pm, all shows are all-ages.

    Aug 22: Annie Lin, Michael Fracasso, AJ Roach
    Sep 18: EST Trio
    Oct 9: Steve Poltz

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