Happy birthday, Vida Blue

I am going to the Giants game tonight if that makes me feel any better

I am going to the Giants game tonight if that makes me feel any better

Vida Blue turned 65 yesterday.

When I was 10 years old, my dad took me to a World Series game to see the Swingin’ A’s win the World Championship of baseball for Oakland. I don’t recall if I ever saw Vida pitch in person, but I definitely was a fan, and had his trading card.

There’s also a jam band called Vida Blue I saw once at the Fillmore. It says in wikipedia that Vida Blue the pitcher came on stage with them. I remember seeing Dan from Fog City in front of the hall, before I got sorted. I think one of his bands was the support act that night.

I also approached Pumpsie Green once about borrowing his name for a funk band I wanted to build around my then-client, Henry Butler. He said no. I guess if I was Page McConnell of Phish I would have been more persuasive or persistent.

Meanwhile just last week my former client Henry Butler and my rabbi Steven Bernstein released a co-led project (not named for a baseball player), on Impulse Records, the resurrected imprint, part of Blue Note, and I wish them well. I did present Steven Bernstein’s Disapora Suite cd release show a few years ago, in San Francisco but whiffed on bringing his Sly Stone thing here.

What a weird mix of baseball, music and philosophy is this plastic alto.

The HB SB thingy is called Viper’s Drag, got a jelly roll to it:


That kinda rhymes you know

Vida Blue

Pumpsie Green

Henry Butler

and Steven Bernstein

my tags

I have a strangely vivid memory, that I could not this minute repress, of leading Henry Butler

his hand on my shoulder

thru and airport,

maybe in Paris France

and him whacking me

with his cane

in my upper V

like Vida

between my pants

that’s life I guess

that’s kind of a poem

I used to know ’em

and show ’em

Eli Eli Eli

but not Elijah Pumpsie Green

and tell me little stevie who might be those 9 — hey that’s a baseball number: who’s on first? I don’t know. third base. 

I was Henry Butler’s manager for six months in 2002-2003; I missed by Gunn 20-year reunion for instance because I was with Henry in Clermont-Ferrand that week. I spent about 40 nights with him during that stretch, either he in the Bay Area — he stayed at my parents’ house some of that – or me in New Orleans or on the road. Steven Bernstein meanwhile met Henry on the set of Robert Altman’s “Kansas City” in about 1990. I probably met Steven by phone in that period when I was working with Henry. Steven meanwhile has worked with Peter Apfelbaum and Jeff Cressman since they were at Berkeley Junior High, circa 1975.

This is a remarkable little video of the band at Yoshi’s. While the horn section leaves the stage and re-emerges in the house, as a type of second line meme, Henry takes the spotlight, his hands moving at super-human speed, like a John Henry myth, and his blue jacket glowing almost supernaturally — can he sense that?

I wonder if he tried to drive the tour van after the show.

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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