Veronica DeJesus recently created a series of portraits, of musicians who I knew from my work as Earthwise Productions, which started in 1994 and continues, although my last concert was March 13 2020, having, like virtually everyone and everything on the planet, made an accomodation to Covid-19.
Like many San Franciscans, I knew of Veronica thru her eulogistic drawings displayed in the window of a book store in the Mission, Dog Eared Books.
There’s also a book or catalog of Veronica’s tributes, “Hello Now From Everywhere”, 2010 with this forward: “A handful of some pretty special people. Drawings & handwritten text by Veronica de Jesus”. I bought it at Dog Eared for $25.95 new. I counted 10 of those drawings as depicting or memorializing musicians.
When my father Paul E. Weiss died in 2015, I contacted her, but never followed thru.
Earlier this summer, however, while Terry and I were staying at the hotel owned by the late Doris Day or her estate, I reached Veronica.
I knew these people in varying degrees. The exception is Mia Zapata, whose death galvanized the San Francisco underground community. I didn’t know her — in fact I confused her briefly with another musician with a simliar name. But when Mia, Lisa, Shug and Bambi (the Mudwimin)told me about an all day concert to raise money to hire a detective to try to succeed where Seattle police had theretofore failed, I was moved. I did not predict that I would be so impressed with these events, however, that I would spend the next 26 years absorbed in music and the lives of musicians, and artists.
Veronica meanwhile, in addition to researching the art and creating these works, also created a series of musical instruments and performances.
Also, Ed Gilbert, her gallery rep, passed away during our work on these.
I knew him slightly; Terry knew him better.
May their memories be a blessing.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world.
Black Lives Matter.
If not know, when?
Calder Spanier was a jazz saxophone player, who played at Cubberley Community Center as part of the Charlie Hunter Quintet in 1996. I don’t recall speaking with him, other than my habit would be to greet the musicians, back stage or during sound check. A year after our show, Calder died when his car broke down on the Bay Bridge, late at night, after a gig, and he was struck by an oncoming car.
Lance Hahn was a Hawaii’an who moved to San Francisco and founded the influential punk rock project J Church — after his death, the San Francisco City Supervisors named an entire railway line after his band. I booked him on the suggestion of Chad Dyer of American Sensei. Lance’s name, besides being on so many Muni Cars, is on a poster for a winter, 1998 show at Cubberley featuring J Church, Electrocutes (aka The Donnas), Pee Chees and Pansy Division. Mike Park called me to ask that Kemuri a Japanese ska band in town to record with him for Roadrunner, fill in for J Church. Lance came to the show — that may have been the only time we met.
I felt blessed to watch Roswell Rudd rehearse with Steve Lacy, JJ and John seemingly their first reunion in many years. I put them in a lodge in San Carlos. although now I can’t quite recall if the rehearsal was in the hotel or at the venue, which was actually Andy Heller’s office, storage space and de facto studio. Roswell continued as an educator, at Yale and his obituary was prominent in The New York Times. He played trombone. The tour which started humbly in San Carlos culminated in New York City at Sweet Basil, a top jazz club, and there is also a studio version of their set on Verve Records.
When Steve died a couple years later, his agent Eric Hanson said Steve appreciated my support of his work. I remember visiting with Steve after seeing shows in New York, at both Lincoln Center Kaplan Penthouse and at Jazz Standard. Steve didn’t drive so both of my shows included driving him to Berkeley for the next show, and the ensuing conversation, which I cherish.
Henry Butler I knew quite well, and served as his manager in 2002, traveling with him to France and seeing him in New Orleans, Washington DC, Arizona, New Hampshire, New Haven, New York and the Bay Area. At one point I imagined marrying my girfriend, having him as a best man and potentially naming a son for him: Henry Byrd Weiss. (Byrd was the name of my street but also referenced Longhair). Henry died while my mother was in hospice so I didn’t want to go to his memorial. People I met thru Henry include Charles Driebe, Malcolm Welbourne, Danny Scher and Steven Bernstein. I had a spiral notebook that listed 200 people I contacted about Henry work, in that year.
Pinetop Perkins was 86 when I met him, and he played my series at Cubberley. I remember interacting with him and also with his drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. Pine was also close to people I know or knew like Bob Margolin, Henry Butler, and Candye Kane. Pinetop was a piano player, most famously with Muddy Waters, but started his career as a guitarist.
I couldn’t possibly discuss Candye Kane without describing her relationship with Laura Chavez. In the final chapter of Candye’s life, Laura was her guitar player, co-producer, medical advocate and best friend. I met Candye thru Laura and once took she and her son to a 49ers game. I never worked with her per se, although we had a conversation about me being her manager, and she sent me a draft of her musical, that was produced in San Diego. I’d like to see a production of Candye’s show, here in the Bay Area.
Candye was Christian but she told me that she was interested in Judaism. As the above is the sixth portrait of musicians I knew as created by Veronica De Jesus, I’m including here, in my otherwise brief remarks, a lift from a Jewish website about 6, or vav:
In this study I would like to examine the significance and meaning of the number six.
To understand the number six, we need to understand the vav – ו, which is the Hebrew letter representing six. The sixth letter of the alef-beit [see also: alphabet] is the vav. The vav is shaped like a hook (ו). A hook is something that holds two things together. This property of the letter vav, in its Hebrew usage, is referred to as the vav of connection. It is normally translated as and which is used to hook words together.
The first vav of the Torah is found in:
Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1 In the beginning G-d created the heavens and [vav] the earth.
This vav, the first letter of the sixth word, serves to join spiritual and physical, heaven and the earth, in creation. This teaches us a very significant lesson regarding the meaning of six.
(I think I have other passages, here in Plastic Alto, wherein I describe or merely name jam sessions in heaven of people like Candye, Pinetop and Henry Butler). I’m trying to let Veronica’s work speak for itself but I especially like the way she weaves in or connects Candye Kane to Memphis Minnie and Alberta Hunter. She also memorializes the phrase that I skipped: Toughest Girl Alive. By the way, this is the 18th revison of this post: to life!
Earlier this year I had realized that Mia Zapata was murdered at age 27, exactly 27 years ago, or an entire lifetime ago. The determination to avenge her, by musicians and other precariot, was likely part of my motivation to give up corporate life and promote music:
Bill Doss Olivia Tremor Control
The Olivia Tremor Control band played Cubberley, on a bill with two other Elephant 6 projects. Someone taped the show and sent me a cd, which has sat in a shoe box in my closet for twenty years, although recently I put one track electronically up on the internet here: *
The Olivias song is called “a sunshine fix”.
interestingly there is a video of them playing that song in July, 2012 at pitchfork in Chicago two weeks before Bill suddenly died of an aneurysm. but maybe this recording is the band at its peak. I’ll try to figure out where I put the actual recording and maybe post more of it.
Lynette of Skankin’ Pickle by Veronica de Jesus of San Francisco and Los Angeles: