Two films by Randy Lutge.
The cover story in today’s Palo Alto Weekly raised more questions than it answered. For instance: Is there a relationship between the cluster of public art —murals and sculpture- on California Avenue and it’s so called music boom? I have to start with that one because I’m married to the former chair of the public art commission here.*
It was interesting to run into Randy Lutge at my Johnny A show; he posted three videos on his well received website; the website is also an archive for the Varsity theater at its heyday; he has more than 100 videos of people like Tuck & Patti, Michael Hedges, George Winston, Bobby McFerrin and Will Ackerman.
How do we explain the confluence of talent here 37 years ago?
The palo alto weekly had a disappointing article claiming that the decent local musicians who play in front of an Italian restaurant on California Avenue are comparable to the Varsity in its heyday.
I think the real question is can leadership in Palo Alto do something to sustain or encourage the music community; For instance what can be done with the fine arts theater, a stones throw from Mike and Maico?
Is there any way to approach Chop Keenan about converting the varsity back into a performance space?
Can Palo Alto do more with its music in the parks series?
Is there more Palo Alto as a community can do to benefit from Stanford‘s commitment to the arts which includes the Bing and the renovated frost?
Will the guild in Menlo Park encourage a similar effort in Palo Alto or displace such?
how many Palo Alto think of themselves as full-time musicians or artists?
What about a musicians’ village at Ventura?
Watching Patti Cathcart sing “time after time” in 1985 is almost a sad thing in that we as a community could’ve done more in these 37 years to encourage the arts. Does the development of trillions of dollars worth of new technology displace the arts? I sent a note to the city manager about six months ago —because I was producing a waybacks show —and I noticed a citation on the Internet that the Waybacks played in Palo Alto nooner series which is now defunct; I claimed that although the Dow has tripled in value in the last 20 years Palo Alto does only about one-third as much in its Civic music series.
My quixotic initiative has four more shows this year: Battle Trance, Monday at Lytton Plaza; Zoh Amba, November 9 at The Mitch; Zoh Amba November 16 at the art center; and Kristin Hersh, December 2 at The Mitch. The guild has about 10 more shows, plus multiple nights of social distortion. I admit that their appearance made me up my game, to a career high of 40 shows in 2022
* I went down to the avenue to refresh my memory and try to qualify my initial reactions; I actually met David Jansen; I noticed him as he was photographing one of the temporary murals, the giant stickers. He said he was featured in one of the photographs of Mike Annunzzi and Maico; He was one of the passersby who was invited to sit in. I too, as was described in the article, saw a fairly talented random person invited to the stage, in this case it was a grad student from Zimbabwe who I chased down and tried to contact. The music in front of the Italian restaurant is not a bad thing, but it is a bad thing when our leaders dodge the actual questions relevant to community; and the weekly lives in its own world: maybe they think glorifying the cover of “La Bamba” will make somebody pay $16m for a house a mile away, or four pages away from their cover story.