I was there!  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

Those are the first three concerts I ever attended.
Cool? Dorky? You decide.

Although, I should get some props for [a] the fact that the Kiss concert I went to in '77 actually became a double album-"KISS: Alive II", and [b] I eventually did a concert with Chuck Mangione. Right?

My worst day ever...  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

A friend and I recently shared our worst days (that didn't have to do with anyone dying).

Here's mine:
On the day I signed papers for my first house, I watched as a monthly payment I was already freaking out about kept skyrocketing due to all the hidden expenses and "necessary" upgrades, pushing me far over my 'safe zone'. I drove home in a daze, sure I was headed for financial ruin. I got home, went to get the mail, and, lo and behold, got a notice that I was being audited by the IRS.

It took me about two weeks to get out of the fetal position.

Happy 80th Max!  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

The KSBR Birthday BASH went great. One of the highlights - besides a stellar new location that showed just how big this has grown since it was a handful of people in a lounge - was the celebration of bass legend Max Bennett's 80th birthday.

When I say legend, its not without merit. He was arguably one of the most recorded bass players in the 1960s and 70s, not only playing on every movie, commercial, TV show (he was the bass that Danny Bonaduce faked to on the Partridge Family!), but continuing to work with a succession of major artists that he started back in the 40s, playing with everyone from Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, on through the 70s with artists like Joni Mitchell and Frank Zappa. He also helped launch the contemporary jazz movement by being an early convert to the electric bass and founding the L.A. Express with Tom Scott. Quite a career.

Max also toured with the equally legendary Crusaders, with Joe Sample. Our "surprise" for Max was bringing Joe Sample (who flew in from Korea!) to surprise and perform with him. [Pictured: DJ Gary Bergeson, Tony, Max, Joe]

A great moment, and a great evening. Happy birthday Max (and KSBR!)

[Want to hear a voicemail capture of the moment Max's wife, Terry, brought Joe to see Max for the first time right before the concert? Very fun…click HERE]

Its Birthday Bash weekend!  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

Every Memorial Day Weekend for the last 19 years(!) I have had the distinct priviledge of hosting the KSBR 88.5 Birthday Bash, a jazz concert unlike any other in the world. Why is it so different? Because there are about 30 headlining jazz artists each year who come to play - the top names in the business - but they come without their bands and without any rehearsal. They come to jam!

99% of the time, when an artist appears in concert, its with their own well-rehearsed band, playing music they've prepared for some time. At this event, these major artists come together to play each other's music - and they are seeing this music for the first time on stage in front of thousands. No rehearsal, no prep time, no idea of what to expect. It is the ultimate showing of world class musicianship. And its a blast!

Unless you're into jazz, you may not know these names, but artists like Larry Carlton, Bob James, Tom Scott, Joe Sample and literally hundreds more have graced the Bash stage at one time or another. (If you don't know jazz artists, imagine a concert where the band consisted of Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Celine, Billy Joel...etc. The Bash features the 'stars' of the contemporary jazz world.)

I've been with it since the beginning, watching it grow from a small ensemble and audience of about 75 people to becoming one of the most popular jazz festivals around, both with the artists and the audience (which now numbers in the thousands). The concert raises funds to help keep KSBR 88.5, a publicly supported jazz station, on the air.

If you haven't been, make this the year (its THIS Sunday, May 25, 5:30-9:30pm). This is the first year in a new location. You can get tickets through the station or at the event. (Info at KSBR.NET)

Here's a couple videos from previous years. . .remember, none of it was rehearsed, just created on the spot in front of thousands of people!

(If you don't see the videos and only see black space, click in that space and it will take you to the YouTube video)

My Niece  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

My niece, Alina, who was recently a regular on Days of Our Lives, just filmed a pilot for Fox. It just got picked up for next season. It's called "Outnumbered" and is based on a hit British TV show ("Office", anyone?!?) AND, get this, when the new season starts, it will immediately follow American Idol...!


She's the only little girl in the clip.
Actually looks like a really funny show.
My favorite line of hers: "You killed my childhood, mommy."
Can't wait to hear her use that line against my sister.

Yes, Ella's favorite playmate is officially making more money than her entire extended family combined.

(The picture is Ella & Alina in Ella's playroom)


Posted by Tony Guerrero

I love making music. Some guys tend to specialize - for example, my friend Keith does a lot of things very well, but probably could be happy just producing CDs the rest of his life. Others just like to play...or tour...or write. I love it all. I love being in the studio, I love writing, I love touring, I love playing live - I just love making music. This blog is just a little about producing.

I'm certainly not the world's greatest producer, but I enjoy doing it and I enjoy the process. I am currently reading a book by one of the legends in the field, Phil Ramone - he's produced/recorded everyone from John Coltrane to Elton John. He points out that very few people actually know what a producer does. It can be anything from organizing the session to booking the studio to creating the arrangements to choosing the musicians to dictating the tempo of a song to telling the singer to try again - all with the intention of making the "artist" sound their absolute best.

Phil tells a story that illustrates one of my favorite aspects of producing: finding the hidden potential in songs. It turns out that, back in the 70's, everyone in Billy Joel's band, including Billy, HATED the song "Just The Way You Are" and had no intention of recording it. It was Phil who, after several power struggles and fights (instruments being thrown!) finally insisted it would be recorded and included on the album. The song ended up winning the Grammy for "Song of the Year" and has since been the most popular of Billy Joel's songs. Part of why the band hated it was the way they were playing it - they were using a cheezy latin cha-cha beat. Phil changed the beat and the instrumentation, and voila, a classic is born.

Every year, the SongSeeker project I produce involves sifting through about 150-200 submissions. Because songs can cost thousands to record well and songwriters don't often have that kind of money, some of the recordings we get are, well, awful (we encourage people to send in even the worst demos - just send it!). It is the producer's job to hear past the demo recording and imagine the hidden potential of a song. Often, in the selection process, I find myself having to convince people in the selection committee to give songs 2nd, 3rd, even 10th chances.

I've uploaded an example of taking a song from "demo" to "final" from SongSeeker 2006 just for my blog readers. CLICK HERE

The lost week...  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

Once a year I produce a CD of new songs submitted by writers from all over the country and beyond. While most CDs usually take months to complete, this one happens in less than one week! I'll write more about it once I'm done, but I thought you'd want to see the basic view I've been staring at 24 hours a day this entire week...my studio computer. Send coffee.

Dare me, will you?  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

A friend saw this picture and dared me to put it on the web.

So, here it is. (Click on it to see it full size)

Yep, its all there:
1. Awesome fro-mullet? Check.
2. Rad half-pant with matching coat? Check.
3. Big round 80's glasses? Check.
4. Dangly earing? Check.
5. Buckles on my boots? Check.
6. Cheezy mustache? Yep.
7. Vanilla Ice shoulder pads? Yesh.
8. Louis Armstrong tee-shirt? You betcha.

This was taken while on tour with my band somewhere in the midwest circa 1989-90 (18/19 years ago!!). The best thing about that suit is that somewhere I have a picture from a concert I played where, because of the dark lighting, it looks like I'm missing a leg. Neat.

70 years later...still swingin'!  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

On this very day 70 years ago (May 2, 1938), jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald recorded her first big hit "A Tisket A Tasket" with the Chick Webb Orchestra. You still hear Ella's influence on singers today, not just in jazz but in pop, R&B and Hip-Hop as well. Enjoy the true Queen of Soul.

[If all you see is black space, click in the space and it will take you to the clip on YouTube]