Been pretty busy, and I didn’t even do all I’d planned to do. Sunday was a very rainy day, with a flash flood advisory and serious flooding in many parts of Long Beach. The Fox Coffee House, one of my main hangs, took on some serious water and will probably not reopen until next week.
While the rain was exciting, and will be the source of its own blog entry in the near future, and it gave me an enforced chance to rest my body a bit, it did have a big downside. I had purchased tickets to see Cindy Alexander at the Hotel Cafe that night. Cindy is a beautiful and talented singer/songwriter that I followed religiously for several years earlier in this century, seeing her many times in many venues, but haven’t seen her perform in eleven or twelve years. Since I saw her last she had married, become the mother of twins, and survived a breast cancer episode that resulted in a double-mastectomy. She has come through it all just as lovely and stronger than ever, and has just released her eighth studio album, “Deep Waters“. I was looking forward very much to catching up with her, but the closed freeways and general turmoil kept me home. Now she is off to the east on her tour with no local dates scheduled in the near future. So sad!
Monday was another rainy day, and I again stayed close to home. Two of my local favorites, Samantha Parker and Deja Nichole, were scheduled to perform at a singer/songwriter showcase at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood, but I was feeling a bit under the weather and not up to a trip to the valley, so I again stayed home.
I had plans for Tuesday night as well, and this time I followed through. My friend James Combs, the nicest man in music, was playing with his band Great Willow at one of my favorite (and world’s smallest) honky-tonks, the Cinema Bar in Culver City. Great Willow is the latest of several collaborations that James has had over the years involving sweet-singing (and the world’s best whistler) Erin Hawkins. I have seen them a couple of times in minimal settings, and this was the first time I got to see them as an entire band; I was not disappointed and had a very nice evening out.
Wednesday began with my breakfast at Steelhead and then a trip up to Culver City for the funeral of Paula Adele Unger Boelsems, aka Paula Dell. Paula is the daring young lady flying through the air on the cover of “Los Angeles: Portrait of a City“. That picture was shot in 1954 at the Original Muscle Beach (OMB), and Paula was the queen of OMB. I didn’t meet Paula until 1977, but while she may have transitioned from queen to grand dame, she was still flying high. Paula was an acrobat, a circus performer, a pioneering stuntwoman (she was shot from a cannon in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”), a private pilot, a mover/shaker/official of the International Federation of Sports Acrobatics (now known as Acrobatic Gymnastics), and generally beloved by all who knew her. I had the privilege of working with and learning from both Paula and her long-time partner, Russ Saunders, in my early days at Muscle Beach, and the honor of serving as a pall-bearer at both of their funerals.
This was definitely a bittersweet affair. On the one hand we mourn her passing, but on the other hers was a long life well lived and the occasion of her funeral was an opportunity for many old friends to reunite. I had known Paula for 40 years, but there were others who had known her for 50 or even 60 years. Just as musicians in New Orleans have jazz funerals, acrobats have acro funerals, and our remembrance would not have been complete without the dual handstand salute by David Floyd, Bonnie Morgan, Jack Kalvan, and Jeri Habberstad Kalvan. The highlight, however, may have been the graveside demonstration by Paula’s older sister Rosalie (93 years young) that she can still stand on her hands.
Then on Wednesday night I drove into Hollywood to the famous Whisky a Go Go to see the showcase performance by Cameo Adele. Cameo is a soulful young singer from Anaheim who is part of the a cappella trio Bedlam Lullaby. I have written before about Bedlam Lullaby, but this time Cameo was featuring music from her own recently released CD “To You From Venus”. She is a dynamic performer and it was real treat to see her on the same stage that has been graced by performers like The Doors, Guns and Roses, and just about every big name in rock, with a full band behind her. Samantha (Bulls Daughter) Parks and Denicar Bergancia, her sisters from Bedlam Lullaby, provided backup vocals, and Victor Ujadughele played bass. Cameo also had a drummer, keyboard player, and a two man horn section.
I did capture some video, but the sound at the very front by the stage was not great. The bass is drowning out all the upper ranges. I am sure that the vocal quality could be improved by applying some equalization algorithm, but I have neither the know how or the tools to accomplish that at this point. If anyone else would like to clean it up for me I would love that! E-mail me if interested. Of course you can always check out Cameo on Soundcloud!