Dali & Van Gogh & Marcinek & Dillon — OH MY!
Saturday, December 12, turned into its own little music and arts festival, with plenty of both on hand. Our adventure began at the magnificent Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. The museum houses a world-class collection of Dali’s works, absolutely mind-blowing. And the museum often runs exhibits of works by artists such at Frida Kahlo, Rene Magritte, M.C. Escher, and Marcel Duchamp.
The current exhibit is absolutely stunning: the works of Vincent Willem van Gogh displayed floor to ceiling on dozens of walls — and many on the floors as well. The program runs more than half an hour as more than 3000 images are displayed in this immersive art installation, complemented by a magnificent classical soundtrack.
From there, we headed to Clearwater to catch another program in the series of shows courtesy of Clearwater Jazz Holiday called CJH Presents Wanderlust. The main performer for the evening was Joe Marcinek, a gifted guitarist and singer from Indiana who makes a habit of running all around the U.S. putting together combos of A-list musicians of all sorts, including George Porter Jr., Jason Hann, Tony Hall, and more. Marcinek is adept at blues, jazz, funk, rock, and jam.
For the evening, he had recruited outstanding local talent: Austin Llewellyn (Row Jomah), keyboards; Michael Garrie, drums; Tucker Sody (Future Vintage), drums; Vinny Svoboda (Anthill Cinema), bass; Juanjamon (The Juanjamon Band, CopE), tenor saxophone; Chris Sgammato, alto saxophone and vocals; and Rochelle Siddiq, vocals.
It was a lovely evening at the open-air Station Square Park in downtown Clearwater. Amenities included a salad and adult beverage when we entered and freshly-baked cookies when we left, and there are several food and beverage choices for purchase. But the main event was, of course, the music.
The Hoosier honored his home state first with a new tune, “Terre Haute Blues,” before playing one of his signature songs, “Mojo,” from his album JMIII. Here was an ensemble of seven musicians who all knew each other but had never played before as a unit; you would never have known. This performance was seamless. Next Marcinek turned Sgammato loose to sing The Zutons’ smash tune “Valerie,” clearly a fan favorite. On Marcinek original “Funnily,” Sgammato used his alto sax effects pedal for his solo.
The dual drumming of Garrie and Sody along with Svoboda’s bass complemented every song played. On most of the tunes, Marcinek called on musicians to step out for solos, including Llewellyn, who alternately played organ, electric piano, clavinet, and synths.
Also, at some point during an alto solo, Sgammato ran off stage down into a crowd of dancers, which also involved hugging his mom!
Marcinek next called up vocalist Rochelle Siddiq, who did a fine job on “That’s What Love Will Make You Do.” And the best song of the set clearly was Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” Svoboda dug deep in the pocket on bass, driving the tune along with the drums, and Juanjamon blew a superb tenor solo. Siddiq put real gusto into this one. End of set one!
Another fine new Marcinek composition, “Dance Factory,” launched set two with excellent outings from Sgammato, Llewellyn, and Juanjamon. Next up was “Soffa” from the guitarist’s sophomore album Slink. The trippy tune featured great drums and a fine duet between alto and tenor saxes.
It was Sgammato’s turn to sing again, this time with iconic “Let’s Get It On.” Juanjamon soloed, and Marcinek’s feature was just so sweet. They returned to Slink for the other signature Marcinek song, “George Washington” (which I still contend was one of 2016’s best songs). Llewellyn crushed, Sgammato and Juanjamon wrangled again, and Svoboda knocked it out of the park.
Siddiq returned for a moving “Use Me.” Llewellyn soloed first, and Juanjamon played a lovely coda before the mood yielded to the opening notes of “Shakedown Street,” and it was a straight-up dance party, Siddiq and Marcinek on vocals. Everybody took a turn during this outstanding, long jam. Svoboda crushed, and the drums did “Drumz”!
The MC got the crowd frenzied enough to bring ’em back for one more. Marcinek began with a lovely solo guitar feature on “White Christmas,” but before long he stopped, and the band jumped immediately onto “Turn On Your Lovelight,” Siddiq and Marcinek with the call-and-response vocals, a beautiful way to end a beautiful show.
[SET 1: Terre Haute Blues, Mojo, Valarie, Funnily, That’s What Love Will Make You Do, I Wish; SET 2: Dance Factory, Soffa, Let’s Get it On, George Washington, Use Me, Shakedown Street, White Christmas > Turn On Your Lovelight]
The setup by Clearwater Jazz Holiday was again excellent, including a goodie bag, a nice salad, and an adult beverage upon arrival. The sound for the show was a bit muddy but adequate. Great thanks to Jeffrey Moellering (snapzalot.com) for the great photographs. And finally a great thanks to Jessica Majeski, one of the main sponsors of the event!
It was time to jump in the car and jet all the way up to Dunedin Brewery (four whole miles) to catch the second set with Mike Dillon and Brendan Bull. This was the fifth of seven shows on their Southeast run. Dillon’s setup included (this list is not exhaustive) vibes, several synth devices, and some percussion instruments. Bull was seated at drum kit but also had vibes set up as well.
Set two began with Dillon’s take on the NIN song “Hurt,” truly beautiful. From there on, song names are a guess, and this was a full-on punk metal jazz show from The Vibraphone Destroyer and Bull. Next was a song from brand new album 1918, then a tune with a distinct Latin “vibe” to it. Bull switched to vibes for that one, then back to kit for a really heavy tune with lyrics about a “magic lantern.” A softer tune followed, taken from another new album, Suitcase Man.
“Tiny Pink Ass” was about, well, you know. Another new one from Suitcase Man followed, then a couple of things, including “Mother was a teacher.” Names didn’t matter much; it was a titanic, stream-of-consciousness performance from both players. I had seen Bull before, but in the intimate setting at Dunedin (30 patrons max inside), we could reach out and touch him (almost), and he had a spectacular night on drum kit supporting Dillon’s music and also on vibes. It was obvious to see why Dillon wants him on stage with him.
Like “Hurt,” “Air B n B in Arabi” is also from Rosewood, an album released earlier this year. Then there was a song about Jazz Fest, or maybe that was a rant, because few people can match Dillon rant for rant. He said he was sick of people being killed (aren’t we all?). Next, there was a brief portion of Frank Zappa’s “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” Dillon talked about playing free jazz and Zappa music. He told us about touring with Don Preston, a member of the original Mothers of Invention, and about getting a vibraphone from Ed Mann, a player for the last dozen years of Zappa’s performing career.
There was another Rosewood tune, followed by a singalong from also from that album, “Bonobo,” whose refrain is “Are you fucking up, or are you fucking down?” Eventually, the set closed with a song about a quarantine body. I have no idea what it means. I only know that Dillon and Bull rearranged my head again!
The wait staff at Dunedin Brewery is superb, and sound engineer Chris Fama did well. It was a tad loud, but I suspect that was not his doing. And brewery proprietor Michael Lyn Bryant live-streamed the first set!