Tag Archives: Central Coast

Multi-talented Musician and Composer: Danny Pelfrey

25 Jul
Danny Pelfrey playing with Tower of Power

Danny Pelfrey playing with Tower of Power

Local musician Danny Pelfrey sat in on saxophone with Tower of Power’s superlative horn section during a performance at Castoro Winery on the Central Coast of California in September 2013. Founded in 1968, Tower of Power is known for their upbeat “urban soul music.” Danny used to be a regular member of the band, and took this fortuitous local performance for a rare reunion. Even though he no longer is in the band, Danny still executed all the synchronized, choreographed horn section moves.


When meeting with Danny for this article, his friendly, humble demeanor belied his musical talents and many accomplishments, awards and accolades. While his achievements and honors are too many to mention, some of the highlights include his having won two Emmys, with a total of nine nominations. He has six BMI Awards and a Video Premiere Award for Best Video for the animated film: Joseph, King of Dreams.


Danny related that he got his start playing guitar at age nine in his home state of West Virginia. He cited Chet Atkins as his first musical hero. Wanting to play with other musicians in the high school band, he took up the trumpet, on which he excelled.


He wrote his first musical arrangement at age 13, and with the encouragement of teachers, he began conducting. While still in high school, he began playing with big bands and jazz groups at a local college.


Danny attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music, the world’s foremost institute for the study of jazz and American music. He honed his performance skills, while also focusing on composing and arranging. He found the vibrant Boston music scene very inspiring.


Danny with Tower of Power

Danny with Tower of Power

After accepting a teaching job in Canada, Danny started playing with local musicians. Always fascinated with different instruments, he took up tabla, a type of Indian percussion instrument, which he played during performances with a sitar player. He continued to expand the many instruments he played to include flute and alto saxophone. He was particularly drawn to sax as it had the flexibility of woodwinds and the power of brass. This is the instrument for which Danny would become best known.


Danny moved to Los Angeles where he began doing session work and began touring with many prominent artists including Diana Ross, Carole King, Eric Clapton, Melissa Manchester and many others. He especially relished the time playing sax and guitar while touring the world with Carole King, as well as doing recordings and television specials with her. When asked about a particularly memorable experience, he recounted that he performed with Diana Ross during the infamous 1983 deluge of Central Park in New York City. During the increasingly heavy downpour and lightning, the band members had to flee on foot to get back to their hotel.


Danny has recorded with such stellar musicians as Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, and was a producer for Usher, Brad Paisley, Lee Ann Rimes, Ashanti, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, and numerous others.

Danny said he was “extremely blessed to have a rich and varied musical career.” He played as a soloist on numerous television shows such as the Wonder Years, Arsenio Hall, David Letterman, The Tonight Show and Rosanne. In addition, he was the score composer for many popular television shows in the United States, wrote commercials for large companies such as Nissan, Toyota, Ford and California Lottery, and has composed a variety of music which can be heard in worldwide. He has also written music for more than 50 interactive games including a Star Trek series. His concert works have been performed by the Knoxville Symphony, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, and the National Symphony Orchestra. He has shared concert programs with John Williams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Igor Stravinsky, and Charles Ives. Danny shared that he particularly enjoyed writing “rich and soulful music.”


Moving to the Central Coast of California in 2009, Danny found the local music scene “very vibrant.” He noted that Cal Poly Performing Arts Center (PAC) brings in excellent quality entertainment. He was primarily spending his time composing, arranging and producing for various media. He was also playing sax with the BarFlyz, which consisted of Kenny Lee Lewis (guitarist for Steve Miller Band), Diane Steinberg Lewis (award-winning pianist and vocalist), Ken Hustad (bass), and Dean Giles (drums.) The Barflyz play pop-cabaret music including jazz, pop, Latin, Broadway and television tunes, and blues. Danny also played with the popular Central Coast band, Human Nature, which features world-inspired music, where he replace original band member, Dave Becker, who relocated to Florida. The band has a diverse repertoire including jazz, samba, funk, Americana, with some original songs written by group leader, Adam Levine, another graduate of the Berklee College of Music.


Danny relatively recently moved to music-centric Nashville where he continues his many musical projects. Current Music recently added Danny’s AMUSICOM to their playlist of quality, downloadable music.


Patience and Tenacity: Requirements for Obtaining a Spanish Residential Visa

26 Jul

Get ready to have your patience and tenacity tested if you are planning on applying for a Spanish visa. The application process is like a moving target. This is my second post on my experience in getting a non-lucrative residential visa, sometimes known as a retirement visa, to reside in Spain. In my last post, I discussed my experiences with the sometimes idiosyncratic application process, which can differ depending on which Spanish consulate where one is required to apply.

Once I arrived in Spain in March 2014 with my approval for a Spanish visa, I immediately sought permanent housing which was necessary to complete the requirements to obtain the visa and get my NIE (national identification number.) As I have found with most tasks involving the Spanish bureaucracy, one can expect to have multiple attempts before successful completion. For example, when I went to the local “ayuntamiento,” town hall, to register the address where I was living, I was given changing requirements. First, they said the address of my rental I gave them didn’t exist, even though that is the address used by the owners to pay taxes. The owners suggested an alternate address, which was successful, and they provided me with a statement that I was renting from them. Next the ayuntamiento worker assigned me the new task of getting a copy of the trash bill which showed the owner’s name, as well as a copy of his identification. After four trips, I was successful for what I initially thought was going to be an easy task. That set the tone, or should I say pace, of the next steps.

Next, I went on the required governmental website to get an appointment to get my fingerprints and submit my paperwork. This appointment had to occur in Alicante, about an hour’s drive from where I live in Altea. Thus I either had to rent a car or take the two hour tram. I chose the former. At the appointment, I brought all of the required documentation. The worker asked why I did not come to the appointment within the required time frame, which I recollect was around 45 days. I explained that the website issued me a specific date over which I had no control, which was almost two months beyond the deadline. Thankfully, that explanation was acceptable. Of interest, the woman who was processing my application turned to her colleague saying, “California dream,” apparently a dream they both shared. She could not understand why I would want to move to Spain from California. I explained my reasons and she was apparently satisfied, but still had difficulty fathoming.

Whereas I was initially informed by local officials in Altea that I would be given my visa at that appointment in Alicante, at the end of it, I was told I needed to return in exactly 30 to 45 days in person, with my U.S. passport. On June 30, with low expectations, I returned to the Alicante National Police. I was pleased and surprised to find my visa card ready. With that, I now had my NIE number, necessary for almost everything, including such things as getting internet at home, receiving shipped packages, etc.

I noticed the expiration date on my newly issued visa was March 11, 2015, the date I initially applied after arriving in Spain. So starting in late January 2015, I began working on the application for the first renewal of my residential visa. Not surprisingly, I encountered more bureaucratic twists and turns, which will be the focus of my next post.


27 Jul
Brett and Julia Mitchell performing

Brett and Julia Mitchell performing

Brett and Julia Mitchell make beautiful music together…and apart. But how these two got to their shared lives as local musicians took each down very different paths. Speaking at their comfortable family home, Julia shared she didn’t start singing professionally until around 1993 when a friend, local jazz singer, Jim Conroy, heard her harmonizing to his vocals from the audience. He called her on stage to harmonize with him to the song, On the Boardwalk. Thereafter she occasionally sang with Jim. Three years later, she met Brett, who composes, sings and plays keyboards. He was so impressed with her deep, rich vocals that he sought to make her a featured singer and his wife. Julia primarily performs with Brett in duets or as a vocalist in one of the groups in which he plays. Her versatile vocals, primarily jazz, pop and from the Great American Songbook, resonate with the hearts of her listeners. She is best known for performing songs of female jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Diana Krall, Roberta Flack, and Joni Mitchell. She was featured at the Cambria Jazz Festival, the Jazz Federation “Diva” concert, and the Central Coast Follies.

Brett and Julia

Brett and Julia

Julia’s relatively late start as a professional musician belies her early love and involvement with music. When she was around age six, she and her brother started playing violin and viola, and their father, the cello. As a child growing up in Thousand Oaks, Julia loved playing in the local youth symphony, as well as attending concerts, opera and operettas, dressed in her finery. She relished visits from her Spanish cousins when the whole family would sing “in multiple layers of harmony.” Julia occasionally sang as young adult, but then pursued other interests until years later when she started singing professionally on the Central Coast.

While growing up in Oklahoma City, Brett started playing piano at age 12 and then percussion in the school band. By 15, he reported he was writing and performing music professionally, at a spot on the old Route 66. At 16 he began following his interests in acting which continued through his college studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where Olympia Dukakis was one of his acting instructors. At NYU, Brett also continued to pursue his musical interests. He and his friend/classmate, Melissa Manchester (later a Grammy-award winning artist), wrote music together as part of an application to a class taught by famed musician Paul Simon; they succeeded. Brett remembers this as an exciting time in music and theatre. While at NYU, Brett wrote the music for two musicals and the score for a student film, and he was a member of the BMI musical theater workshop, taught by famed conductor Lehman Engel. After college he acted with the North Carolina Repertory Theatre, but his passion for music pulled him back toward that career direction, eventually taking him to Southern California. Brett’s music is influenced by varied musical genres, including rock, pop, jazz, Broadway and the Great American Songbook.

Knowing some musicians who lived on the Central Coast, in 1986 Brett decided to relocate there from Southern California. He initially performed with his friends, Craig Nuttycombe (currently of Café Musique) and Peter Yelda (guitarist and former co-owner of Blue Note.). Brett began his local solo career playing at the Inn at Morro Bay. During solo performances, he surveys the crowd and tailors his musical selections to the audience make-up. Currently, he stays busy playing with several local bands. When forming a band Brett joked that he considers “the old guard of usual suspects.” On February 9th, Brett will be performing with his new group, the Kings of Cool (formerly Franks & Deans), at D’Anbino Vineyard and Cellars Tasting Room. The Kings of Cool draw from the music and improvisation of the “Rat Pack”. Besides Brett, other vocals and repartee are performed by Steve McAndrew, Chad Stevens and Bobby Horn.

This year, Brett has been showcasing his original compositions. Accompanying Brett were Ken Hustad on bass, Darrell Voss on drums/percussion, Danny Weiss on guitar, Diane Steinberg-Lewis on vocals and keyboard, and Kim Wilkins on viola. George Wilkins, Kim’s husband, is helping Brett with arrangements. Before moving to the Central Coast, George Wilkins spent over seven years as a Composer in Residence at Walt Disney Productions and Director of Music for Walt Disney Engineering. In addition, George is a composer, arranger and orchestrator who has worked with many top recording artists and headline acts.

Human Nation

Human Nation

As a member of the popular local group, Human Nation, Brett is looking forward to the release of their CD which is scheduled for later this year. Human Nation is comprised of stellar musicians: Adam Levine, composer/arranger on electric and acoustic guitar; Danny Pelfrey (formerly with Tower of Power); Bill Wingfield on acoustic and electric bass; and Dean Giles on drums and percussion. Human Nation’s music draws from jazz, blues, Latin and funk melded with world rhythms.



Counterpoint is a cabaret-style group, featuring vocalists Steve McAndrew, Karinda Scott, as well as Brett and Julia, that performs favorites by groups like Earth, Wind and Fire, Christopher Cross, James Taylor, the Doobie Brothers and the Great American Songbook. Brett plays piano, with Adam Levine on guitar, and Ken Hustad on bass. Brett also performs locally with the trio, No Ego Amigos, who play a wide variety of musical styles at such venues as D’Anbino and the Bellasera Hotel in Paso Robles. Brett’s tangible achievements include ten CDs and composing the main theme for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival


26 Jul
Dawn Lambeth

Dawn Lambeth

Listening to Dawn Lambeth’s rhythmic, joyful jazz vocals, one would be surprised to learn that she was initially had no plans to become a musician. Her unique vocals emphasize simple, but pure jazz and swing from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Her humble, gentle countenance belies the fact that she has received admiring reviews from jazz historians and hosts of NPR music programs, been compared to such greats as Jo Stafford and Maxine Sullivan, and enjoyed national and international airplay.

Dawn grew up in upstate New York where she started taking traditional piano and violin lessons around age 10. In junior high school, she started singing in school and jazz choirs, as well as musicals at her church. In spite of a love for music, she didn’t feel confident enough to major in music and instead pursued a Liberal Arts degree with a music focus at Boston College. Since she was not a music conservatory student, her musical studies were primarily classes like jazz improvisation and music theory. She focused on piano, having not yet found her singing voice and style.

After graduating from college, Dawn had good friends who were musicians who encouraged her to be a “lounge singer” in a small band on a cruise ship. She didn’t find the music the band played to fit her style, although she admitted she had not yet found the musical genre she would eventually embrace. After six weeks performing, the cruise ship crashed (then very uncommon), which she took as “a sign” concluding that she was done with the music business. Seeking a more marketable degree, Dawn returned to college to study computer science.

While attending college in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, “the same musician friends” asked Dawn to play piano in their salsa band. They typically performed two to three times a week for dedicated salsa dancers. Through those musicians, she became friends with band members in a New Orleans style jazz band. When their regular pianist went on tour with Leon Redbone, Dawn would substitute. As the group atmosphere was “relaxed”, all the musicians, regardless of experience, sang, including Dawn. This was when she developed her passion for 1920s and 30s American music, which led to her searching for both familiar and lesser known songs.

At the last minute, in 2000, Dawn was invited to substitute for a musician who couldn’t make it to a music festival in the Monterey area. There she met her future husband, Marc Caparone, who was subbing on trumpet in another band. His regular “gig” was working at the family’s Paso Robles Caparone Winery where he and his father are winemakers. Dawn relocated to the Central Coast in May 2001 at which time she began performing at West Coast festivals with bands she knew from Pittsburg (Pennsylvania) and with her husband. Once on the Central Coast, Dawn also started developing her solo act. She started playing piano and singing at GiGi’s (now closed) during Thursday night Farmers’ market in San Luis Obispo. She performed regularly at the former Vinoteca wine bar in Paso Robles to admiring fans. Dawn’s elegant, yet personal style gives the listener the feeling of being part of a small, intimate audience.

Besides her solo performances, she sing and plays piano with she and her husband’s band, The Usonia Jazz Band, which usually consists of Dawn, her husband, Marc on cornet and occasionally bass, his father, Dave, on trombone, Mike Swann on bass, and often Karl Welz on saxophone. As a soloist and in Usonia, Dawn has performed in a variety of venues including at Hearst Castle, the historic Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island, and Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. as well as local bars, art shows, and private parties including weddings and wineries. Her most memorable experience was performing as one of the select invited musicians at a New Orleans style jazz festival in Osaka, Japan.

Dawn Lambeth

Dawn Lambeth

Dawn continues to play select local venues after the births of her two young children. She is scheduled at Pear Valley Vineyard, which describes her as a “favorite” in their summer concert series, on September 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Sunday September 22, she will be opening the North SLO County Concert Association’s 2013-2014 concert series at Trinity Lutheran Church in Paso Robles at 3p.m. Dawn noted her new favorite venues are private intimate performances at people’s homes or other small gatherings, such as potlucks or dessert concerts, where family and friends can relax and enjoy her music. Dawn’s upcoming performances and contact information can be found at www.dawnlambeth.com.

courtesy: www.slocoastjournal.com


25 Jul
Jody Mulgrew credit: Jacob Mendez

Jody Mulgrew
credit: Jacob Mendez

Jody Mulgrew has come full circle—returning to his home turf of the Central Coast of California where he woos audiences with his stirring vocals and deftly-played guitar. He performs solo, as well as in a number of groups including Jody Mulgrew and the Skeleton Crew, and the Girls and Boys. He also enjoys writing music and performing with other individual musicians. Jody performs many of his own songs with his music being influenced by Sam Cooke, The Everly Brothers, k.d.lang, Smokey Robinson or anyone who is “a good singer with a good song.” He views his voice as his primary instrument, with a focus on music that is “heartfelt” and “easy to listen to.”

The Skeleton Crew features many of his original songs, but with more of an emphasis on danceable music than during his solo performances. The group plays top rock, rockabilly, Sam Cooke, Steve Earl, and music with “a little bit of twang in it and a little bit of sizzle.” Jody notes the Bay Area-based Girls and Boys band have a great female lead singer, Brianna Lee. The group tours the West Coast. When on the Central Coast, they play alternative rock and Americana along with other styles of music. Jody also relishes the opportunity to perform with the talented Nataly Lola at the Paso Robles Inn’s Cattleman’s Lounge. Recently, Jody has relished working with his “old singing and song-writing buddies,” including Gary Garrett, who lives in San Francisco. Jody described Gary’s music as “thoughtful and humorous,” noting that their two voices blend well.

In April 2013, Jody attended a songwriter’s week in Nashville. When asked if he had received any awards, Jody revealed he was nationally recognized for his songwriting. He received the Abe Oleman award for excellence in songwriting by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Jody explained that this is a national award, and it was not something he applied for; rather “they found me.” He is thrilled that the award is signed by the current leader of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Jimmy Webb (composer of By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Up, Up and Away and many more hits.) He was also recognized by the Durango Songwriter’s Expo for his song, I Will Not Fall in Love with You Again. The prize for that win was the opportunity to write a song with hit maker, Shawn Mullins. In 2011, local New Times readers voted Jody’s Rocket Ship, the best new album.

Raised in Morro Bay, California, as a young boy, Jody remembers climbing into a self-built “fort” where he would sing along with the radio. In school, he sang in choirs in school before attending Cal State Northridge where he naturally majored in music. After graduating he spent a few years cutting his teeth in the L.A. music scene, and touring throughout the United States and Europe before he and his wife decided to return to their home turf on the Central Coast.

Jody Mulgrew - Brick - by - Brittany App HI

Jody Mulgrew
credit: Brittany App

The now disbanded group, Johnny Starlings, was one of Jody’s early musical ventures. He and fellow musician, Yohei Shikano, created a full-length album, Aiming Too High. They also composed the song, Slow Dance, sung by Inga Swearingen, which was featured on the nationally syndicated radio program, A Prairie Home Companion.

Besides his many gigs, Jody volunteers in local Elementary and Special Day Classes. His eyes lit up as he described a memorable experience he had the prior day. In this class the students are mostly non-verbal. The children were given percussion-type instruments to play. When it came to an appropriate spot during the Bob Marley song, “one little guy” suddenly shined when launching into an energetic, on tempo, drum solo.

Some of Jody’s favorite local performance venues are the Pony Club in Paso Robles and the Cambria Pines Lodge. Jody smiled as he cited the large oak tree that covers the Pony Club patio as contributing to the good vibe. Jody feels dancers inspire and energize his playing, noting that there are often great dancers at the Cambria Pines Lodge.

Jody’s playful nature and other upcoming performances can be found on his website jodymulgrew.com where he describes he fondness of “fondling figuoas” at the local Farmer’s Market.

courtesy: www.slocoastjournal.com


23 Jul
Linda Drake

Linda Drake

San Luis Obispo (SLO) County, in the beautiful Central Coast of California, is home to one of the premier social dance scenes in the United States. Social dance is a category of dance styles which can be performed with a variety of partners in a relaxed, social setting. While many people think this type of dancing if primarily for competition, locally less than 5% of the dancers are competing; the rest of the dancers are doing it simply for fun. Some of the dances taught here on the Central Coast include East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Argentine tango, foxtrot, rumba, salsa, waltz, cha cha, nightclub, the hustle, two-step, country and western, ballroom and more. While many people feel intimidated at the prospect of what sounds like complicated dances, the reality is learning these dances are readily attainable.

Some of the best local dance classes are offered by the fun and nimble-footed Linda Drake through SLO Dance. Linda offers over 20 years of local professional dance teaching experience. Linda and the other dance teachers include a number of nationally-recognized award-winners.  There are classes of all levels, including many beginning classes. She and her other SLO Dance teachers provide skills, patience in a friendly, fun atmosphere which makes it possible for anyone to learn to dance. Linda shared her oldest student was at least 84 and her youngest age 12. Many of the skilled dancers at such public venues as concerts in Mission Plaza, Templeton Park, Paso Robles Park, and Arroyo Grande Park have taken dance lessons from SLO Dance or other local dance teachers.

Linda started dancing with her high school drill team. She entered and did well at the Miss Dance Competition, even though she had no formal dance training. At age 18, she was hired to teach at an Arthur Murray Dance studio.  While teaching there, Linda received the coveted Top Female Instructor in the Nation award. She has also been awarded Top Professional Instructor by the World Dance-O-Rama. In order to compete professionally, she had to leave Arthur Murray, which was a difficult decision. Her decision was rewarded when her professional dance career got off to a stellar start when she became the National East Coast Swing, Jack and Jill Champion in 1984. Throughout the 1990s, she was consistently ranked in the top six female competitors in West Coast Swing. She also had the honor of choreographing several PBS dance specials including Dancing through the Decades. She also opened her own business teaching dance in Southern California, and in 1993, twenty years ago, she started teaching in San Luis Obispo.  Linda continues to participate in some dance competitions, as do a number of her teachers.

Lessons through SLO Dance occur weekly on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Oddfellows’ Hall near downtown San Luis Obispo. Classes are offered either in a series of successive classes, or tailored to be a “drop in class.” Generally, two different classes are offered at the same time, but in different rooms, with a total of six classes offered each evening. SLO Dance also hosts monthly themed dance parties at the Oddfellows’ Hall. Linda has been doing local monthly “Dance Invasions” with her students at such dance-friendly venues as The Madonna Inn and Big Chill Night.  On a designated Friday or Saturday, people initially meet for a dance class, such as East Coast Swing or foxtrot, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and then Linda and the dancers venture as a group to the planned Dance Invasion site. This is a way for dancers to try their new dance skills in the reassuring company of their dance classmates. In addition, SLO Dance offers free dance lessons a half hour prior to the start of the monthly Saturday SLO Blues Society concerts, which gives the person a chance to practice the new steps learned.

Kaye Bohler

Kaye Bohler

Linda especially enjoys opportunities for her students to dance to live music. She likes to schedule Dance Invasions with live bands which play danceable music. To that end, on May 11, 2013 she scheduled a Dance Invasion is scheduled for the dynamic, sassy blue’s performance of Kaye Bohler at the May SLO Blues Society concert. Kaye sings “blues-flavored soul and R&B reminiscent of Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.” Kaye’s 2011 CD Like a Flower was named one of the best by Downbeat Magazine. When interviewed prior to the concert, Kaye stated she was eagerly looking forward to returning to play in San Luis Obispo County where she previously lived and performed. Her upcoming performance starts at 8:00 p.m. at the SLO Vets Hall in San Luis Obispo. Kaye also performs throughout California and other West Coast locales.

Cal Poly Sport Dance Team at Madonna Inn

Cal Poly Sport Dance Team at Madonna Inn

Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) in San Luis Obispo also has an active dance teaching and performance community. About ten years ago, Chris Ellwood started out taking lessons at Cal Poly, then became the President and eventually started a dance competition team. Even though he is no longer a student, he is the Director of the Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Club and Sports Team.  They provide weekly lessons at the Architecture Building for all ages; Chris noted that they have retirees who regularly take lessons. A variety of classes are taught including samba, waltz, paso doble, salsa, mambo, nightclub two-step, rumba, East and West Coast Swing, foxtrot, cha cha, and American and Argentine tango. Every February, Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Club offers an annual competition which attracts approximately 300 dancers. More info is available at  www.cpdancesport.org/comp. SLO Swing, also consisting of Cal Poly students, features Lindy Hop, which is sometimes referred to as the original swing dance. Lindy Hop started in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s, which evolved from jazz into a fusion of dance mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston. They sponsor a number of workshops and events including the Lindy Exchange.

Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango

Argentine tango is a sensual partner dance originated in the 1890s along the Rio de la Plata, the river separating Argentina and Uruguay.  It has become a popular dance worldwide. Laura Andes invites people to “come and share in my enthusiasm and passion for this spectacular and magical gift called Tango!” She noted that for a community this size that there is a very active tango community, typically with five or six tango events per week, including lessons, practicas, and more. Laura’s dedication to authentic Argentine tango led her to immerse herself in tango dance and culture by spending four weeks in Buenos Aires in 2009 and six weeks in 2011. By doing this, she became recognized as a regular at the Buenos Aires milongas, which allowed her to learn by dancing with true experts. She also enjoyed the opportunity to sample the incredibly bountiful selection of specialty tango shoes. Laura offers a class for students of all levels “by donation” the third Tuesday of each month.

Courtesy: www.slocoastjournal.com


23 Jul
D'Anbino Winery Concert Venue

D’Anbino Winery Concert Venue

Listening to nationally- and internationally acclaimed musicians is always a soul-stirring experience. What many San Luis Obispo County residents and visitors don’t realize is that there are such regular music offerings featuring the rich, deep musical talent that is available on the Central Coast of California.

D’Anbino Vineyard and Cellars’ tasting room is arguably the premier local venue on the Central Coast for live music. The owners, John D’Andrea and Carmine Rubino, had many years of successful, award-winning careers in recording, film, and television before moving to the Paso Robles area. Growing up together in an Italian neighborhood in New Jersey as brothers (even though John is actually Carmine’s nephew), several years ago they purchased a vacation property in Paso Robles for their extended family to relax in what they described as the friendly, cozy small-town atmosphere, away from the workaday bustle of Los Angeles. The vineyard and tasting room were not originally part of their plans, but at the suggestion of their realtor they decided to grow grapes and make wine. They combined their last names to name their winery.

Carmine’s son, Michael (a composer), and his wife, Sharon conceptualized the tasting room theme, focusing on music and displaying the many memorabilia and awards the men had acquired in their careers. The tasting bar cleverly incorporates parts of real pianos.  The elevated stage with state of the art sound and acoustics was originally only intended for the “Family Band’s” occasional performances for special events.  Carmine related that when many people visited the tasting room they would inquire when the music was being performed and were disappointed when told that there were only occasional shows. In the meantime, John and Carmine started live performances in conjunction with a monthly Paso Robles wine and arts event.

As musicians became aware of the caliber of the tasting room’s music-friendly atmosphere, they began asking to play there even though they receive little remuneration. These include local, talented musicians with impressive performance resumes, but also touring and other nationally known musicians who like to perform in this friendly, and relaxed, yet intimate, tasting room. Enhancing the music experience at D’Anbino’s is Carmine’s wealth of experience as a sound engineer which he uses to actively mix the music as it is performed.

Carmine Rubino and John D'Andrea

Carmine Rubino and John D’Andrea

D’Anbino is presently hosting the Central Coast Famous Jazz Artist Series with renowned vibraphonist, Charlie Shoemake, formerly with the George Shearing Quintet. Charlie manages to book legendary jazz musicians to perform D’Anbino’s  intimate setting. During a performance in San Luis Obispo in March 2013, Wynton Marsalis, gave recognition to Charlie as mentor to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s saxophonist, Ted Nash.

D’Anbino features their reasonably-priced seven red and rose wines crafted by Carmine from their Syrah and Cabernet grapes. Some of the wines have musical names such as Orchestration and Quadraphonic. Carmine shared a story about the Quadraphonic wine name. While working in a New York music studio, Carmine was the sound engineer for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show, which he did in “quadraphonic sound.” John Lennon, who was recording at the same studio, asked Carmine if he could remix John’s music in quadraphonic sound. Thereafter, John referred to Carmine as the “Quadfather,” which was around the time the movie, The Godfather, had become popular. John (D’Andrea) also has a storied history, originally being recruited to California to be the next teen idol, along with Frankie Avalon and Fabian, but when the Beatles hit the scene, young people’s interests changed. Besides playing the sax, John is an acclaimed musical arranger, composer and director. Memorabilia from John’s and Carmine’s activities and awards are on display.


Courtesy: www.slocoastjournal.com.


21 Jul
Adam Levine

Adam Levine

Meet Adam Levine! Not the front man for Maroon 5, but the local guitarist, composer and arranger who lives and performs on the Central Coast. His group, Human Nation, which has roots in jazz, blues, Latin and funk, melded with world rhythms, will be releasing their first CD later this year. Human Nation has performed to admiring followers at his favorite local venue, D’Anbino Vineyard and Cellars tasting room, as well as other wineries, the Paso Robles Ballroom, the Paso Robles City Park, and private functions. Adam’s precise finger work is featured in his upbeat composition Django’s Delight, an “homage to my guitar hero, Django Reinhardt,” the pioneering European virtuoso “gypsy” or “hot” guitarist.

Besides Adam on acoustic and electric guitar, other regular Human Nation band members include Danny Pelfry on sax, clarinet, flute and steel pan; Bill Wingfield on acoustic and electric bass; Brett Mitchell on keyboards; and Dean Giles on drums and percussion. Dave previously performed around the world as a bandleader and sideman on luxury cruises, at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, as well as with The Temptations, Manhattan Transfer, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Hamlisch. He presently teaches sax at Cuesta College. Bill started performing professionally at age 16. After a musical career hiatus, he returned to playing in 1999, and like Adam, he also has been an instructor at the National Guitar Workshop. Brett studied at NYU with many famed musicians including Paul Simon, and he wrote music with classmate/friend Melissa Manchester. (For detailed information on Brett, see the February 2013 Mostly Music column). Dean has worked with many successful artists, and recorded music for film, television, and commercials. The Human Nation CD was recorded locally and they are presently finishing mixing in Los Angeles where they were pleased to have Ron Wagner, percussionist with Cirque du Soleil, lay down tracks.

Before coming to the Central Coast, Adam played too many places to name, some highlights being Branson, Missouri (known as the “Live Music Show Capital of the World”), New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He does composing and arranging, and has done studio session work including Capitol, Warner Brothers, and Motown Records. His commercial credits include McDonalds, Taco Bell and television show such as “Cheers,” “Simon and Simon,” “Merv Griffin,” and “Lawrence Welk”. Following the birth of his son in 1995, Adam and his wife, a classical pianist, decided to move to the beautiful Central Coast, where they had previously visited, seeking a more family-oriented environment.

Adam expected to find a shortage good local music on the Central Coast. Instead, he was surprised by the many talented musicians with whom he has been able to work, and he is now busier than ever. In addition to Human Nation, he regularly plays in three other groups. Counterpoint is a cabaret-style group, primarily spotlighting Big Band and contemporary pop, featuring vocalists, Brett and Julia Mitchell, Mostly Music column), Karinda Scott, and Steve McAndrew, with Brett on keyboard, as well as Human Nation musicians Bill Wingfield and Dean Giles all comprising the core group. It is very common for musicians, especially those doing jazz, to perform with multiple groups. This is the case for the two groups, the No Ego Amigos, which features Adam, Brett Mitchell, and Mike Swan on bass; the other trio features Adam, Brett and Judy Philbin on vocals. Both trios draw from the Great American Songbook during their regular performances on Thursday evening at the La Bellasera Hotel conveniently located on the southern outskirts of Paso Robles. La Bellasera is an intimate venue where one can relax by the fire and enjoy food or drink while the band plays within a few feet of the audience’s seating. This locale has the added benefit of easy access, no cover charge, and an early starting time of 6:30 p.m.

Raised in Baltimore, Adam started playing guitar at the same time his father took up guitar. According to Adam, “my father turned me on to bossanova.” Then Adam discovered the Beatles and decided he would play guitar for a living. He has studied at the Berklee School of Music and the Aspen Music School. He has studied privately with the venerable Joe Pass, generally considered to be one of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century. Adam is passionate about teaching guitar, including at the Aspen Music School, Musician’s Institute and National Guitar Workshop in San Francisco, and the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, and currently with his local private students. Regarding his present 20 students, Adam relates, “I love teaching. It keeps me balanced.” His students have done on to play with such stars as Norah Jones, George Benson, and Celine Dion.

He also relishes collaborating with other local musicians, such as George Wilkins, whose many accomplishments include a seven year tenure as Composer in Residence at Walt Disney Production, as well as Director of Music for Walt Disney Imagineering. Adam shared that this past Christmas, he and Human Nation and other musicians got together for an impromptu jam session, which included George Wilkins performing rare vocals; Kenny Lee Lewis, former lead guitarist, now bassist with the Steve Miller Band; Danny Pelfry, former sax player with Tower of Power, on guitar this night; and Danny Weis, one of the founding members of Iron Butterfly.

Asked about memorable or amusing anecdotes, Adam recalled that when performing on the Merv Griffin Show, Scottish singer, and guitarist, Donovan, asked to borrow a “plektrum.” Unsure what that was, Adam offered his guitar pick; a lucky guess apparently, as the pick was never returned. Adam recalled another memorable incident during the opening night of the Lawrence Welk Show when the bubble machine went out of control, dropping soapy liquid onto the sheet music, causing the ink to run.

For more information about Adam, Human Nation’s release date and performances for Human Nation’s new CD, or performances by other groups in which Adam plays, find him on AdamLevinemusic on Facebook, or www.Human-Nation.com.

Article courtesy of: www.slocoastjournal.com.