Happy 2018! Thanks for checking in.
Some recent events worth mentioning. I was in Barcelona, Spain to record a duet cd with Lluis Coloma. The disc will become available within the next two months, I think. 2017 turned out the be the year of the duet as I also recorded a cd with Brian Holland (plus Danny Coots on drums).
I have various festivals booked for 2018 as a soloist & with my trio (Marty Eggers - bass & Jeff Hamilton - drums. I'll be adding those events to the calendar page asap.
Some European work has been offered & I will be making trips to Denmark, Italy & Spin this year.
I continue to do my Rhythm Retrospective radio show for KCSM San Mateo & KCBX San Luis Obispo.
Just got back from a nice little tour of St. Louis & Kansas City. I played a number of listening rooms including a rough & ready bar room where I was surprised & pleased to find an appreciative & attentive audience. I also perform one show with a group (Marty Eggers, David Gomez & Dan Connor) at Blues City Deli. St. Louis is a heck of a good place for our kind of music. I have head a great deal of help there from a fabulous young pianist named Ethan Leinwand. We played together for Kansas City's Ragtime Revelry group on two very fine grand pianos at Schmidt Music.
A talented young piano man named Barron Ryan is recording one of my early boogie compositions from my Solo Art CD. The tune is called Hammerhead & Barron will be streaming the recording on Facebook.
Some recent shows of note. I played a wonderful duet concert in Germany with Joerg Hegamen who is a specialist in Albert Ammons' boogie style. The concert took place in a historic location, Haus Opherdicke. I'm not sure when the place dates from but I would guess a few centuries ago. For the last few jam tunes we were joined by another great boogie man, Stefan Ulbricht.
Early June was spent in Missouri. I was fortunate to be hired again at the Scott Joplin festival in Sedalia where I was in the company of many wonderful piano players. After that I went to St. Louis where I was hosted by Ethan Leinwand, a young man who specializes in early & obscure blues styles. I cannot speak highly enough of Ethan not just for his playing but his dedication to making good things happen for the St. Louis piano scene. The music scene in St. Louis seems to be really thriving & I heard a number of young musicians really excelling with jazz & blues.
A recent festival appearance with my trio in Monterey, CA also included special duet sets with Jeff Barnhart & Stephanie Trick.
Happy New Year to all! A couple of recent side-man gigging highlights from recently at the Ventura Beach Club organized by Hi-Hat Entertainment -
Blues legend, Kim Wilson
Country Rock legend, Albert Lee
Here's wishing a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all who take the time to visit this page. I do appreciate it!!
I want to say a big thank you to those who attended the Trio concert at Old Town Music Hall. The evening was a great success & made the expense of bringing Jeff & Marty down from San Francisco worthwhile. The next night we played for dancers at Joe's in Burbank which is always a fun time. My most recent show was with Steven Mitchell at the Lindy Loft in downtown LA. The band was top notch & the dancers were all great. I look forward to playing there again.
Spent 2 weeks in Holland & Germany playing concerts. Dutch boogie pianist Eeco Rikjen Rapp & his family were kind enough to arrange this trip. Great people who I am lucky to have as friends. One concert in Amsterdam was for the Kleins who I had also played for when they lived in Hawaii. Funny how things turn out. Again, I am lucky to have such great friends!
I'm expecting a couple of new cds to be out soon. Ain't Done Yet is a collection of solo piano boogie & blues, mostly improvisations in the traditional 20s thru 40s vein. Richard Riley's Pianomania label will soon issue another solo effort to be titled King Of The Barrelhouse.
Recent notable shows included Camp Hollywood, a swing dance event for which I assembled a sextet that included Benny Goodman alumni, Dan Barrett on Trombone. In August I participated in a week long 'Blues Workshop' in Port Townsend, WA. I was the Advanced Piano Instructor.
It's looking like I will soon have another piano roll issue. I recorded a number of tracks at Tom Brier's. Tom will be editing the results for piano roll format & results will be issued by his & John Ulrich's label, Olivewood Music Rolls.
Just returned from a weekend in Seattle recording with Angela Tini & the Starjays. Also was featured at the Annual Elvis Tribute show at the Tractor Tavern & accompanied by the Starjays at HW 99 Blues Club. Great bunch of folks on the scene in Seattle, musicians & listeners.
Had a great time NYE with Dave Stuckey's Rhythm Gang at Carillo Rec Center in Santa Barbara. Super fun group featured Wally Hersom on bass, Corey Gemme & Marc Caperone on horns, Mike Daugherty (who had come in from Seattle) on Drums & the incomparable Pappy Stucky on vocal & rhythm guitar!
Played a very enjoyable solo concert for the San Luis Obispo Jazz Federation at the Unity Church. I will return to San Luis later in the year to play a benefit for the SLO Symphony Orchestra.
Also played various swing dance & sideman jobs.
Recent Performances - San Diego Jazz Festival, West Coast Ragtime Festival, 1st San Francisco Annual Boogie Woogie Summit, Boogie Night Uster Switzerland, Edward Sharpe Big Top.
Two new CDs available - Ready To Boogie - Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Stompin' Upstairs - Carl Sonny Leylad & Kim Cusack (with Alex Hall & Beau Sample). Clips can be heard on CD page.
Just back from Colorado. Played the Evergreen Jazz Festival with my trio. Many thanks to the organizers & fabulous fans for a terrific weekend.
For those who are not yet aware, Jeff Hamilton is the drummer in my trio now. Hal Smith is now working with Jim Cullum's band in San Antonio. We wish him the best! Here is a trio pic with Jeff & Marty
I recently had my first job as a record producer with the rockabilly singer, Kim Lenz. Kim & I have been friends for many years & I had played piano on her 2nd record. It was an honor & pleasure to work with her & I wish her much success with the new record & the tour she is now doing to promote the record. If you dig rockabilly & 50s rock & roll please check it out - kimlenz.bigcartel.com/product/kim-lenz-and-the-jaguars-follow-me-pre-release-shipped-july-31st
I also play piano on most of the tunes.
Hi, All -
Sorry I have not been better about updating the news page here. Things have been busy, the most recent 'time sucker' being an infestation/plague of black beetles....
The aforementioned cd, with Kim Cusack is almost ready for release. Here is the front cover.
Also I recorded my trio last weekend & will be attempting to get a new cd in production before this Summer's festivals.
New CDs in production -
I have just found out that Bryan Wright's Rivermont Records will issue my next band cd. The group includes clarinet/sax great, Kim Cusack, Beau Sample on bass & Alex Hall on drums & was recorded in Chicago this year.
New solo cd for Pianomania is on progress.
Just finished a busy couple of weeks with San Diego Jazz Festival last weekend & West Coast Ragtime Festival before that. As always, these events are tons of fun & I feel blessed to be invited every year. Some of the highlights for me were a duet set with stride piano sensation, Stephanie Trick & a surprise appearance by perrenial boogie master, Bob Seeley who also joined me for a few duets. At WCRF, I was able to do an interview for my radio show with some of the young performers who are invigorating the Ragtime scene nowadays.
Just played the Rockabilly Rave, backed by Deke Dickerson, Crazy Joe & Sugarballs Sprague. In addition to my own show I accompanied Charlie Thompson, Miss Mary Ann, Deke Dickerson & had a fun sit in with Jack Rabbit Slim. A very enjoyable weekend.
Had a grand time at Silvan Zingg's boogie festival in Mano, Switzerland, sharing the bill with Silvan, Anke Angel, Joja Vendt, Lluis Coloma & grand patriarch of the boogie scene, Mr. Bob Seeley. First class backing was provided by Nuno Alexandre & Valerio Feliz. In addition, there were some awesome dancers featured at this festival.
Many thanks to John Motoros who hosted a tremendous house concert for me in delightful Sutter Creek
4/23/12 I was in the washington DC area for a house concert organised by Kay & Jack Douglas, great folks who are stalwarts of the Ragtime scene. I was also able to pick up a swing dance gig for Tom Koerner. On the last set, jazz guitar great, Larry Coryel, who was stuck in the hotel/venue between flights joined us. Another treat was being able to catch up with my dear friend & great reed player, Anita Thomas.
4/15/12 Rosemary & Jack West were kind enough to hire me to perform for AMICA members at their home in Fallbrook. In addition to hosting the concert, I must thank the Wests for their kindness & hospitality over the weekend. On the Monday, I performed with Josh Collazo, Jonathan Stout & Wally Hersom at Joe's in Burbank. All great musicians, it was a treat to work with them.
I had an interesting couple of weeks away from home. Joined my old bandmates Big Sandy & The Flyright Boys at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa for the annual 'Winter Dance Party'. Some of you may recall that the Surf Ballroom was the last show Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & The Big Bopper played before the ill-fated flight that resulted in their deaths. All were honored & members of Ritchie's family were present along with MC, The Big Bopper Jr (J.P. Richardson Jr.). In addition to sets with Big Sandy, the group backed The Bobbettes, Sid & Billy King, Tommy Allsup, The Flamingos, Danny & The Juniors & the awesome Marshall Lytle who was the original bass player with Bill Haley's comets. Marshall still plays & sings with the same energy as he did back in the 50's & that's not an exaggeration!
All those involved with the organization of the event were wonderful & took care of us royally. I had a great time in Clear Lake!
On the Sunday I flew to Chicago where a recording session had been organized with the great reed man, Kim Cusack, someone I greatly admire. Alex Hall & Beau Sample provided first class rhythm to back us up. A CD will be issued from this session in the near future.
Beau also kindly organized a gig for the group with with swing dance instructor Nicolle Wood who as always is a great supporter of our music.
I was also able to play a couple of shows with Beau's group, The Fat Babies, a terrific traditional jazz combo featuring Kim Cusack, John Otto, Andy Schumm, Joel Paterson plus Beau & Alex. They have created a really cool scene at a joint called the Honky Tonk Barbecue. I shared piano duties with the fabulous Paul Asaro who joined me on a duet of Jelly Roll Morton's King Porter Stomp.
That's all for now…
Crazy busy this month with a festival every weekend & then off to Europe at the beginning of December. Will add more here when I can...
Drove out to Texas to celebrate the life of boogie woogie pianist & fan, Tom Harris. Other musicians that attended were Charlie & Louisa Castner, Whip Williams, Mike Price, Sumter Bruton, Jack yates & Christian Dozzler. Tom passed away a couple of years back but is fondly remembered by all of us. In his youth he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Jimmy Yancey & Ralph Sutton. Here are some pics of Tom, Charlie & Pete Johnson from back in the day.
It's been kind of a quiet Summer but that's ok because I got to hang out with my wife more than usual while she's off from School.
A few high points from June & July -
Thanks to Scottie Blinn, operater of Rock Academy Of San Diego, I was reunited with my old bandleader from Dallas, TX, Anson Funderburgh. Anson is a great blues guitarist. He came in for a clinic that Scottie organized & it was great to have an oportunity to work with him again & Scottie too.
As many of you are aware, I do a radio show called the Rhythm Retrospective for KCBX San Luis Obispo kcbx.org
The station puts on a music event at Cachuma Lake near Santa Barbara & I was happy to play for them this year with my trio featuring Marty Eggers on bass & Jeff Hamilton on drums.
I revisted the Tuttles & played at their Union House in Mokelumne Hill, CA.
I organized a recording session with a quartet featuring Clint Baker on bass, Marc Caperone on trumpet & Jeff Hamilton on drums. A cd from this session should be issued some time soon.
Played the AFCDJS (San Diego Dixieland Society) with a quartet featuring sax & clarinet prodigy, Chloe Feoranzo who will also guset with my trio at Sweet & Hot in a couple of weeks. Also featured in that group, Hal Smith on drums & Wally Hersom on bass. (Marty Eggers & Hal Smith will be with me at Sweet & Hot.
I also did an early morning spot at Orcutt Presbyterian Church where my father in law preaches sometimes.
Am finally getting around to updating things here.
After Viva Las Vegas, drove cross country to Chattanooga to play with the New El Dorado Band. Then made my way to Kansas City for some school programs & a concert for the Ragtime Revelry group. On the way, I stopped of to visit stride sensation, Stephanie Trick & her folks - there are a couple of clips on youtube of us jamming.
After KC did a straight 25 hour drive to get home, was there for 3 days & had to head out again to Chico, CA fpr a house concert (Thanks, Mary!) & then over to Mokelumne Hill for a show at Jeff Tuttles Union House. The proprietor, Dick Tuttle is an amazing man who among other things, flew on the Ploesti mission in WWII. I am honored to call him my friend.
Then came the Sacramento festival where I played a total of 14 sets (phew!), solo, CSL Trio & with the International Sextet (youtube clips posted). Tuesday through Saturday was spent playing gigs in San Francisco & nearby. The big show was at the Verdi Club with Stompy Jones. Good times!
March started out with the Dixieland Monterey festival which I played with my trio (Marty Eggers-bass & Jeff Hamilton-drums). I then headed to San Francisco for a Tuesday evening at Pier 23 & Wednesday night guest spot with Virginia Tichenor & Marty Eggers. Next, I visited Sutter Creek & San Andreas for house concerts & then returned to the Bay Area for a Tuesday night intermission spot with Stompy Jones who kindly invited me to guest on their Wednesday night gig near Sacramento. St Patrick's Day, I played at Speisekammer in Alameda & I'd like to thank everyone who came out to support me that night, despite the short notice. Sunday, 20th was my last day in the Bay area, in El Sobrante to be exact, where I performed for the JohnUlrich piano series.
Early April was spent in Southern California. Gigs included a Friday at the Old Ship in Santa Ana with the BBC Jazz Band, a private event on Fallbrook & a house concert for the Cases in Laguna Beach.
Main gig of the month was the Fresno Mardi Gras with the New El Dorado Jazz Band. A number of clips have been posted on YouTube by SFRaeAnn. Here is the link to her channel - www.youtube.com/user/SFRaeAnn
Also played 2 shows with my old friend Ray Bush at the Olde Ship in Santa Ana, CA. It's always fun to play with Ray & his BBC Jazz Band. Looks like I'll be dwon there again on April 1st.
Did a recording session for Peder Nande, a Danish blues singer & harmonica player. James Harmon produced the session, Nathan James engineered & the recording was done at Thomas Yeardsley's (Paladins) studio in Oceanside, CA.
I played a house concert in January for Chip Lusby at his Victorion style home, 'skunk hollow' in Sutter Creek, CA. I will be returning there in March - please check the calendar page for details if you are interested in attending. I have a few other San Francisco & Sacramento area gigs booked in March, including Pier 23, the John Ulrich piano series, a house concert in San Andreas, CA & a swing dance in Sacramento.
November is always a busy month for me - believe it, or not, Nov 2011 is already fully booked!
Anyway, the month began with a swing dance festival with Marc Caprerone & Dawn Lambeth at the famous Avalon Ballroom on Catalina Island.
Next was West Coast Ragtime Festival, an event that I've been playing for many years now. In addition to solo sets & a Disklavier demonstration, I dueted with Jeff Barnhart & Tom Brier & played a trio set with Marty Eggers & Craig Ventresco - a great guitarist. On that set we featured material, remeniscent of some of the classic blues piano/guitar combinations of old such as Cripple Clarence Lofton/ Big Bill Broonzy, Charlie Spand/Blind Blake, Leroy Carr/Scrapper Blackwell, etc.
As always, the San Diego Dixieland Jazz Festival follows, hot on the heels of West Coast & Thursday afternoon found Anita Thomas, Hal Smith & Myself playing 'music to eat turkey by'. The rest of the festival consisted of one CSL trio set, 6 solo sets & 9 with San Antonio Western Swing group, Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition. This was a lot of fun for me. A lot of Bob Wills material was featured with first class 3 part vocal harmonies & excellent soloing. I'm hoping I'll have more opportunities to work with this great band.
Other highlights of the past 3 months -
A concert at the historic Reutlinger Mansion in San Fransisco with Virginia Tichenor & Marty Eggers.
The Pismo Beach Jubilee By The Sea where I was fortunate to have the fabulous drummer, Jeff Hamilton on board - it's always a treat to play with him.
The Rhythm Rocker weekender - a rockabilly event that took place in Long Beach, it may become an annual affair. I participated in a tribute to Sun Records set with 3 other artists, Big Sandy, Charlie Hightone (Spain) & Charlie Thompson (UK). A great selection of tunes from the Sun catalogue was performed, avoiding anything too obvious. I also performed with the Dutch group, Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime Wranglers. On the Sunday afternoon I was able to sneak away to play a few sets at Ragfest in Fullerton, CA, including duets with Bill Mitchell & Pat Aranda.
Back home for a while after a busy spell on the road -
The big news is that I was inducted into the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame, an institution created by the Cinci Blues Festival. They feature boogie woogie artists at the Arches Blues Piano Stage & that is where I was presented with the award.
(photo by Remi Arsenaux)
Other recent performances took place at the Sutter Creek ragtime Festival, Pier 23 & Club Verdi in San Francisco, Evergreen (CO) Dixieland Festival.
Greetings from Paris, France.
This past weekend I was one of the artists performing at 'Les Nuits Jazz et Boogie' at the Petit Journal club in Montemarte. Organized by french boogie pianist, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, this event first took place in 1989. I performed on that first concert & a number of others over the years.
Photos - Ace bass man, Gilles Chevaucherie takes a solo.
Friday night, after the show L to R - Eeco Rikjen Rapp (Holland)/Me/Jean Paul Amoroux(France)/Jean-Pierre Bertrand(France).
Back from Sedalia - more soon.
Am writing from Bakersfield Airport awaiting my flight(s) to Kansas City for the Scott Joplin ragtime festival in Sedalia, MO. The month of May has seen me working mainly in California including some house concerts plus a date at Pier 23 in San Francisco (an impromtu recording was made of this show & some photos were taken - I plan to post some clips soon). I did make an out of state trip to play a concert for the Northern Virginia ragtime society on the 23rd. After this weekend I will have a little home time before heading to Paris & Brussels later in the month.
Another Viva Las Vegas has come & gone. Some of you may know I play piano in the house backing band at that event. This year I had my own set on Sunday night accompanied by the Modern Sounds (Joel Paterson/Beau Sample/Alex Hall). This is the group that appears on my cd 'A Chicago Session'. It's always a great pleasure to work with Joel & the boys.
The BIG name at this year's festival was Chuck Berry. It was truly an honor & a thrill to play with him, having been a fan of his music since I was a small child. Other acts I worked with at VLV 2010 were The Teenagers, Wanda Jackson, Barrence Whitfield, Huelyn Duvall & Rudy Grayzell.
Most recent festival was Dixieland Monterey where I performed with the International Sextet & on the Pianorama. Youtube clips can be viewed here - www.youtube.com/results
We had an extremely successful first gig with the New El Dorado Jazz Band at the Fresno Mardi gras Festival. The band was very well received & various festival directors expressed an interest in booking the band. We have a new cd release which can be ordered from Hal Smith at www.halsmithmusic.com/ . The band is co-led by Hal Smith (washboard) & Clint Baker (various instruments) & also features, in addition to myself, Katie Cavera (bjo), Mark Caperone (tpt), Howard Miaga (tbn), Georgia Korba (bass) & Mike Baird (reeds). A number of clips have been posted on youtube. Here is a link to that page - www.youtube.com/results
Currently in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for the ragtime festival. Chilly! Sub-zero temperatures at night. High points for me are duets with Jeff Barnhart. We are planning to do more.......
Mainly private events this month with Marc Caperone & Dawn Lambeth - we played at Hearst Castle, which was fun.
Last Sunday was the monthly Basin Street Regulars meeting at the Veterans' Hall in Pismo Beach. I was a member of the featured band - Clint Baker's New Orleans Jazz Band (Clint Baker, Marc Caperone, Dave Caperone, Dawn Lambeth, Katie Cavera, Mike Baird, Mike Fay & Myself). A number of tunes were recorded on video by our friend Rae Ann & can be viewed here - www.youtube.com/user/SFRaeAnn
Following the San Diego festival some clips from our Hal's Angels (Hal Smith/Anita Thomas/Katie Cavera/Mike Earls & Myself) Lester Young Centennial set have been posted on youtube. Here are a few -
Writing from the Town & Country resort in San Diego. I'm here for the dixieland festival playing mainly solo with a couple of band sets here & there.
November is always a busy month for me & this one was no exception. I was up in San Francisco two weekends in a row, first for a western swing show at the 23 Club featuring legends Johnny Cuviello, Shorty Joe & Dayna Wills & then for a house concert in El Sobrante.
The next weekend was the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento. It was an amazing event & I felt priveliged to share the stage with such notables as Neville Dickie, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Ray Skjellbred & Craig Ventresco.
I am now hosting a radio show, THE RHYTHM RETROSPECTIVE on KCBX www.kcbx.org/ Friday nights at 9pm Pacific Time. The show features Traditional Jazz, Swing, Blues & Boogie Woogie. The previous host was trumpeter Marc Caperone & I will be trying hard to live up to the high standard he has set.
Played two shows in Europe with my old friend Renaud Patigny. Renaud & I made a piano duet cd some years back. Renaud arranged two wonerful events, one in Brussels, Belgium & the other just over the border into France in a town called Val Jolie.
Also present at the Brussels show were English pianist Julian Phillips, his tea-chest bass player Chris & Renaud's drummer Bob Dartch.
The most recent US festival I played was the Sweet & Hot in LA with my trio.
Many thanks to my friend J.D. McPherson for arranging for me to perform in the school where he teaches in Tulsa. OK.
Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival. Really a good time. Some great players - Frederick Hodges, Tom Brier, Pat Aranda, Virginia Tichenor, Keith Taylor, Marty Eggers.......
Youth performers were impressive - Andrew Barret, Vincent Johnson, Tim Rotolo & Will Perkins.
Prior to that was the Orange County Classic, a dixieland thru swing event that takes place in Costa Mesa at the Hilton. I performed there with my trio.
After that I played on two recording session at Brian Shaw's Digital Brothers studio. The New El Dorado Band is co-led by Hal Smith & Clint Baker & features Georgia Korba, Katie Kavera, Marc Caperone, Mike Baird , Howard Miata & Myself.
The second session was for Marc Caperone's new cd & featured Marc & Dawn Caperone & Myself.
23-26 July was the Evergreen Jazz Festival in Colorado. I played with my trio & in the International Sextet which featured Kim Cusack, Anita Thomas, Katie Kavera, Clint Baker, Hal Smith & Myself.
I also put together an educational program illustrating jazz & blues styles from their beginnings up through the 1950s. This was with my trio plus Anita Thomas.
On the 12th July I played a solo concert for Fallbrook School of the Arts. I have to say a big thanks to Rosemary & Jack West for all their effort in making this happen. They reall did it all up just right including renting a fabulous grand piano for me to play. I had a great time.
Dear Friends -
My last out of town trip I appeared at the Blind Boone ragtime Festival in Columbia, MO which I had missed last year due to my father's passing. This year's event featured among others, Butch Thompson, Paul Asaro, Frederick Hodges, Adam Swanson, Terry Waldo & Vernel Bagneris doing excerpts from his amazing show, Jelly Roll (about the life of Jelly Roll Morton). He was accompanied by the fabulous Morten Gunnar Larsen. Everybody played terrific stuff & I was thrilled to be a part of it. The after hours sessions were a lot of fun too. Here is a late night clip on youtube filmed by TDub - more coming, no doubt.....www.youtube.com/watch
Chip Templeton was present & kindly invited me to return to Starkville, MS next year for the Charles Templeton Ragtime Festival.
Following that I headed to Chicago for two nights at the Green Mill, working with Joel Paterson (gtr), Beau Sample (bass) & Alex Hall (drums) known collectively as 'The Modern Sounds'. They are a fine band playing a wide range of musical styles in a dynamic fashion.
While in Chicago I was able, thanks to Nicolle Wood of the Galaxie (dance studio) to do a set of duets with pianist Erwin Helfer. This was really a fun thing & we hope to be able to work together again some time. Here is a photo by Jill Paterson.
I have recorded some tracks with James Harmon for a new cd featuring four piano men - myself, Lluis Coloma, Christian Renenburgh(?) & Gene Taylor. This cd is being produced in Denmark.
In April I went to Starkville, Mississippi for the Charles Templeton Ragtime Festival. Despite the fact that Delta lost my bag ( I didn't get it back until a week later!!!) & I had to perform in jeans & a t-shirt, it was a great experience. I was honored to be part of a lineup that featured Mimi Blais, Butch Thompson & Brian Holland. The festival directors Chip Templeton & David Jason really put on a fine event. In addition to the standard performance format, we all did a 'My Life In Ragtime' feature (mine was life in boogie woogie, of course!) that was recorded for posterity by the Mississippi State University Library which also houses Charles Templeton's collection of automatic instruments & sheet music. I must say it felt great to know that my contribution to that music was considered worthy of preservation in such an auspicious institution.
The following weekend I was lucky enough to be hired to play with four different groups for Joel Plys' Balboa Rendezvous event. (Thank you Joel!) The first night was myself, Hal Smith & Nathan James. This combination worked very well despite the absence of a bass instrument. Next I played with John & Ralph Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Corey Gemm & Phil Krawzac. Ralph played drums on the gig rather than washboard, which is his usual instrument. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys. The third night was with Jonathan Stout's Campus Five & the fourth was with his big band. This is the second time I've worked with the big band - it's a lot of fun!
Easter weekend is generally when Viva Las Vegas (rockabilly weekender) takes place & this year was no exception. For about ten years now I've been part the in house band that backs up the original acts from the 1950's. This group consists of Bobby Trimble (ex Big Sandy & his Flyright Boys) on drums, Shorty Poole (Dave & Deke Combo, Amber Foxx) on bass & Ashley Kingman (Big Sandy & his Flyright Boys) on guitar. All are great players. This year we backed up the following acts -
Dale Hawkins (Chess Records)
Alton & Jimmy (Sun Records)
Lew Williams (Imperial Records) (Photo below)
Al Ferrier (Goldband Records)
Don Woody (Decca Records)
Johnny Powers (Fox, Sun & Motown records)
The Haystack Hi Tones
Ashley Kingman,CSL,Lew Williams,Bobby Trimble,Shorty Poole.
Photo - Anita Williams.
Most recently, after a Sunday afternoon gig at Soho in Santa Barbara & a swing dance event that night at USC I flew to Fort Worth for the funeral of a dear friend, Tom Harris. Tom had been a boogie woogie enthusiast & player since the 1940's in Chicago where he heard & befriended Albert Ammons & Jimmy Yancey. He & another aspiring boogie pianist, Charlie Castener, also got to know Pete Johnson, attending parties at his home. The photos shown are from one of those events. Like Phil Kiely who passed away last year, Tom & his wife Lynn hosted an annual gathering of boogie blues pianists at their home. I was lucky enough to have attended this party most every year since 1989. With the passing of Charlie Booty, Phil Kiely & now Tom Harris it's beginning to feel like the end of an era. Tom was a fine boogie player in his own right. He & Charlie Castner recorded a 10 inch album of duets called Powerhouse Piano (circa 1949, I think) - now a very collectable item! I have fond memories of Tom's inimitable singing style on tunes such as Down The Road Apiece, Roll 'Em Pete, Piney Brown Blues, Cherry Red & my personal favorite, Little Joe From Chicago. Pianists Charlie Castner, Mike Price, Christion Dozzler & Myself performed music at the service in Tom's memory. The original piece I played, Blues For Tom is included here.
(Pete Johnson / Tom Harris)
Had a nice surprise today when I got an email from photographer Vernon T. Williams telling me that he had featured me as 'portrait of the day' on his website. Here is the link to that particular page web.mac.com/vernont/hiredgun/hired_gun/Entries/2009/1/16_portrait_of_the_day_-_carl_%E2%80%9Csonny%E2%80%9D_leyland.html Do check out Vernons other work - he's an excellent photographer. I've added a couple of others to my photos page (in the correct chronological sequence, of course).
Hi Everybody -
First of all let me wish you all a very Happy New Year.
After a busy November things slowed down a bit. I played a private event in New Jersey with an all star blues group featuring Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, Finis Tasby, Doyle Bramhall Jr., Gary Clark Jr. & the legendary James Cotton - what a thrill to work with that man. His 1954 Sun recording of Cotton Crop Blues is one of my all time favorites.
I spent Christmas in England with my mother & then flew back into San Diego for a gig with the Rhythmakers. We played for a dance event organized by 2ply swing (Joel & Alison Plys). Led by drummer Hal Smith, the Rhythmakers specialize in Chicago style jazz. However, in a musicality class for the dancers we demonstrated syles ranging from ragtime through New Orleans to Kansas City swing - it takes some verstile musicians to do that! I had a great time playing with this stellar group.
RHYTHMAKERS - San Diego 12/30/08
From left to right Clint Baker (trombone, clarinet, vocals), Katie Cavera (guitar, banjo, vocals), Ted Thomas (trumpet), Hal Smith (drums, leader), CSL (piano, vocals) & Marty Eggers (string bass, tuba).
November is generally a busy month for me & this year was no exeption. The first weekend was spent in Cincinnati for Ricky Nye's Blues & Boogie Summit. I had played the event three times before but it had been a few years since my last appearance there. Rick is a soulful player & singer who is well known & respected in the Cincinnati area & beyond. Two other pianists played at the event - Fabrice Eulry & Chase Garret. I met Fabrice in Paris circa 1992. He was an great player back then & now is just flat out amazing. In addition to this he is a fabulous entertainer somewhat remeniscent of Victor Borg. Chase is just 19 but plays blues & boogie with a surprising maturity for one so young. He has just released his debut cd produced by Ricky Nye.
The following weekend I had expected to be in Chicago & Detroit. I had to cancel that trip because a gig fell through. Luckily in the meantime I was offered a spot on an event in Tucson put on by Lisa Otey. Lisa is a fine piano player who adapts some pretty unusual tunes to the boogie style - one that she played was the disco song 'I Will Survive' !!! She hosted a great event that also featured Arthur Migliazza, a powerful & capable pianist who I had met some years back in Cincinnati. A new face to me was Dona Oxford from LA. She had a dynamic playing & singing style that really grabbed the crowd. Good times. I'm still waiting to see if I got a speeding ticket - look out for those cameras around Pheonix!
The third weekend was West Coast Ragtime Festival, an event that I have been playing every year for a while now. For those not familiar, I would describe it, without reservation, as one of the best festivals in the country for early American piano music. I won't go into detail about the players because there are too many to list but I will say I was extremely impressed by the younger pianists in attendance. In addition to their great ability on the piano, their enthusiasm is a tonic! As for my own contribution I played solo & in trio with Hal Smith & Marty Eggers. For one set we were joined by Butch Thompson (actually Hal & Marty are in his trio too) & I must say it was an honor to play with him. For those who couldn't be there, some of the tunes from that set have been posted on youtube. On Mimi Blais' transportation themed set Hal & I had a chance to wear our railroad engineer's outfits which was fun.
I have spent every Thanksgiving for the last few years at the San Diego Dixieland Festival. This was the first jazz festival I performed at & I must thank Alan Adams, Hal Smith & also soundman Desmond Warren (who originally recommended me) for giving me a chance to break into that scene. I performed mainly solo although we did one trio set & I sat in on Thursday night for one set with New Orleanian clarinetist Tim Laughlin. The rest of the weekend Chris Dawson had that spot. Later I was able to catch Chris on a solo set - what a phenominal pianist he is.
Well that's about it for the gig report. Another newsworthy item is that I have been asked to join the New El Dorado Jazz Band. Through the late 50s to mid 60s this band was playing some great New Orleans style jazz in California. The new incarnation will feature Hal Smith drums, Clint Baker cornet, Katie Cavera banjo, Mike Baird clarinet, Howard Miatta trombone, Georgia Korba bass & Myself on piano. Check out http://www.myspace.com/neweldoradojazzband for more info.
Since returning from England following my father's passing I have been trying to get back into the swing of things - no pun intended.
I played in Seattle for an anual event called Shake The Shack. I was part of an all star group put together by ace bass man Jimmy Sutton. Bobby Trimble (ex Big Sandy) & J.D. McPherson (The Starkweather Boys) completed the lineup.
I was also at the first Rockabilly Rave USA in Las Vegas where I played with Carl Mann, Sonny Burgess, Hayden Thompson & Jack Earls (all Sun Records artists). I also played with Miss Mary Ann & The Ragtime Wranglers & the Hi-Qs.
Some other highlights have been Evergreen, Colorado with Hal's Angels & new group called the International Sextet. This was a whole lot of fun - Kim Kusak, Hal Smith, Anita Thomas, Melissa Collard, Katie Cavera & Clint Baker. The group received a warm reception & all involved expressed a desire to do more with this lineup. My trio featuring Hal Smith & Marty Eggers is confirmed for the next two years at the Evergreen Jazz festival.
I also played at the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival & was thrilled to be in the company of such great pianists as Tom Brier, Frederick Hodges & Virginia Tichenor to mention a few. For those who have not attended before this is a fun festival with a casual atmosphere. It is held in the picturesque & historic town of Sutter Creek in California's gold country.
More recently I played with my trio at the Sweet & Hot Festival in Los Angeles. We have been doing this one for a few years now & are happy to have been rebooked to play next year's festival.
All the best!
Carl Sonny Leyland.
Sadly I have lost my father Walter Leyland.
He passed away on June 8th due to the effects of stomach cancer. His last days were spent in Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington, Hampshire.
I'd like to publicly thank all the staff there for the great work they do.
Dad was a wonderful guy as all who met him can attest. Originally from Lancashire he had been a sailor in WW2, travelled the world & lived in Australia, New Zealand & Tasmania in the late 40s/early 50s.
Always a music lover he saw many jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton & Louis Armstrong when they played at Manchester Free trade Hall. He was also a fan of country music & heard Hank Snow & Merle Haggard (the first concert I attended) & Carl Perkins when they played in Southampton & Bournmouth.
When I began to play music Dad was always willing to drive me to gigs & do whatever was necessary to help make things work. He was a drummer & we performed together on a number of occasions.
Dad was 84 when he passed away. The funeral at Fawley Parish Church was attended by family, neighbors & musicians including Bob Pearce, Big Joe Louis, John Wands & Ronnie Taylor.
It is a tough time for my mother & I right now as I'm sure you can imagine.
We have received many cards & messages expressing condolences & would like to thank everyone for their concern.
(The audio clip is from a jam session last September with bluesman Big Joe Louis).
Walter Leyland circa 1950 (from his British Seaman's card)
A jam session with Big Joe Louis from September 2007.
Mr. Smiths, Southampton circa 1986 with Bob Pearce.
A dear friend Phil Kiely has passed away.
In the late 40s/early 50s Phil became friends with blues greats Jimmy & Mama Yancey. One one occasion he & his friend Richard Mushlitz carried a wire recorder up to the Yancey's apartment & recorded one of the sessions that were a regular occurrence there. This recording was issued on cd by the Document label a while back.
I first corresponded with Phil in 1987 before I came to the US. He was a great help to me in my quest to become a US resident.
He & his wife Kaye held an annual music party at their home in Evansville, IN. These were happy occasions where blues, boogie & ragtime players gathered to hang out & play in casual environment.
He will be missed by all who knew him.
Phil with 'Mr Freddy' Shayne (left) & Jimmy Yancey (right) circa early 50s
Played Dixieland Monterey with my trio, 2 nights for the Pasadena Jazz Institute, Viejas Casino with Nathan James & Ben Hernandez.
Then I headed to Chicago for 2 nights at the Green Mill with the Joel Paterson Trio to release our new cd "A Chicago Session". This was recorded on my last trip to Chicago in September. Joel plays fine old time jazz & blues guitar & is accompanied by Beau Sample on bass & Alex Hall on drums. We have had a great time playing together & I think this comes through on the rccording. Please check it out.
After Chicago I flew to Savannah Georgia where I perfomed on a bill with jazz great Hank Jones - wow! He's 92 & still fantastic! Also present were Eric Reed & Marcus Roberts. It was certainly a pleasure to work with these guys.
After that I was home for one day before driving down to San Diego for Joel Plys' Balboa Rendezvous where I played with Hal Smith's Blue Voo. Unexpectedly I was then called to play at the Balboa Pavillion (for the same event) with Jonothan Stout's Big Band. A Sunday afternoon house concert in Mission Viejo, CA fell in between these two shows. The next day I had a recording session for Daniel Glass (drummer, Royal Crown Revue) .
Then I had another day at home & headed out for Viva Las Vegas - the anuall rockabilly/1050s event that takes place at the Gold Coast Casino.
I have been in the backing band for this event for about 10 years now. We accompanied Charlie Thompson, The El Dorados, Alton Lott, Sonny West, George Hamilton IIII, Ray Campi & Laura Lee Perkins. Glen Barber who was originally to play on the stars of rockabilly set unfortunately passed away. However two of his songs were sung in tribute by Charlie Thompson & Big Sandy. I also played with Miss Mary Ann (formerly of 'The Ranch Girls' ) & her band The Ragtime Wranglers.
* I have just heard (2/25/08) that pianist Charlie Booty has passed away. Some of you may be familiar with Charlie through his Piano Joys cd releases.
He had been unreachable by phone for a couple of days when friends decided to called the police in Milan, TN where he was living. They broke down the door & found him in his armchair in his pajamas. Good at least to know it was a peaceful passing.
I can imagine that he might have been meditating seeing as he was extremely knowledgeable in metaphysical & spiritual matters.
I first met Charlie in 1988 in Evansville, IN. I was fortunate to have had a chance to play duets with him on a number of occasions over the years some of which can be heard on a cd entitled Fort Worth Stomp on Charlie's PIano Joys label. Of course Charlie put out a number of cds of his solo playing. His style was truly original, genuine & unpretentious. His friends will attest that as human being he was also genuine & a true original.
We will miss him.
* I have seven new clips on Youtube thanks to tdub1941. These were all shot on one of my sets at the recent West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, CA. Please check them out at the 'New Youtube' tab.
* I have been writing an article for BLUESINLONDON.COM called 'Postcards From the West Coast' & have just submitted a piece about my recent Chicago trip. This & the earlier piece can be viewed at -
* Played in Spain at Barcelona Blues Festival with Mitch Woods & Lluis Coloma
* Appeared on 'Real Orange' TV news show to promote Orange County Classic Jazz Festival 07
* Recorded 7 tracks with Deke Dickerson for his next cd.
* Played a great show at Filoli Gardens for their Jazz at Filoli series. New photos posted - see photos & trio tabs.
* Recorded Desert Island Discs radio program with DJ Alisa Clancy for KCSM-FM (College of San Mateo). Program aired Friday 27th July at 9am Pacific Time.
* June 14th played with Chicago blues harp legend Billy Boy Arnold at Del Mar Fairgrounds.
* June 28th played with another Chicago blues harp legend & ex Muddy Waters band member Mojo Buford.
* Just returned from Blind Boone Ragtime Festival in Columbia ,MO. See 'Youtube' tab for new clips from after hours session. Many thanks to Tom Warner for the footage.
* Played Chicago Blues Festival & also participated in a panel discussion with Edsel Ammons (son of Albert), Lila Ammons (Albert's granddaughter), Bob Hall & Renaud Patigny (European boogie players).
* New Solo CD out. 'Back in the Alley' on the Pianomania label. Details to follow soon.
* May 16-20 played Green Bay, WI Rockin' 50s Festival.
Backed up several acts including Sid & Billy King, Billy Lee Riley, Roy Head, the Bobbettes, the Cadillacs, the Five Keys, Dig Wayne, Dave Stuckey's Rhythm Gang, Big Joe Louis, Big Jay McNeeley, Roddy Jackson, Rusty York, Joe Clay, Alton Lott, Sleepy La Beef.....etc.
* Sadly, Big Joe Duskin has passed away.
Big Joe was a boogie woogie pianist & singer from Cincinnatti. I was lucky enough to meet & get to know him back in England in the mid 80s when he came there to tour. He was generous with his time & knowledge & I have fond memories of the time he stayed at my parents house for a few days. A passionately religious man, he would often break into hell fire sermons unexpectedly. In recent years Joe had been the victim of bad health due to diabetes.
I don't yet know the details of his passing but do know he was up in his 80s.
In addition to being a piano player Joe was a veteran of WW2 & the Police Department.
He will be missed by all who knew him & especially we boogie woogie men.