Friday, July 25, 2014

Explosive developments

First, the happy news:

Northern California fans have a treat in store, when Larry Vuckovich once again presents his Guaraldi Tribute Show at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, September 14, at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, 311 Mirada Road, Half Moon Bay. Vuckovich is calling this concert "The Jazz and Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi," and the set list will include songs Guaraldi recorded with guitarist Bola Sete, along with "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," a few compositions written for the Peanuts TV specials, and another performance of a Guaraldi original never recorded on an album.

I'm guessing the latter is "Blue Lullaby," and that this upcoming concert will be similar to the show Vuckovich headlined last summer, at Silo's in Napa. I discussed that show at length in an earlier post, which should give a flavor of what to expect this September. The personnel will be the same: Vuckovich on piano; Josh Workman on guitar; Seward McCain on bass; John Santos handling Latin percussion; and Akira Tana on drums. McCain, you will recall, was part of Guaraldi's trio during the final years of his life.

Additional details can be found both at Larry's website and the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society site.

Now, the sad news:

Pete Douglas, founder of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, died July 12, at the rich, well-lived age of 85. Both Douglas and his rather eclectic venue have been famous for numerous decades; their Sunday afternoon concerts have been a popular Northern California attraction for fans of all ages and musical tastes. Guaraldi and his combo are known to have performed there several times, although I have only one firm date (September 16, 1973). Not quite two months after Guaraldi died, Douglas' venue was the site of a tribute concert dedicated to Dr. Funk; the March 28 event featured none other than Larry Vuckovich, along with Benny Barth and George DeQuattro. That first tribute spawned an annual series; Guaraldi memorial concerts continued at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, every spring, through at least 1981.

Douglas' passing prompted numerous excellent news stories; you'll want to read those in the Half Moon Bay Review, Broadway World and (my favorite) the San Jose Mercury News. Douglas and his venue were — are — treasures, and although scheduled concerts will continue through late October, the club's long-term fate isn't yet known. It would be a catastrophic shame to lose both in the same year ... but, then, the club derived its atmosphere and je ne sais quoi from its founder. It might be difficult to carry on without him.

We can only wait and see ... which makes the September Guaraldi concert by Vuckovich and his combo that much more of a must-attend event: a chance to once again hear the Italian Leprechaun's music at a venue where he actually performed. Because, let's face it: There aren't many of those left!

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