His smooth, light, jazz style quickly became a favorite of adult contemporary audiences, and songs such as “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and “Yah Mo B There” with James Ingram became big hits. He paired with Patti LaBelle for “On My Own,” a lovelorn ballad that was a No. 1 smash hit. His song “Sweet Freedom” became the theme song for the 1986 Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal comedy Running Scared.
In the ’90s, McDonald appeared on the Aretha Franklin hit “Ever Changing Times,” giving him further street cred in the R&B community. Of course, what many remember McDonald for are Doobie Brother classics such as “What a Fool Believes,” “Takin’ It to the Streets,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “Little Darling (I Need You),” “You Belong to Me,” “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While),” and “Minute by Minute.” Does he rest on his laurels? Heck no! He just enjoyed two recent genre-busting guest spots with alternative buzz bands Grizzly Bear and Holy Ghost.
This Tuesday, March 18, Cal Poly Arts and Otter Productions, Inc. present five-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-keyboardist Michael McDonald in concert at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center (Tickets are $50 to $90; call 756-4849).
“Along with his musical contributions, McDonald has long been an active humanitarian,” said his bio. “Over the years, he has lent his performing talents to many causes and benefits, including the Toys R Us Children’s Fund, MusiCares, the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and the 7UP Grammy Signature Schools Program. Most recently, in April 2011, he was part of a star-studded lineup at Kokua For Japan, a concert that raised $1.6 million for tsunami relief.”
Born in St. Louis on February 12, 1952, McDonald came to music early. His bus driver dad was an amateur tenor who’d once sung with Bob Crosby and the Bobcats. McDonald made his singing debut at age 4 warbling “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” for his parents and a roomful of friends. After toying around on banjo and guitar, McDonald discovered the piano and was soon writing his first songs and doing the time-honored apprenticeship with bands in the family garage.
“And at the heart of it all, there was that voice,” continues his bio. “The dark chocolate tone, the husky vibrato, the keening falsetto that always seems to carry the ache of unrequited love. McDonald belongs to an elite group of blue-eyed soul vocalists—Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Daryl Hall—whose sound is recognizable after a mere two notes.”
Mraz, a two-time Grammy Award winner and six-time nominee, made pop history with his record-breaking classic single, “I’m Yours,” while also earning platinum and multi-platinum certifications in more than 20 countries. He basically went from the San Diego coffee house scene to arenas, amphitheaters, and stadiums all over the world.
“In addition to his exceptional musical talent, the San Diego-based troubadour has proven a truly diverse creative presence: a dedicated surfer, farmer-gardener, filmmaker, and photographer, Mraz is first and foremost a committed global citizen. His impassioned social activism and philanthropic efforts span wide-ranging environmental advocacy and ardent support for LGBT equality,” according to press materials.
Down & Dirty
What’s old is new. Nothing proves that more than the resurgence of old school R&B from guys like James Hunter, Mark Ronson, Mayer Hawthorne, and the Daptone Crew. Add Nick Waterhouse to that group.
He records and plays on vintage equipment and open-reel tape machines. If you heard his music and didn’t know the context, you’d be hard pressed to accurately date his sound. That’s why this dude’s awesome! See Nick Waterhouse on Friday, March 14 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $10 presale or $12 at the door). Local DJ extraordinaire Malik Miko Thorne will open the night with some vintage wax.
Also at SLO Brew this week, check out L.A.-based instrumental duo El Ten Eleven, which conjures up a fat sound with nothing more than a doubleneck guitar-bass, drums, and a looping pedal. DWNTWN will open the Saturday, March 15, show (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $12 presale or $14 at the door).
Get your electronic fix with EOTO and Tropo when they appear on Wednesday, March 19, at SLO Brew (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $21 presale or $23 at the door).
Robi Duganne used to be a regular fixture in the local music scene, but I haven’t heard from him lately … until recently when he wrote to tell me about his new album.
Duganne also informed me that his song “No Pretense” is getting play in Russia, no less! “It was featured on a Russian CD and was recorded in Russia,” Duganne said. “I’ll be back in Russia to perform in the fall.”
I listened to “Whispering Wind,” and it has a great world beat sound with Duganne’s rich vocals and warm guitar sound, not to mention some great flute. Learn more at robiduganne.com.
More music …
The Salome Chamber Orchestra returns to the Central Coast for a benefit concert this Friday, March 14, at 4 p.m. in Temple Ner Shalom in SLO ($60 premium seating or $30 general admission at salomeinconcert.eventbrite.com). Proceeds will benefit the JCC-Federation of San Luis Obispo and Central Coast Autism Spectrum Center. “We’re thrilled to welcome the New York-based group, Salome Chamber Orchestra, back to the Central Coast,” said concert organizers. “Since Salome’s visit last March, they have graced the stage at Carnegie Hall and generously played at numerous benefit concerts throughout California. Salome brings a young, hip edge to chamber groups and consists of top-ranking graduates from The Curtis Institute of Music, The Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Princeton University, and Yale University.” Seating is very limited.
“Expect the unexpected,” said Cal Poly Director of Jazz Studies Paul Rinzler about the upcoming Just Jazz concert. “Because jazz is improvised, even the musicians themselves can be surprised by what they come up with on the spur of the moment. Some of the best and most memorable moments from past University Jazz Band concerts have been things that no one could have imagined beforehand.” See Cal Poly’s University Jazz Bands on Saturday, March 15, at 8 p.m. in the Spanos Theatre (tickets are $12, $9 for students, seniors, and Jazz Fed members, available by calling 756-4849).
Acoustic flamenco guitar master Robby Longley returns again to Painted Sky this Saturday, March 15, at 8 p.m. “He weaves a very distinctive style with a beautifully orchestrated neo-classical/flamenco fusion of world music in which Robby uses flamenco technique to produce guitar music that is not traditional flamenco,” according to concert organizer Steve Crimmel. Tickets are $15 at Boo Boo Records, Cambria Music Box Shoppe, or by calling 927-8330.
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