Monday, October 11, 2021

October 16, 2021, Observing my 70th Birthday

I’m sending this blog/ newsletter out, to reach out to old friends, dear friends.  Some I’ve lost touch with, I've never seemed to put down roots, and at times it troubles me, but it's been a great run.   

October 16, this year is my 70th birthday, the dates, the memories, the loves, the loss, the songs that never seem to age, but we turn the page, write another song, stay strong, and carry on

So many gigs, travels, losses, all run together, in fragments, some as clear as yesterday.  Before moving to Spain, I had a steady house gig at a beach resort on the Alabama Gulf Coast, that turned into almost 4 years.  I liked the steady income, but in a way it was like being a busker in a busy airport   I was very good at the piano bar gig, with a repertoire, of  thousands of songs, from Beethoven, Jellyroll Morton, Bach, Bacharach, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bowie, Barry White, Barry Gibb, and Frank Sinatra.   I got tired of the same 10 requests, Piano Man, Sweet Caroline, Sweet Home Alabama, Wagon Wheel, Mustang Sally, and put together this Song List poster, displayed near my piano,  to remind the folks, what an amazing musical legacy we have, and the gift that I had to know all of these songs, by ear and by heart, and having the experience, to work with many of the writers and performers of these songs, throughout my life.   My musical memory is an incredible gift, where I learned to play most any of these songs in any key.  It was like a mental exercise for me, and also because my voice was changing and I continually had to adjust the range, not only for me, but for whatever singer I was backing up.   

  I'm thankful now, that I am back doing concerts in great venues, with amazing musicians and writing some inspiring music.   . 
  One of the waiters, who was from Budapest, would always request “My Way” from Sinatra.  I would jokingly say “I’m saving it for my 100th birthday, but I would sometimes play it, even thought to me it was a bit too “grandiose” and over the top for a bluesman at heart.  Yes, regrets, I’ve had more than a few, but life is good, and I am grateful for all of you and the incredible experiences, touring the world, and doing what I love.  I was just watching Tony Bennett on 60 minutes, still singing, even though he’s going through Alzheimer’s.  The Week I was born, in 1951, he had a top ten hit, and amazing he’s still singing I wrote a song on my new CD called "Let's Get it Right This Time". Perfect for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,  duet with The amazing vocalist Vanessa Bryan.  The lyricist on this song and a few others on the upcoming CD is Nancy Krasn Gumbiner. She discovered me on,  The melodies seem to jump off the page in this musical brain of mine, and so glad we connected.   

I now live in Palos de la Frontera Spain, about an hour south of Seville, which was the historical launch of the 1492 Voyage of Columbus and those 3 ships we memorized in 1st grade that arrived in the Americas on October 12, 4 days before my birthday.  Replicas of them are docked a few minutes from my home, which seems a bit surreal, when I think of our shipping container leave the Mobile Bay, making full circle coming here.  

  As we approach Columbus Day or in my take on all of this, to many of my friends in Canada, Berkeley and the East Bay, Indigenous Peoples Day, or “First Nations”, as we re examine our history considering the people of the earth, conquest, racism, slavery, religion, monuments, and other reckoning to come to terms with.   

 JLS & The Gospel Messengers,  My band here in Spain and I are mostly all immigrants, me and our Bass player, Nick Sullivan, via Minneapolis, Americanos, my drummer Akin and 2 beautiful talented backup singers, Deborah Ayo, and Astrid Jones, are of Nigerian descent, and stars of their own on the Madrid Music scene, and are well versed in American black soul blues and Gospel. and from the first rehearsal, everything clicked.   I'm grateful for my friend Gecko Turner on guitar, an established Spanish Roots music artist/songwriter who helped me become established here in the music scene in Spain.  

We had an amazing tour last December of Gospel music, in concert halls with Concert Grand pianos, great acoustics, lighting and road crew, that was a dream come true. 

I had a life of privilege, and a great university music education learning orchestration, classical music, and jazz, but much of my first paying gigs, were playing rough juke joints of North Louisiana and East Texas where I learned Funk, blues and jazz.  During the early 70s, at the university of North Texas, I played the country Honky Tonks at night, while learning Classical orchestration and Bach counterpoint during the day.

My first visit to Europe, age 21, was a Summer University program in Rome, in 1973, I saw the Montreux jazz fest, meeting legends like Freddie King, Professor Longhair and Dr. John, where American roots music was praised, and put in beautiful concert halls, and studied, where back home, it was in the back alleys, and small clubs.     I have a long way to go with my Spanish immersion, but every day becomes a bit more fluent.  

It’s a long story, which I won’t go into here, but hard to believe, 10 years ago I was going through radiation/Chemo treatments for stage 3 cancer on my tongue in British Columbia Canada, which I am now a survivor.  I’m ever grateful of their single payer health care system that saved my life.  You may be familiar with it through the tragic death of Eddie Van Halen.  I guess I never got my affairs in order, because I’m still here, thank God, Still touring, writing, and married to the love of my life Maria, I guess 3rd time’s a charm, We just celebrated our 6th anniversary last week, but we met in 1995, on a Long John Baldry Tour of Germany, where she lived. 
  We moved here on Thanksgiving Day 2019, and our shipping container arrived on Christmas day, a few days after we had signed a lease.  I guess there is serendipity in all of this, and I wrote a song about it on my new CD, called “Palos de la Frontera”, with a great lyricist, Nancy Krasn Gumbiner, which is on my new CD.  

I start another tour, December 2021, dates still to be confirmed, and hopefully a new release around the same time, called “Songs Have A life of Their Own” with all instruments, music, lyrics, orchestration, production from me.  I think this is one of the best songs I ever wrote, and hope you enjoy it.  I’ve posted a few of the tracks as a sampler on the Bandcamp link, for pre-orders.   

 On the new CD, I wanted to write about what many of us have gone through as a people, guardians of the planet, citizens, and did not want to be confined to genres, such as the blues, Americana, or whatever.  Many of my favorite composers write for film soundtracks, where they are conveying the emotions on the screen, and take on another dimension and depth.  

I took one semester of film scoring at San Jose State, and this CD is the soundtrack and my story of the last 4 or so years, which covers romance,  The great divide, climate change, Pandemic response, The Church, Spirituality, travel, Wanderlust, Human Rights, The afterlife, social media and its effect on us all.  There’s only so much you can cover in a 12-bar blues shuffle, even though it’s a blast to play, I have much more to say as a composer.  

I have 20 or 30 hard drives that I’ve kept for over 20 years and found some emails that my family and friends wrote around 1995, before Facebook, Instagram, when most people still wrote postcards, and snail mail.   I remember my father tapping out 5 or 10 letters a night on his loud clacking typewriter, at 50 words a minute, after dinner, late into the night, he was a outstanding and prolific writer, and I miss him.  He took a computer course at age 80, and learned to use Compuserve/ Prodigy, the first online service available to the public in the early 90s.   

 There seemed to be so much hopefulness and a bit of innocence in those early emails, that this technology had the power to change the world for good.  I watched the Senate testimony of Francis Haugen,   The Facebook whistleblower who explained how Facebook uses algorithms to addict young teens, and how polarization and hateful speech increases the bottom line and drives up profits.   One of the songs on my new cd, a fun funky dance number, “Put Down Your Phone”, is about the social implications, and addiction of our phones, and social media, such a drastic change in such a short time on this planet, where 60% of the planet is on Facebook.  I have a bit of an addiction to it all, I confess, living much of my life in Silicon Valley, working with creative people and using the technology, it’s changed the way I create music for the better.  Even so, I still miss the live recording sessions with the whole band in the studio.    

I thank you for your friendship over the years, and all that has connected us.  If you have a moment, check out some of the links, for my music, old and new. I hope to hear from you.  

Much love and gratitude for all of you

John Lee Sanders

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Wishing you all a prosperous, safe, and Happy 2021, from John Lee Sanders

Madrid December 2020 Puerta de Alcala
with Poster advertising my Gospel Concert in Madrid with 
John Lee Sanders and the Gospel Messengers.  


Here's wishing that 2021 will bring joy, 
love, peace, and happiness to you all.

We’ve all seen a struggle to get through 2020, with the Coronavirus, loss of loved ones, 
Jobs, close of businesses, and trying to understand the bigger meaning to all of us in terms of survival, our creator, and our inter-dependence of life on Earth, as we also take on climate change. 

 In 2003, I read "Demon in the Freezer" how the World Health Organization, with the cooperation of all on earth, wiped out the Smallpox deadly virus. I know if we work together we can make this happen, and wipe out the coronavirus.  There are still hurdles to overcome, with so much misinformation, but we must become reliable information and resist the anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy folks, and defeat this deadly plague.   In March of 2020, during the first stay at home order, I wrote, arranged and produced "Gone Viral", about the world response to the virus, the USA pathetic response as it became political, with denial of facts, and putting nations, states, and social classes against each other, instead of fighting a common enemy, and fighting the pandemic as if it were a war.   

In December of 2020, I was blessed and a bit overwhelmed,  to do a 9 Major city Gospel Christmas concert tour of Northern Spain, including the Capital city of Madrid, in the Fernán Gomez Teatro. 
I was often amazed at the level of respect and reception, especially as a recent immigrant to and almost unknown artist in Spain in the middle of a global pandemic. My band and I were required to take 2 Coronavirus tests, required to perform and some of the venues, and fly from Madrid to the Canary Islands, off the Coast of Africa.  #gospelmusic 
#gospelpiano #gospelmusicinspain

  Our tour was covered by many of the major news outlets, and press of Spain including Antenna 3, the top major network of Spain.  The beautiful state of the art performing concert halls with beautiful Yamaha and Steinway 9’ Grand pianos, and enthusiastic crowds welcomed a Gospel Christmas tour of my American Roots Gospel, after so much live music events had been canceled in 2020. 

 Seating was assigned with social distancing, mask mandates, huge stages, and distance between the band members, with private dressing rooms for me, the band, our two female vocalists, but unfortunately no meet and greets after the shows. 

 I had an amazing group of Musicians, and singers.  Astrid Jones and Deborah Ayo, well known performers, and vocal coaches in their own rite, from Madrid, of Nigerian decent, who were extremely well versed in American Black Gospel, Soul, Hip Hop and Pop Music, and gave an authenticity to our tour as experienced in some of the videos.  The rhythm section was Akin Onasanya, also of Nigerian Origin, a well known drummer, percussionist, singer and composer on the Spanish Roots jazz/Soul music scene.  Akin"s father was a Nigerian Minister, and grew up playing and singing in his father"s choir in Africa.  Also on the tour was Nick Sullivan on Bass, from Minneapolis, now in Madrid, and Gecko Turner on Vocals, Guitar, and percussion.  I have sincere gratitude to Gecko for introducing me to the Spanish Music scene, our booking agency and much more.  
John Lee Sanders and the Gospel Messengers

In December of 2019, my wife Maria and I took a bold step and moved from the Alabama Gulf Coast to the southern coast of Spain about an hour south of Seville.
We didn’t know what Plans God had for us, but we are still continually blessed with the roots and the fruits in this wonderful experience and protected at every turn.    

Our small village is named Palos de la Frontera, best known for the being the disembarkation of   legendary voyage of three ships of Christopher Columbus.  The Captains of the 2 other ships, the Niña, and Pinta, were the Pinzon Brothers are from our village.  
Replicas of the 3 Columbus Ships in our Village, Palos de la Frontera

Blessing of the Voyage of Columbus, below the church in our village of Palos de la frontera

 My neighborhood is very diverse, with African and Muslim immigrants, as well as Spanish born citizens.  Maria was born in Spain and immigrated with her parents to Germany in the late 60s.  I met her on a 1995 Long John Baldry tour, where I was a featured vocalist, piano player and saxophonist.  We reconnected in 2012 and have been together ever since.   
Marin Headlands, 2015

Grand Canyon, 2015

Our Wedding Reception, Oct 2015, Gulf Shores Alabama

In 2015, Maria and drove down from my home in Vancouver to do a 6-week gig on the Reno Snow Train, where I played piano and sang on the Royal Gorge Piano Lounge, From the Emeryville Oakland Amtrak Station, (home to Pixar Studios) through the beautiful and sometimes Snow Capped Sierra Madres.  
 I was in the process of recording my recent CD, Tweakin’ some Twang, my rather diverse take on Americana Music, with some of my Southern roots.  The 12 original  songs were well written, some great A list session players, from Nashville, California and Europe that I had worked with over the years, and some were great finds, such as  Brent Mason on guitar, CMA Musician of the year many times over

We recorded some great rhythm tracks at Red Rooster Studios in Berkeley with Garth Webber, The Track Shack in Sacramento, and later overdubs in Niagara Falls Studio in Fremont, CA a few miles from the Tesla Factory, with Bruce Kaphan, who played amazing Pedal Steel Guitar, and mixed the entire CD.  We recorded the String Section in St. Petersburg Russia, with Maria Grig and her mini orchestra, which gave some of the songs a cinematic quality that I love.  
 I wrote a song about my time on the train, called "Southbound Train" on my recent CD, "Tweakin Some Twang

The once thriving Vancouver music scene that I experienced over the years, seemed to be on its last legs, from gentrification, and younger audiences who no longer appreciated live music, in favor of Sports bars and discos.  

 I was touring,  playing great venues and festivals, and opening acts for well-known artists such as Bonnie Raitt, I felt it was time for a change. I had formed one of top bands in British Columbia, and rave reviews from the local press, but was often perceived as an outsider, when it came to the recording session player scene that I had been a huge part of in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I recorded this live CD/DVD in 2006 which still holds up as one of my best recordings of my 16 solo CD Catalog.  

  We took a  leap of faith, we headed down the  California Coast, stopping along the way for a show with my longtime friend and backing musician to legendary songwriter,  Paul Williams in Chandler AZ.  

We were blown away and took in the beauty Sedona, the Grand Canyon, then it was Eastbound and down, along Route 66, reminiscing at my old Alma Mater at the University of North Texas in Denton, 

We visited my former hometowns of Monroe Louisiana, Jackson Mississippi, old stomping grounds of Memphis,  New Orleans,  Clarksdale, Jackson, Birmingham, and other  places of my upbringing. 
I considered relocating to back to the Bay Area, or  New Orleans,  Memphis or Austin, but the live and Studio music scene had taken a nose dive, in light of streaming, and other trends.  

 My older Brother, Chip, also a piano player, lined up a 2 week visit to the Alabama Gulf Coast which led to a 4-year piano bar house gig at the Perdido Beach resort.  Maria and I were married in October 2015, and it’s been the happiest years of my life.  I’m not sure the day we came to the decision, but we both realized, in 2019, we wanted to relocate to Europe, where I had been touring since 1993.  We decided on Spain, where Maria has family, a brother, a daughter and son in law, who serves in the Spanish NATO Air Force, (recently stationed in Ukraine 2014, after the Putin Russian invasion), and 4 beautiful grandchildren.  

The timelines, places, events in our lives all have signs if we are open to seeing perceiving them. “Perdido” means “Lost” in Spanish, which was the name of the river and bay, that was discovered by the Spanish not long after the original voyage of Columbus, which led to the original settlement at Pensacola. The Perdido River, was the Florida-Alabama Panhandle border was also the border between the French and Spanish Territory, before the American Revolution.  

In November of 2019, we loaded up a 20’ Cargo shipping container of all of our possessions, guitars, saxes, keyboards,  studio gear, clothes, antiques, which could barely make it down our narrow one way street.  We had to cut a few branches off of a huge pine tree to get the container into the drive. 

The shipping container arrived at our home in Spain,  on Christmas Day, 2019, Across the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, from the Mobile Bay, I took all of these things as guideposts and tried to put them all in perspective, and make sense of all of the signs in my life as things seem to come full circle.  There are replicas of the 3 Columbus Ships here in our village, and a statue of him in the city square, as we re-examine our history, in light of the indigenous peoples of the earth, Cancel Culture, and the succession of  Conquistadores that would follow.  I remember living in the East bay of California, when the City Council of Berkeley, voted that  Columbus day, was renamed “Indigenous Peoples day.    

Monday, November 12, 2018

October-November 2018, Veterans Day, Back to Birmingham 50 years later

Celebrating Veterans Day, this November 2018, with a new song, that almost fell into my lap.  Since 2014, I've been promoting my services on Airgigs,  as a long time studio musician, on keyboards, sax, vocals, guitar, full production demos, and the whole tracks.  Recently I started offering my services as a composer, putting music to a client's lyrics.  I accept, or decline, depending on the lyric, and how it's constructed, and if it grabs me in an emotional way, and not the money.  I also require a collaboration agreement, to avoid any potential conflicts. 

 I got a writing request from a combat veteran, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to compose to a lyric he wrote, called "The Dust Blows Forward, blows back".  I don't know much of his story, but the images in the song, seem to be of a dust storm in the Iraqi desert.  The song also deals a bit the mental effects of PTSD, which they used to refer to as "Shell Shock"  The VA reports veteran suicide rates at 20 per day, a shocking report.
 The lyricist wanted an alt rock kind of feel, similar to Tom Waits.  I added the military snare drum, to give the military vibe.

I've had my issues with American military involvement since Viet Nam, and other non declared conflicts, in the world.  When I turned 18, my draft number in the lottery was #39, and luckily my student deferment kept me out of the conflict, thousands of miles away, in a war I didn't support.  I moved to the San Jose bay area in 1977, which became  "Little Saigon" one of the largest Vietnamese populations outside of Vietnam, after the fall of Saigon.  They had a large music scene, and as a studio musician, many of my studio clients were Vietnamese karaoke tracks, CDs, movie soundtracks, and live shows. These were some of my favorite people I've worked with, and I learned much from their culture, and the difficult challenges of those seeking asylum, from war torn countries, One of my Vietnamese friends and client, left as a teenager, with only the shirt on his back. 
 We could still learn from their stories, in this era of building walls.   

Throughout my music career, I've met many of the policy makers of US foreign policy, that affect us all, including Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Nancy Pelosi, and others.
WWII, was different, we had to save Europe from Hitler and Nazi Germany.  I've visited Nuremburg, and the site of the mass Hitler Rallies, much like the Trump MAGA Rallies of today.  As a young boy, my parents took me to see "Judgement at Nuremburg", in 1962.  I didn't fathom that such horrors could take place at that age, but I've seen the movie a few times as an adult, I read "Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich" and numerous documentaires.   These things should be taught in the public schools, because the Nazi hate crimes have increased in the USA since Trump became President.  We need to teach our kids that democracy is fragile, and more than words on an ancient document, and can be taken away by the stroke of a pen, a racist cop, or a corrupt election, with voter suppression.  

 I've toured Germany as a musician, since 1993, my wife Maria is German, (Spanish Born) I've visited the concentration camps, and the Holocaust museums, and know the effects of racism, and dog whistle politics, which have resurfaced in the era of Trump, starting with the birther movement, that propelled him to the highest office in the land.

I was in Bonn Germany, 1995, (birthplace of Beethoven) doing a concert, on the 50th anniversary of 'VE DAY, WWII, with the Long John Baldry Band, Long John, who I toured with from 1987-2003,  was born in London during the height of the German Blitzkrieg, his father helped defeat the Nazis, Our band was Canadian, USA, and British. A German woman came up after the show and gave me a hug, and thanked us all and those on whose shoulders we stand, for her freedom, a moment I shall never forget.  With Trump's isolationist, nationalist agenda, I worry about our strong alliances, with our allies, NATO,  are breaking down.  I believe in building bridges, Not walls!!  
This picture speaks a thousand words, with Merkel and Macron, at the graves of the fallen

 Touring with Long John Baldry, (who discovered Elton John, and me in a 20 year later line of succession on the keys) especially through Europe, on the long bus and train rides, was always a great history lesson.  He knew probaby more, than most of my history professors, and seeing these important places are forever in my memory. 
I'm forever grateful, because I met Maria,  my wife to be in 1996,  on one of those great tours, in her hometown near Frankfurt Germany 

 My new upcoming CD, "Tweakin Some Twang" an Americana fusion of country, Blues, Gospel, Rockabilly, Soul, New Orleans, Cajun and Classical, includes worldwide musicians, from Canada, USA, Russia, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Spain.  

Sweet Home Alabama, 2015

I moved to Orange Beach Alabama, August 2015, where I spent many great summers with my parents as a teenager in Gulf Shores, AL.  I moved back from Vancouver BC, and started working at the Perdido Beach Resort as a solo piano Vocalist.  I've played Gospel music much of my life, as Organist at the Bebee Memorial AME, (African American Episcopal) church in Oakland California, around 2000-2004.

After coming to Orange Beach, I looked for a Sunday Morning church for I could be a part of it's musical experience.  I found a notice on Craigslist, which was heaven sent, with 2 ministers from the Unity Church, Jim and Donna Mullis, who have become great friends, and inspire me every week, with their message of inclusion,  

Path to Peace

Last month, I was part of the music production, a multi ethnic Choir of "Path to Peace" in Foley Alabama, a gathering of God’s children, including black, white and Hispanic churches, for reflections on the Christian call to reconciliation between races and ethnicities with music, worship and reflection. The goal is to start a dialogue that will lead to lasting friendships and dissolve racial lines that have been drawn in our community’s sands.

  Growing up in the Jim Crow south, in the Methodist church in the 50s and 60s,  Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, with it's violently enforced apartheid, had a virtual  silence, indifference, and apathy, regarding the intense struggle for civil rights  going on around us.  If it were not for music and sports, we may not have come as far as we have today, with the holy trinity of the south, Jesus, footbal and guns.
The Church has come around recently, opposing Trump, on it's separation of immigrant families.  

 As a blues, soul, and Gospel musician, with also a background in classical music, the music of the black church, from radio, records and television, and the old hymns, with roots in the German, English Reformation, were co-existing in my upbringing, and I learned to play many of them.  European church music were the foundations of music theory, and learning these amazing harmonic voicings on piano, and voice, were the building blocks that are like a DNA of music in my brain that has never left me.  The Blues and Gospel of the Mississippi Black culture, co-existing in my musical and cultural dichotomy childhood were something I deal with to this day, with demographics, and what's gonna grab the people.
 If I were a dancer, I would be like Prince up on the Grand Piano, if I was a piano virtuoso, I could seque from Mozart to Jellyroll Morton, and celebrate all that music has to offer. 
  I grew up and learned to sing in the choir,  in the Capitol Street Methodist Church, with it's beautiful 1912, Gothic Style Revival, grand pipe organ.  The Church is now located in what now resembles a ghetto, now falling down, looking like a war zone, but a result of White Flight to more affluent suburbs.   Before


In 1960, my family moved from this Jackson neighborhood, to Birmingham Alabama, in an all white suburb called Vestavia Hills.  Birmingham was had a thriving downtown, concerts, a great symphony orchestra, that the school board would bus the kids downtown once a month to hear at the local city auditorium.  I had a great classically trained vocal teacher as a teenager, Dr. Vernon Skoog, head of the Birmingham music of city schools,  when my voice was changing, who taught me how to control my voice, from the diaphragm, vocal chords, and the nasal head tones, that I still remember to this day.  It wasn't the music I was most fond of, but I still use the techniques I learned from him to this day.

My favorite DJ in Birmingham, Dave Roddy, was promoting weekend shows at a National Guard Armory, with black R&B acts, from New Orleans, like Irma Thomas, and Otis Redding at high school dances, and discovered me during this time at aged 13.  Along with my brother, Chip and his band, the Ramblers, I opened for many of the top pop, soul and rock acts of the time, including Billy Joe Royal, Bobby Goldsboro. It was an amazing time to be part of this music scene, in Birmingham, while so much history was being made, on many fronts.

On Saturdays,  I'd ride the city bus down Red Mountain, to the movies with my friends,
get a hamburger and coke at the Crystal Hamburger, while the black kids my age, would used a "Colored only"  "to go" window around the back.  They were showing off some of the latest hip dance moves on the corner to us white kids.  On a dare, I invited some of them to come hang out and eat with us, at the Crystal, and they thought I was joking, crazy, or ignorant to the way things were,  as they apparently had been trained to obey the Jim Crow laws since early in childhood,  that had been in place for generations, and a violation could mean a beating, a cross burning or a hanging.
I didn't know who or what "Jim Crow" was, but often when walking downtown, I would see black men and women, carrying protest signs saying "Jim Crow Must Go" outside the big department stores, where I later met Dr. Martin Luther King, at Pizitz dept store, where he had organized a boycott, because they refused to hire black employees.  These brave kids, became the foot soldiers of the Birmingham civil rights movement, facing fire hoses, police dogs, beatings and jail.   During my October visit to Birmingham, my wife and I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights museum, where so much history was made. 

Justice Delayed, Justice denied 

On September 15, 1963, I was 12 years old, on my Dad's Birthday, my family witnessed the aftermath of the 16th Street Baptist Church  Bombing while driving to his birthday dinner after church. Four young girls died in the bombing, by the KKK.   FBI director J. Edgar Hoover closed the investigation of the terrorist bombing in 1968. The case was re-opened, and 24 years later, Prosecutor and now new Senator Doug Jones, also from Birmingham, was 9 years old at the time of the bombing,  was the prosecutor, and finally got a conviction in the case.

 Two months later, JFK was murdered in Dallas, where I lived for 4 years, in the 70s, and drove over the the assassination site hundreds of times going to work, or shopping, which always gave me a chill and a sadness, of this time of my life, and wondered what great things he could have achieved.

  This is my brother, Steve Sanders account, of that day, that changed our city forever, and was a turning point in the movement for equal rights.   Steve is a 6 time Emmy Award winning Television Journalist on WGN Chicago
"JLS, you may not remember but that horrific1963 bombing took place on our father's birthday, Sept. 15. We were heading downtown after church for a birthday lunch. As we drove closer to the bombing site, I still recall the pall of dust in the air and police barricades. About 15 years later, that scene was seared in my memory as a young radio reporter covering the trial of Robert Chambliss, one of four KKK terrorists responsible for the bombing."

This week, October 2018, of our Birmingham visit, 11 Jews were massacred in a terrorist attack, by a gunman, and a Synagogue in Pittsburg. Pipe bombs sent by a Trump supporter, to prominent
 Democratic leaders.  I thought we had progressed as a country, since those dark days in the 60s, and these times, since the election of 2016, we have regressed.  Here's a picture of our visit to Birmingham, with my wife Maria in a statue in Kelly Ingram Park, honoring the heroes of the Civil Rights movement.  

On October 29, I performed for the "Stars of the Industry" restaurant, and Hotel awards dinner, in Birmingham, one of my first visits back since my family left Birmingham 50 years ago.   The Perdido Beach Resort, where I've been performing for the last 3 years, won Alabama Hotel of the Year, They have been very supportive to me, and my wife, and I'm very grateful of my music position there.

Here's a picture of the street I grew up on, in Vestavia, a suburb of Birmingham, many great memories of this time.  My 2 brothers and I were a big part of the Birmingham music scene. There was always a jam session or rehearsal in this house where I learned to sing, play piano, bass, guitar, and drums. In 1968, our family was transferred to Monroe Louisiana.  It was a sad time for me, leaving the life I had here in Birmingham, but I've had an amazing life, and just celebrated my 67th Birthday.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

In the Studio December, January, February

Happy New Year 

Hope you all had a great Christmas holiday, and and wish you all a great 2018.  I've had some time off from my steady gig at the Perdido Beach Resort, Orange Beach,  had a great family reunion here in Orange beach with my brothers Steve, Chip, sister Cindy, and extended family.  

In 2014, I started my CD "Tweakin some Twang" crowd funded originally by Kickstarter, which didn't reach it's goal and all of the money was refunded to the original donors.  I switched to Indiegogo, which allowed the recipient to keep all funds raised.   To all my generous donors, I'm so sorry this has taken much longer to finish than anticipated. 
I started in 2014, with some great sessions, with basic tracks recorded in Sacramento and Berkeley,  overdub sessions in Vancouver, Spain, Alabama, Los Angeles.  

The funds raised were not enough to cover the expenses, and with my touring schedule and live performance schedule after moving to the Alabama Gulf Coast, the CD has taken much longer than anticipated.  The mix down engineers that I had hoped for were charging about $500 per song, which ate up much of my recording budget, so I've found a few that will deliver a great product, and will sound great.  
Here's one of my favorite tracks from the CD "Joy In the Morning" written for my beautiful wife Maria, who is the muse and the love of my life

Just started back on my house gig, Perdido Beach Resort, great Christmas reunion with my family in Orange Beach, Christmas Eve in New Orleans, 

We have a new Grandchild coming in March, and hope to go back to Spain, near Seville.  
Great Spiritual studies, and inspiration playing music, Sunday Mornings at Unity Church Gulf Shores Alabama, 
Welcome back Snow Birds. 
Played my first Mardi Gras Ball, with a Tower of Power Cover band, "Everybody's Here" in Mobile, which held the first mardi Gras Celebrations in the USA in 1792

 My connection with Tower of Power go back to 1975, opening for them in Dallas,  and then a great musical association, arranging "Oakland Zone" horns for them, and my Doc Kupka Solo Cds, Doc Goes Hollywood, Kick it up a Step, and "Bumped Up to First Class" 

I'll be taking orders for the new CD "Tweakin some Twang" Pre-sale order at $15.00 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Working with online music clients from home

In the Summer of 2014, I was living in Spain with my wife Maria in the Small Village  of her family, and her birth, in Villar Del Rey, population about 2000.

We were in between concert tours, in Germany, Italy Croatia, Slovenia, and I had a keyboard, a studio mic, a laptop, and a wifi connection. I started posting my session player music website resume to various online session player services and since then, I've built up a very good roster of clients.  I'm still working 5 nights a week, as a solo piano vocal entertainer, but enjoy taking on some very interesting projects.
Many of my music clients come from  Airgigs, A website where artists can hire session players, vocalists, mix down engineers, etc, I'm listed as a sax player, keys, vocal, arranger and full demo production.
Here's a track I Wrote and sang for the Cosmic Pimp Band in Switzerland called Main Squeeze

More of my Session work to come.

Friday, February 10, 2017

February 2017, From Orange Beach Alabama

Hello friends, It's been too long since I've written a newsletter. Since my last writing, I married the girl of my dreams. Maria Silverio Gomez. We met in 1997, on a Long John Baldry Tour, in Fulda Germany, where Maria lived for 36 years. 

We found each other on Facebook, after too long apart, We were married in October 2015, Since August 2015, we've been living in Orange Beach Alabama, Where my family vacationed every summer during my childhood and teen years. I had a condo here, and sold it in 2010, just before the Deepwater Horizon Spill. 

I'm working between 6 and 7 nights per week, at the Perdido Beach Resort, playing grand piano in the Lobby, and The Fish River Grill, My last tour was the Summer of 2014, It's a bit lower profile than some of my huge concerts on the road, but the weather is great, I am writing and finally finishing my long overdue CD, that was crowd funded, 

I'm currently working on a 4 volume release for the Yamaha Disklavier player piano
for Player Piano Premier, featuring 40 of the greatest songs from Elton John.  
I was the pianist with Long John Baldry, for many years, the blues legend who discovered Elton in the mid 60s as a young man.  His music has been an inspiration since I heard his 1st CD in the 1970s,  I'll post some of the audio version of these,  it's been quite challenging to put his vocal and piano style into a cohesive arrangement, but the results have been beautiful

Recently I performed with one of the best artists on the Gulf Coast,  Mr. Lee Yankie, and the Hellzyeas at the Florabama,  He's an amazing guitarist and I hope to do some recording with him soon.  

Will send more updates as they come. Maria and I just got back from a wonderful Christmas Celebration with family in Germany and Spain, Will post a few pictures and rough mixes from the new CD, Best wishes, peace and love