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Anna’s Jazz Island w/ Guitarist Eric Swinderman: “Shut up and play yo’ guitar!”

July 1, 2008

One day, out of the blue, I received a call from famed San Francisco Bay area jazz/blues guitarist Eric Swinderman. Eric wanted to know if I was interested in playing a show with him at Anna’s Jazz Island, one of the SF Bay areas fantastic jazz listening venues located in downtown Berkeley. Anna’s is a venue I have played for many years and enjoy working – Eric is a great guitarist with an outstanding reputation and following, so I, of course, said “YES!”.

The strange (and wonderful) thing about the call was that I didn’t really know Eric…we have lots of mutual music friends and we had heard each others names tossed about in the Bay area media/jazz community, but we had never met…never so much as spoken. I knew Eric and I were going to hit off the moment he called me; see he was interested in the same thing I’m interested in – THE MUSIC! It’s not about ego, it’s not about playing with the same guys you always play with and playing the same tunes you always play…nah, it’s about the beauty of creating something new. Eric called a guy (that’d be me) he didn’t know, but had heard good things about and said, “Let’s make some music!”

I was sold…:-)

[Side note…and funny story] Eric first heard about me through Cat (my manager/publicist/wife). She saw him performing with his trio at an event, walked up to him and requested the Stanley Turrentine song “Sugar” and then she said if you don’t know “Sugar” play “Cheesecake” by Dexter Gordon…Eric said he was a little stunned; musicians don’t usually get “obscure” and interesting requests like that from the general public. She then handed him a copy of my first record, The Calling: Volume One, and said, “this is my husband, he plays jazz guitar and manage him”. Eric said he just about tossed Volume One in the pile of CD’s us musicians always get from random folks at random events…but, he took it home, gave it a listen, and liked what he heard. A few years went by and he was listening to KCSM. I was giving an interview that day promoting my latest record, QuintEssential, and my upcoming CD release at Yoshi’s Jazz house in Oakland. Eric put two and two together and made the call…

We set the band lineup (amazing players), Ruth Davies – Bass and Deszon X Claiborne – Drums. Eric and exchanged a few emails, phone calls, and had one short rehearsal at his house. Eric’s a great guy, laid-back, humble, funny; it was a real treat hanging with someone who was such a class player and a nice guy. We had a wonderful show – fantastic turn-out and, more importantly, the music was happenin’! There was definite synergy on stage between Eric and I. Our styles are similar (both finger-style) players, but different enough we compliment each other.

Eric and I have spoken a few more time and we are planing to make some music again soon, with another performance in the not-too-distant future.

Photos by Cat, the “Annie Leibovitz” of the iPhone

Minor Crisis – Eric Swinderman from In Pursuit of the Sound

The Way – Terrence Brewer from The Calling: Volume One

Stay “Tuned” and thanks for reading 🙂

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