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March 2024
Vol. 23, No. 6



by Bart MendozaNovember 2020

This month we ask Five Questions of Marie Haddad, look at recent and upcoming new major music releases with a San Diego connection, and take a listen to Jim Basnight’s latest album.


Marie Haddad. Photo by Lunar Maps.

Pianist / Singer–Songwriter Marie Haddad is one of San Diego’s musical treasures, in a class of her own. Blessed with a beautiful clear voice and a melodic sense influenced by both the pop and classical worlds, both of her albums, A Beautiful Road (2006) and Stories from Atlantis (2017), are well worth hearing, the latter taking home the 2018 SDMA for Best Pop Album. It’s just one of the many accolades Haddad has received over the years. Her music has been featured on TV’s Dance Moms, while the video for her song “JDITA” won Best Music Video at the 2019 San Diego Film Week Awards. Meanwhile, earlier this year, her version of the Hoodoo Guru’s “I Want You Back” was included on the charity album Various ‎Artists—Musicians of the World for Australian Firefighters. Also be sure to check out her version of “Night Scented Stock” on the Kate Bush tribute album, Running Up the Hill. Her choice of song on this album says a lot about her wonderful vocal talents.

Who are your musical influences? Who inspired you to play your instrument?
My list of musical influences keeps getting longer! But I’d include Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, Bat for Lashes, and Chopin. Lately, I’ve been revisiting the vocal harmonies of Lucius and First Aid Kit. As a kid, I would play my little toy piano whenever I heard music on the TV or radio. I’m not sure where that inspiration came from, but thankfully my parents were able to bring home a real upright piano when I turned five and I began taking lessons.

Which of your many collaborations is your favorite?
I’ve loved working with so many different people through the years, collaborating in different ways and in different styles. It’s really exciting and fun for me. I would say, though, that the collaboration that has meant the most to me is a song I recorded together with my Grandmother’s voice. I had recorded a snippet of her singing a song from her home country [Yugoslavia]. This particular song seemed to mean a lot to her and she sang it often. I found the recording soon after her death and decided to write a piece centered around her vocal part. Lyrically, the song [“Spinning Yarn”] is about her as well. I love that our voices are heard together on the track.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever heard your music playing?
Strangest? Probably on a TV food show! ABC’s “The Taste.” I was happy about it though, obviously! One of the coolest places I heard my music recently was just a few weeks ago on the YouTube channel of a little girl named Olivia. I’m not sure which country she lives in, but she posts videos of herself doing dance routines. She created a dance to one of my songs and it was a joy to see her enthusiasm as she interpreted the song! Her other posted dances are all to K-Pop songs, so I felt extra flattered to have been included. 🙂

Who is your favorite cartoon character and why?
Hmm, I’m not sure… maybe Jem (from Jem and the Holograms)… or maybe the Brave Little Toaster…or the old man in Up…or maybe Wall-E!

What’s your favorite thing about being a musician?
There are so many things! It’s one of the creative ways I can express myself. I can get lost for hours trying to create something new, and in those hours I feel free, yet focused. I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met because of being a musician, the musicians I’ve been lucky enough to work with and become friends with, and especially grateful for the moments when my music connects with someone listening to it.

The holiday season is the time of year when record companies release items that might make good gifts, such as live albums, box sets, and “best of” releases, and 2020 is proving to be no exception. There is a wealth of San Diego-related releases for 2020. Here is a look at some of this year’s potential musical stocking stuffers.

• A new box set from Herb Alpert, Herb Alpert Is…, includes the famed trumpeter’s version of Jason Mraz’s hit song, “I’m Yours.” Alpert’s longtime piano accompanist is San Diegan Bill Cantos.

Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland’s new album, Be True to Yourself, is out via Omnivore records and features guest appearances from Julian Lennon, Micky Dolenz, and former Chicago bassist / Point Loman Jason Scheff. Jason’s dad is legendary bassist Jerry Scheff who performed with the Doors and Elvis Presley.

• Originally issued on CD in 2003, the Beat FarmersLive at Spring Valley Inn 1983 gets a two-disc, gatefold vinyl release this month, limited to 1,000 copies. The 22 songs include their own hits as well as covers of Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Bruce Springsteen, John Stewart, and more.

• Bluegrass or Andy Griffith Show fans will want to hear the latest from legendary bluegrass band the Dillards (aka The Darlin’ Family) who have just released their first album in 25 years, Old Road New Again. The album includes a guest appearance from former Scottsville Squirrel Barker, Eagle, and San Diegan, Bernie Leadon.

• Songwriting legend / North County resident Jack Tempchin has two songs on the new Eagles album, Live from the Forum: “Already Gone” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

Flogging Molly, featuring North County’s Matt Hensley, has a 20th Anniversary vinyl box set reissue of their classic album, Swagger, out this month. In addition to being remixed and remastered, extras now include a four-piece button pack, a vinyl slip mat, a lyric booklet, an embroidered patch, a DVD documentary, and an additional LP of unreleased live tracks.

• A new CD box set is due soon from legendary 1960’s combo Iron Butterfly, Unconscious Power—An Anthology 1967-1971, including stereo / mono mixes, rare singles, and four live sets recorded at New York’s Fillmore East in April 1968. The band received an SDMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

• Former San Diegan, Jewel’s Pieces of You (1995) is getting the box set treatment—four discs with lots of unreleased material including a full set from the Inner Change Coffeehouse in Pacific Beach. The original edition has sold more than 12,000,000 copies to date in the U.S. alone. That live Jewel show is also getting a stand-alone release. Live at the Inner Change will be available as a two-LP vinyl set, limited to 2,500 copies.

• The new John Lennon compilation, Gimme Some Truth, includes his version of the Rosie and the Originals 1960 classic “Angel Baby.”

Nickel Creek fans will want to track down the trios latest, Live from the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA. (2014). 22 songs on limited edition coke bottle clear 180g vinyl.

• The first-ever album from the collaboration of former Mount Carmel High School student Adam Lambert and legendary British rock combo Queen has been released, Live Around the World. The album includes 20 tracks recorded on tour over the last six years; Lambert has been Queen’s vocalist for ten years

• Point Loma’s Pacific Records is releasing several winter collectables, including the Skyler Lutes Band’s The Blue Album, which reworks the tracks from Weezer’s debut, a red vinyl edition of Cambrian Shores Coming Home EP, and the soundtrack to Guitar Legends 4, hosted by Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), with music director / pianist Martin Guigui and guests set to include Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Mike Love (Beach Boys), Kenny Loggins, Big and Rich, Keb Mo, and Larkin Poe. Proceeds from the album, will go to America Salutes You, an organization that raises funds for brain and mental wellness charities assisting veterans and first responders.

• Encinitas-based label Surfdog Records will release a seven-inch single, Doyle Bramhall II’s “Be Here Now,” featuring Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks for Record Store Day Black Friday on Nov. 27th. “All proceeds go to benefit Turn Up for Recovery, the charitable movement founded by Melia Clapton to offer hope and spread awareness of abstinence-based recovery through music.”

Jim Basnight: Jokers, Idols & Misfits
21 recast cover tunes with Basnight, backed by the likes of the Moberly’s and the Rockinghams. With Basnight on guitars and vocals, it’s a nice mix of obscure gems and outright classics, so you get fresh takes on the True Believers “The Rebel Kind,” as well as the Who’s “I Can See for Miles.” While some tunes stick to the originals template, such as a take on the Sonics “Cinderella,” others stray to different degrees. Probably the best is a version of the Beatles “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” which is played straight, though with a harder edge, adding flute, saxophone, etc. The new parts work seamlessly, the ending in particular (starting at 2:12) perhaps gives a sense of what it might have sounded like if Elephant’s Memory had backed John Lennon live on this track. Also interesting is a saxophone-driven, take on Stories / Hot Chocolate’s “Brother Louie,” that adds a jazzy intro and a heavy funk vibe, while retaining all the melodic and instrumental parts. The tune features a nice wah-wah guitar vs. trumpet solo at 3:39, but the instrumental arrangement, especially the violin and lead guitar, is excellent across the board. Jokers, Idols & Misfits also includes Basnight’s latest single for Big Stir Records, “Prince Jones Davies Suite,” a nifty medley of Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows in April,” Bowie’s “Win,” and the Kinks’ “World Keeps Going Round.” Closing out with Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Good Thing,” the album is a must hear for both fans of Basnight’s power pop rock ‘n’ roll and the artists being covered here.

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