Jay Allen Sanford 11 a.m., July 11
Sound description: Acoustic Alchemy-style light jazz, perfect for coffeehouses, art galleries, and the CD players/Walkmans/iPods of anyone who misses the '80s "Lights Out Jazz" programming on local radio station KPRI.
RIYL: John Katchur, Jeff Berkley, Calman Hart, Dani Carroll, Dave Howard, Perry McCarty, the Truckee Brothers, Gregory Page, Eve Selis, Steve Poltz, Dave Grusin, Crowded House, Bruce Hornsby, Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler
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- Musician Interviews · March 31, 2005
Inception: San Diego, 1994
Current Status: Appears to be dormant at present.
Influences: Acoustic Alchemy, Marc Antoine, Juan Carlos Quintero, Bernie Williams, Jesse Cook, Willie and Lobo, Robben Ford, Duane Allman, Johnny A, John Jorgensen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Earth Wind and Fire, Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, James Brown, Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt
Mesa Blue formed in 1994, when singer/guitarist Chris Del Priore and drummer Jeffrey Stasny decided to quit the rock band they were in to create a more acoustic jazz-styled trio. Jeffrey says, "Chris began writing songs, and I'd recorded with Omar [Ramirez], so he came in on bass. As soon as we had enough songs, we became kings of the coffeehouses, like Java Joe's and Mikey's in Poway. We'd play anywhere. We still do. We played an El Torito in Mission Valley where we set up in the mall itself, playing toward the patio of the restaurant but with our backs to the mall crowd. Borders is a weird place to play. It's quiet in the middle of a bookstore."
Chris recalls, "I played stranger places before Mesa Blue -- [like] this country bar about 20 years ago in central Florida. I think I had to play 'Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw' three different times." Bassist Omar Ramirez says his oddest gig was as a classical guitarist for an outdoor dinner party. "I was asked to stroll from table to table playing instrumental arrangements of songs from the musical South Pacific. With only two hands, I had to move a stool, footstool, and guitar to and from each table as well as playing these rather memorable melodies."
Mesa Blue likes to spice up their songs for live performances with extra-jazzy versions of songs. "For acoustic shows, we do more jazz and Latin instrumentals. Omar plays more guitar [live]...we do a little guitar dueling."
Says Jeffrey, "[If the room is small], I don't even use sticks, just brushes, and just the soft ones."