Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

We're Number One!

Relax, I'm not going to get one of those silly big foam-rubber fingers and start jumping around shouting this. I'm much too cool for that. I'm just reacting to the Society of American Travel Writers rating of the Top Ten Cities For Live Music in North America.


1. New Orleans, Louisiana

2. New York City

3. Austin, Texas

4. Nashville, Tennessee

5. Chicago, Illinois

6. Memphis, Tennessee

7. Montreal, Canada

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

9. Branson, Missouri

10. Denver, Colorado

On reflection, I'm really not surprised they rated New Orleans over New York. New York has been the center of the jazz universe for over half a century, but in terms of the breadth and depth New Orleans has in a wide, wide variety of live music, and the the sheer ubiquitousness of it...I mean, live music can hit you any time here, a second line never roared past my front door in New York.

Austin? Hmmm. Certain times of the year, particularly festival times (South by Southwest comes to mind) Austin can look like music central, but that's kind of illusory, because a lot of those bands are from out of town. The old Antones-Jimmy-Vaughn-Thunderbirds-Lee-Ann-Barton axis ain't what it used to be, and I don't see anything that organic coming up to take it's place.

Nashville? Corporate country. Big black hats. Pass.

Chicago? Lots of good blues. Some great jazz, if you know where to look.

Memphis? Some great music. The Stax museum. Beale street has some good sounds, but I can't help thinking of everything they mercilessly tore down to build that sanitized safe-for-tourists strip. In some respects the real story in Memphis (and in New Orleans as well) is in hip hop music. I recommend a viewing of "Hustle and Flow." for the uninitiated.

Now Montreal...there's a well kept secret. Quiet as it's kept, the birthplace of Oscar Peterson has had a vibrant scene going back to the first half of the 20th century if you know where to look. Plus it's just a great allround cosmopolitan, sophisticated burg.

Vegas? I don't think so.

Denver I don't know much about, but I know cats there who can really play, and they tell me it's happening.

I'm dissapointed Vancouver, Canada didn't make the list. I lived there for many years and know from personal experience that the place is crammed with first rate musicians. A very underrated scene. The main problem is there's just not enough places to play, so maybe that's why it didn't make the cut.

Okay, so we're 'number one' in live music. Now if they'd just bring the bread up to that standard, everybody'd be happy.

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