On June 3rd, whilst the world was looking the other way, the Fuego volcano in Guatemala had one of the biggest eruptions in its history, affecting almost two million people. It killed 159 people with 256 still missing and caused significant damage to basic infrastructure. Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno has organized benefit concerts around the world to help her compatriots and on Saturday, Candelas Guitars hosted one of those benefits in East LA.
Candelas Guitars is a family run business that has been making the highest quality guitars for over ninety years, seventy of them in East LA. Tomas Delgado is the current family head of the business and he was happy to turn over the stage and backyard behind the shop to Gaby and her righteous cause. He took to calling her The Instigator as she infected so many people with her enthusiasm, authenticity and drive.
NB: Eight of the following images are photographs, but they link through to video.
One of the first people to sign on board was the very urbane and totally sweet Van Dyke Parks, with whom Gaby recently recorded an album. He is a well respected musician, songwriter, arranger, and record producer who has composed various film and television soundtracks as well as collaborating with Brian Wilson on the legendary unfinished Beach Boys album Smile. In later years he’s also collaborated with contemporary artists Silverchair and Skrillex amongst others.
Sara and Sean Watkins are siblings from San Diego who were so inspired by bluegrass music they formed Nickel Creek when they were still children and went on to have great success, winning Grammy’s and IBMA’s before developing solo careers in 2007. After rehearsing with Gaby Moreno and David Garza in the dressing room, they were the first performers on stage.
Approximately 150 people each donated a minimum of $100 to be at this unique show. All of them looked happy to be there and like they were definitely getting their moneys worth.
Gaby Moreno was next to perform and I was totally blown away by this diminutive curly haired girl. She was the reason I was shooting the show as we’d done a photoshoot about a month ago for her album artwork and she mentioned she was doing the benefit so I offered to come along pro bono and document the show as my contribution. I also hooked her up with the mighty Michael at SIR who donated the sound system and an excellent guy to mix through the night. Gaby is a warm and open performer with a phenomenal voice and a bagful of great songs which she sings in both Spanish and English.
Van Dyke Parks doesn’t perform very often anymore, so it was a real treat to see him up on stage with Gaby and then take the lead for a couple of songs in his own right. He first played a song that was originally written in 1854 by Louis Moreau Gottschalk.
And followed that up with the delightful ‘Opportunity For Two’ from his 1984 Brer Rabbit inspired album Jump!, which he informed us he’d written to try and gain some credibility with his children. Fortunately, he’d been successful in that endeavor.
Producer KC Porter brought along some microphones and headphones which had been generously donated by Blue microphones and they all went in a silent auction.
As the son of late bandleader Gerald Wilson, jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson grew up with music. He got his first major break as the lead guitarist of Storm in 1980 and has subsequently been nominated for several Grammy’s as well as and as playing with Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand, Aaron Neville and Randy Crawford amongst a host of other equally stellar artists. He also has his own record label on which he’s released several critically acclaimed albums.
Gaby Moreno returned to the stage for a quick set with the incredible Candelas All Star band. And nailed it in inimitable fashion. Even though I’m not really happy with the quality of this video I’ve posted it here as it captures the moment Gaby’s voice truly took flight and took the rest of us along for the ride. If you get a chance to see her grab it with both hands and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The Candelas All Star Band were exactly that. All of them are stars in their own right. And worth taking into account there were no rehearsals for this show and they all played superbly with no noticeable mistakes. These are all serious players.
Guitarist in The Candelas All Star Band was David Garza, a cool singer-songwriter based out of Austin, Texas who loves his Gretsch, has been compared to Robert Plant and Jeff Buckley and has released over 36 albums/EP’s/tapes/CD’s since 1991.
Handling bass for The Candelas All Star Band, Mike Elizondo is a highly regarded Producer and songwriter who has worked extensively with Dr. Dre and Eminem. He co-wrote ‘The Real Slim Shady’ as well as several other hit songs for Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg amongst others. He’s also produced songs for Fiona Apple, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Nelly Furtado and Lisa Marie Presley.
The Candelas All Star Band keyboard player was Larry Goldings, a Grammy-nominated pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger who studied with Keith Jarrett and Ran Blake as a young teenager. He’s played with Beck, Walter Becker, Norah Jones, De La Soul, Tracy Chapman, Sia and John Meyer amongst many many others.
As well as covering drum duties for The Candelas All Star Band, Jim Keltner is a genuine legend. The drummers drummer. He played drums for The Traveling Wilbury’s, who comprised of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty (aka the greatest supergroup ever). Aside from that he’s played with John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison (appearing in the video for Harrison’s 1976 hit ‘This Song’), Bob Dylan (‘Knocking On Heavens Door’ etc), Joe Cocker, CSNY, Simon & Garfunkel, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Harry Nilsson and extensively with Ry Cooder. The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say he is one of the most in demand drummers in the world.
Sitting in on percussion for The Candelas All Star Band, Sebastian Aymanns has played drums with Grant Lee-Phillips, Margaret Cho and The Outlawz. And Gaby Moreno, to whom he is married.
David Hildago of Los Lobos (Spanish for ‘The Wolves’) told the story of how they used to hang out in Candela’s when they first started playing in East LA back in the 1970’s. They got musical knowledge, advice, encouragement and instruments from Tomas’s dad and uncle. And now they were back playing in the backyard. Whilst talking with their manager before the show, he mentioned that now they play all over the world but only play in LA once a year at Christmas time, when they do a Christmas show. So this was a rare opportunity to see Los Lobos in their home neighborhood performing for their friends and neighbors.
After the show David Hildago and someone who is unknown to me jammed in the dressing room. It was badass and it was cool. Like the whole evening of music.