Live Music and Yoga in the La Jolla/Birdrock Area

I recently hooked up with some cool people out in the Birdrock area at Riffs Acoustic Music. Riffs is a guitar store with a nice selection of guitars and music lessons. In addition to music they offer yoga classes. Not just yoga classes, but, live music yoga classes.

You might be thinking….’hmmm, how does that work?’ I kind of thought the same thing as I played a class for the first time in early March. I didn’t know if I would need to synchronize to the class movements and vibe or if ripping guitar riffs as they were working their body and minds would be a distraction.

Guess what, it works great! The reaction has been really positive from the class as the music offers an added element to the atmosphere. For me, I get to spend the morning in La Jolla a block away from the beach, playing guitar! Beach and guitar have always been two of my favorite things! There is not much, as far as, choreography etc., I just try to fit the vibe of the moment…mostly I just play!

Riffs was originally founded in Park City, Utah in 2010. Last summer, owner Steve Hart, opened their second location here in La Jolla. They are just starting out so make sure you get down there and check them out. The following link has all their information. Friday March 15, they are offering yoga with  full band performing Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon.” Should be a great experience.

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It’s been great to work with Shawna, Shannon and Steve at Riffs and look forward to more  in the future. For those of you in the area keep an eye out for guitar classes possibly in the future as we all work out our busy schedules and career endeavors.

RIP Ravi Shankar Renown Virtuoso Sitarist

Not the post I was planning on writing this evening.

2012 has been a brutally tough year with the deaths of many legendary musicians.  Just last week we lost jazz pianist/composer Dave Brubeck and today(Dec. 11) the sad news of Ravi Shankar’s passing.

Ravi Shankar is an amazing musician known for many things, however, there are two highlights on his resume. First, he was a pioneer in introducing Indian sitar music to the Western world. Second, not totally detached from the first was his influence on the Beatles especially guitarist George Harrison. Trained in the Northern Indian tradition of Hindustani music the sitarist was a crossover  in the 1960’s Western pop culture. As mentioned he was an influence on the Beatles and also played the legendary Woodstock Festival. With his amazing talent and global appeal Shankar became an icon of Indian culture. The Indian Prime Minister said of Shankar on his passing, “National treasure and global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage”.

Shankar has two daughters who are also renown musicians. In the tradition of her father, Anoushka, concertizes throughout the world on the sitar and has pushed the sitar further into the Western realm with her collaborations. I was lucky enough to see the two play together at a San Diego concert near the turn of the millennium. Norah Jones, pop vocalist with a smooth voice inherited her fathers musical genes if not his cultural side.

Shankar died right here in San Diego. For those of you curious who are not from here, he actually passed in La Jolla which translates to the jewel. An amazingly beautiful city on the Pacific Ocean fitting of such an ambassadors final breaths.

Ten Tips ~ Planning Wedding Music

Having played weddings in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, Palm Springs area and throughout Southern California for 20 years I’ve learned so much. This post is a chance to share some of this info with you!

Here are ten tips to help you plan your wedding music to the fullest. Feel free to share this page with your wedding planners, friends and family.

-These tips are not in any particular order except #10 may be the most important!

-Not all these tips may apply to your specific plans but some of them definitely will.

If you have any questions I would be glad to help!

1) Ceremony Events.

Although all weddings are different most have some semblance of the following events requiring music; pre-music as guests are being seated, seating of parents, bridal party and couples recession. Often music is needed for an interlude; a prayer or sand/candle ceremony, etc.

2) Have a trusted friend or relative be your musical liaison.

This person can keep the musicians informed on a variety of items including time line issues/changes that arise and cue them as ceremony events unfold. Sometimes wedding coordinators will take charge but discuss with them first they are often multi-multi tasking to make your event perfect.

3) Protect your musicians from harsh elements.

Direct sunlight, rain, standing water (wet grass), etc., can effect the sound adversely, be uncomfortable and even dangerous. If you don’t pick your musicians location carefully they might have to move to a less desirable location to avoid problems.

4) Availability of electricity.

Guitarists need amplification. Make sure there is a power source near the location you place the musicians, if there is no power other arrangements can be made. I have battery powered equipment that works great for outdoor events like La Jolla or Del Mar bluff side weddings overlooking the Pacific.

5) Placement

Ideally you want your musicians in an area where they can see the ceremony participants when they are ready to walk or have a person (your music liaison) to cue them who can see. It’s also nice to see the front so they know when you are done walking and end the music accordingly (remember your guest will most likely be standing up at this time.) Place musicians far enough out so they are not in the way of your wedding party. See #3 & #4, as well.

6) Provide ceremony details.

Let your musicians know how many parents are being seated, bridesmaids are walking, who is the last person of each group (i.e., the flower girls will be the last to walk down before the bride.) These are things your music liaison can pass along before the ceremony.

7) Do you have a favorite part of the piece you plan to walk down the aisle?

If you love the fast part of the Pachelbel Canon make sure your musician knows to play that part. The average bridal walk time is less than one minute and it may take the music a few minutes to get to your favorite part. Unless your musician knows to arrange the piece accordingly you may not get your desired musical phrase included.

8) How/where people congregate.

I’ve played so many outdoor weddings. There is a phenomenon I’ve noticed regarding guests taking their seats…’They will wait until the absolute last minute to take their seat!’ Can’t really blame them. It is often sunny and hot so they are going to line up in the shade usually away from the ceremony site. If you have cocktails or refreshments before they will tend to hang out there.

Why is this important regarding the music? Oftentimes I am playing to empty seats and guests can’t hear the music.

Two suggestions; set up any type of ‘hangouts’ near enough to the ceremony site so guests can hear the music and have someone make an announcement for guests to be seated when YOU want so you don’t have to wait for them when you are ready to go!

9) Know what is going on at your location on your big day!

I was to play elegant classical music for a particular outdoor reception. Unfortunately, the venue had a restaurant right next door and had hired a full band to play. There was no way to compete with the volume. I had to move indoors and the guests stayed outside near the bar. So make sure you know what other events might also be held at the same location and that the venue knows your intention. They would not have hired a band if they knew that the wedding had already planned something outside.

9) Communication!!

Ask questions! Talk to your musicians, coordinator and venue staff to make sure everything flows smooth as possible. The more everyone is on the same page the better. I always try to talk with them, as well, to gain insights into the plans.

10) Enjoy!

Take a deep breath and soak everything in for memories that will last forever. I can’t tell you how many times the bride has told me, “Everyone said the music was beautiful, but I didn’t really even hear it!”

Remember you can’t micro manage everything! But knowledge is power and if any of these items personally strike you hopefully this post empowers you to make the best choices for YOUR music.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

To submit an inquiry form click here

Hope these tips are helpful and I hope to play for you soon!

Mike

Tough Day at the Office: Weekend Gigs: Estancia La Jolla and Orfila Winery

At risk of appearing self promoting of my own song, this was a typical beautiful weekend in San Diego…as the saying, and song, goes…“Sunny & 70.” Perfect weather for performing and that’s just what I did. Two awesome events!

View of gardens from my seat at Estancia La Jolla
View of gardens from my seat at Estancia La Jolla

First, Saturday evening I played Estancia La Jolla an incredible hotel & spa overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, a rehearsal dinner for a really nice family and their friends. Enjoyed a nice chat with one of the patriarchs of the family a musician who loves Spanish guitar especially the composer Joaquin Rodrigo. Wish I had a symphony with me so I could play the “Concierto de Aranjuez” for him although I did play him a little of the theme from the second movement and blended it into some other songs, as well. Very fun gig, I got to represent a lot of different genres playing a mix of classical, Latin jazz, flamenco and pop.

Wedding Ceremony at Orfila Winery
Wedding Ceremony at Orfila Winery

Sunday, I got another chance to enjoy playing in the San Diego climate, this time across town, North County Inland, at Orfila Winery in Escondido. Played classical guitar for a wedding ceremony overlooking the scenic vineyards including pieces by Handle, Bach and Scarlatti. Added bonus…I got to hear San Diego guitar legend Peter Sprague play some jazz with a band featuring his brother Tripp on winds, Duncan Moore on drums and Gunnar Biggs on bass. Wish I had more time to stay and enjoy their set!

 

Congrats to both couples I wish them the best and hope to see them at some performances in the future. Hopefully play for their anniversaries years down the road.

Wedding Venues

My original thought with this page was to list all the venues I have played over the years. After quickly coming up with a whole lot of venues off the top of my head, I realized that it would be an extremely long list and not really necessary.

What is important is that having played so many venues I’ve learned how  how to take care of all the little things needed for performance whether or not I have played at a particular site.  My experience  makes things easier for everyone involved; wedding coordinators, venue staff, myself and most importantly…YOU, to make your day special and easier on you…in essence the music will be one less thing to worry about!

Regardless, I thought it would be fun to post the original list of venues I came up with. The list is certainly not all , but a representative of wedding venues I’ve performed at throughout Southern California; San Diego to Santa Barbara, Coronado to Temecula, La Jolla to Palm Springs. ..

For those of you still looking for a wedding site perhaps this list can help give you some ideas.

Balboa Park-

-Japanese Friendship Gardens

-Prado (Rest. & Wedding Bowl)

-Museum of Man

-Café del Rey Moro

Bayfront Hilton

The Beach House

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Calumet Park

Coronado Beach (on the sand)

Coronado Cays

Coronado Golf Course Clubhouse

Darlington House

El Camino Country Club

El Cortez Hotel

Embarcadero Park

Estancia Hotel

Fairbanks Ranch Country Club

Four Seasons Aviara

Georges at the Cove

Grand Del Mar Resort

Heritage Park

Hornblower Cruises

Hotel Del Coronado overlooking Coronado Bridge
Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

L’ Auberge Hotel Del Mar

La Costa Resort & Spa

La Jolla Cove Bridge Club

La Valencia Hotel

Levyland

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Manchester Grand Hyatt

Martin Johnson House

Mission Hills CC-Rancho Mirage

Museum of Contemporary Art-La Jolla

Navy- Admiral Kidd Club

Navy- Submarine Base

Orfila Vineyards &Winery

Palm Desert Visitor Center

Ponte Winery-Temecula

Powerhouse Community Center

Paradise Point Resort

Presidio Park

Rancho Bernardo Inn

Rancho Bernardo Winery

Rancho Valencia

Rose Creek Cottage

San Diego Convention Center

Santaluz
Santaluz

Santaluz Clubhouses

Seagrove Park

Soledad Club

Summers Past Farms

Thursday Club

UCSD Faculty Club

Wedding Bowl -Cuvier Park

Wedding Bowl at Cuvier Park
Wedding Bowl at Cuvier Park