Teaneck, Asbury Park, Millerton, New York, and Whippany

29 September 2010

Ben and i drove into downtown Newark, parked the car, and found this implanted in the sidewalk. Dutch Schultz was not a good person, but, when he was shot down, a priest was there who gave him confession. To a Roman Catholic this means that Dutch Schultz could enter into Paradise on the day he died. This dramatic death and last minute admissal into Heaven caused many Catholics of that day to question their faith. How can such an evil man do so many bad things and then enter into Heaven in his last moments? This was a real question at that time for many Catholics, and it kept the theologians busy for decades.

Pete Sears and David Nelson. I have known Pete for an improbably long time. He did a project with me when he first came to our shores (1972). He has so much integrity and dignity, I was going to say more than anyone in the music community, but I will say more than anyone in any walk of life. It was good to see David Nelson again. He was almost in Big Brother a couple of times, and he sounded very good this weekend.

This is the drumset that Dave Getz was presented with in Teaneck, New Jersey. How does it look to you? Crazy? Off kilter? Like something you wouldn’t want to play on in your craziest nightmare? S’funny. That’s the way it looked to Dave too.

Charline put so much of herself into this New Jersey tour. She did everything she could to keep everyone happy and to make the whole thing work.

Imagine how he played. You’re probably very close to the actual sound. Beautiful. Acoustic. Happy. He was in a mall in Asbury Park, and as mellow as mellow can be.

Ben Nieves. This is a rather complicated relationship.

I have seen tintypes, Daguerrotypes, and other old photographs of people on the New Jersey boardwalk, from Asbury Park and Atlantic City on down to Cape May, New Jersey. It was a big thrill to shoot this one and join the myriad other photographers along the Atlantic Seaboard.

Stefanie and Ben. Photograph: Sam Andrew

Barry Sless, who played so well this weekend. Lots of Jerry Garcia pentatonic scale explorations, but every now and then Barry would skitter and slide expertly up the guitar neck and say saomething truly skillful and original. It was such a pleasure to hear him play. Barry’s son took this photograph.

Along the faded ocean front, all colors drenched in the eastern sun, that special New Jersey shore atmosphere. That certain smell, ambience, Italian, wonderful.

My room in Millerton, New York. Well, actually, Copake, New York, if you want to get technical. This is way up on Route 22 North, and it has the feel of Vermont, Massachusetts. Perfect time of year. Harvest. Colors.

Ben and I trying to get the tractor out of the barn and harvest a little corn. I once had dinner in the 1980s with a woman who was the inheritor of the John Deere Tractor fortune. So this was a chance to commune with her a little, in spirit.

The leaves are beginning to change in upper New York State, Massachusetts, Vermont. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. One of these days I want Ben and me to do a smokin’ version of Autumn Leaves. This prompted by hearing Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and an absolutely impeccable rhythm section do the tune at an incredibly joyous tempo.

This is Elise. Does she look as if she’s in an Italian film from, say, 1970? Our wedding day. 2 October 2001.

This is Elise’s version of a chair. Good?

Here is where we’ll play with Arianna. Non vedo l’ora. I can’t wait.

Karen Lyberger took this photo in Dunsmuir, California.

Our New Jersey setlist. Photo: Ben Nieves

Another photograph by Ben. Sam and Stefanie in the Casino, boardwalk Asbury Park, New Jersey, September 2010.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Whippany is south of Parsippany

29 September 2010

This weekend, tomorrow, Thursday, we will play in New Jersey, where, indeed Whippany is south of Parsippany, but in October we will be in Italy, and here is a poster from Vicenza, where we will play with Arianna Antinori.

We’re still working on Ball & Chain. It’s a lot better now. Fame is an illusion.

Elise. You can see that she has the coal miner’s hat and is ready to go underground.

And this is what she will find.

I am starting a portrait of Ben Nieves, equestrian, musician, sterling character.

There’s gold here, but I haven’t found it yet.

Dave and i trying to explain how much we love each other.

Tara Dagl’Innocenti who will be in Bergamo in October.

Karen Lyberger took this photo. This could be a glass piece.

Kathryn Patterson, famous in Paradise.

Skylar Burrell, probably no relation to Kenny Burrell, playing in Whippany, New Jersey, which is slightly south of Parsippany, New Jersey. This photograph has a very familiar look to it.

Twisted Sister, hometown, Whippany, New Jersey. Hmmm.

Nah, we’re not happy. (We’re not famous either, but that’s OK.)

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Tucson, Arizona 17 September 2010

26 September 2010

We fetched up here at The Hotel Arizona, and it was only when I arrived in my room that I realized I had lived here for six weeks when I did Love, Janis in Tucson three or four years ago. It felt as if I was back home again.

Donna Patterson, bright, cheerful, patient, comes from Paradise, I kid you not.

I’m doing a portrait of Ben Nieves right now, in a rather more cheerful aspect than appears here. I show him seeing visions of people and horses. This guy likes to noodle on the guitar a lot. Oh, yes.

Ben is a horse person, so I am going to steal some of these equine beings to be in Spin of the Sun which is the title of the Nieves portrait. Do I have to add that no less a deity than Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” A maxim I live by anyway.

OK, here I am lecturing again. That looks like Janis on the mic there, but I look as if I am living in the 1990s, so I am totally confused (situation normal). That should be James next to me, but it looks more like Chad Quist, which would fit in with the whole 90s scenario. My favorite question is: What was Janis Joplin really like?

See what I mean about Tucson? The colors are intoxicating. It’s that Mexican influence.

Now, i ask you, who would walk into this store and buy that wig?

Funny sound? Oh, yes.


Stefanie Keys was kind enough to accompany me to this restaurant. I have a friend Stephen Pringle in San Rafael, California, whom I call “Güero” (honky) or “Vato” (guy), so I need to show him that, among other things, this word “Güero” really exists. I THINK that “El Güero Canelo” means something like Strawberry Blonde. (It actually means “cinnamon blonde,” but since we don’t say that, I am going with a looser translation.) Good food. Kind people.

That’s a real sky in the background, not PhotoShopped or anything. We are talking naked, stark landscape here. Everything is so vivid.

This is Elise’s home town, so we had to brag a lot.

This reminds me that we did an unplugged show at a health foods store/music emporium in Tucson. Dave played on the cajon (“testicle,” actually the word means “big box,” which is almost as interesting) and we all could hear each other. Stefanie said, “Wow, I didn’t realize that you guys were playing all that stuff.” Best sound check ever.

Linda Gravenites. Virgo. Super Talent. True Artist. Big Laugh. Real Friend.

At a laundromat in Zwickau, Germany, playing left handed. God, I’m so talented. Elise took this photo while we were waiting for our 33 minute wash.

At The Trident. Isn’t it jewellike? What a gorgeous place. I love you all, but I bet you knew that already.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother And The Holding Company

Somebody will find a way to take this way too seriously…

16 September 2010

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: (Sigh) ‘Don’t ! bother. I’ll sit in the dark. I don’t want to be a nuisance to anybody.’

Police in Oakland, California spent two hours attempting to subdue a gunman

who had barricaded himself inside his home. After firing ten tear gas

canisters, officers discovered that the man was standing beside them,

shouting “Please come out and give yourself up.”

A male gynecologist is like an auto mechanic who never owned a car.

An elderly man visited his doctor and asked for Viagra.

“How many pills did you want?” his doctor asked.

“Oh, maybe six or seven. I cut each one into four pieces,”

the elderly man explained.

“Four pieces? That’s too small a dose to get you through

sex!” the doctor told him.

“Sir, I’m over eighty years old, and I don’t even think

about sex anymore.”

The doctor looked puzzled. “Then why do you want Viagra?”

“I’m tired of peeing on my shoes!”

How do you get down from an elephant?

You don’t. You get down from a duck.

Why do lawyers love playing golf?

It’s the only time they get to dress up like pimps.

How many Freudians does it take to change a light bulb?

Two. One to change the bulb and the other to hold the penis…I mean, ladder.

She said…What do you mean by coming home half drunk?

He said… It’s not my fault…I ran out of money.

There were two people walking down the street. One was a musician. The other didn’t have any money either.

What’s the difference between a musician and a savings bond?

The savings bond eventually matures and makes money.

Kid: Dad I want to be a musician when I grow up.

Dad: Son you can’t have it both ways.

Q: What do a guitar solo and premature ejaculation have in common?

A: You know it’s coming and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

“The amount of money one needs is terrifying…”

– Ludwig van Beethoven

Who’s to blame if California falls into the Pacific Ocean?

It would be the Sam Andrew’s Fault.

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Dunsmuir and Leggett, California

12 September 2010

Dunsmuir and Leggett, California

This is a photograph by Donna Patterson of Mount Shasta. She has her top blown off (the mount, not Donna) because she is one of the Sisters in the volcano belt. Some of her sisters are Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens. I was on the road with Pearl Heart (don’t ask) somewhere near Vancouver, Washington, standing in my motel room, shaving with the door open, when I heard a loud boom. That was Mount Shasta’s sister, Mount Saint Helens blowing her top.

So, not to be theatrical or anything, but here we are in Dunsmuir practicing for the show, which will be on a baseball field, a baseball field that has felt the mighty step of Babe Ruth and heard the preppie cadences of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who said, “This Dunsmuir water is the finest that I have ever tasted.”

I’m not sure that Nat Cole was ever here in Dunsmuir, but Elise and I turned on the television and there he was in a film called Cat Ballou. Completely ridiculous. Mr. Cole, one of the greatest jazz pianists, and you know how he sings, was standing there in overalls with a banjo and singing country songs. So postmodern. Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin. Really out there.

We’re working on Ball & Chain here. Almost got it.

Me giving Tom Finch some pointers on how to play his solos.

Peter telling us what our Dachshund will do to us IN THE NIGHT.

The Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman. Stefanie Keys, ladies and gentlemen.

A force of nature. Encouraging, positive, alive, vibrant, OK a little goofy, and a joy to be with.

Some of the lovely Dunsmuirians. Ryan Marchand is the good looking one.

Kat Patterson doing an unforgettable rendition of He Who Smelt It, Dealt It. Please note extremely correct toe articulation.

We left Dunsmuir, which is very far north in California, drove down to the Colusa Clearlake exit, and took Highway 20 west to join Highway 101 north and drove to Leggett in Mendocino County. This was a marathon drive and Elise did it with skill, charm and aplomb. The Peg House has a sense of humor and so, ha, ha, they decided to put this mock up police car in front of their place. That’s to get everyone to slow down, see?, so that they might come in and spend some money. Ha, ha.

Tom Finch was truly playing some beautiful guitar on this trip, and Stefanie made me very proud. She is getting better every gig. She’s smart, she works, she’s happy…what a woman!

With Amélie and Chris. I’m trying to get Amélie to give up smoking, so this is a subliminal message.

Arianna Antinori, my irrepressible friend who is Roman but now lives in Vicenza, Italy, which is not that far from Belluno, the home of my dear friend, Dario Da Rold. Look how beautiful Arianna is. She will sing some songs with us when we play in Vicenza.

Shiho-san (Superfly) came and sang with us at Woodstock (Bethel, NY) and I just loved her. This is an interview/article with her in Japan Times.

Elise and I had such a good time on this trip. Lots of laughs, fun to see new things. I love this woman.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company

5 September 2010 – À la Recherche du Temps Perdu

À la Recherche du Temps Perdu

I painted Samantha Gorton and her sister Sarah, and already, of course, they have changed so much. Samantha did a drawing of me that I keep in my paintbox. Very good.

The last time we played on Hawaii. Elise’s ancestors were nobility there. They are always mentioned in early chronicles of the Islands.

December 1940. Headlines from the Brockton (Massachusetts) Enterprise, written on the wall, much as they are in China today. An earthquake? In Massachusetts? Italians should oust Mussolini? Prescient.

A film noir image, n’est-ce pas? Nothing like holding forth about yourself in a lecture hall. I can always see every skeptic in the audience saying, “Oh, please, give me a break.” It’s like Tom Brokaw saying “The Greatest Generation.” We all have to think that where we are is special, when, really, where everyone, is, shall be, was, has been is special, now and forever. That’s the real secret. And, by the way, all sentient beings are included in this also, not just human beings. Life is precious. La de Da.

Case in point. Apologies to my brother Dan, a Buddhist in Nashville, but here is Nam Hyo Ren Gei Kyo written out in very stylized Japanese kanji. This almost looks as if a Westerner had written it. Anyway, a good message.

Lee, Bill, Sam, early 60s. I talk to two Italians every day who teach me a lot about their language and culture. One of them is Frank Bertolli, who is a Big Game Hunter, as is my brother Lee. Frank has a very large room on his property, devoted to his trophies from every land. Dario, our friend, says that when Frank dies, he should be stuffed and mounted in this very room in the act of shooting these other stuffed mounts. I can’t wait to introduce Lee, my brother, to Frank, who is a very good and a very rich man. They will get along so well. Meanwhile, Dario and I will cower in the corner, saying, “Aren’t they so masterful and so powerful over their environment.” Or, we may be just enjoying some of the intricacies of Italian language and how it relates to English, one never knows, do one? I’m the tallest here in this photo, and now I’m the shortest of these brothers. Do you suppose that means anything? Have I taken a wrong turn into plant eating, when I could be chowing down on quadrupeds? Maybe it’s just age, yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket. This is a singing group actually. The Three Androids with their latest hit Oh, Baby, Won’t You Horse Around With Me?

What? You mean Oh, Baby, Won’t You Horse Around With Me? is not on this setlist. Oh, come on.

This is what the music for a dance in Oklahoma looked like in 1939. And this is what it was for so much of human history. My grandfather and uncle played on their porch around this same time, near Devine, Texas, and this is what it looked like to me, and the music was so beautiful, real, magical. I’ll never forget it.

This was such an interesting place to play. Halle. Formerly East Germany. When we checked into hotels here, I would look around the stale, pale olive rooms and try to imagine lives that had transpired there, not so long before. All of that misdirection, waste, idealism, hope, truly altruistic notions that had taken place in the Communist Era, all of that, so lost, misinterpreted, all those lives, lived in pursuit of that Ideal. I could just feel all the longing when I lodged in such a room. Overwhelming. Sad. I wanted to pull them all into now.

Bye, Bye, Baby.

RARE photograph with my mother. Handsome dad. South China Sea. Lillian, Dad, Dan, Bill, Mother, Lee. I learned to swim in this Sea about twelve years before this.

Glenn Herskovitz thinks that I play a “psychedelic” solo on this. OK. If that works for marketing, so be it. Sounds like a blues solo to me, but, eh?

Sister Lillian and my father, both beautiful, yes?

Jane Fonda, always interesting, courageous. I had a missing with Jane once. Always to be regretted. She is a national treasure.

I drew this hand in St. Petersburg, Florida, waiting for Wendy Rich to come and write songs with me.

Big Brother and the Holding Company are going to Dunsmuir and Legget, California, this week. Stefanie Keys and Tom Finch are coming with us.

Sam Andrew
Big Brother and the Holding Company