Our dear Hope shoots it straight and true! Great article, dearie! These bands are nothing short of delightful and refreshing. And you should know... your devoted attendance is part of the fun of going to these shows around town.
Music in Los Angeles: The new jass
Check out the new jass movement—some of the best up-and-coming music in Los Angeles.
Photograph: Courtesy California Feetwarmers
Lineup: Josh Kaufman: piano, clarinet, accordion; Charles De Castro: cornet, accordion; Justin Rubenstein: trombone; Lulu De la Rue: violin; Chloe Feoranzo: clarinet; Dominique Rodriguez: bass drum, snare drum; Corey Beers: bass drum; Jeffrey Moran: guitar, banjo, bass; Juan Carlos Reynoso: washboard; Andy Bean: banjo; Patrick Morrison: guitar; Brandon Armstrong: tuba, trombone.
With a malleable expression reminiscent of jazz great Fats Waller, "Captain" Jeffrey Moran leads the California Feetwarmers in joyful call and response while plucking the upright bass with loving dexterity. This large and eclectic group of 20-somethings plays music from the 1920s as naturally as they breathe, and are the core of the hot jass scene in Southern California, carrying on the tradition of Sidney Bechet and his New Orleans Feetwarmers and Duke Ellington and his Harlem Footwarmers. (The expression isn't referring to socks here, but the fact that if you've got feet, this music will make you want to dance.)
The Feetwarmers' sincerity and love of the form have attracted support and sit-ins from musical legends such as Exene Cervenka of X and the Blasters’ Phil Alvin, who says, “It's rare to find such a mixture of joy and skill that the California Feetwarmers and the Petrojvic Blasting Company provide. The happiness of the music and the skill with which it’s laid down is encouraging for the future of the genre—it gives me great solace.”
Jeffrey Moran and Patrick Morrison began playing together in 2005 in a jazz band at Cleveland High School in Reseda. “We started out playing '50s rockabilly and then went backward 'til we hit jazz and ragtime,” says washboard player Juan Carlos Reynoso, who joined them shortly after. “We really enjoy sharing with people how happy this music makes us feel inside and out. It is the sounds of happy thoughts.” Seeing the Petrojvic Blasting Company play one evening took the band in a new direction, leading them to busk on the street for money and combine players, including Charles De Castro playing accordion and cornet—often at the same time.
Recently adding Mexican standards to their repertoire, the band is currently recording another self-produced CD and just busked at their very first Mardi Gras in New Orleans—with impromptu gigs in Texas and Las Vegas along the way. The California Feetwarmers are out to fulfill their motto “to make as many people happy as larks,” playing weddings, funerals, clubs and wherever there’s a crowd.
A smaller version of the California Feetwarmers busks almost daily at the Third Street Promenade, and Sundays at the Hollywood Farmer's Market.