Scene Seen

Jazz and blues vocalists seem to come in two basic categories, crooners and belters. It’s an oversimplification, of course, but jazz singers tend to be crooners; blues singers tend to be belters. Paula Harris is definitely a belter. Her voice is so powerful that I literally did a double-take when I first checked out the music available on her website. Thankfully, I hadn’t taken a sip of my coffee yet, I might have spit it out. “Wow!” does not even come close. Voices like this are born, not trained, although I’m sure she has put in the time developing that gift with diligent study. Most of the songs on her website are blues with production values in a style one would hear from artists like Robert Cray or Bonnie Raitt, but there is a “jazz faithful” selection, the ballad “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and she does the tradition proud. Check her out on Thursday, Nov. 1, at THE Jazz Club at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance.

Americana Night rolls on with North Bay group The Easy Leaves. They often play with a full band but will be performing as a duo in this setting, which should serve to showcase even more their vocal harmonies and allow the songs to stand on their own, bare bones. The song examples on their website use full band accompaniment and sound reminiscent of Bakersfield, Nashville and all the sounds that inspired the likes of Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. It should be a real treat to hear these two guys presenting their songs in the manner they probably worked them out, just the two of them.

Arts Alliance shows start at 7:30 p.m., tickets at the door, at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance, or online at

I also want to highlight efforts by the Cloverdale Arts Alliance to support music education and participation for young people. Music education has been empirically shown to facilitate learning and intellectual development on many levels, and this is an important program to support. Maybe there’s an old instrument gathering dust in your attic or somewhere else in your house. That instrument wants to be played. This is a way to find a new home for it. Check it out: 

Cloverdale Ale Co. continues to not only provide top-notch local brew (Have you tried the 70 lbs. Soaking Wet ale? Magnifico!) but also to provide a venue where local musicians can present their art. On Thursday Nov. 8, Big Blue House makes their monthly appearance, laying down swingin’ jazz, jazzy funk and groovin’ blues. New guitarist Hannes de Kassian, newly arrived from New York, adds veteran presence and virtuosic solos. They just keep getting better, always adding new material. Come see for yourself! They will also be playing Saturday, Dec. 1, at the newly reopened Hopland Tap, up the road in Hopland.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, it’s the Cloverdale debut of The ‘Zander Valley Quintet, playing cool and hard-bop instrumentals, as well as classic vocal standards. Special guest Fred Lamberson, a veteran of the Bud E. Luv and Dick Bright Orchestras, will be adding his talents on tenor and alto saxophones. This promises to be a night of purist jazz at its best; don’t miss out.

Cloverdale Ale Co. shows start at 6:30 p.m.

Support live music in Cloverdale! Remember, they call it playing music, but it ain’t nothin’ but hard work, years of it, and having an appreciative, supportive audience is what makes it all worth it.

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