I’m nearly back in town, and I’ll make appearances, which are listed on my calendar page, at many of my regular places; I hope you can make it out. I’ll play a house concert in Point Richmond, and a concert with Craig Ventresco at Bird & Beckett Books and Records in Glen Park. Here’s the information.
learned from 78 rpm records of that era. Live streaming at
A return engagement of San Francisco’s finest interpreters of early jazz, vaudeville, rural blues, ragtime and popular tunes! Click here to listen to their duo guitar performance of Cold Mornin’ Shout.
Craig Ventresco was lured out to San Francisco from Maine in 1987 by the promised riches of the musician’s life to be had here. Like Rick with regard to Casablanca’s fabled waters, he was misinformed. Nonetheless, he has managed to ply his trade here for decades, and is known internationally as a virtuoso of the guitar and historian of early American popular music. He sings a bit as well, which is always a pleasure to hear.
Craig is deeply familiar with all manner of turn-of-the-20th-century popular music, gleaned from years of collecting old cylinders and 78 rpm records after glomming onto the music as a toddler. “I love all kinds of music from the turn of the century–” he says, “ragtime, waltzes, marches.” On hearing Craig, the late great San Francisco critic Phil Elwood had the revelation that “to see the future, you only need to go back in time.”
You may have first heard Craig in Bay Area clubs and festivals with Pete Devine and Marty Eggers in the trio called Bo Grumpus back in the late 1980s, or in recent years playing solo and in duo with Meredith Axelrod (Craig and Meredith continue to play regularly at the Atlas Cafe). He has been acclaimed on the festival circuit the world over. He’s played solo guitar and duets with Bucky Pizzarelli at the Atlanta Jazz Party, has opened for Reverend Horton Heat, and has been featured on the soundtracks of two memorable films: “Crumb” and “Ghost World.”
Without doubt, Craig is among the most important musicians San Francisco can boast, a versatile multi-instrumentalist of the strings and a profound historian of popular music from the late 1800s through the depression era.
Meredith Axelrod is recently back from an engagement with Jim Kweskin and the Jake Leg Stompers in Nashville and as a duo with Kweskin at the Kentuck Festival in Northport, Alabama after a September swing through Portland and Seattle. She’s a fine, uncanny singer and a multi-instrumentalist with great rhythmic drive and a sure grasp of early jazz, rural blues and the many pop music genres of the early 20th century, learned from a deep immersion in old 78s.
As a solo artist, Meredith has headlined her own shows at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, opened for the Cheap Suit Serenaders at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, opened for David Bromberg at the Sweetwater Music Hall, and toured as far as Australia and New Zealand.
Meredith leads her own hot jazz and string bands, and is heard frequently around the Bay and further afield in a duo with Craig Ventresco, performing at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Freight & Salvage, the West Coast Ragtime Festival, the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival and countless small clubs and cafes. Her duo and small group performances with Jim Kweskin have included a recent appearance at the fabled McCabe’s in Santa Monica as well as recent Nashville and Northport, Alabama dates. She has also played with Frank Fairfield, Dan Hicks, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot, Cindy Cashdollar, David Grisman, Bill Keith, Terry Zwigoff, Robert Crumb, and the Cheap Suit Serenaders, and has toured domestically and internationally.
Click here for When I Was a Cowboy with Craig and Meredith on guitars, and Meredith’s vocal.