Residents of Austin, Texas are proud that their city boasts more live music venues than any other—including New York and Las Vegas. Austin music fans choose between a wide variety of styles and genres—from Texas swing and bluegrass to a thriving cohort of traditional jazz. Our special guests this week are active players in this lively scene, performing regularly in live venues across the city.
Jim Cullum welcomes Austin’s top young traditional jazz artists, guitarist/violinist Erik Hokkanen, guitarist J.D. Pendley and vocalist Albanie Falletta, to the stage of San Antonio’s premier venue, Pearl Stable, on the banks of the San Antonio River. The Band tears it up with piano sensation Shelly Berg, and series favorites Vernel Bagneris and Topsy Chapman sit in with an impromptu blues improvisation.
Guitarist J.D. Pendley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and has lived and performed as a full-time musician in Austin since 2001. In 2000 he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz guitar performance from the University of Utah. In Austin he performs with Erik Hokkanen, the Jazz Pharaohs, the Giant Three, and many others. His chief musical influences are Eddie Lang, Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, and Sidney Bechet. J.D. is “passionate about rhythm, acoustic music and continuing the tradition pioneered by so guitarists in the early days of jazz.”
Guitarist/violinist Erik Hokkanen is one of Austin’s most colorful and distinguished players. A third generation Finn, raised in Florida, Erik relocated to Texas in the early eighties and rapidly built a reputation as a fiddler, multi-instrumentalist and performer. Erik’s music or playing can be heard on the soundtracks of motion picturesDOA, Michael, Texas Chain Saw Massacre 3and The Newton Boys. These days, Erik plays electric guitar and fiddle in his new band, Hip Replacements, a gypsy surf outfit that can be seen Tuesdays at Flipnotics cafe in Austin.
Ryan Gould began his musical life playing guitar, which led him to play in death metal and punk rock bands around Philadelphia in the early 1990s. After serving as a United States Marine, Ryan returned to southeastern Pennsylvania with a keen interest in traditional Irish music. Currently, Ryan performs regularly in Austin with Erik Hokkanen and The Hip Replacements, The Jazz Pharaohs, Aunt Ruby’s Sweet Jazz Babies, and Albanie Falletta and her Fellas. Ryan says that he draws great inspiration from a vast pool of musicians from various genres as well as from the experiences of his daily life.
Youthful guitarist and vocalist Albanie Falletta has become very much in demand on the Austin live music scene. Albanie lists among her influences, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Lester Young and especially the gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Albanie performs live with her own group, Albanie and her Fellas and with groups led by Jonathan Doyle at Austin venues—The Elephant Room and The Victory Grill.
Also on the bill, Broadway’s Vernel Bagneris and New Orleans’ Topsy Chapman offer an original blues improvisation with Jim Cullum and the Band. And jazz piano virtuoso Shelly Berg plays the music of Duke Ellington and others.
Photo credit for Home Page and Recent Radio Broadcast Page:
Jim Cullum, guitarists Albanie Falletta and J.D. Pendley on stage at Pearl Stable.
2009 Photo Jamie Karutz
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick © 2011