(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Apparently, Cachaito Lopez is no longer with us.  From wiki:

Born in Havana on February 2, 1933, Orlando “Cachaíto” López first got actively involved in music when he was only nine years old. By the age of eleven he was involved with an orchestra with his aunt. His early desire was to play the violin, but his Grandfather Pedro insisted he take up the double bass, as there had been a long tradition of bassists in the López family – legend has it that there are over 30 bassists in its lineage; a trend that they did not want stopped.

About a decade ago, I was bompin’ ’round Jack London Square on a brisk, sunny day, a weekday, for some reason, and I wandered into some craft-store/kite shop, where some short-ish Hispanic gentleman was attempting to get some query across to the clerk en Espanol.  My “Landscaping Spanish” from days of old was horrendous, but I managed to figure out that he was looking for “hand-shirts,” or in other words, “gloves.”  

His name was Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, and he was the bassist for the Buena Vista Social Club.  He was front-lining a gig at Yoshi’s that night, and wanted to protect his hand-parts from the frisky, brisky Bay.

That was about enough for me to know to walk over to Yoshi’s and buy a couple of tickets on a lark.  Picked up my super-hot and brighter-than-me girlfriend (?) in SF after work, bounced back to Yoshi’s to have din-din, drinks, and check out the show.

It appeared to be partly a “pick-up” game of local talent.  There were, of course, the lilting tangos of the bass player himself, the dude in natty dreds freaking and rolling and popping on the Hammond organ; a flamenco artist nimbling the nylons; a surprising, a sneaky drummer; the acid stylings of some guitarist from New York; and a dude on top, scratching records.  Vrrt, vrrt, vrrt.

The first set hit us favorably, but they started hitting it harder and harder in the second, tighter than a bullfrog’s ass in fly-time, and letting it wail on all channels.  Wasn’t exactly expecting this.  Hard to describe the style; yes, Cuban Funk Acid Flamenco fusion, but whut?  You might as well say it was the idea of a dream wrapped in a reason on a magic carpet ride…An historical purpose devoid of developmental identity of a forgotten chimera, and it meant everything.

Which is to say, just when you thought, oh my god, they’ve gone to eleven!  They can’t bring it to another level!  And then they brought it to another level.  Then the next, and you’re thinking, “not possible,” and zhoom, up it goes again in the next measure, and paint begins peeling.  People in the audience, including us, were by now laughing hysterically at the sheer ridiculousness of this convocation of talent feeling the groove, so hard.  I don’t even know how high they went, my mind was giddy.

It’s hard to compare musical experiences.  Sure, Freddie and the boys were to “tie your mother down” for at Winterland in ’77.  And we literally tied our mothers down to make that scene with Thin Lizzy opening in the thick, atmospheric weed.  At the same time, you live to be in Fripp’s and Levin’s fret-boarded mind-rays, anywhere, anytime, so long as Bill Bruford isn’t “stepping on Fripp’s 21st Century precious accents.”  

You know that Gabriel can make you sob with ridiculous theatrics.  You expect to be delighted by Knopfler’s signature strokes, but when he opens up a whole new bag of experimental tricks at the Greek at half-time, you say yourself, “what the fuck was that, mo’fo’?  Thank you.”  Chrissie Hynde and the Simple Minds are just gonna do it on the pavement, snuggle and  good nights.

Ya wanna talk about call and answer between Ravi Shankar and his daughter?  How he smudged, totally, purposefully smudged her flowing articulations, in answer; what a backwater Mississippian, blue-bird soup sucking, pole-cat mash with the peckerwood gravy-eating smudger of the first division.  Jiminy Bob.

Hey, no doubt Won Bon Yim can tug a tear, and Kurt Mazur conducts like a foot-stamping chimpanzee, but can they smudge like Ravi?  I honestly don’t know.  Pink Floyd’s industrial light and magic, the shaking, fire-breathing pigs, while Gilmour bends the pentatonic blue-note metal, before sinking into lyrical majors, well, I thought it was totally worth it.  

And when you got a hot babe on your arm, and she’s ready to drink adult beverages and swing sweet pussycat, who do you wanna listen to but the Swing Rays at the Bluebird, The Atomic Fireballs at the Second Story in Bloomington, IN, or maybe the Texas swing of the Derailleurs at the Ice House?  Well, I’ll tell yuz: the house band, steel pedal and all, at the Pit Stop worked wonders for me and Scooter Pie.

The funniest thing about the Cachaito thing was the guy scratching vinyl:.  He had one piece of vinyl, perhaps specially pressed and cued, that went “Vrrt, vrr, voot: Cachaito!  Vrrt, vrr, voot: Cachaito!”  At the end of the night, that was it, for me.  I could take no more greatness.

The only other band I’ve seen, however, that comes close to that Cachaito Lopez experience, were The Smoke Daddies, a completely unknown SF band made-up of studio musicians.  Perhaps not the greatest band name, but boy can they bring it, and boy can they escalate.

They used to play at The Blackthorne Tavern on 9th in the Inner Sunset Wednesday nights.  For free.  Maybe, they still do.

Jordan on keyboards is like having Billy Preston as a personal buddy, even though Jordan and I aren’t “buddy” buddies, I regard him as a buddy.  Byron, on gyit-tar, well, I once handed him twenty bucks just for getting his freak on one day at the Mucky Duck.  Mark, on bass, hell: that dude is ripping up the floorboards as fast as the Latino drummer (god curse me for forgetting his name) is nailing them back down.  

Jeezuz, these guys will make your night.  They can bring, and bring it, and bring it some more.  The bands coming through Pearl’s, the Boom Boom Room, Bruno’s, Bimbo’s, Amnesia, Harry Denton’s, Cafe du Nord, Green St. ( Johnny “we’re drinking triples until we’re seeing double and feeling single” Nitro of Doorslammers’ fame, RIP), etc., are excellent, but the Smoke Daddies are the best band in SF.  I’m not affiliated with them, this is not an advertisement.  I just miss the way they rip it up, and hammer it back down.  They are tighter than Yes on “Heart of the Sunrise,” and doing it live.

It doesn’t seem likely that the “Cachaito experience” was a one-off. May have been.  Armando (at crossedswords) brushed it off as my “brush with greatness,” and it’s hard to gainsay him, except it wasn’t my only brush.  I’ve brushed against greatness, in my own biz, amongst friends and family, and it feels fabulous.

BTW, what do you say to an attractive Costa Rican female, staring out at the waves from a Sausalito restaurant,  who, “just wants to go to the Boom Boom R-r-oom tonight to shake her business?”  Okay.  Buy flowers, pre-emptively and post-emptively.  Book-end that shit in flowers!  Good lord, whutta town!