As a big supporter of live music and local musicians, 19 Broadway would like to share some of the inside scoop on some incredibly talented local musicians. No one better to get the inside scoop and share it with you than Jon Korty! We will start with blogs every other week on local guitarists and see where it spreads from there. Enjoy!
“AMAZING GUITARISTS of Fairfax & West Marin” blog by Jonathan Korty 8/28/15
Howdy music fans! Jonathan Korty here from 19 Broadway Nightclub in Fairfax. For a long time I have marvelled at the wealth of talented musicians in this town. In fact, in my travels over the years I am hard-pressed to come up with another small town that has so many great musicians in it. I have finally decided to do something to bring a little more recognition to some of these fine folks. This blog is titled “ The Amazing Musicians of Fairfax” (born here, used to live or live now) and will be a bi-monthly piece in which I ask some of the outstanding local guitar players three questions:
1. Who/what were your early influences/inspiriations/teachers?
2. How has your sound/style/equipment changed over the years?
3. What are some of your favorite Fairfax music moments?
..As this blog evolves please feel free to hip me to folks I may not know or have forgotten – as I am sure you will...One of the first to respond to my query and someone I am very familiar with was my good friend Danny “Uzi” Uzilevsky whom I have played with for many years in the KortUzday Band, Chrome Johnson and Honeydust as well as my side project Korty & Friends. So without further ado – I give you the first subject of my new blog “ The Amazing Musicians of Fairfax & West Marin” - Danny Uzilevsky!
1. Early Influences:
I was pretty much born with a ukelele in my hands. I must have smashed half a dozen of them before age 4. The earliest guitar influence I remember is Sabicas, the flamenco master. I was seriously enthralled by flamenco guitar as a toddler and I still am. When my mom and dad (adopted) first started dating, I told them they should turn down the lights and listen to flamenco by candlelight. I was about 3.
Which leads me to my second influence: my dad. When I first met Marcus Uzilevsky AKA Rusty Evans, he was a serious folkie. He had all these obscure stringed folk instruments lying on the floor, for me to crawl around and strum; Zithers, balalaikas, tipples, dulcimers etc... I had my first gig with him, playing the tipple ( a 10 stringed little short scale instrument), at age 4, at a cafe in San Francisco, athough I mostly just clowned around and got the audience going, by falling off the stool repeatedly.
When I was 8 years old, my dad took me to see The Buddy Holly Story. That was the beginning of my rock & roll career! Within a couple months, I had a Kay electric guitar that we got at the Salvation Army, a nice old Squier tube amp and an old chrome EV microphone that would also plug into the amp. I did a book report on the guitar that year and followed the report by playing a few songs by Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Elvis with my "band" Danny & The Blue Jays.
2. Evolution Of A Guitarist
I stayed pretty focused on the 50's rock and roll up until about 12 years old. That's when I started checking out Jimi Hendrix and the '60's rock sound. While all the kids around me were listening to KISS and AC/DC, I was listening to The Byrds and The Lovin' Spoonful. Around this time I bought my first Fender Stratocaster. It was a 60's Strat that looked just like Buddy Holly's and it would be worth many thousands of dollars now, if it weren't for me reading articles in Guitar Player Magazine about how to modify your guitar to sound like Eddie Van Halen. I stripped off the old sunburst finish, put in hotter pickups and a Floyd Rose whammy bar. I played that Stratocaster exclusively until I was in my early 20's, when I bought a PRS and a Spector guitar and retired the Strat. I still have the Strat, although it needs some TLC. For some reason, to this day, I'm still apprehensive about playing Stratocasters. I just can't leave the vibrato arm alone!
By 25 or so, I started hanging around with Latin and African percussionists and gained a big affinity for Afro-Cuban jazz and Hi-Life styles. I tried to get a band going that incorporated Latin, African, Indian and (you guessed it) flamenco styles, but it was too heavy for me to keep together for long. After that I joined a West African Hi-Life band called Wazobia. That naturally led me into Funk and Soul music. I played quite a bit of funk around that time, immersing myself into James Brown, Parliament, Eath Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang.
I was also really getting into the Blues around that time. I has some kind of epiphany about not wanting to be a "weedlie deedlie" guitarist anymore and joined Preacher Boy & The Natural Blues, playing the bass for several years, digging in to being part of the rhythm section. We went on national tours of the chitlin circuit and eventually Europe. The band eventually went through line up changes and I switched to guitars, lap slide and banjo. That's when I started my love affair with the Fender Telecaster. When I finally returned from my European adventures a few years later, I started my own band, Chrome Johnson, as a natural extention of what I'd been doing with Delta Blues and blending it with Rockabilly, Country and Spaghetti Western themes. I also started playing Johnny Cash songs with my dad's band, Rusty Evans & Ring Of Fire, which I still do today.
Since then, I've played with various Rock, Funk, Soul, Country, Blues bands. Playing Rock, I gravitated toward the big classic british Marshalls and Vox tones, primarily playing a Les Paul gold top, but lately I find myself back to a simple Telecaster and a Fender Deluxe.
3. Favorite Musical Moments (early to late)
Some of my favorite early musical moments were in Fairfax, at 19 Broadway. I was too young to get into the club, so I'd sit at the window, behind the stage listening and trying to cop the licks of blues legends Chuck Day and Luther Tucker. Eventually, I wound up playing in Chuck Day's band. He must have liked me well enough, since he left me his Gibson ES-150 after he passed. That guitar has a lot of mojo! From what I understand it was used on the original recordings of Secret Agent Man and California Dreamin'. Another, later highlight, was in the mid/late 90's, when I played in front of 30,000 people at the Glastonbury Festival. In fact touring around the UK, I've played at great festivals, played live on the BBC radio a lot and met some really great folks.
Playing the blues, in the south, on the chitlin circuit is another big memory for me. So many stories...
My latest musical highlight has been starting a recording studio and record label: Allegiant Records. We're based right here in San Anselmo, walking distance to the Fairfax clubs. My hope is that the studio and label can be a catalyst for the immense local talent here in the West Marin area.
Thanks for checking out our first blog on local musician talent! You can see Danny Uzi and other incredible musicians 7 nights a week. Just check out our website and music calendar for more details or download our Mobile App from the App store (Search 19 Broadway nightclub).