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This edition of our West Marin Guitar Blog features Tommy Odetto. Tommy is a true local, being born and raised in Fairfax and San Anselmo. He’s got serious skills and has won some pretty prestigious awards for his guitar playing. He currently plays and tours with Big Brother and the Holding Company and just toured with Blues legend Sister Monica. Tommy also plays with The Bad Jones – a great rock group who is playing 19 Broadway this weekend, Saturday December 19th. You gotta come out and see these guys, they are awesome!

1. What/who were your earliest teachers/inspirations?


Hendrix Clapton Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Local inspiration: Tom Finch, Danny Uzilevsky (We  did a guitar blog on both of these guys earlier), Jose Neto, Otis Scarecroe.


2. How has your style/sound equipment evolved over the years?


Hopefully my style has gotten more pure and honest. I always strive to play what moves me
first, and what is honest and from my soul in the moment. I'm still working on it. Gear had always been secondary. A great guitar and a great amp is all you need. I still believe that.


3. What are some of your favorite Fairfax music moments?


There are so many!! I wouldn't be anywhere without the town of Fairfax, and the people in it who have always supported my music. So thankful!


Playing on the street in front of Peri's bar with John Varn was the beginning, and that will always be special to me. Playing the Fairfax Festival Main Stage, getting the opportunity to be showcased at The Kortuzday Jams at 19 Broadway, where I got to jam with the best players and that is where I met Jesse, the lead singer of The Bad Jones. This town Rocks!!



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This month we feature Fairfax guitarist Tom Finch in our 19 Broadway West Marin Guitar Blog - a legendary player and teacher who has performed and toured with countless groups including: Big Brother & the Holding Co., The Jazz Iguanas, Sabbath Lives, the Tom Finch Group and many more. He has taught guitar to hundreds of local teens and adults and continues to be a huge part of our music scene. Cheers Tom!



1. Early influences-teachers-inspirations. My earliest influences were Jimmy Page, Randy
Rhoads, Eddy Vanhalen & Jimi Hendrix. Later influences were John Scofiled,
Pat Matheney, Kevin Eubanks and Scott Henderson. I have had the privilege to study with some amazing teachers over the years, such as Yiri Svaboda and Randy
Vincent. There are and have been so many stellar guitarists in and around Fairfax; the bar has always been very high and I am constantly inspired to continue to hone my craft!


2. How has your style/sound/equipment changed over time? In the beginning I didn't know much about gear, so I played whatever I could get my hands on. I played solid state amps and digital multi-effects units with lots of "super-sauce". Over the years I learned the joy of tube amps and quality stomp boxes, as well as higher end guitars and pick-ups. Now I use very little "super-sauce" and get the most out of my guitar and amp. I do admit to having three overdrive pedals on my pedal board though smile emoticon I use single channel amps and use stomp boxes for various levels of gain and overdrive!


3. Favorite Fairfax music moments? I have had so many great musical moments in Fairfax. I have been playing here since the late 80's and have played countless shows. I would have to say that some of my highest moments would be with Jazz Iguanas in the early 90's, before 19Broadway expanded… we would play a whole weekend and just pack the place with our friends and fans. Sooo much fun! Also some super sweet NYE shows at Cafe Amsterdam/the Sleeping Lady with Tom Finch Group. I have also had some unforgettable moments at the Fairfax festival over the years with a myriad of groups. Very recently Big Brother & the Holding Co. rocked the main stage, that was a stellar show! There is nothing like playing under the redwoods in my home-town! I feel blessed to live and play in a town as cool and creative as Fairfax!!! I look forward to the Jazz Iguanas reunion show @ 19 Broadway Friday Dec 18 with The Rhythm Addicts on board as well! get your tickets here -



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The next West Marin guitar hero that we are focusing on is Aram Danesh. He is a rockin guitar player and is actually playing at 19 Broadway the night we are publishing this blog! You can find him hangin down at the club on many a weekend night takin in some good tunes. Jon Korty interviewed him recently and got the inside scoop!

1. Who/what were your early influences/teachers/inspirations?

Coming from Iran in the 1970s, my first musical inspirations were limited to what was available to me at that time but what sticks out to me from back then was the feel and swing of Peggy Lee singing "Fever". The first time I head that classic rendition of the late 50's tune it really brought me to a warm happy place. As I grew up and traveled, AC/DC's driving rhythms and blues infused guitar solos quickly became my favorite. I had many teachers who ranged from my high school friends like Tony Mindel who taught me Grateful Dead songs to later on in college with Riz (Michael Rizza/Rizorkestra) who worked me over with complicated Jazz changes and pushed me to better my playing. I never gave up studying music. The more I studied the more humble it forced me to become and more reverend of the great players. Academically, I briefly studied at the San Francisco Music Conservatory and most recently studied with Matthew Charles Hewitt (Moetar, Zigaboo Modeliste, Narada Michael Walden) to further my education. I love all the Jazz giants like John Coltrane and Clifford Brown but also classic country like Bob Wills. My music ranges from Blues, R&B, Soul to Rock. Over the past 25 years I put together many bands with diverse styles like Hip Hop, Jazz, Funk and Latin.  


2. How has your playing style/sound/equipment changed over time? 

My approach to playing has changed a lot! Its hard to start talking about it...changes came in two main ways, 1) When you realize that your music can't pay the bills and 2) as a guitarist I realized to serve the song I had to pull back on my playing. The first change makes you understand that you don't need huge amplifiers and equipment for large concert venues (plenty of mics available at most places anyway) to the room and keep it tasty. The second is all about listening to yourself and your place within the song and within the band...better to underplay than overplay...although I have to admit I am still working on this.


3. Favorite Fairfax musical moments? 

Easy: Zigaboo Modeliste band featuring Matthew Charles Hewitt on lead guitar. KortUzi band featuring Jon Korty's soulful singing and constantly evolving playing and our local guitar master Danny Uzivlevsky who switches from some twangilicious picking to ripping hard rock. Lastly seeing the Abyssinians on the 19 Broadway stage who are one of my all-time favorite classic reggae bands.




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Born in Germany in 1970, Teja Gerken began his journey on the guitar at the age of six and became a serious student of the instrument after his family moved to California in the mid '80s.! Today, Teja is no stranger to those familiar with contemporary steel-string fingerstyle guitar. Weaving together influences of folk, jazz, classical, and world music into a style that is uniquely his own, Teja's playing reflects his diverse musical interests. While many of his composition employ alternate tunings, two-handed tapping, percussive effects, and other extended guitar techniques, others simply rely on his keen sense of melody and movement. Within this framework, Teja has created a repertoire that appeals to fellow guitarists as well as to listening audiences, and while original material is his main focus, he can also be found playing Irish traditionals, the occasional jazz standard, or improvising on themes by classical composers.


An active participant in the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area acoustic music scene, Teja is a regular performer at many of the region's venues. A firm believer in creating community, he hosts a monthly acoustic guitar showcase (currently at Fairfax's Sleeping Lady ) which features both established and emerging players. Teja also frequently introduces international talent to Bay Area audiences. Teja has shared the stage with guitar visionaries such as John Renbourn, Alex de Grassi, Peter Finger, and Henry Kaiser, as well as with his mentors, Duck Baker and Peppino D'Agostino. He has been a featured guest at the International Guitar Night, as well as on radio stations such as San Francisco's KALW and KUSF, and Berkeley's KPFA. In 2000, he began adding annual concerts in Germany to his performance calendar, and in 2004, he participated in a ten-city tour of Hungary.

Teja's debut album On My Way (LifeRhythm Music) has received critical acclaim since its release in 1999. "This sounds as if Michael Hedges, Paco De Lucia, and Bill Monroe are all fighting over a guitar," says the music review website, which goes on to say that "this exceptional musician combines elements of folk, jazz, bluegrass and just about any style you can think of, into his seamless, lightning speed guitar workouts. Gerken plays World Fusion without losing his own identity or watering down styles." The UK's Folk Roots adds, "very impressive technique, and tuneful," and Dirty Linen calls Teja "a fine technical player." The composition Her Red Hair was featured on a Best of Contemporary Instrumental Music sampler CD by Germany's Laika Records in fall 2002. Teja released his second album Postcaards in 2005.

Besides performing and recording, Teja also writes about guitars, guitarists, and related subjects. He was a senior editor at Acoustic Guitar magazine from 1997 to 2013, and he has contributed to Guitar Player, Premier Guitar, InTune, Fretboard Journal, Akustik Gitarre, Gitarre & Bass, and other publications. In 2014, he co-founded Peghead Nation, an online e-leaning environment with video instruction for guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, fiddle, and dobro.

1. Who/ what were your early inspirations/teachers/influences?

The first steel-string fingerstyle guitarist I really became aware of was John Renbourn, who I first discovered via Pentangle, and later as a solo player. I still consider the “British school” of fingerstyle playing (I’d include Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, Martin Simpson, and Martin Carthy in that group) to be a strong influence in my playing, but I also went through a period where I was really into what I consider to be the second wave of modern American players, such as Michael Hedges and Alex de Grassi, and I’ve also spent a lot of time listening to French fingerstyle master Pierre Bensusan, and German guitar genius Peter Finger. I’m also a huge fan of classical guitarist/composers such as Roland Dyens, Andy York, Ralph Towner, and Dusan Bogdanovich. Finally, even though their influence on my own playing isn’t as direct, I’m really into modern jazzbased electric players like Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, John Scofield, Nels Cline, Adam Rogers, Will Bernard, etc.

As far as teachers go, I have no “formal” training, but I consider Peppino D’Agostino and Duck Baker—both amazing fingerstyle players—to have been my mentors, and I studied with both for several years while living in San Francisco in the ‘90s.

2. How has your style/playing/sound and equipment changed over time?

I came to solo guitar from playing some classical and flamenco, so the biggest change, now almost 20 years ago, was going from playing a nylon-string classical guitar to playing mostly steel-string. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve done more two-handed tapping and slapping, Michael Hedges-type stuff, than I do now, but fundamentally, I’ve really just tried to always get better at what I do without changing my fundamental approach to playing guitar. I mostly play in alternate tunings, but I’ve become more strategic about how I use them, and I think of them in terms of a couple of “families” of tunings, rather than the fairly random choices that they used to be. I think the main difference is that over time, I’ve developed better tone on the instrument, and I’ve become a more confident performer, which are both really important aspects of playing guitar. I’ve mostly been playing the same guitars—a Custom Shop Martin OM, a Lowden O10 jumbo, a Taylor 355 12-string, and a Kenny Hill classical—for more than a decade, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I usually amplify with pickups, and I often use a small pedal board with a preamp, EQ, reverb, and sometimes a looper, but lately I’ve been into just playing with a microphone if I’m playing for a listening audience and the PA and engineer is up to the task.

3. Favorite Fairfax music moments.

Most of my playing in Fairfax has revolved around hosting the monthly Guitar Showcase at the Sleeping Lady from about 2008 until the club closed. It was an amazing run, especially because it allowed me to bring a lot my guitar friends from all over the country to my hometown. Stand-out shows included having players like Adam Levy, Mark Goldenberg, Vicki Genfan, Paul Asbell, Adam Miller, Eric Skye, or Steve James at the show, and I pinched myself often when I realized that I could play with these folks while walking to the gig from my house. But maybe my favorite memory of a Fairfax gig is when a gig I shared with Teja Bell (the only other person with my first name I’ve ever met!) turned into a show with Gabe Harris on percussion and Steven Kindler on electric violin—that was a special Fairfax night of music! Then there was the time when Ramblin’ Jack Elliot showed up and sat in for a tune—where else does stuff like that happen?


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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). 


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