Last night Jon & Jane Laskin of the Musicians Workshop presented another of their fabulous In-Home Concerts at an estate home in Tenaja. About 150 people came out on a cool, rainy evening to enjoy the sounds of It's Beautiful Day. If you're not familiar with the band, leader David LaFlamme started this band in 1967 in San Francisco. Though they never quite reached the peak of fame of some of their contemporaries like Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service or the Grateful Dead, their main anthem "White Bird" is easily recognizable to those of you who lived through the Summer of Love, as are several of their other hits like 'Bombay Calling', 'Time Is' and 'Girl With No Eyes'.
As you might imagine, when you hold a concert in somebodys living room, it's an intimate occasion - even if it's a huge living room. That's what makes the In-Home Concert series such a hit with fans. You can check out previous featured acts here. Last night we shared a meal with the band and ended up sitting less than 2 feet away during the performance.
And did they ROCK! They played a solid hour of hits and then took a short break to sign CD's and original album covers and chat and drink a little vino and then they came back on for another half hour of entertainment. They were obviously enjoying themselves and, as a result, the rest of us did too. David regaled us with short stories between songs about the genesis of some of the material, about escaping out the back door of an old church with Steve Miller as the cops were coming thru the front door and about traveling thru India with the Maharishi in the early 70's.
The last time I saw these folks live was in 1971 or 1972 on a bill with Quicksilver and The New Riders of The Purple Sage (or maybe it was Santana - there is much that's unclear about those days). Their music hasn't lost a beat. Both David & Linda retain fine voices with great range, David's fiddle goes from a gentle sigh to a rasping yell in a moment showing why the value of rock & roll fiddle has always been underrated. His instrumental duets with lead guitar Rob Espinosa were electric and his vocal duets with Linda were perfection. They've been together 35 years through kids, grandkids and numerous concerts and the compatibility shows through in every nuance of their music.
The band is made up of David LaFlamme and his wife Linda. She's not the original wife Linda who started the band in 1967 but she's the Linda that's been there since 1970 so she's the voice you know. Drummer Val Fuentes is also an original to the band, Toby Gray on Bass and Gary Thomas on Keyboards have been with them for 20 years and lead guitarist Rob Espinosa is the newcomer with only about 8 years tenure.
If David LaFlamme and It's A Beautiful Day make it to your part of the country, don't write them off as an over-the-hill gang. They will rock your socks off. Not only that they are congenial, personable, eager to sign autographs and talk about family or the old days. But not the good old days - because as David says, there's still plenty of good days left to come.