A few more days until Djangos birthday. Django was a tremendous influence to so many musicians of so many styles. He claimed to be a jazz musician, but I think he was a bit more than that. Before the term Gypsy Jazz came along and the style became super codified (which is the contrary of what Django really was about) people who played in the style of Django were very diverse. The classical guitarist Julian Bream had a Django style band. So did Joe Pass.

When I started, there was practically no information available and the style wasnt as codified as it is today. I remember wanting instruction in the style but I couldnt find anything locally. By that time, Paul Mehling had been promoting and playing Django music in the USA for quite a while. He also published videos that were sold all over the world for people wanting to get started. I didnt benefit from these videos because they werent easily available where I was. Nonetheless, he deserves credit for being one of the first to help people out.

Ive only met him once, and he was nice enough to invite me over to his house to jam. He does not play in the codified Gypsy Jazz way, he plays in his own way with, of course, huge inspiration directly from Django himself (as opposed to many players today copying contemporary gypsy jazz players). He traveled a lot ot Europe back in the day and hung out a lot with another under-appreciated musician, Serge Krief (whom Ill talk about another time). Great musician, and nice guy. Heres to your contributions Paul!

Hot Club of San Francisco - "Groovin at the Old Stern Grove" from Stern Grove Festival on Vimeo.

From our appearance at Stern Grove (san francisco) 2015, a piece commissioned by Stern Grove to capture in music & lyrics the experience of their beautiful open-air concert setting. Written & performed by the Hot Club of San Fran

Recording Studio- @ 39 Fell street 7-10pm
Why not come to Mr.Tipples! ! ! ! ! !

EVERY MONDAY 7-10pm Le Jazz Hot Quartet plays for dining & dancing at San Franciscos NEWEST destination: Mr. TIPPLES RECORDING STUDIO

Le Jazz Hot never fails to DAZZLE & DELIGHT ( and land on our FEET!)

an amazing journey to a beautiful country where the people LIVE for music! Turns out that nearly EVERY guitar player in Brazil has learned from my instructional DVDs & Videos!!! Im a celebrity! Jose Fernando Freitas did an AMAZING one-man job of organizing and producing this festival (and hes a player! he played in every show!), my eternal love and thanks to Jose and his family!

Cant wait to go back, check out these amazing photos:

Hi Happy, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity 20+ years ago to make the Django-style gypsy jazz VHS (and later, DVDs). I am just returning from Brazil where they have just held their 3rd annual Gypsy jazz festival. This year they invited me, and nearly EVERY guitarist (and some non-guitarists) have told me that they started their studies with my Homespun Tapes vids. So, it appears that I am not only the "Godfather of Gypsy Jazz in the USA (according to PBS)" but that i am also the "Godfather" of Gypsy Jazz in all of Brazil. I cant quite believe it myself, but in all humble honesty it appears to be the case. THANK YOU ! -~Paul "Pazzo" Mehling

and here's his reply!:

Dear Paul,

Thanks for the nice note and the FB post. And congratulations on your success and growing reputation here and in Brazil. That’s quite an accomplishment given all the great music down there! I’m glad we have been of help to you in your career and that Homespun’s reach goes that far.

It’s always been a pleasure working with you and we wish you continued success with your music, performing and teaching. We’re proud to have you on Homespun.

All best,

Happy Tram

What words come to mind when imagining Stern Grove Festival? For Hot Club of San Francisco, the words “beautiful, outdoors, open, clean, and fresh” inspired their most recent song, crafted for the Stern Grove Festival stage as part of the “Interplay” commission series. Vocalist and guitarist Paul Mehling of this local gypsy jazz band shared with us the challenging process of translating these words into a sound that evokes the unique experience of being “In Concert with Nature” at Stern Grove.

“Using the copious amount of time we spend in rented vans while on tour together, we managed to brainstorm some ideas that were almost unanimously agreeable to all of us, which we then slowly molded into the song’s now ‘finished’ state,” says Mehling of their newest song, “Groovin at the Old Stern Grove”.

Hot Club understands, but embraces the challenges in working with the environment of a concert space, whether it is a jazz club, on the street, a full stage, or among towering eucalyptus trees. Not every band can adapt their sound to the claps of a crowded jazz hall and keep up with the rhythm of the wind blowing through 100-foot trees, but Hot Club looks forward to the environment of Stern Grove advancing their sound.

Mehling feels that the quintet is uniquely aware and involved with the environment of a venue. “Since our goal is to somehow reach and touch our audience, we need to be acutely in tune with our environment and how best to circumvent any blockages which might preclude us from connecting with listeners.” This could be something mechanical (like sound system issues), something personal (a broken heart), or something out of their control, like fans unfamiliar with their style of music.

Groovin at the Old Stern Grove scoreGypsy jazz, which promotes the swinging sounds made popular by guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt in 1930s Paris, carries a welcoming aura in each twang and pick of a guitar. Fans are drawn in by its lively rhythm, and Mehling and the crew take the next step in treating each audience member as a friend that they haven’t yet met. “While audiences may or may not be familiar with us, or our genre of music, we hope to establish an interplay and connection with them that they won’t find anywhere else, and which will stay with them.”

The five members of Hot Club take being San Franciscans—and the area’s influences and long list of contributions to the evolution of jazz—very seriously. These ties are evident while listening to their new song, where nods are given to local insider jokes like “vegan/pagan hipsters” and “high-tech chief execs” grooving together at everyone’s favorite urban getaway, Stern Grove.

Mehling says he and the rest of Hot Club feel a huge sense of indebtedness to the people in the Bay Area jazz scene that they’ve learned from, been inspired by, and have been a part of for more than 27 years. “We are extremely proud to not only be a part of this artistic tapestry, but we see our role in preserving and pushing it forward as an integral part of our purpose.”

Here’s to looking forward to years, decades, and centuries of more artists promoting their craft at Stern Grove Festival! If you’d like to hear Hot Club of San Francisco perform “Groovin at the Old Stern Grove” and more, come watch them at Stern Grove Festival this Sunday, June 28 when they open for one of America’s favorite lyricists, Randy Newman. The show kicks off at 2 p.m.

(see complete story on page 3 of our VIDEO page)

Yoshie Hill
1 year ago  ·  Shared publicly
They are brilliant!  Do not miss a chance to see them perform in person.  Paul Mehling is quite the affable and witty entertainer as well as being  "The Godfather" of gypsy swing in the USA.  Love these guys!