Le Papagayo is a local bar and restaurant that helps support musicians, especially blues singers. The venue isn’t perfect for performers because they are placed in between guests eating dinner. But it is an intimate experience and I believe that most guests book a reservation for not only the delicious food but to also hear the performers play.
When my sister Gayle turned 50 almost 13 years ago, and I still lived in Encinitas, we were fortunate to hear Steve White perform personally for 5 of my 6 sisters and my mother before she passed away from Multiple Myeloma. It was a joyous birthday party and Steve did a fabulous job of entertaining us while we sat down to eat Pacific Rim and French infusion delights. Francois, the owner was a personal friend of mine and helped make sure that the party was a huge success. I am one of seven sisters, and when my Irish Twin turned 50, it was my responsibility to create a birthday party for her. She did the same for me 11 months earlier at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and sisters are teamed up according to age. We are all in our 60’s now except for one sister, and when the oldest sister turns 70, we will repeat the process all over again. Sadly, Francois has sold the business to another man several years ago and has started a new life for himself in Florida.
Steve White died tragically of lung cancer about a year and a half after this memorable birthday party and he will be sorely missed. I painted a portrait of him as a gift for performing that night and presented it to him after the show. Last night Michael and I went to hear Joe Wood perform at Le Papagayo and was once again impressed by the depth and soul of yet another talented singer and guitar player. Michael and I met Joe who started a conversation with us because of his love for cats and after he had spotted me walking Callie on a leash. He was overjoyed to see me with her, and his usual shy and quiet demeanor became animated and happy at the sight of her. He opened up that he was a musician and that he was going to play last night.
This is what happens when I am out walking with her. Normally reserved individuals can’t help but express their amazement that I am walking Callie on a leash and how bold and proud she is to be out and about. She looks up at me frequently for guidance in how she should respond, and I try to stay calm and steady in return. She expects people to bend down and pet and praise her, and if they don’t, she will meow loudly and demand that they do so. Conversations go from talking about her to opening up about themselves.
So to get back to Joe, he is primarily a blues player and was once associated with T.S.O.L, which stands for The Sons of Liberty, a hybrid of blues/punk music style. He was taught the blues by an uncle who was in and out of jail and before Joe left home at the tender age of 13. Blues to Joe is primarily about women, heartache and a touch of heaven once in awhile sandwiched in between. His voice is deep and mournful and the lyrics, touching and painful. Just my kind of music. The one song that I listened to intently, which wasn’t written by Joe, was recorded for the movie – All the Pretty Horses by the novelist, Cormac McCarthy who just happens to be a favorite writer of mine. I have read every one of his books.
Joe was influenced by Jim Morrison and the Doors while growing up and his voice is eerily similar to Jims. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for as long as we would have liked to because we didn’t have a reservation and had to stand by the bar. It was enough time for me to identify with and appreciate yet another extraordinary blues singer that has lived the life that gives true meaning and depth to the word, BLUES.
Joe Wood performing at Le Papagayo