Hearsay: Wednesday May 23, 2002
Big Bertha

Tales of Bertha Coolidge’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The band isn’t really “broken up” — even though its drummer now lives in Chi-town. They manage a few gigs around Fort Worth-Dallas still. Paul Stivitts, recently back on home turf after touring with Maynard Ferguson, regularly sits in on drums, and original drummer Rich Stitzel makes it back here often enough to contribute heartily and be counted on by his bandmates as “the” Bertha Coolidge drummer. A funny set of circumstances, sure, but as the Bertha Coolidge name keeps getting bigger — and it is, what with airplay across the state and even into Missouri — the players keep growing more committed to the band. They know they have a jewel in Live at Caravan of Dreams 030201, their recent debut, and they all want to ride it to the Promised Land of jazz éclat.

“It’s hard for us with Rich gone,” said bassist Aden Bubeck. “But we want to put an emphasis on the band now. The record got nominated [for Album of the Year in the Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards], and we wanna really push it now and get the new record done.”

Like Live, the forthcoming c.d. Bubeck mentions will consist of live material, some recorded in St. Louis at a gig the band played with violinist Christian Howes (frequent Les Paul accompanist), and the rest recorded at Black Dog Tavern, where Bertha Coolidge actually formed about two years ago.

Then about a year ago, Stitzel relocated with his family to Chicago — but you’re still hearing about Bertha Coolidge, and, fates be damned, you will be hearing about them for as long as the players care about their blessed union and unique, progressive — dare we say — “fusion” jazz.

Catch Bertha Coolidge with original drummer Stitzel and his father, Rick Stitzel, Friday at the Texas Star Lounge at the Ramada Inn downtown, 1701 Commerce. 817-335-7000.

Eye in the Sky

About 600 people packed the Ridglea Theater last week for the Electric Eyeball Experience, a multi-media event in which film, music, theater, and laser lights (!) all intersected in a fourth dimension of good ol’ peace, love, and understanding. Full Circle (a.k.a. Don Gentry and Jay Anderson), who put on the show with help from Daughter Entertainment and laser providers Raid 5, got the idea for an all-around arts event after reading about the electric Kool-Aid acid tests and other “happenings” at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco lo these 40 years ago. “It was an artistic statement,” said Gentry about Eyeball. “There’s a lot of stuff happening in the world that I don’t agree with. This was not to promote a band, but to promote an experience. ... It’s, ‘Hey, man. You exist right now in a place and time, on a Saturday night, just to have a good time — a lot of places don’t have that.’ ” The producers are hoping to make the Eyeball an annual occurrence.

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