On Swan Songs: A Night to Remember at Cetrella: Story by Tom Andersen

Story by Tom Andersen

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Swan’s Songs

The seven -year three- month run of excellent jazz & blues performances at Cetrella in Half Moon Bay came to a rousing close on Friday January 2nd, 2009. Blues vocalist Margie Baker did a superb job as the evening’s featured musician—“No one more appropriate for what may be the final performance here,” Cetrella’s Music Director Michael O’Neill said.

And what a performance it was!

Backed by the piano genius Shota Osabe, and the fine bassist Ruth Davies, Margie Baker delivered on a tour de force doing what she does best, that is, putting her nuanced, informed and soulful mark on everything she sang. We danced to her signature opening song: “Let the Good Times Roll” (enjoying the smile of acknowledgement as we took to the floor.)

It turned into an evening of “Friends of Michael O’Neill.” Kenny Washington returned from vacationing in Big Sur to do several numbers; Nicholas Bearde did a great rendition of “Down Home Blues” after a couple of funny stories of past performance experiences at Cetrella.

They were honored by a packed room, no-bodies leaving, “Everybody” was there for the “swan songs.” Classical pianist  Lisa Spector paid homage to her musical peers, “Eileen and friends from El Granada” had their usual reserved table at the pole position; MCTV’s Connie Malach & friends were having their usual too much fun.

The band played their hearts out! They played overtime, and did a much clamored for encore of “When the Saints Go Marching In”, which had us up and dancing right off, followed by a spontaneous samba line that involved most of the people in the room, amid much whoops, cheers, and applause.

At the break I went to wash my hands, leaving the packed and energized room to travel through the dining area, which was empty.

All in all, it was the musical equivalent of the perpetual re-emerging Persian rug dealer with yet another “going out of business sale”. The cultural and community treasure of Michael’s jazz venue at Cetrella should have one of these every week from now on.


Afternote from Music Director Michael O’Neill

Hi folks,

Wow! What a fantastic send off last Friday!

I thank everybody that came in body and/or in spirit for the final night at Cetrella – it was truly a
night I will always remember.

This coming Thursday – January 8 – I will be playing at the Crab Landing in the Princeton Harbor area.
The music will start at 6:00 and go until 9:00.

Please come and support my opening performance there. Maybe – given time – it could turn into another
Cetrella type venue. It can happen with enough support!

Crab Landing
260 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay