Jazz guitarist and vocalist Paul Turnipseed "just got here," he says. He blew into the Rogue Valley in December on a warm puff of air from San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Actually, he made the trip in a Jeep Cherokee, making lots of stops along the way to visit friends and surf.
"So the climate change between Mexico and Oregon was gradual," he laughs.
Who: Paul Turnipseed
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1
Where: RoxyAnn Winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford
Call: 541-776-2315, ext. 301
It's not Turnipseed's first trip to Southern Oregon, and he's picked up a few friends here, as well.
"I met Thom Cammarota and Joe Diehl the last time I came through here, along with some other incredible musicians." he says.
Turnipseed's local appearances include sets with Cammarota and The Reactions, vibrophonist Thomas Mackay and jams with guitarist Robbie DaCosta. He's a member of Harpo De Roma's house band that hosts Sunday-night jams at the Imperial Event Center on Front Street in Medford.
"I've been rehearsing with guitarist Cyd Smith, drummer Kevin McKern and pedal steel player Frank Sullivan," he says. "We haven't been out to play yet."
Turnipseed's music is a mix of jazz standards, blues and New Orleans-style songs. He plays a hollow-body electric and strums chords and bass lines while he sings.
He'll perform from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at RoxyAnn Winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford. Admission is free. Call 541-776-2315, ext. 301, or see www.roxyann.com.
"The solo shows at RoxyAnn will be loosely based on how Joe Pass might have accompanied Ella Fitzgerald," he says. "Pass was an influential jazz guitarist in the '50s and '60s and did four albums with Fitzgerald as a duo. I also play a lot of Duke Ellington, like 'I'm Just a Lucky So and So' and 'Don't Get Around Much Anymore.'
"I've been a sideman for so many years that I can play everything from Wes Montgomery and Pat Matheny to Jerry Garcia and Buddy Guy. Every night, there's the potential to have a great experience no matter who I play with."
The biggest influence on Turnipseed's music was his father's large album collection — a library of LPs and 45s that contained an assortment of American blues, rock and jazz.
"I'd listen to those records all day long and never get tired of hearing them," he says.
When he was in his early 20s, Turnipseed chose the jazz-studies program at University of New Orleans. There, he studied under jazzmen and educators Ellis Marsalis and Steve Masakowski.
"The teachers were more about going out and playing in front of audiences than classroom academics," Turnipseed says. "Most of them were active players around the city. I spent years hanging out on Frenchmen Street and Bourbon Street, listening and playing music all night long."
On any given night, there was live music spilling from the doorways of about 10 bars along the streets, he says. He worked nearly every night of the week, living in the French Quarter.
"There was a beauty to it," he says. "All of the sounds and the smells of food."
Then in 1998, he received a call to put together a jazz band and take it to Blue Bayou, a fine-dining restaurant at Hyatt Cancun Caribe (now Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand).
"So we headed down there to play for six weeks," Turnipseed says. "I wound up sticking around and playing with local musicians for 18 months."
He drifted to San Jose del Cabo in 1999, playing steadily at hotels, small rooms and bars.
"The way to play music down there is to get gigs in hotels," he says. "That's where the money is. They're corporate-owned and can afford to pay for it."
Turnipseed worked between New Orleans and San Jose del Cabo for a time but, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, eventually stayed on in del Cabo.
"After a while, I came to a point where I didn't want to play the ritzy hotels. My friends couldn't hang out there. I preferred the small room and bars. But you do both. When gigs come along, you take them."
He worked six nights a week in a place on the beach called The Office, surfing during the day and living off fresh fish, clams, juice and plenty of sunshine.
For booking information, call 504-931-7147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.