Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review 9/8/7: Santa Barbara News-Press

from the Santa Barbara News-Press re: John Batdorf and Andrew Jackson 9/8 /07

IN CONCERT: Guitar at their centers - John Batdorf, Andrew Jackson couldn't stay away from performing

Although he's a forensic expert by day, Andrew Jackson, above, gets to showcase his guitar skills at night. For his performance at El Presidio Chapel, Jackson will be joined by one of his heroes, John Batdorf, below.

September 7, 2007 12:05 PM


When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: El Presidio Chapel, 123 E. Canon Perdido St.

Tickets: $15 day of event,

$12 advance, members

Information: 965-0093, www.sbthp.org

"This is my first paying gig up in Santa Barbara," singer-songwriter John Batdorf jokes about his performance Saturday at El Presidio Chapel.

He can thank the man who put the show together, Batdorf's opening act, guitarist Andrew Jackson.

Both musicians know Batdorf isn't exactly correct about this being his first paying gig in Santa Barbara. For the early part of the 1970s, he was half of Batdorf & Rodney, a jazz-folk duo that made its way through a selection of major labels (Atlantic, Asylum, Arista) and gained a cult following. But after years away, Batdorf's return to Santa Barbara feels like a rebirth in some ways, as does Jackson's budding career.

"We are two completely different guitarists," Batdorf says, "which means not in competition." But the two owe their current situations to shake-ups in the music industry.

"We met on MySpace," Batdorf says. "Andrew was a fan, and I've been a fan of his kind of jazz-guitar playing."

For years, Batdorf was making a living scoring for television, and had given up on the music business.

"John is fairly new to ages 30 and below, and MIA for most of us who remember him," Jackson wrote in an e-mail.

But that started to change for Batdorf a few years ago, when he heard a Batdorf & Rodney song on an Xfm station.

Realizing things were changing, he got back in the game, and found the game had changed. Jackson's El Presidio concert -- and previous all-star benefit gigs at NorthStar Coffee Company and SOhO, the latter for the Environmental Defense Center -- is just one of many ways, aided by the Internet, today's acts are finding audiences. Sometimes, the audience has being waiting for years. Some, like Jackson's, have just started to grow.

Jackson's album title "Hiatus" describes why he is entering the business late. He took a 14-year break due to "college, marriage, a child . . . and, eh, a divorce," and returned to music in 2002.

"I was walking around in a kind of daze," he says. "And one night I borrowed a guitar and sat in on an open-mic night." Although he had been playing in the intervening years, he had not performed in public since college.

The Santa Barbara native and self-described "Air Force brat" played rock in high school, but by college had moved toward the steel-string playing of Windham Hill's Michael Hedges, whose open tunings and harmonic slaps can still be heard in Jackson's playing. Jackson also cites William Ackerman and Alex de Grassi as influences. The latter, known for his finger-picking style, became Jackson's mentor after he sought out the artist when De Grassi played at SOhO. Jackson soon got the itch to get back in the spotlight.

"Music is something I need in life, and not just at home," Jackson says he realized after that meeting. On his Web site (www.soundclick.com/hiatusandrewjackson), you can hear what he has been working on since 2002, including solo work and duets with violinist Barbara Coventry and percussionist Johnny Ornelas. A range of styles is presented, including Celtic folk, flamenco, classical and slack-key Hawaiian.

There is a new album, "Expressions of Passion," in the works, but, being a perfectionist, Jackson keeps tweaking the tracks. He has found his ideal marketing format in online MP3s, and offers them on his SoundClick site (above) and on his MySpace site


"Every artist dreams about making that one song with the one hook," he says. "And MP3s help that happen. Why make people buy a whole album when I can get more people paying 60 cents for one song that they like. There's no language barrier, so it can be international."

During the day, Jackson works as a forensic expert, the kind that takes the stand in court cases. At night, he plays. One of his regular gigs is at NorthStar Coffee. His musical friends are trying to get him to expand his venue choices. "I'm hesitant to play L.A., but they've convinced me," he says.

For Jackson, the biggest change in returning to performing was realizing he could do it.

"Not to sound vain, but I didn't realize at first that I was this good," he says. "But here I am opening for and playing with my heroes, and they're asking me to join them. So it must be true."

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