A one-on-one with Tony Exum, Jr.

After meeting the man in person at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, I had to admit, I got curious, and my curiosity had paid off. Finally! is a spectacular blend of influences; R&B, blues, and a lot of soul, and for a debut album of an up-and-comer, it’s a strong, decisive statement to make.

But enough introduction. Let’s get to the point, shall we? Say hello. :)

1. You ventured to Newport Beach, but not to play. How would you describe that trip? What made you go?

That trip was amazing.  I have always wanted to be in California my whole life and, within a seven-month period, I visited 3 times.  Maybe thats a sign?   I went to take notes and network.  I wanted to experience the summer jazz festival atmosphere from a fan’s perspective, and also from a vantage point of an up-and-coming artist who is growing nationally.  I felt it was more important to connect with other artists who are part of this “New Generation” of smooth jazz and the Facebook fans alike.  I surprised a lot of them by just being there to have fun, listen, and learn.  It’s refreshing to have experienced that with so many people reaching out to me.

2. Lemonade Weekend 2011 is now past, but how does it stand out in your memory?

It shows the power of the passionate fan.  It was gratifying to know that there are indiviudals, businessmen and women, fans, radio personalities, and artists who will come together and create such a sweet weekend out of a “sour” situation.  I left feeling like I do have a chance as an indie artist to build my career, no matter what may be transpiring within the infrastructure of the genre.  I had a great time.  All of the artists were supportive and open to networking.  The fans were as passionate and loving as if the awards were still happening.  That weekend was the first time I felt like a “national” artist.  I got a chance to play with Jackiem Joyner on his night at Humphrey’s in front of some very important people in the business and fans alike.  A great memory for me, and a very unexpected invite from Mr. Joyner.  The Anthology jam session and artist showcase was awesome. Everyone represented. Sharing the stage with Paul Brown, Bob Baldwin, Tony Moore, and the plethora of sax men was a real treat.  I got some great PUB out of that moment of 16 bars, lol!  I think I was the only cat playing soprano.  How did that happen…hmmm??    Besides that, San Diego is my new favorite city!!

3. What reception did you receive at Lemonade 2011?

A great one.  People were walking up to me, like “You’re Tony Exum, Jr!” and giving me the star treatment!  Not used to that at all.  I just wanted  to play and hang out.

4. Whom have you played with, connected with, etc. who stands out in your memory? Do explain why.

Being from Colorado Springs, CO, one might not think I have much of a resume.  I think the Most High saw that differently, however.  I have shared the stage with the Temptations and Four Tops in the horn section for both groups, Nelson Rangell, Miki Howard, WAR, Nick Colionne, Gail Jhonson, Joey Sommerville etc.  I have connected with Gerald Albright (he lives just a short 40 miles from me), my buddy Marcus Anderson, Mike Phillips, Paul Taylor etc.  I think Mike stands out in my memory because he is such a humble guy and gives great advice.  He taught me the idea of being a “brand” and opposed to being just another sax player or musician in jazz. He was very encouraging during 2009 and 2010 when I was breaking out, and took time to call and congratulate me on some of my accolades.  Very appreciative of his support.  I also connected with some in the hip-hop world.  Carla Green (aka CMG) of the Bay Area legends The Conscious Daughters.  Funny thing is, she found me I think.  I will never forget how great it felt to get a FB message saying “Tony, you are illegal dope!”  Next thing I know we are talking on the phone and I ended up recording on her first solo effort The Jane of all Trades on PhaseOne/RED/Sony records. A song called “Where Did the Time Go?” with Mike Marshall (aka Mike Meezy, the singer on “I Got 5Ive On It-Luniz fame and “Rumors” by Timex Social Club). Two absolute classics! Unbelievable!  I was fan of The Conscious Daughters during my college days at Denver University, even used to have their single “Gamers” on full blast, scaring all the orchestra students! That was a real accomplishment for me and I am looking forward to possibly record on the next TCD album.

5. Write whatever you’d like! :)

2011 has been a watershed year for me on many levels.  I have experienced the road as a solo artist, connected with the household names I dreamed of meeting, sold tons of CDs, developed a great band, and have started the process of the leap from wanting the dream to actually living it.  I can only be thankful to my true friends, my manager Mike Reynolds, my business partner and friend from Musik Theory Armed Green, Cheryl Boone, and my TE Heartbreakers! (lol)  Bettie Talley-Belcher, Lory Gardner, Tamara Collins, Anisha Wilson, and Anita Ross, whom I also call my fan-mily.  Also to the radio people like Steve Hamilton, Bruce Nazarian, Richard Edwards, Graeme Holiday, Terri the jazz queen, Pamela Black, Coco Spencer and Dionne the jazz lady for playing my stuff.  Actor/Comedian Shed G. of Tyler Perry fame has been a big help.  My backing band, makeitgruv.  My producer and musical director James Roberson, for creating such a strong project! I have had a lot of support and it means so much to me.  One final thing I would like to say is this: PEOPLE, SUPPORT YOUR INDIE smooth/c-jazz ARTISTS!  So much talent and variety is being overlooked by some of the powers-to-be in this genre.  Please, reach out to us and listen, download our stuff come to our regional shows, recommend us to other jazz fans.  You are missing out on LIFE when you don’t.  

Seconded and thirded, Tony E!


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Now, the buzz has gone right into the Mile High City, Denver, where one of our Lemonheads is getting ready to rock as we speak.

You may have met him at Lemonade. Certainly, he was at the radio show, but most recently, he was in Blues Alley in DC, made the roof a fair bit unstable, and is about to do more than that with an all-star band at the Colorado Jazz and R&B Fest.

Tony Exum, Jr. is one kickass saxman, and this spotlight is on him – and you will hear more about him very soon!


Until next time,



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He’s ba-ack!

Now, I was not there. However, I do know people who were. And I will tell you, Brad Rambur rocked the house at Casa di Spaghettini, well enough so that he got invited back!

July 16th, 7:30pm, ladies and gents. What are you doing?


I thought so. :)

Three cheers for Brad Rambur and Casa Spags!


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$10 to get in!

Now that the sunburn is healed, somewhat anyway, it’s time for you, my lemonheads, to do your thing yet again – get thee to a show to support one of our artists!

Brad Rambur is at Spag’s this Wednesday, and I had the pleasure of meeting him inperson at Newport Beach. If he’s as conversational on the sax as he is in person, I promise you – this is a show to enjoy. His producer you may know, a certain gent named Eric Marienthal. If this isn’t a signal for you to get to Spag’s on Wednesday…well, then there’s no helping you.

Go there, and please give Brad a lemon drop martini from the opposite coast.


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Vincent Ingala Debut at Newport Beach

Whew. So now that I am up in the air, it’s time to relate to you fellow Lemonheads that not only did Vincent’s debut go well, but it went past “well” and right into “hotdamn!” category.

Now, this is what you have to know about the stage setup of Newport Beach. The lawn stage at the top of the hill alternates showtimes with the main stage that’s a ways below. Once the first show, Down to the Bone, wrapped up, Pat Prescott directed the attention of the audience to the side stage, and as soon as Vincent started playing, the crowd went right for him.

Add our own Bruce Nazarian on guitar, Ricky Lawson, Gary Stanionis, Jervonny Collier and the result is a combustible musical concoction. Lemonade? Pfah. This is a notch higher.

Vincent Ingala. You guys will agree with me, I think: from here on in, just his name alone should be a byword for rocking tenor saxophone, energy, exuberance and plain on-stage chutzpah. You would be amazed at how well he can move and marshal a show; he is the master of this stage. Vince hits the stage ready to rock out, stays steady with his energy, and having a powerhouse all-star band backing him is more than fitting.

The best of it all was that he kept up the variety as well. Mixing covers of the classics with his originals, singing – all of it he did with no hesitation and with as much energy as he hit the stage with. The talent is plain and out there; and all through his performance, I kept thinking, “this one needs the main stage. He proved within the first five seconds that he can marshal a show, but he needs a bigger stage.”

Well, wouldn’t you know it? The next day, that’s exactly what happened when Dave Koz invited him to guest-star on The Pink Panther.

You know the song. C’mon. It’s impossible to miss when you hear it. It’s kicky, playful, slick, and sounds great on nearly every sax that plays it. So…Dave on the soprano, light and a bit sly, and Vincent’s tenor, rich and straightforward, take one of each, mix well, and add the exuberant energy of the song and the festival atmosphere, and the mix is combustible.

To put it this way, if Dave is the Jedi Master, this concert was Vincent’s trials, and he passed with flying colors; the audience gave their joint performance a standing ovation. The Padawan has learned well indeed.

(why yes, I’m a nerd.)

Until next time…



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You know, what with me being an East Coaster, I have a fair bit of California dreamin’ happening right around now. Not just because we now know the setting and the timeframe for the Lemonade Weekend – but because of what’s happening in 4 days.

Let’s start with a little something: Marissa Caliguire’s Sparkling Lemonade page commemorates the first Lemonade Weekend. Check it out right here, and also in the links on the sidebar.

This was already up in the Facebook group, but now you know this for sure: Vincent Ingala debuts at Newport Beach Jazz Festival! With an all-star band that includes the drummer legend Ricky Lawson, our own Lemonator Bruce Nazarian with the guitars, Greg Manning on keys, Gary Stanionis on percussion, Evan Marks also on guitar, and Jervonny Collier on bass. Now that, ladies and gents, is Lemonade, and how sweet it is.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I am proud of Vincent to pieces, and cannot wait to see this.

So, lovely Lemonheads. Who’s coming to Newport Beach? Who’s seeing Vincent? And who’s got the Lemonade Weekend commemorative tees?

Of course, I shall be there, and blog it all both here and on my personal blog.

See you all very soon, and counting down until the wheels touch off the LaGuardia Tarmac…


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More mixing…

So, I got a little whisper in my ear, and of course, must share the usuals. In this case, there is a tentative setup for the time of the next Lemonade Weekend!

…aw hell, have a look. :)

Now, I have moseyed over to Smooth Jazz for Scholars, where I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Vincent Ingala, and it will soon be my pleasure to have his presence on this here blog.

Just to note, the Twitter hashtag for the Lemonade Weekend is now #lemonade2012. It isn’t case-sensitive, as I found out, and I am shifting the tweet updates there. And, of course, you all are welcome to use the hashtag as well.

Next adventure is Newport, and if any of the lemonheads are coming – well, I’ll see you there, to be sure!


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Ahoy, California Lemonheads!

If you were at the jam session in Anthology, then you likely saw a certain gentleman with a horn. And if you did your digging, then you likely know that Eric Marienthal had a hand in producing his record. In fact, Eric was the one who told this gent that now is the time (pardon the pun, if you catch my drift) to get his record together. And Eric brought a certain someone else on board for producing this gentleman, someone by the name of Jeff Lorber.

Who is this guy, you ask?

I speak of Brad Rambur, of course.

Well-traveled, multi-instrumentalist Rambur always kept music close, but it didn’t always make its way as a primary profession…until now. You may have seen him in the grand Anthology jam of the first Lemonade Weekend, and if you want more, then I say to you, my lemonheads, You Got It!

May 25th, make your way to the one, the only, the well-known Spaghettini’s of Seal Beach. Fork over the $10 cover charge, grab yourselves a Lemon Drop Martini, and let Brad’s sax, guitar, soul, and composition do the talking.

My take on the flyer for Spags

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Lemon Mix: Peter White

Peter White, hosting the Lemonade Stand. Photo by Kari Coulter

*sing-song* Oh Lo-ory!


Just giving everyone a smile with this post. But, truthfully, this was one of the heights of the Lemonade Weekend, to be sure, and a feat that very few could pull off. Truly, to put together a show on that kind of a short notice, is nothing short of extraordinary.

The videos, which I’m sure you’ve seen by now, show what had come out of the simple “I want to do something.” The undeniable talent of teenage powerhouse Vincent Ingala created a stir, of course, and more so the fact that neither he, nor Peter, nor Jaared, nor Ramon Yslas had any sort of a rehearsal or a preparation for this.

So, of course, I had to ask Peter to tell the tale of How It Came To Be – in his own words.

I knew that there was a contingent of fans that had traveled to San Diego even though the Awards show was canceled and they had formed a group called the Lemonade Weekend, as if to make lemonade out of lemons. I wanted to do something for them as some of them had traveled a long distance and what better way than to play a free show on Saturday evening – right when the award show would have taken place. I live in Los Angeles so it’s only a few hour’a drive for me. I immediately contacted Ken Levinson, the leader of the Lemonade group (now forever known as the Grand Lemon), and asked him if he knew of a suitable venue for me to play. This was Friday morning and by the afternoon he had secured the Edge ballroom at the Hard Rock hotel where most of the fans were staying (with a little help from my friend Bruce Nazarian).
All I needed now was to find some musicians and a sound system- the Edge ballroom is basically an empty room with some chairs and a small stage. I called my old friend Susie Major who has a sound system that i knew would fit in the back of my car. Without hesitation she told me I could come by and pick it up. Thanks Susie! As it happened she was also going down to San Diego to help Bruce Nazarian out with a showcase event there. I knew that saxmen Jaared and Vincent Ingala were both playing at Bruce’s showcase event on Saturday afternoon and he told me he would ask them both if they would appear with me. They both graciously accepted- Jaared has played with me many times but I had never played with young Vincent (18)- I had only seen video clips of him on YouTube.
The last piece of the puzzle was just a phone call away- I knew that my friend and percussionist extraordinaire Ramon Yslas would round out the band nicely and he agreed immediately to come down and play at our event. Remember this was barely 24 hours before showtime!
It was a very fun and most enjoyable experience. I didn’t want to let the fans down, some of whom had travelled a great distance expecting to see me and others perform, and to be able to put on a show that quickly (just over a day) was a great feeling. I knew personally 3 fans that had come all the way from England and it felt good to be able to do something for them, and to be part of the Lemonade Weekend experience!

- Peter White

And now, let us prepare to squeeze some more lemonade…soon! More to come!


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Lemon Mix: Jaared

My fellow Lemonheads, lend me your enthusiasm, for great things are beginning to cook up, and one of them is right here.

Now, for those of you who did not attend, and have watched everything unfold, you saw a veritable cornucopia of talent come out and jaunt to San Diego. Among them was a saxman from the East Coast that I’m certain Peter White fans will recognize instantly. He can go either high-groove or chill down, and has a style that – at least to me! – echoes of Eric Marienthal and right-after-ToP Richard Elliot. And, based on what I hear on his latest CD, he has a set of excellent singin’ pipes, to boot.

You, lovely people, know him as Jaared.

Now, we all know how the Lemonade Weekend got put together. But did you ask yourself, dear readers, how it looked like from the artists’ perspective? …Is that a yes I’m hearing? :)

It was my pleasure to ask Jaared a few questions about this fantastic to-do, and he graciously answered ‘em all.

How would you describe what the birth of the Lemonade Weekend was like from your perspective?

Seeing the Lemonade Weekend come to fruition within one week was truly amazing to see.  People like Bruce Nazarian grabbing a hold of the reins and making it all possible for us to perform, and Ken Levinson getting the word out there to the fans, was an unbelievable undertaking.  It was great seeing everyone pull together to make this happen.

What has been the best experience through the Lemonade time?
I think the best experience for me besides being able to perform in San Diego again for the first time in 9 years was that fact of seeing so many people pulling together to make sure this event happened.  It was wonderful seeing fans, promoters, venues, and musicians all pulling together for the greater good.

What would you – both as an artist and music lover in your own right – want to see in Lemonade 2012?

I would like to see more of the same.  Obviously, since this was basically put together in just under one week, 2012 will obviously be more organized and it will run smoother.  However, I liked seeing lesser-known artists take the stage with newer artists and established artists alike.  This, to me, is how you rejuvenate the Contemporary Jazz genre.  It was really great seeing this happen this time…and I’m hoping it will continue for years to come.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the assembly and execution of Lemonade, what would you say it is?

Never underestimate the enduring spirit and resolution of the Contemporary Jazz fan and artist.  This year was a perfect example of people not taking “no” for an answer…..it was a perfect example of what can be accomplished when people come together to support one another.

Anything you may want to mention about your experience performing at Lemonade, the reception of the fans, etc, go for it!!

For me, this was one of the most enjoyable performing weekends of my life.  Seeing so many fans, artists, promoters, managers, and venues with a “never say die” attitude doing what they do best.  This will be a moment I will never forget.



I’m sure I speak safely when I say that Jaared’s last sentence echoes all of our thoughts and feelings exactly. Indeed, even watching this come together from afar had been a memory unlike any other, and our aim in planning the next one is to make more moments like this: moments that we will never forget.

Until the lemonade stirs again…


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Official T-Shirt on EBay!

From Kari Coulter and Eric Sarmiento – the Lemonade Weekend’s Official T-Shirt is on sale on eBay!

Please click here if you would like to purchase.

The logo is created by them as well, as seen in this blog’s header, used with permission.


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Stirring It Up

As we well know, certain things need to percolate before an event takes place. Certain flavors need to come out, and the best way to have them arrive is with extensive brewing.

(Or maybe it’s the morning coffee that I’m having!)

So let’s keep this thing cooking, shall we? This is a slow-roasting brew and it needs to be seasoned and stirred continuously.

Now, I have a slight, sly plan in place, as you I’m sure figured out. I plan on interviewing various people – not just musicians!!! – who went to San Diego that weekend. Now, this I look forward to; since I watched the event take root from across the country, I very much look forward to getting to know some of the people who had a hand in making this happen. And, of course, I want you, my readers, to get to know them too!

And, of course, we need to have 2012 take root!

So, while I lay my slightly evil plan in place, a question to you all. What would be a good time frame and a place to have the Lemonade Weekend 2012?

Sound off in your comments in 5, 4, 3, 2….GO!


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With special thanks to Bruce Nazarian, it is my honor to write this first entry.

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is the Lemonade Weekend? And I say this: it is a jazz fest for fans, by fans. Pulled together in a madcap, 24-hour scramble, it came together to be an amazing time for attendees and artists alike and proved, like nothing else in the world ever can, just how much contemporary jazz fans adore their music.

When the dust settled, the first thing that people asked was, “Can we do this again?”

Well, the answer is…HELL TO THE YES!

So this, jazz lovers, is where you find out – and play a part in – the progress of assembling, and enacting Lemonade Weekend 2012.

Stay tuned for details! I will do my best to keep y’all up to date as things develop.The header to this blog is up, courtesy of Eric Sarmiento and Kari Coulter, with a little touch-up by yours truly.

The Twitter hashtag is #LemonadeWeekend, or follow me on Twitter @kgilraine.



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The Lemonade Weekend

With special thanks to Bruce Nazarian, it is my honor to write this first entry.

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is the Lemonade Weekend? And I say this: it is a jazz fest for fans, by fans. Pulled together in a madcap, 24-hour scramble, it came together to be an amazing time for attendees and artists alike and proved, like nothing else in the world ever can, just how much contemporary jazz fans adore their music.

When the dust settled, the first thing that people asked was, “Can we do this again?”

Well, the answer is…HELL TO THE YES!

So this, jazz lovers, is where you find out – and play a part in – the progress of assembling, and enacting Lemonade Weekend 2012.

Stay tuned for details! I will do my best to keep y’all up to date as things develop.The header to this blog is up, courtesy of Eric Sarmiento and Kari Coulter, with a little touch-up by yours truly.

The Twitter hashtag is #LemonadeWeekend, or follow me on Twitter @kgilraine.



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A note from the Lemonator

Lemonator Logo

Lemony Goodness Abounds

My thanks to Katherine Gilraine for suggesting this blog as a way to get things started here at LemonadeWeekend.com.

In the coming weeks and months you will find information here that may also be on the Lemonade Weekend FB group, or may not – there are many things that cannot be done easily on Facebook that we can easily do here…
So, for now, relax, grab a Lemon Drop Martini and enjoy the little “peelings” we will drop off here occasionally…

As the NEXT Lemonade Weekend gets into full swing, you will be hearing about it here AND on FB, and you will be able to purchase groovy lemony things HERE that just cannot be sold on Facebook, since they have NO e-commerce capability.. But WE do here :-)

Thanks to all of you who attended the Lemonade Weekend – YOU are the ones we created the shows for!

Bruce Nazarian – a.k.a. – The Lemonator

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