Hollywood used to make movies about performers suddenly discovered and thrust into stardom. It happens to some. But most take their careers a day at a time, becoming highly accomplished but not necessarily famous. I’ve seen it first hand.
My wife Carolyn is a very fine actor. She’s had small roles on two network TV shows—Chuck and Grey’s Anatomy. She’s also done wonderful stage work. And work it is with endless classes and countless auditions. A performer’s rise to public acclaim comes through great effort and the occasional shedding of tears—all usually hidden.
My son Aaron is a very talented dancer now concluding his career. He discovered his passion for dance as a freshman at Humboldt State. He won a spot with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble in Detroit. Years with ODC/Dance in San Francisco and Alwyn Nikolais Dance Theatre of Salt Lake City took him on many trips to Europe and Southeast Asia. Audiences saw the beauty and athleticism. We knew the sweat and the pain.
I’m also proud of a new “not-quite-yet-but-maybe” overnight sensation—my son Yosi. Wednesday night, Carolyn and I flew to Los Angeles to see Yosi perform (fiddle and drums) with Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Hollywood Palladium. The band just signed a contract with ATO Records and opened for one of the hottest groups in America—and their label-mates—Alabama Shakes.
Yosi’s road has been long. He started playing drums in middle school. At San Francisco’s School of the Arts, he became an outstanding percussionist. After high school Yosi wanted to play the viola, but that was too big an instrument to take on his travels around the country. He bought a violin on a Friday and was playing on Sunday. He’s taken lessons from outstanding teachers and practiced with unwavering determination.
Then there’s the road. For years Riff Raff has played gig after gig across America, many in small clubs, bars and even private houses. Glamour? Not exactly. Riding in a van means too little sleep. A tight budget means limited food choices. Even a dressing room can be a luxury.
But Riff Raff keeps going, and each year they rise. The band has appeared at big festivals like South by Southwest in Austin. They’ve toured the United Kingdom three times and played on the Continent. Yosi and Alynda lee Segarra, the band’s fabulous singer/songwriter and leader, even appeared on Treme, HBO’s series set in New Orleans (where Yosi used to live). Their CD’s are rightfully acclaimed, and they’ve won many thousands of loyal fans.
There are no guarantees, but their hard work seems to be paying off. Las Vegas and Vancouver dates with the Shakes are coming up. There’s the Vancouver Folk Festival on the 23rd. On July 25th they open for Judy Collins in Waterford, Connecticut. Two days later they play at the Newport Folk Festival. On August 10 Hurray for the Riff Raff appears in New York at Lincoln Center’s outdoor Roots of Music Festival.
So Hurray for Hollywood. And a bigger hurray for every artist rocketed to stardom one exhausting leap after another.
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Read the first three chapters of David’s novels SAN CAFÉ and SLICK! at davidperlstein.com. You’ll also find online ordering links for iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.