Keys to the City

Former Fort Lauderdalian John Medeski comes home for Langerado

A: Well, like Sun Ra said, "The clouds don't repeat themselves, the sunrise doesn't repeat itself. Why should I repeat myself?" Though there's nothing wrong with repetition. There's nothing wrong with repetition. There's nothing wrong with repetition.

Q: So tell me more about growing up in Fort Lauderdale. Were you a band nerd?

A: I was in my high school band, yeah. I was in bands as soon as I could play. I started piano lessons at 5 years old on Bayview Drive. When I was in high school, I studied jazz with a woman named Lee Shaw. I went to Pinecrest; it was a different place back then. It was just a bunch of kids hanging out, a lot of cross-pollinating, none of that misfit feeling -- other than what you usually have as a kid.

"Our life is a concert": John Medeski, center, with Billy Martin (left) and Chris Wood
Danny Clinch
"Our life is a concert": John Medeski, center, with Billy Martin (left) and Chris Wood

Details

Tickets for the two-day festival, which features 25 bands on three stages, cost $50 for a single day, $95 for both days. Call 954-389-2000, or visit www.langerado.com.
5:30 p.m. Sunday, March 13, at the Langerado Music Festival, held at Markham Park, 16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise.

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I studied jazz for a while, then went to FAU to take jazz lessons. I just played in the scene a lot when I was in high school. I was already gigging a lot at 16, making a little extra money. Played at this country club, doing "New York, New York" for the old people in Delray.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to play jazz?

A: I kinda always knew it, but when I went off to college in Boston at the New England Conservatory, I went as a classical major. But in my first year, I said, "I don't wanna do this." This was the late '80s, early '90s. I met Chris there in Boston. Somehow his playing stuck out -- rhythmically, it was so powerful -- and we just hooked up in a really good way. I met Billy through this great drummer we all worked with named Bob Moses. Billy was living in New York, and so Chris and I moved down there, and we started getting together, and it just clicked. The first time we got together, it was pretty magical. We just started on a beat and a bass line, and I played around. We added a horn line, and that became "Uncle Chubb" [later recorded for their debut, Notes from the Underground]. That's the first thing we ever did together: We created a piece of music. We figured that was a good sign, but now we're stuck like this.

Q: Well, you guys have your side/solo projects too.

A: We did before we met, and that's how we keep growing... And it keeps us from killing each other.

Q: What about the band name? Is it a tribute to Emerson Lake & Palmer or something?

A: I couldn't recognize an ELP tune if I heard it. We had the name Coltrane's Wig for a second, but it got a very mixed response. We couldn't decide on a name, so we figured, "Let's just use our names." Then once we really started playing out together, we immediately became Medeski, Martin, and Wood.

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