The Valley Center Library presents The Brandon Cesmat Trio at this year's grand finale Summer Pops Concert Thursday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room.
From the pews to the blues. The Brandon Cesmat Trio are three musicians who began by playing Sunday mornings at church and had so much fun doing so that they started performing at events around San Diego County.
Cesmat, who switches between guitar and bass, remembers how he met Doug White, who also plays guitar and bass. "A band from Temecula was coming to Valley Center to play, so when they needed a break, Doug and I dusted off our instruments and started playing again." That was about 15 years ago.
Eventually, drummer Jack DeLessio joined the band at church, but the trio didn't really take off until after the three had worked on a number of other projects together. "We recorded a couple of albums for the church, but the thing that really propelled us to do more was working together on plays," Cesmat said. "Playing characters with Doug and Jack was so much fun, we couldn't really limit ourselves to an occasional Sunday."
Cesmat and White played together in Godspell. Recently, Cesmat and DeLessio played together in Fiddler on the Roof. Cesmat said, "Playing characters as well as singing and dancing while you do so can develop a lot of trust between people."
But their program focuses more on classic swing and Motown than on Broadway shows. "You can download any classic song you want these days," Cesmat admits, "but people seem to like hearing the songs alive in someone." Their program includes such classics as Cole Porter's <Under My Skin, Sam Cooke's Send Me and Paul Simon's Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. Besides the classics, the group slips in some originals such as Cesmat's Elegy for John Belushi.
"It really isn't such a reach to go from Diamonds to my song for Belushi because it was actually a story Simon told about Belushi talking to a dead shark on the beach that got me writing that song."
How do you go from playing hymns to playing rhythm & blues? "It's all praise music or lamentations," Cesmat says. "I was listening to well-known praise musician dis lead guitar lines, and I wondered if he would shush the lead lines Bach or Mozart wrote for violins or woodwinds in their praise music. The bandwidth of sacred music is wider for Jack and Doug and me than it probably is for others."
For his day gig, Cesmat teaches at CSU San Marcos and has written several books of poems and stories. "It's good to connect the past to the present," he says. "That's what we try to do in a performance when we play a classic and something we wrote."
Will they include gospel music at their performance on August 8? Cesmat said the program selections were still being set. "But it's nice to know we've got the songs in our pockets when we need them," he said.
The Valley Center library hosts a variety of events each month ranging from yoga to children's story time. For a complete list of events at the library, visit the library online at www.sdcl.org or call the library at 760 749-1305.
The Valley Center Branch of the San Diego County Library is located at 29200 Cole Grade Road.