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Moved By Music: Phil Beaumont Of The Color Forty Nine

 June 23, 2021 at 5:29 AM PDT

From KPBS and PRX… This… is Port of Entry… Where we tell cross-border stories… That connect us. Soy Alan Lilienthal. *** Phil 9 singing all the time growing up, I, you know, would sing and sing and sing to all kinds of different records and just, you know, close the door and, and my family would come and tell me to turn the music down. Cause I was just belting it out at all hours of the day. The Color Forty Nine track This is Phil Beaumont. He’s the lead vocalist of the San Diego band The Color 49. The Color Forty Nine track up the color 49 is myself. Scott Mercado is our drummer and play some keyboards. Jason Hooper is our bass player and does some wonderful backing vocals. And the silent genius is, uh, Matt reservoir. Who plays violin. Phil has been in a few other bands since the early 90s, but after he bought a baritone ukelele a few years back -- The Color Forty Nine was formed. Phil Follow Up 1 - ukulele then I just started writing songs as I was learning on this ukulele… so all of our songs are kind of based off of, uh, songs written on, on this instrument Phil Follow up 2 - desert folk but Matt plays all his violin and synthesizers through a variety of effects, pedals that he's created. And so really brings a sort of a larger sort of cinematic texture to it. Color Forty Nine track up Phil says his character-based, semi-fictional style of writing lyrics…. comes from his innate love of travel. Phil 25 Travel and creativity One of the wonderful things about traveling is just putting yourself in a different space. New ideas come…. to be able to, uh, see different characters. And maybe it's just that, Hey, that gentleman in the corner looks pretty interesting and be able to kind of take that and imagine him as a character and then develop some song around him or her or whomever it might be. And be able to mingle that with, uh, feelings of my own or things that are happening in my own world and create that magical realism, perhaps Phil has been crossing borders since he was little. He was born in a small town in central England, but by the time he finished high school in Orange County in the 80s, His father’s job had already moved the family across the Atlantic 3 times. So...For Phil, living here in San Diego, a border city... it’s something he is incredibly grateful for. He says his travels across the US Mexico border have inspired tons of his songs over the years. And Tijuana... has a very special place in his heart. Phil 27 TJ grit and honesty I think there's a grit to Tijuana that isn't here in San Diego. And I think there's an honesty to Tijuana and the people that live there... Not that there isn't honesty here in San Diego, but, uh, I think to me it seems that life is a bit more visceral down there. Phil 43 Privilege and benefits o f traveling To be able to travel. Not everybody has that privilege. Right? And so for me, if you have that opportunity, you have to seize upon that. And when you do, you meet beautiful people….To have another country, right, 15, 17 minutes away from my house ,is… a wonderful opportunity, no? No? It's an honor. BEAT Today on Port of Entry… We explore some of the music that soundtracked Phil’s youth as a British Expat living in Southern California. ...and how his love of living in a border city led to an unexpected collaboration with Rubén Albarrán of Cafe Tacvba. Yo Que Se Stay with us. Midroll Ya estamos regreso... So… long before Phil was criss-crossing the border with his ukulele by his side, he was a little British dude who loved to sing. Phil 49 I was born in I was born in a little town called Fradley in, uh, the center of England, uh, near, near Birmingham. Uh, back in 1967 Phil 9 singing all the time much more than my brothers. I was, I was really into music. I was listening to it all at all hours Simon and Garfunkel Back then...Phil remembers his parents were mostly into classical music. Phil 3 The only sort of pop music that they were into was Simon and Garfunkel. And so we had a couple of records around. Simon and Garfunkel UP Phil 5 Simon and Garfunkel this is Simon and Garfunkel for Emily where never, I may find her. Phil 3 and. This is music that I, as an early age would sing too. And this song just struck me as such a beautiful, beautiful voice, even as a kid. Simon and Garfunkel UP Phil 5 Simon and Garfunkel It's about an imaginary girl that they imagined meeting. Um, and that also is kind of interesting for me because in a lot of the lyrics that I like to write, it can be a combination of fact and fiction. Um, I sort of like. Bending the truth a little bit there connect to real feelings, but then also, uh, you know, be able to create a little story and have a little, fun with that. BEAT Transition One Christmas morning... when Phil and his brothers were still little, they woke up to a pile of records waiting for them under the tree. They were stoked. Phil 1 And I remember, uh, you know, arguing about who gets to put the headphones on and sitting in front of this old stereo and just, uh, blasting the music. Things like Elton John. Elton John- Captain Fantastic Phil 1 Led Zeppelin 2… Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love Phil 1 And it was great because you could hear, uh, each of us singing at the top of our lungs, And, uh, you could just hear my brothers singing wildly and, and I'm sure I'm sure I was doing the same thing too By the time he was 9 in 1976, Phil's dad’s job had already moved the family from England to Canada and back. … and a savvy little Phil started to hear more local underground music through BBC radio. Phil 9 singing all the time I had a little transistor radio and I used to sneak under the covers after bedtime, uh, and listen to the John peel show on BBC. John Peele Clip Phil Follow Up 3 - John Peele and little radio So...John Peel was a DJ on BBC, he was really somebody that, you know, explored the underground of music….. And so his show was, you know, a really wonderful mix of whether it was hardcore punk or, or, or two-tone. Or reggae or, some pop music. Um, John peel was not afraid to play it Phil 9 singing all the time And so that was also where I was able to be turned on to, to music, like the specials The Specials - Too Much Too Young - John Peel Clip Phil 35 The SPECIALS So this song in particular, um, one of the things I loved about two-tone music and, and some of the music from the jam was sort of like this anti complacency theme that was saying, you know, don't just settle for life as it should be. Don't just settle for what society is telling you. You should do what the, the normal path, but to be able to break out of that, be something different for yourself and, and be who you are. Music up Phil 34 2 Tone Definition The two-tone movement was, uh, basically a resurgence of ska. You know, ska originated in Jamaica and the, in the late sixties, but in, uh, sort of the late seventies, early eighties, there was a resurgence of ska in England. And what was wonderful about it was there was a number of bands that had white musicians and black musicians. Music up Another band Phil discovered on the John Peele show was the Stranglers. The Stranglers - Golden Brown Phil 37 STRANGLERS continued The Stranglers just seemed like this band of Outlaws and a lot of their songs are hard hitting, but it was golden brown that has always resonated with me as a beautiful, beautiful song. Again, just lyrically, instrumentally The Stranglers Clip Phil 37 STRANGLERS continued So if you listen to other strangles songs, it;s much more aggressive, but golden brown is sort of, I think, an ode to, uh, a loved one and owed some vices. Phil 36 The STRANGLERS Just a few years ago, the singer of the song did a version with a mariachi group in Mexico. Hugo Cornwell - Golden Brown Phil 36 The STRANGLERS And that has become an inspiration for us in, uh, we're borrowing that idea.And we're, we're doing this is we don't typically do covers, but we're working on a cover of this song based on sort of the mariachi version that they came out with. Music Clip Up then fade UB40 - Burden of Shame Phil 46 This is: UB40 This is burden of shame by UB40 ...This is not red, red wine. Phil 8 UB40 UB40. was the music that really drew me in the depth of dub reggae. UB40 Clip Phil 8 UB40 this band is from, uh, Birmingham. So it was a local band to us. .. UB40 Clip Phil 8 UB40 At that time, a lot of early UB40 is very political and spoke to kind of the social ills that were going on in England at the time, unemployment and, and racism. And for me, that was a real eye-opener as a kind of little kid, to be able to think about these social issues and to discover them through music. It was a new pathway that I wasn't getting exposed to through other elements in my life at the time. UB40 Clip up and Fade out So yeah, Phil grew up with all of this eclectic, genre bending music happening all around him in England. Between the John Peel show on BBC and learning about new music through friends at school, Phil was drawn to the homegrown reggae, punk, ska, and two-tone music that was often poetic and political in nature. Then.... Phil’s family made a big move across the pond to sunny southern California… And he started high school in Irvine. Phil 12 Cali high school And I remember just going to a PE class and there was in England. I'd been going to an all boys school with uniforms, and it was very prim and proper. Uh, and here I, my first class was, um, A PE class early in the morning in the hot sun. And there was people in dolphin shorts and, uh, boys and girls guys with, with hairy chest. And I was like, where am I? It was, it was quite a shell shock. It was, I was trying to fit in with like a Pooka shell necklace that I'd seen. And, uh, it didn't go well All My Colors Echo and the Bunnymen Clip This was 1981, and a culture-shocked Phil found solace at home...through music... All My Colors Echo and the Bunnymen Clip Phil 9 Echo and the Bunnymen I remember ....just coming home every day and turning on, uh, the echo and the echo and the Bunnymen, uh, uh, all my colors album, and just singing all the way through that….. All My Colors Echo and the Bunnymen Clip Phil Echo and the Bunnymen I really kind of liked the poetry of, of echo and the Bunnymen lyrics. Ian McCulloch is a, I think he's an amazing singer, but also a wonderful writer. He kind of picks and chooses in times, From different people's songs, it seems like he kind of takes motifs from other people's songs. And I thought that was kind of interesting and cool. And kind of also in ways gives you permission to do things like that, that it's okay to, uh, you know be inspired from somebody else's song and take a little hint off of that and be able to, uh, you said in your own writing. All My Colors Echo and the Bunnymen Clip So…at this point, Phil was still just a fan of music...but, like he said...he was taking mental notes, setting himself up for a future of actually making music…. We’ll catch up to that future soon, but first, we gotta take a quick break. When we come back, Phil crosses another border….this time the US-mexico border….and finds more musical inspiration… Regresamos en unos segundos. MIDROLL De vuelta al podcast. ***’s first Tijuana visit was back in the early 80s, when he was a senior in high school in Orange County . And it was the typical story…. a quick trip to party where it’s legal for 18 year olds to drink and go to clubs. Phil 14 intro to SD and TJ And that was a time when Tijuana was, was a party town for a lot of Americans, just a drop over the border Phil 15 TJ then and now And Revolution at that time was full of clubs that was full of, um, Americans coming down Phil 15 TJ then and now and for me... I didn't realize that I would be able to get such a deep relationship, with it at the time, because I think the way I was being introduced to it was on a pretty superficial level. After high school, Phil went to San Diego State University, where he got a degree in education. And, he kept on crossing the border. It was around this the late 80s... that a now-legendary music venue called Iguana’s opened in Tijuana. JANE’S ADDICTION START Phil TJ Then and Now so iguanas was an amazing, uh, music venue that also allowed for, uh, Younger people to come down and see shows that were happening in San Diego. So I remember seeing Jane's addiction there. JANE’S ADDICTION UP Remember seeing mud honey there, MUDHONEY Phil Follow 1 Iguana's but I, I think maybe my favorite one that I was witness to was a bad brain show BAD BRAINS CLIP Phil Follow 1 Iguana's That space for however long it lasted, I think helped connect San Diego and Tijuana in a way, For a lot of people, it allowed for a nice little mix there of, uh, Tijuanenses and San Diegans to, to experience music together. BAD BRAINS FADE OUT So...Phil was listening to a lot of music, but he wasn’t making any yet… He actually didn’t end up taking that musical leap … Until a college friend learning guitar thought Phil should pick up a bass... so they could learn to play together. At the time...Phil didn’t have aspirations to become a career musician… But after university he moved to London with a girlfriend and ended up working in the music scene there… He started managing a group of San Diego transplants whose band was taking off...touring with big-time musicians like Nick Cave. Nick Cave Clip Phil 38 NICK CAVE This song is called Do you love me by nick cave and the bad seeds. And one of the greatest privileges of my life, looking back on it was to be able to be on a tour with Nick cave and the bad seeds. I was tour managing a band called the God machine at the time.I wasn't too familiar with him and their work prior to this. And I was introduced to the power of these incredible musicians and Nick cave himself as a master performer and a master lyricist and vocalist. Nick Cave Clip Phil 10 And it allowed me to see that uh, playing live on stage in a big hall is just a dream that I have. And, and that's something that, uh, I could do. Nick Cave Clip up and fade Fast forward to ‘91… after Phil worked a couple years in London, he decided it was time to come back to San Diego to finish up his teaching credentials. At the same time as he was building his career in education…. Phil started his first band Maquiladora, Maquiladora Up And one night in 1994….he headed to an art gallery opening in downtown San Diego to hand out some cassettes. Phil 10 And I handed one to this guy named Diego Gutierrez, who was happened to be an artist ...And, um, we started chatting and then he invited me to come down the next night because, uh, the, the second night of the opening was at the in Tijuana. And so I went down and met him and then went to a wonderful little cafe with him and a bunch of other artists. I realized, wow, there's something wonderful here. There's a whole life that I didn't know about hearing in Tijuana. Um, that's, you know, deep into the arts, uh, that's thoughtful. That is intellectual. And it is doing things that, that I hadn't really experienced on from the San Diego side. And, and I hadn't had the opportunity to see that in my travels into Tijuana up until then. So yeah... Phil started collaborating with Diego and other Tijuana artists. Since then, Tijuana has been a constant source of creativity and inspiration for Phil’s songwriting. He would go down there just to hang out with friends, drink mezcal, and write. One of his favorite haunts down there is a bar called Dandy del Sur. Phil 7 Traveling and Dandy del sur So I used to go down there quite a bit and just hang out during the day, uh, with my little, uh liberata and, and, and work on writing lyrics there Little White Teeth One of the songs Phil wrote at Dandy Del Sur was this one, when he was in a band called Little White Teeth. It’s called Tonight, We Go to Tijuana. Little White Teeth up Phil 7 Traveling and Dandy del sur It's an imagining of a story, uh, based on a couple of characters that I saw and it starts off, there's a woman sitting in the window. And I was thinking of the fact that for many people, Tijuana is a transitional place... that she has come to Tiquana for certain reasons, but it's a temporary reason. And then, it was at an imagining of another man meeting her in and, and trying to imagine this relationship between the two of them. Little White Teeth This imaginative way of observing people inspired by Phil’s travels to Tijuana and beyond…. Really comes alive in his lyrical songwriting. But Since he’s had his ukelele by his side with the Color Forty Nine, he has started to kinda dig back into his lifetime of travel for inspiration… not just lyrically, but he’s also pulling new ideas in terms of composition and instrumentation from these latin influences. Julio Jaramillo track Phil 31 JUILO song So this song it's called Nuestro Juarmento by Julio Jaramillo. And I was, uh, traveling in Costa Rica. When I, uh, heard this song and there was no Shazam or anything at the time, but I just had to know what this song was. It was kind of a foolish errand of me, because we were on this bus that was traveling through the mountains around these wild corners, but I just had to know what the song was. And I walked all the way up to the front of the bus, kind of holding on precariously to the seats. As I went to try and ask the bus driver, what is this music? What is this music? Julio track up Phil 32 Julio guitar style I think also listening to folks like Julio Jaramillo, and the kind of approach that they use in their guitar work and the picking, has also informed the kind of instrumental, versions of the songs that are coming out in our songs. Julio track up and fade Right now, The Color 49 is in the midst of writing new material. And the way….has built a successful career in education...he’s always been both a musician and an educator…. He’s actually headed into his 19th year as the Director of the Museum School in San Diego... ….but this will be his last year. He’s finally ready to make the leap into music, he’s stepping down to focus on songwriting and some other creative projects he has in the works. Phil pointed us to a couple of artists from our border region who are sparking some fresh ideas for him during this really exciting, creative period in his musical career. Bostich- Polaris Phil 24 Polaris-Bostich Bostich, particularly Polaris, that song is often on a playlist for me. Phil 24 Polaris-Bostich You know, growing up with a lot of the music that I did was kind of dark and, uh, you know, Gothic and I love it, still love it, but then also to listen to music, that is just there for the music, for the dancing, for the movement of it is refreshing for me. Bostich- Polaris Phil 24 Polaris-Bostich some of the new music that we're writing recently, um, I'm starting to use some, electronic drums and, and trying to bring in a bit more electronica just to play around with that, because it's not something I've ever really worked with.'s a bit of a dream of mine to be able to maybe do a collaboration with Ramon. Bostich- Polaris fade Silent - A New Slave Phil Follow 4 Silent Silent is an amazing, really powerful band from Mexicali. Their live show is just pretty stunning. No? And so they put out this energy that that is really pretty inspiring. Um, one song in particular called a new slave. Um, first of all, silent has an amazing drummer named Rocio, but in this particular song, when they play it live Junh Sing, who is the singer, he comes out and he also plays a floor, Tom, and it just adds a really, you know, amazing kinetic energy to their show. Silent band Slave song in Phil Follow 4 Silent And the cool thing about silent is their music is, is, is quite different than ours. Um, because it's so heavy into very heavy punk. Oriented, but it's also kind of an elegant punk, no? And so, you know, I've, I've taken a compliment from our music when people have mentioned that our music's kind of elegant, you know? And so even though sonically, we don't pair up as far as rhythm and power. Um, I think there is a sort of a connection with a kind of, um, Tone that they're doing. Um, if not sonically then visually and just kind of thematically. Um, and so young and I have talked about doing a collaboration as well, um, to have him and I both sing on, on a song of ours Silent band Slave song fade One collaboration has come to fruition for Phil recently… with a musician he always admired, but never dreamed he’d have the chance to work with.. . Rubén Albarrán… lead vocalist of Cafe Tacuba…. Cafe Tacuba song 1 - Maria Cafe Tacuba is undeniably one of the most influential latin rock bands of the past three decades. Cafe Tacuba song 2 - Las Flores Especially in Mexico, where they’re from, their iconic presence is on par with bands like U2 or something. Cafe Tacuba song 3 - Enamorada It all came as a big surprise to Phil. He was searching for mariachi musicians to collaborate on a song called “What Would I Know”… So he called up Marla Gamez, an artist manager in Mexico City...and Marla also happens to be Ruben’s manager... Phil 39 Yo Que Se And we got to talking about the song and that I wanted to find these, uh, musicians to help. And then I talked with her about perhaps doing a Spanish version of the song. And ... she said, oh, maybe you should ask Ruben, he's a fan of your music, which was a surprise to me. Uh, but a happy surprise. Phil 19 collab with Ruben And I thought, oh yeah, that would be great. Super young when he, uh, but,, I doubt he's going to do it. Why would he want to do that? He's a guy that sings in stadiums has Grammy's in his own Disney soundtracks. But the next morning, Phil woke up to a text saying that Ruben loved the song… and just a month later, Phil was on a plane to Mexico City… to record at Cafe Tacuba’s studio. What Would I Know / Yo Que Se Phil 19 collab with Ruben It was so generous of him. He put so much time into it... and I thought we were going to be making a Spanish version of the song, but we all decided that really, because the song is about some cross-border themes, that would be best if it was a bilingual song. What Would I Know / Yo Que Se up Phil yo que se the song called what would I know, Yo Que Se, looks at some border issues... but it also looks at some larger themes of why do we judge one another? And we put these obstacles in the way of knowing one another better through borders or through judgment or politics. Uh, when you get down to it, everyone has the same desire...And if we can just get out and and experience others, we get a better understanding of this. And it's just seems easier if we could just get along….particularly with our neighbors. So the framework of the song was addressing that. What Would I Know / Yo Que Se up Phil was ridin’ high after laying down vocals with a true music legend… and when it was time to start thinking about what the music video would look like, he knew he wanted it to honor the border just as much as the song does. Phil knew exactly who he wanted to reach out to. Phil 40 music video I’ve always been a fan of the work of Hugo Crossthwaite. his work also reflects the border and immigration issues….in 2019, he won the Smithsonian national portrait gallery prize for an animation of his drawings, that is just beautiful.It's called a portrait of berenice. Phil didn’t know Hugo but he reached out to him anyway... And within a few days, Hugo already had a concept laid out. An evolving progression of his drawings, with people sometimes embracing, other times separated by barriers, with backdrops of imagery from American and Mexican culture. Ruben and The Color Forty Nine are drawn in as the storytellers. the process took him three months and he's created an amazing, an amazing video. What Would I Know / Yo Que Se up Phil’s big takeaways from this collaboration with Ruben and Hugo are the same big takeaways tucked inside the song itself. The message is a simple one in theory, but harder to actually do in reality… Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask your peers to work together...And...remember that it’s okay to ask your neighbors for help. Phil 42 Yo Que Se reflections and lessons helping to present this message that, Hey, we should be working with folks across the border. We should be visiting one another. Uh, we've, we've all got, uh, we've all got things to learn from one another. It's uh, it's too easy. It's right there. What Would I Know / Yo Que Se up What Would I Know // Yo que Se….will be available to stream on all major platforms on July 23.. And The Color 49 will also be having a record release show that same night, at the Casbah. *** This episode was written and produced by our director of sound design, Emily Jankowski. It was edited by Kinsee Morlan and Alisa Barba. Lisa Morissette is operations and manager, and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content. I’m Alan Lilienthal, Gracias por su atención. Next time on the podcast.... ONCE THEY'RE IN MEXICO, THEY'RE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO KIDNAPPING, TO TORTURE, TO EXTORTION, EVERYONE IN THE ENCAMPMENT RIGHT NOW IS AT HIGH RISK, AND IT'S ONLY BECAUSE THE US GOVERNMENT HAS CLOSED THE DOORS TO THEM AND PUT THEM IN THIS HIGH-RISK SITUATION. KPBS reporter Max-Rivlin Nadler makes an appearance for a special episode exploring the ad-hoc asylum system… It’s a system that’s working for some lucky migrants, but keeping others stuck in dangerous migrant camps set up near the border in Tijuana. ***

Phil Beaumont, lead vocalist of the San Diego band, The Color Forty Nine, has been belting out tunes since he was a kid living in England back in the ’70s. After he landed in Southern California for high school and college, he eventually made his way south to Tijuana to see show after show at the legendary music venue Iguanas. Over time, Phil found himself crossing the border a lot, spending hours writing poetry and lyrics at his favorite bar, Dandy Del Sur. In our recurring “Moved by Music” series, we tap into the ’70s rock records Phil and his brothers listened to as kids, and the punk, two-tone and dub reggae he caught on the John Peel show on BBC radio. Then we dive deep into Phil’s relationship with Tijuana over the years, and how his love of living in a border city led to The Color Forty Nine’s new collaboration with world-famous musician Rubén Albarrán of Café Tacvba and Tijuana artist Hugo Crosthwaite.