An important part of Little Faith’s musical mission is honoring the musical contributions of those who came before us and perpetuating their legacies. Every year, we lose more of our heroes, and in 2014 Joe Sample, Gerald Wilson, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Ruffin, Jack Bruce, Johnny Winter, Bobby Womack, Phil Everly and Mickey Champion were among those who passed on. But the loss of one Los Angeles musician has hit us harder than most this year. Little Faith and the entire LA music community is still heartbroken over the passing of Mark Tortorici in October. The overwhelming outpouring of love at the memorial held for Mark demonstrated the size of his heart and the reach of his embrace. All of us were warmed by his bear hug and touched by his generous soul.
Mark was the first music promoter to understand that our mix of traditional spirituals, roots gospel and soul music would play in the swing dance and rockabilly venues he booked. His faith in what we were doing gave us a platform from which we were able to launch Little Faith and build a lasting following. After the first show Mark booked us on, I wasn’t so sure. “I don’t think your crowd gets what we’re doing,” I told him. “You’re right, they don’t,” he said. “But keep doing it because it hits them in their souls and makes them happy.” Only someone who loved music as much as Mark did could come to that conclusion.
We loved making music for Mark as well as with him, and we were proud to feature his harmonica playing on our “Shelter” CD. In his memory, there’s a free download of “Rising in Memphis” with Mark’s solo at: http://littlefaithmusic.com/music/
Mark Tortorici set the bar as a roots music promoter, and we’d like to recognize a handful of other music lovers who also “get it” and without whom, a lot of us wouldn’t have an audience to play for. Steve Camera of Hip Kitty in Claremont understands how to bring good music and engaged audiences together. Suzanne O'Keefe, whose Honky Tonk Hacienda series at El Cid always features strong talent and great crowds, has an open-minded booking policy that puts the quality of the music above genre labels. Cevin Clark at Harvelle’s knows that consistently good music provides a venue with its own following. Cadillac Zack goes above and beyond to bring the best blues artists to LA, but isn’t afraid to feature an act like Little Faith on his stages. Same goes for Jan and Jerry McWhorter, whose labors of love keep music thriving in Ventura. We are grateful for the hard work and creativity of these people.
Thanks also to the Lummis Day Festival, Youbloom Festival, Hope Lutheran Church, Yorba Linda Presbyterian, Agape International Spiritual Center, Bliss Bowen of Pasadena Weekly and Bruce Ball for their dedication to music. Shout outs to Larry Fox of KSPC, whose jazz radio policy also welcomes gospel music, to Pat Baker on KCSN and Gary Baca of KPFK, Emmit Powell at KPFA and to the more than 200 radio shows nationwide who have been playing Little Faith’s music. Love to Steve Elowe, Craig Ferguson, Anthony King, Bill Barrett, Jerry Watts, Johnny Z, Linda, Chantelle and James McCrary, Jimmi Mayweather, Nick Agee, Jeff Moxley and Ray Woods for helping us make this music. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who comes to hear us and to those who show their appreciation. As we move into 2015, we look forward with pride to the release of “Eternity”, our new album produced by Michael Baker (Whitney Houston, Joe Zawinul now touring with Annie Lennox). We honor those who let music hit them in their souls, and we promise to keep aiming our music at that spot. Above all, we honor the memory of Mark Tortorici, who taught us how.