Archive for the ‘Rock’n Roll’ Category

Menage a Trois

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Thanks to the overwhelming response to my previous post “Partnerships,” (I received one comment which was from my son) I am continuing a similar theme. Only this time I’m concentrating on trios that were linked in some macabre way. Let’s begin with a comedy act from America, “The Three Stooges,” Moe, Curly and Larry. They didn’t appeal to British audiences, but were very successful in America.

Shell Petrol sponsored “World of Golf” featuring Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and they became to be known as “The Big Three.” I mentioned in my previous post that Best, Law and Charlton dominated the stage at Manchester United in the 1960s. There’s a  statue of the three of them forever linked in bronze to commemorate their achievements. I also can’t leave out the midfield trio from Tottenham Hotspur: Blanchflower, Mackay and White, who were instrumental in Spurs being the first club to achieve the Double (Championship and FA Cup) in the 20th Century. John White was tragically killed by lightning sheltering under a tree on a golf course in 1965, and was never really replaced.

Turning to politics, Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the Labour Party died suddenly in 1963, and there were three contenders to replace him: Harold Wilson, George Brown, and James Callaghan. Wilson eventually won the leadership contest and became Prime Minister in 1964. Brown served as Foreign Secretary while Callaghan lived next door to 10 Downing Street as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown gained notoriety by appearing on television several times in an intoxicated state, and arguably made more sense when he was drunk.

Show business inevitably is littered with trios: The Bachelors, The Beverly Sisters, The Andrew Sisters, The Supremes, The Crystals, The Springfields. Dusty Springfield achieved  greater fame as a solo artist. Eric Clapton comprised for a short time one third of the rock band Cream, but he too achieved greater success as a solo artist. Emerson, Lake and Palmer deserve a mention as one of the first super groups. I could have included Crosby, Stills and Nash but Neil Young made them into a quartet.

Rugby has natural trios in the form of front rows, none more famous than Faulkner, Windsor and Price, They were Wales’s first ever one-club front row, and immortalized in a song by Max Boyce as the Viet Gwent. Comments on a postcard please if you believe I have misconstrued that phrase. Wales had a tremendous back row in the seventies in the shape of Merv the Swerve, Basil Brush Taylor, and Dai Morris, The Shadow.

Finally it would be remiss of me not to mention the “Three Tenors,” Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras. The 1990 World Cup brought them into prominence with the general public when the BBC used “Nessa Dorme,” beautifully sung by Pavarotti, as their theme song for televising the month long tournament. The Three Tenors gave a memorable concert towards the end of the tournament which propelled their careers to greater heights.

I could write a sequel on quartets where rock bands like the Beatles, Stones and The Who would be rich pickings. But I’m becoming rather bored with this theme, so goodness knows what it’s doing to my reader. So there you are. It only remains for me to wish y’all a Happy and Healthy New Year.

24 Hours in the Life of a Working Drummer

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

 The drummer in question is George Sandler, a percussionist and vocalist extraordinaire based in the Metro Atlanta area. He would make Keifer Sutherland appear lazy!

Sunday August 18th

3:00am-Arrived home (Roswell, GA) after a gig in Suwanee GA (approx. 27 miles one way) with The Insatiable Stallion Brothers (NOT my idea of a name….).  We started playing at 10pm and finished at 1am.

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Breakdown and load out took about an hour.  I used a drum set/percussion set up that involved a lot of different instruments since I was playing BOTH drum set & percussion.  Exhibit A & B for your viewing pleasure.

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8:00amSound check at Cumming First United Methodist Church.  I was up by 6:30am to facilitate being on time for my 8am call time at the church.  Great thing about this particular gig is that all I needed to bring was sticks, a bass drum pedal and a throne.  An electronic kit was provided (not a great kit but usable) so along with my bits that I brought I made it work.  Rehearsal went from 8:15am until 9:30am.

Had some serious “I can’t hear what I am playing” issues since the soundman there seems to dislike drums and contemporary music in general.  In these situations I tell myself, “Relax, it will be over soon.”  The service started at 9:51am (?) and was over by 11.  I picked up my check, grabbed my stuff and was on the road home by 11:35.

So, I have a little down time before my next load in at 6pm.  Oddly enough, I attempted to grab a nap.  I was only semi-successful because the phone RANG off the hook.  Good stuff, but I could have used a nap.

6:00pm-Load in at Johnny’s Hideaway in Buckhead (about 25 miles one way).  Once again I am gigging with The Insatiable Stallion Brothers.  Gig starts PROMPTLY at 9:30 so after setup & sound check I have time to eat and relax a bit.  I used basically the same setup as the night before.  No surprises here.

 12:15am-Our portion of the evening is over.  We play 3 sets and the dance floor is packed most of the evening.  I proceed to start breaking down my rig when a very nice woman who has been at the bar since I arrived at 6 approaches me.  By now she is VERY inebriated and wants to chat.  I do talk to her for a brief moment…. she is CONSIDERABLY older than me and since I have had NOTHING but water to drink, I am having a difficult time understanding her.  I did hear something about “wanna go to the beach with me tomorrow?”  To which I politely smile and pretend that I didn’t hear that part.  She saunters back to her chair and proceeds to stare me down while I am packing up.

And speaking of packing and loading, I go out to my van to retrieve my cases and SURPRISE, its MONSOONING.  Not just raining, but COPIOUS amounts of rain, lightning and wind going on.  The valet says, “Oh, this will pass in 20 minutes.”  I go back inside with my cases & my cart, finish packing up and walk outside to find that it hasn’t stopped but is raining EVEN harder than before.  Fantastic.  Loading out in the rain with only a very small awning to protect you is my FAVORITE thing.  My kingdom for a roadie….

2:45am-I arrive home and fortunately the rain has stopped.  I then pull my car into the garage to unload most of my gear and then RELOAD a different kit for my recording session tomorrow at Johnson Brothers Recording Studios in Covington.  I sort out all of the gear, finish loading and head inside for some rest.  Glamorous life, wouldn’t you say?  I have always stated that I will PLAY for free…. it’s the loading, unloading, transporting and driving that I charge for.

6:15am-Up and going, I have a goal of leaving my house by 7am, which I achieve.  However, someone decides that one of the roads that lead out to the main thoroughfare has been used by someone who thought it would be a great idea to go 70 mph, which resulted in a wreck that completely blocks off that route.  I then turn around after waiting for 15 minutes of going nowhere to take an alternate route.  This is also a colossal failure.  Fortunately my call time isn’t until 10:30am.  Good thing I allowed myself extra time…. traffic is terrible on this day!

10:25am-I arrive at Johnson Brothers Recording, unload my drums, get set up quickly and promptly knock out a Southern Gospel song for a client.  We started recording at 11:30, I did one take of this song and was done by 11:40.  This is what I am expected to do…. work quickly and be good on the FIRST pass if at all possible. Exhibit C for your viewing pleasure….


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11:50am-Our client for the day, Gannon Adams arrives with his writing partner James Colt.  Along with James is Gannon’s dad, Ricky, who is always fun to have around when we are working.  On tap are 5 songs today, one of which is a rap/RnB version of a song we have previously recorded in a previous session.  The norm for most songs of this genre is to NOT have real drums but to have a drum machine or sequencer provide the groove.  So, for the next hour I am not playing but programming.  I will be honest, I am not the biggest fan of rap but I do get calls to do a LOT of programming for this type of music.  So it pays to be familiar with ALL styles and know what it takes to make a song in this genre happen.

12:45pm-We move on to the other songs that are in the “new country” genre.  Normally we have more songs to complete in a given day but we are doing fewer songs so we can really get creative with the material.  Creativity does take time and we take additional time to add percussion, loops, additional guitar parts and so on.  Not that we would not do this on other projects but when you have 10 songs to complete instead of 5 you have to move things along a bit more.  We complete two more songs and then head out to grab some lunch.

3:15pm-We return after lunch and dive right back in to the songs.  During the session I will change out pieces of my kit, especially snare drums and cymbals, to suit the vibe and mood of the song.  I usually bring at LEAST 6 different snares to any given session as well as additional cymbals to have a LOT of colors to choose from.  On this day I brought 12 different snares as well as 4 ride cymbals, 3 sets of hi-hats, various crashes and other special effect cymbals.  Not to MENTION a large bag of small percussion instruments (shakers, tambourines, etc.) And yes, this means that I have to carry all of this with me.  Hence the reason for the minivan.

5:45pm-We are working on the last song, which is a bit of a throwback for Gannon.  It is more traditional country that pleases his father immensely.  My session partners John Johnson (keyboards & engineering) & Daniel Addison (bass, electric & acoustic guitars as well as mandolin) is always great to be around and we really do make beautiful music together.  We work together a lot and the finished product always speaks for itself.  And after all the songs we played today, this one is my favorite because of the sheer different vibe from the other songs.

6:45pm-My part of the session is done.  I begin to pack up all of my gear, load it in the van (I beat the impending rain, thank goodness) and head home to Roswell (50 miles one way).  I usually tune my radio to sports talk, news or OFF after a day like today.  This evening is no exception and I ride home in silence.  VERY therapeutic for me…I love music and feel blessed to do it for a living, however there are times when I need a break from it.  In my opinion taking a break from music helps me avoid getting burned out.

7:54pm-Home at last!  I pull into the garage and unload all of my gear and put everything into its proper storage area.  The next day is a day off for me so I have scheduled a massage at 1:30pm.  But not before I wake up at 8am, program and complete two tracks for clients in Mobile AL and New York.  All the while answering calls, emails and such.  My work is NEVER done!


Elvis is Alive and Kicking at The Liberty

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The premiership has come to an exciting climax (pardon the unintentional pun) and the Swans ended the season by defeating once mighty Liverpool in the final home game of the season. At the beginning of the Premiership campaign, way back in August of last year, bookmakers had made newly promoted Swansea City favorites to be relegated in their first season in the top flight since 1981.

One sporting hack, probably an erstwhile employee of the Sun newspaper, had predicted there was more chance of spotting Elvis than the Swans avoiding relegation. Thankfully, the moron was forced to eat his words and the Swans finished in a creditable 11th position.

Brendan Rodgers, revealing his Irish wit and charm, suggested that fans should turn up for the final game of the season with Liverpool decked in Elvis costumes, and many of the faithful duly obliged.  Elvis was probably sitting on his porch back in Tupelo Mississippi with one ear glued to his transistor radio listening to the scores while eating a peanut butter/banana sandwich; toasted of course.

He was at the Liberty in spirit if not in heavenly body, and continuing the theme, a selection of his hits flow seamlessly into reviewing the Swans memorable season:

  • My Way, King Creole-Brendan Rodgers who remained loyal to his principles for persevering with the passing game.
  • American Trilogy– the midfield trio Britton, Allen and the Iceman
  • Don’t Be Cruel-Ashley Williams roughing up over priced cry baby Andy Carroll
  • All Shook Up-British tabloids for writing off the Swans before a ball was kicked
  • Hound Dog– a tribute to Swansea Jacks worldwide
  • Love me Tender– we need to give some love to Dutch midfielder Ferde Bodde who has suffered horrendous knee injuries, and unsuccessfully attempted several comebacks
  • Suspicious Minds-Cardiff City supporters who could not believe they were being upstaged by their nemesis.
  • Peace in the Valley- time to relax in the off season before another premiership campaign comes around in a blink of an eye.
  • In the Ghetto-apologies to three Blaenymaes. When was the last time Blaenymaes got a mention on a blog?
  • Heartbreak Hotel-spending a night before the game in one of the salubrious guest houses along Oystermouth Road. They have that distinctive smell of burnt chip pan oil.
  • Jailhouse Rock- in memory of the Swansea prison inmates who enjoyed a bird’s eye view of Swans games played at the old Vetch Field.
  • It’s Now or Never- last season’s playoff win over Reading.
  • Are you Lonesome Tonight-don’t be; haul yourself down to the Liberty for an evening game and a couple of beverages.
  • The Wonder of You-congratulations to the supporters for giving the team wonderful support and never losing faith in the manager.
  • Good Luck Charm and the bargain buy of the season; goalkeeper Michael Vorm.
  • Return to Sender-unfortunately this applies to two loan signings who made enormous contributions to the season and may or may not return: Steven Caulker and The Iceman.

Finally the writer offers his sincere congratulations and admiration to Team Swansea. I just didn’t appreciate unrealistic comparisons with Barcelona which were mindlessly out of the ball park. Forty five goals is a meager total from 38 games for all their progressive play. May they add a cutting edge to their passing game next season.

PS: Elvis has left the building.

A Self Proclaimed Redneck

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

REDNECK:  In modern usage a redneck is a stereotypical southern United States socially conservative, fiscally liberal, rural, working class white person with northern European ancestry. In layman’s terms Rednecks are often rude and crude Southerners, occasionally prone to violence, have proclivity (but not always) for NASCAR, certain types of Country music, and beer drinking. They can live in trailers, but not always.

They are often mistaken for white trash but there’s a difference. Rednecks are usually hard working and have jobs while White trash tends to be lazy. They are most likely blue collar. Not all rednecks are racists, but many are. They’re not all loud and brassy, but many can be.

My good friend Bubba (that’s not his real name but it suits his perceived persona) reminds me of a Vidalia onion because there are several layers to his personality. He typically has strong opinions on most topics and is not afraid to voice them. In his biblically allotted 3 score years and ten he has achieved more in his lifetime than many of us can only imagine. He has enjoyed a successful career as a mechanical engineer, has owned several music shops, and ran a successful business as an art dealer. But the underlying theme to his perpetual motion is music along with the love and support of his family.

He began learning and playing music at the age of 5, and studied to be a concert pianist until deciding at 15 years of age that he no longer had the inclination to light up Carnegie Hall. However, his love of music continued and he turned to the clarinet which he played in the High School band. One day, he was invited to join his friend’s popular music band providing he could play saxophone. He ran home and persuaded his mom to buy him a saxophone and has had a love affair with the instrument ever since. His first gig was at the local YWCA in Macon, Georgia in stark contrast to several years later when he played before a New Year’s Eve crowd of 3000 raucous fans at the Marriot Resort, Fairhope, Alabama supporting The Classic Four.

 He served six years in the regular army and his love for music continued unabated. He was assigned to play in the army band, but hooked up with local bands in need of a saxophone player on his weekends off. Following discharge from the army his quest for a better paying job to support his young family led him to Atlanta where he quickly found a musical venue, The Little Oak Tavern, to his liking.

I’m not sure whether growing up in Macon, Georgia was fortuitous or his destiny, but in his formative years Bubba rubbed shoulders with future rock and roll of famers. He grew up in the same street as Phil Lowndes, founder of Macon based Capricorn Records, who managed Otis Redding early in his career and guided the Allman Brothers to fame and fortune.

On a Sunday he would play in jam sessions at the Elk Club where featured vocalists may have included the late Otis Redding, or Little Richard. One time he witnessed Little Richard getting arrested in downtown Macon for kissing his boyfriend in public, and he cried when he learned Otis had been killed in a plane crash in 1967.

Attempting to pigeon hole Bubba into one category of music is almost impossible. I asked him what type of music was the most difficult to play. He paused a moment and replied: “There are several types of music but they all contain the same notes which are just arranged differently. If one hears a musician bleating about being unable to play in a particular key or style, he can’t truly call himself a genuine musician.”

Capricorn Records spearheaded the rise of Southern Rock, and the success of the Allman Brothers paved the way for other Southern rock bands, including Atlanta Rhythm Section, South Carolina based Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd also founded in Jacksonville. Bubba made it to the Georgia Rock and Roll Fame with Hayloft Jamboree with whom he played for over 6 years. In the late fifties the band had their own weekly TV show which gave them greater prominence on the local music scene.

Bubba arrived in Atlanta about the same time as “Underground Atlanta” officially opened in 1969 with new restaurants, bars, nightclubs and music venues installed in the old individual storefronts. At the time, Fulton County was the only county in the state of Georgia that permitted mixed alcoholic beverages to be served, provided that men wore coats and ties in places that served them. As a result, Underground Atlanta quickly became the center of downtown Atlanta nightlife.

Among the more popular spots in Underground Atlanta were Dante’s Down the Hatch, Scarlett O’Hara’s, The Blarney Stone, The Rustler’s Den, The Front Page, The Bank Note and Mulenbrink’s Saloon, where Atlanta’s Piano Red under the name Dr. Feelgood and the Interns, played from 1969 to 1979. Bubba played in a band called Night Shift at Scarlet O’Hara’s for a couple of years which he considers were some of the most enjoyable times in his musical career.

The heyday of Underground Atlanta lasted for only half a decade. When neighboring Dekalb County relaxed their restrictions on alcohol consumption in the early 1970s, new bars sprouted up in other parts of the city, generating competition. The dress code restrictions were dropped and fights began to break out. The construction of the MARTA East Line beginning in 1975 tore out several blocks of clubs and eliminated parking. Crime became uncontrollable and the area was considered dangerous. In 1980, Underground Atlanta was closed. A few businesses struggled to stay open but by 1982 they left and the area was once again abandoned.

Underground Atlanta may have closed but Bubba kept on playing. One of his subsequent gigs was at the famous Fox Theater when Chuck Leavell hired Bubba to play in a cover band for a rock revival concert featuring The Ronettes, Lou Christie, and Duke of Earl. Chuck Leavell currently plays keyboards for The Rolling Stones and Bubba continues to play in not one but two bands; Junction Band on a weekly basis and Swing South on special occasions.

 In a recent advertisement flyer, Junction Band was described as “one of the most popular local country and western swing bands to emerge from the dirt roads of metropolitan Atlanta. Bubba didn’t particularly care for the “country and western” handle and preferred to be known as a band that can play “music for all occasions.” You can catch up with Junction Band at local venues around Atlanta on most weekends while Swing South will be playing at the Georgia Mountain Fair in October.

 In between passing his musical knowledge onto grateful young students, he is currently producing a CD entitled “Dos Old Hombres” featuring tall horses (camels) which will be released later this year. Does Bubba qualify to be a redneck? No, but he could be a good ol’ boy. Good Ol’ Boys are the average white male southerner. Middle class, usually college educated, the good ol’ boy is simply an all around fun loving southern boy. He likes to tell a good joke, but tends to watch his mouth around the ladies. He likes to go fishin’ and huntin’ and can do all the outdoors stuff including golf, but could also hold his own in an ivy league setting. However, there is one thing I know for sure; Bubba is by no means “average.” He is a remarkable man who has enjoyed life to the full, and it’s not over until the fat lady sings!

NB: this post is dedicated to “ Nu-Way Weiniers Inc.” in Macon; an institution since 1916 and voted one of America’s ten best hot dog joints by Gourmet Magazine in 2001.


Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

My friend’s son celebrated his birthday on 10th October, 2010 which is a truly unique date, and it prompted me to compile some lists:

Ten British Rock Bands recalled:

  • The Beatles were influenced by Buddy Holly, Elvis and Eddie Cochran in their formative years as a struggling band plying their trade in Hamburg, Germany, but over a period of seven years (1963-1970) they changed the course of popular music.
  • The Yardbirds featured a great vocalist in Keith Relf who unfortunately died too young from a drug overdose. An emerging Eric Clapton played lead guitar; R&B orientated with a bluesy, smoky atmosphere to their music.
  • The Animals were the first band to make it big from Newcastle; gritty, earthy sound fronted by the pock-marked Eric Burdon with Alan Price on keyboard. They were the first band to produce a Number 1 single over 5 minutes long which was a cover version of an old blues classic “House of The Rising Sun.”
  • The Hollies were a solid mid-stream group fronting Manchester’s challenge to Liverpool as the capital city of sixties pop music. They had a string of hits before founder member Graham Nash left to form one of rock’s super groups, “Crosby, Stills and Nash.”
  • Rolling Stones were the antithesis to the Beatles clean-cut image. Unkempt, unwashed, rebels with a cause to making lots of money. They were competent musicians but with Jagger gyrating and strutting around the stage they became great performers.
  • The Kinks fell just short of greatness with a unique style orchestrated by Ray Davies who fought constantly with his jealous and younger brother Dave. They produced one of the classic rock tunes, “You Really Got Me,” later covered by The Clash.
  • The Who is my wife’s favorite band: violent, moody, destructive, and malevolent(The Who not my wife, cue cymbal.) They were never quite the same when they lost Keith Moon, their manic drummer, to a drug over dose.
  • ELO (The Electric Light Orchestra.) I liked their use of violins and cellos in their line up. I rejected cellos lessons in school because I wanted to play the drums and then years later fantasized about playing cello in the ELO.  Jeff Lynn was the leader and later produced and played in the phenomenal band “The Traveling Wilburys.”
  • Queen: Freddie Mercury was irrepressible as a front man and performer. He saved Live Aid back in 1985 by producing an energetic and memorable set second to none.
  • Deep Purple: for personal reasons I just loved their throbbing track, “Smoke On the Water.” Kudos to Sharon.

 Ten of my favorite destinations:

  • Durham: I went to Durham on a field trip with no expectations. It was mid March but the snow was falling heavily creating a stark contrast to the brooding, dark stained walls of the majestic cathedral that dominates the town. I felt like I was walking though a scene from a Hallmark Christmas card. It was here that I first discovered a stout beer called “old peculiar.”
  • Three Cliffs Bay, Gower is a majestic beach where soft, powdery white sand melts through your toes. It is protected from inclement weather by fantastic limestone rock formations, overlooked by the ruins of a medieval castle. Access is problematic which thankfully keeps most of the punters away.
  •  Winchester is a city steeped in Saxon history, and was originally the capital of England. The Wykeham Arms is arguably the best pub/restaurant in England providing elegant accommodation and service second to none. A statue of Alfred the Great greets visitors as you enter the city and step back in time.
  • Chicago comprises the best Blues clubs, and restaurants owned and named after Chicago icons Michael Jordan and Harry Caray. Chicago pizza and river boat rides through downtown make this a memorable city to visit, but boy is it windy.
  • Big Sur, California comprises stunning coastal scenery. The section of Highway 1 running through Big Sur is widely considered as one of the most scenic driving routes in the USA, if not the world. Crossing Bixby Creek Bridge is truly breathtaking and for a second or two you feel like you’re flying like an eagle.
  • Bristol is probably the most underrated city in England. Move past the concrete jungles of modern shopping centers and multi-storey car parks and take a stroll down Park Street which oozes history and atmosphere comprising a plethora of bars, restaurants, eclectic shops and art galleries.
  • Bedfont is a blue collar district near to Heathrow Airport. My wife rented an apartment there for approximately 18 months, and the concord flew majestically over the friendly confines twice a day. Tucked away in the High Street was a little gem of an Indian restaurant that served a mean murghi jhal frezi.
  • Paris is a city of contrasts. I shared a room in an attic (a gitte?) with a friend on a college field trip, and he snored continuously like a warthog. I met my future wife in a bistro in Ille Saint Louis, and we returned to spend part of honeymoon there a few years later. I was also mugged in the Metro for my troubles so I have mixed emotions when I think of Paris.
  • Savannah is a unique city inextricably linked to its colorful history by a series of delectable town squares depicting various characters who played a notable part in its evolution.
  • Buenos Aires is a vibrant and dazzling city. Its architecture is an eclectic mix with various elements resembling Barcelona, Paris and Madrid. The City is the home of the Argentinean tango and there is no dance more romantic or sensuous. My lasting memory of Buenos Aires was the preponderance of dog walkers some of whom were grappling with 10-15 leads at any given time.

Ten of my favorite dishes I love to prepare and eat:

  • Chicken tikka masala
  • El Cid chili
  • Chicken with lime and ginger
  • Murghi Jhal Frezi
  • Mussels Provencale
  • Nana’s  ham and pea stew
  • Shepherd’s pie with cheese-crusted leeks
  • Turkey with a hint of Thai
  • Poor man’s jambalaya
  • Salmon fillets with fava bean sauce