This page is the repository for all things musical for me. It is divided into both my creating music and the musical influences and performers I have come to love over the years. So sit back and let me tell you more…
I first remember asking Mom if I could turn over the cooking pots on the kitchen floor and banging on them with wooden spoons! When I was about 12 Mom decided my brother and I needed to play a musical instrument. I remember going with her to a music store in town and them asking me what I wanted to play. I said ‘Drums!’ they said ‘No – you will learn to play the guitar because you can’t play drums by yourself’ (WTF!!!). That lasted for about 2 weeks before I quit and took a stand. Eventually, they broke down and I got a set of sears drums for Christmas.
Our first performance was in my garage one evening when my parents were gone. I remember one of the neighbors stopping by and making where the ‘Hawaiian’ noises were coming from!
Later I formed a band with neighborhood friends. We had various names including the Dead Peach, Dark Star, and Second Childhood. My sears set was replaced in 11th grade by a professional Ludwig set with two mounted toms, a floor tom, Zildjian hi-hats, and a couple of Zildjian cymbals. As a bonus, they had traveling bags and a large case for the hardware and snare. I remember I had a huge 24″ ride! They came with a silver sparkle finish which I ripped off and replaced with black Naugahyde. I generally played them with the heads of because I never had an idea on how to tune them properly 😆.
We played anything we could – so to speak – but think of a mediocre Allman Brothers garage band and you will get the idea 😏. We played in the jazz band my senior year as the rhythm section and got to take a trip on a cruise ship and play. Big fun! Our band played an Allman Brothers tune at the senior high school talent contest to win first place! Imagine that! I had achieved all I ever would as a rock star!
I graduated from community college and moved to California to go to college. I sold my drums – mostly because I was broke and needed the money as well. and I didn’t want to have to lug a set of drums around when I was in college but also because my dreams of being a rock and roll star faded away 🤣. I always figured I would go back to them one day. But I always had a pair of sticks and a practice pad!
In 1997 when I was living in Atlanta I bought a brand new set of Ludwig drums in a natural Maple finish with Zildjian cymbals. Same basic set as in high school! I started playing again after over a 20-year hiatus. One true regret in my life was that I didn’t keep playing but slowly over the past 20 years I have finally gotten good enough to impress myself at least 😏.
This set has changed a lot over the past 25 years! At one point it got quite large and included bells, a gong, and timbales. I got rid of a bunch of the kit when I downsized homes about 10 years ago. More recently I have added chime cymbals, new gongs, and many bells and blocks.
In the early 2000s, I bought my first electronic drum set a Roland TD-10. I bought extra pads and added other items like election hand drums and low-volume cymbals along the way. A couple of years ago I did a serious upgrade to the latest Roland Kit a TD-50X. I integrated the HD-20 hand drum using a TD-6 trigger along with my old TD-10 kit and a MalletKat electronic mallet instrument to see the monster I have now.
I play this through several mixers both solo and along with recorded tracks. I usually play a minimum of 1 time a day and most often since I have retired several times.
Several years after getting the Ludwig set I expanded into hand drumming. I got a pair of LP Congas and Bongos and a Remo Djembe. I have added a lot of hand drums since – a Meinl Talking Drum, Doumbeka, Ciuca, Wood Bongos and performance quality Bongo set, an Udu, a Remo Buffalo Drum, a Bombo, an LP Tumba Conga, a set of tabla drums, a didgeridoo, a berimbau, and an African Log Drum. A custom-painted 18″ frame drum hangs on my wall. I have two Cajons – a Meinl acoustic and Roland electronic.
I have a 26″ Zildjian Gong mounted on a custom handmade mahogany stand together with some bells. A 26″ Taoist Breeze Gong is mounted above my front door to welcome visitors!
I got a 2 1/2 octave Yamaha xylophone and more recently a Bass Guitar and Roland 5 octave Juno keyboard in my ongoing hope of someday being a true musician 😁.
These are located at various points in the house in my little slice of musical heaven – Valhalla.
Discovering music went hand in hand with my playing when I was young. I can remember being drawn to music at an early age listening to Dad’s Sea Shantys and orchestral music that accompanied battles at sea on TV. Once when Dad was in California Mom took me to see a James Bond movie (Thunderball). I was hooked on the music. So my first music purchase was from a magazine of a record of James Bond theme songs!
As the 60s started winding up I got caught up in the music that my friends were listening to. I remember listening to Led Zepplin’s first album at a neighbor’s along with the Doors and the Chamber’s Brothers ‘Time Has Come’. My first rock album purchase was a proto-heavy metal band Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum. In Jr High School I remember bringing King Crimson’s ‘Court of the Crimson King’ to civics class one Friday – the teacher couldn’t get over the album cover.
I had heard the band Yes but the first time I heard Fragile I was blown away and it became one of my most-listened-to LPs. Chris Squire’s gnarly bass together with Rick Wakeman’s keyboard wizardry and Bill Bruford’s ultra-precise timekeeping on drums left me in awe. Both the King and Yes would be top favorites for going on 50 years.
I was always looking for unusual music and there was nobody more unusual than Frank Zappa. ‘We’re Only In It For the Money’ was one of my favorites and I quickly learned the lyrics to all his more snarky songs. Later on his rock-ensemble albums like The Grand Wazoo, Waka-Jawaka and Hot Rats became all-time favorites that I still love listening to. I didn’t care for his later music quite as much (with some notable exceptions like Bongo Fury) but I have listened to most of the music he made during his spectacular time on Planet Earth!
I remember going with a friend one night to one of our teacher’s apartments in Cape Canaveral to get high and listen to Mahavishnu Orchestra. I was stunned and started to explore where this came from only to uncover the whole Mile Davis Jazz Fusion world. This led to my all-time favorite piano player Chick Corea and the band Weather Report that would also become life-long favorites.
Music for me quickly became a signpost for my life. For example, listening to Who’s ‘Who Next’ always reminds me of my first girlfriend. Jethro Tull’s ‘Thick As a Brick’ always takes me back to a family vacation I spent with my new cassette tape player listing to the album over and over. Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to be Wild’ reminds me of one summer hanging out with a buddy while we built a boat in the garage. Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ takes me back to the summer between high school and community college when I was living in Boston with a friend.
The most significant thing that happened in High School was my senior year when I was part of the Jazz Band. That opened up the whole world of Jazz and especially Jazz drumming (what the drum set was invented for!). I started listening to Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears as well as traditional Big Band music with drummers like Buddy Rich. I’ll never forget watching Buddy do a one-hand drum roll on some afternoon talk show my Mom had on!
That ultimately led to a couple of years where I explored modern Jazz. I was particularly fascinated with different musical instruments and sought out music with unusual instruments. To this day I am fascinated by the plethora of musical instruments both traditional and modern and always look for unusual music.
When I moved to California in the mid-seventies things started changing quickly for me. Chick Corea’s Return to Forever (RTF) and the solo albums from members Stanly Clarke and Al De Meola as well as Chick’s future work became favorites. I remember seeing RTF in Santa Barbara when my all-time favorite album Romantic Warrior came out. The song ‘Romantic Warrior’ and other classics like ‘Song to the Pharaoh Kings’ are all-time favorites. You will never hear better musicianship IMHO 😎. Electric Violin player Jean Luc Ponty – who had played with Frank Zappa earlier on – became another lifelong favorite in the Jazz fusion genre. I never tire of listening to his music.
I also saw Weather Report play at the same Santa Barbara theater during the Heavy Weather days. I borrowed a buddy’s camera and took pictures of the band. I’ll never forget watching Jaco Pastorius become one with his fretless bass while I pushed to trigger. Unhappily – I somehow lost those photos – a true ‘Oh Shit’ of my life!
The biggest association I have with going to college in California though had to be the Eagle’s Hotel California. Somehow the fact that I was living there when it was released made it more memorable. I also remember bands like Fleetwood Mac, Heart, and Boston from those days. One of my roommates really dug Steely Dan while the other one liked smooth jazz bands like Chuck Mangione. I remember seeing them play at our small college along with bands like Marshall Tucker and Kansas.
I moved to Seattle and my musical tastes shifted significantly. I remember listening to this cool Jazz Band called the Pat Metheny Group and started following them and Pat in particular. On the other side of the spectrum, I started listening to Police around the time ‘Synchronicity’ came out. Sting had an unusual voice that I liked and Steward Copeland was a madman on the drums. This changed during the latter part of the 1980s into a passion for Sting’s solo work.
There was a radio station in Seattle that played ‘New Age’ music. I remember the term being associated with Windham Hill recording artists like George Winston. I saw George play – barefoot and moaning while he made love to his baby grand 🤣. One artist I still love is Michael Hedges, an acoustic guitar player that could get amazing sounds out of his instrument by basically attacking it while playing. He claimed to be a composer who happen to play the guitar and was a master of dynamics.
Later into the 1980s and MTV! I listened to a lot of the 80s bands in particular Simply Red, Level 42, Mister Mister. Kate Bush came a bit later after I moved to Germany and her’ The Whole Story’ came out. That will always be the musical memory of my time in Germany. I was almost mesmerized by her music and songs like “Running Up That Hill’. I had never imagined someone could be so expressive with their voice like Kate.
I had heard of Genesis before but didn’t really know their music until Pete Gabriel left. When Gabriel came out with So in the mid-1980s I listened to his back catalog and like Kate Bush I was hooked. He also opened the door to world music with some of his collaborations with African musicians. At the same time, Paul Simon – whose 1970’s music I liked quite a bit – did the Graceland thing and later Rhythm of the Saints. After my return from Germany to Colorado in the early 90s, I explored World Music in much the same way I explored Jazz in the early 1970s.
I lived in Colorado in the first half of the 90s and saw a lot of concerts there. Especially Red Rocks which is my favorite venue of all time. I will never forget seeing Sting perform with a thunderstorm over Denver in the background. I listened to a lot of folk-rock stuff during that period like Shawn Colvin and the Indigo Girls. I remember discovering some of David Byrne’s post-Talking Heads stuff in my world music search for his work with Brazilian artists.
Other highlights in Denver included seeing John Mayall play in Boulder and Pink Floyd on the ‘Division Bell’ tour at Mile High Stadium. I was more than a mile high and dug the flying pig. Another highlight was King Crimson’s Double-Trio stuff with mind-blowing guitar player Adrian Belew and Bill Bruford and Pat Mastelotto’s double drumming. Unreal musicianship!
I moved to Atlanta in the mid-1990s. I got on this kick with female singers like Sarah McLaughlin and Alanis Morissette. The alternative rock thing was in full swing and I was drawn to the voice of Eddie Vedder and his work with Pearl Jam. I used to love turning up the car stereo and singing to songs like Jeremy.
My interest in Celtic music started after hearing an album by the band Capercaillie. Their fusion of Celtic and African songs intrigued me as did the band Afro Celts from Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. Capercaillie singer Karen Matheson has the most beautiful voice of all of the Celtic women I have heard – especially when she sings in Gaelic. Musical poetry at its finest. I listened to a lot of world music at this time including bands and artists like Clannad, Deep Forest, Youssou N’Dour, and Johnny Clegg.
I went to the theater a lot in the late 90s. I saw River Dance there which also had the beat-oriented Celtic thing going on. I remember sitting next to the percussionist for the large band playing the music. The dude had laterally 20 feet of percussion – everything from gongs, bells, cymbals, tympani, hand drums of every kind, mallet instruments – you name it this guy was playing it. That really started my love of hand percussion and subsequent collecting of ethnic and orchestral instruments.
Around the Millennium I became enamored with the music of Dave Matthews and the album Crash. I was thunderstruck by his drummer Carter Beauford. His technique is truly unique – according to him, he developed it by watching himself play in the mirror. Nobody has the mastery of the hi-hat and snare that he does IMHO.
In the mid-2000s I picked up Pat Metheny where I left him in the mid-1980s. Oh my! It was a unique experience getting to listen to a dozen incredible albums I didn’t really know even existed. Again the curse of Jazz in a Pop, Hip Hop & Rock American culture. His Jazz Orchestra and use of multi-instrumentalists and non-vocal singing were like magic dust to the amazing quartet music.
I became fascinated by his drummer Antonio Sanchez – a one-time Olympic gymnast turned Jazz percussionist and musician extraordinaire. His independence and subtle way he hits the drums and cymbals are amazing to watch. I was saddened to hear of his keyboard player Lyle May’s death recently. Ad true genius at ever-so-slightly changing the grand piano sound using electronics and brilliant co-composer of the Jazz orchestra’s greatest numbers.
I listened to a lot of Jazz for the next years – explored the Bebop era with Miles Davis and John Coltrane and discovered so next interesting talent like keyboard player Brad Meldau and Swedish jazz trio EST. At the same time, I was adding music from my older favorites into my catalog. particularly bands like Yes, Jean Luc Ponty and King Crimson. All three feature musicians like the Return to Forever gang of Chick, Stanley, and Al that never stopped exploring new musical frontiers.
I moved back to Florida to retire in the mid-2010s. This was a huge change for me and I started playing the drums again in earnest – really for the first time since starting back up in the late 1990s. I reconnected hard with my roots by taking a cruise filled with people that loved Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer and King Crimson – they called it Prog now – or Progressive Rock.
I was all over Prog starting in 2014. And what better way to start than getting a subscription to a magazine from the UK that featured Prog Music. Indeed! From their top 100 Prog albums of all time listened to albums by Porcupine Tree. This led to bands like Spock’s Beard, District 97, Dave Kersner, and others.
Porcupine Tree’s frontman Steven Wilson became my new poet laureate and I could get enough of his music. This led to a bunch of new musicians like the stunning Gavin Harrison. He combines the stellar timekeeping of Bill Bruford with the ascetics of a Big Band drummer and makes the most complicated rhythmic patterns and time signatures sound effortless.
When I retired I got a subscription to Amazon Music which gave me access to almost anything I could want to listen to. I spent my whole first summer listening to the Rush catalog. I was familiar with them somewhat but never really liked Geddy Lee’s voice all that much. My whole view changed after listening to their amazing body of work. I was saddened by the loss of Neil Peart and can understand why now he is regarded by many as the best rock drummer in the world. Like recently departed Charlie Watts he was a jazz drummer at heart.
One of my main sources of inspiration these days is the CD I get with my subscription to Prog Magazine. I continue to discover bands and artists I really dig – too many to name actually. I read the reviews and then flag them on Amazon Music to play in the car or in the shop. Here are my current favorites.
I was saddened this year to hear of Chick Corea’s death. I saw him play multiple times starting with this work in Return to Forever and lastly with John McLaughlin in Five Peace Band. He was without a doubt my favorite keyboard player of all time. He started out – like other greats – as a drummer. His ability to essentially play drums with notes on a keyboard is unparalleled in the same way Jimi Hendrix was with the electric guitar. He was also continually active throughout his career – maybe because Jazz greats can’t sit back on their loads of cash like the rock guys but more likely because he lived to play. RIP My Spanish-Hearted friend.