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Me and Manager Andy Dubitsky - HRC Hollywood






5 YEARS


Andy Dubitsky - Manager - Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood 

5 YEARS 
The Birth and Adolescence of DRUMline
Meeting Jeff Stein, Director - 'The Kids Are Alright' at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood during DRUMline's 5th Year Anniversary Week - January 2017

Every NEW THING should be overreaching, misunderstood and flawed...otherwise how new can it truly be.  When I started DRUMline I had no clear vision of what it would become, I only knew that I wanted it to be viable five years from it's inception.  It's birth happened serendipitously enough at The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood at Hollywood and Highland adjacent to the Legendary Sunset Strip that gave rise to  Van Halen and Guns 'N Roses!
I originally just wrote one story but nobody wanted it.....too long or whatever so I published it myself (i.e. Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol).    I have figured out one thing in life and it's that nobody thinks your idea is any good until you persist and force it upon the world, even then it may fail.  Well, I couldn't put just one story in a blog so I wrote a couple more and I headed out to LA to fuel this fire.   I was lucky enough to book an interview with Ari Gold about his film 'Adventures of Power' pre-NAMM 2012...I could have focused on that alone to start my journey, but not complicated enough...so I decided to overreach and plan a launch party, make a really big splash in the City of Angels that treats unknowns like the Devil.
I booked the Hard Rock's private dining room and made all kinds of plans - We were going to have an Air Drum Contest and have autograph signings with all the famous drummers who would surely come - yet, there was a band booked on stage and the Hard Rock Cafe people just wanted me to settle down and have a good time.   I really had them out of their comfort zone, they must have thought I was crazy!  I was just trying to garner as much attention as I could - the purpose of a launch party, I thought.
Just before I started packing, Michael Devin (Whitesnake bassist) wanted to contribute to the Bonzo Bash story and give the Bass Players perspective.   Of course I said yes, but it kept me up all night and postponed my shower until the following day.    Thus, when I arrived at the Hard Rock after Southwest lost my promotional material and then found it after I threw a fit in baggage claim, I was exhausted and felt terrible.    When I arrived at the HRC, Ari was there eating before they brought the food out so I ran upstairs to shower and feel normal again.   I made it down by 9pm when the party was set to start but some people came and went because I wasn't there and the room was basically empty.  It was a bit of a logistical nightmare, flying in, getting a car, traffic and a stop at Guitar Center to get a Bass Drum head for people to sign.   I had visions of myself at the hotel pool a couple of hours before the party but that was the dream and reality is often different.
Don't get me wrong, I had a great time but things were a mess.   I didn't even know how to operate the video camera for the interview but Ari did and we got on with it.   Great interview, one I will remember forever.  Afterwards, I said I really didn't know what to do next and Ari said 'Say yes to every opportunity'.    I figured he knew what he was talking about...he was able to produce a film so I embraced his advice.
Only about 10 people showed up, not the 50-100 I had hoped for but in hindsight it was perfect.   Besides, Ari and my really close friends (Ryan Brown, Vinny Tomassetti, Mike and Jenn Dupke) nobody stayed until the end of the two hours...I heard Jimmy D'Anda showed but left because it was lame.   Only three people showed up to the first Police concert in St. Louis as retold by Sting in front of 20.000 people at a later show.   I knew beginning is not the end but the beginning and it is humbling yet empowering at the same time.   One of the staff said to me on the way out - 'I thought your party would be bigger' and instead of being embarrassed I thought to myself  - 'I made you think that, I made something out of nothing - nothing is happening and I made it seem like something' - the first step in any dream and I was ready for the next....I told myself then and there...in five years DRUMline will be viable, will be known, will have a life and will influence the drumming community and the music industry.
Ari Gold Interview - DRUMline Launch Party - 2012
FIVE YEARS LATER....

DRUMline has been viewed in over 70 countries, hundreds of thousands if not millions of times.   We've interviewed nearly every famous and not so famous up and coming drummer of note....and we're nothing without them.   Instead of putting us through a trial by fire, all we had to do was show up and people for the most part accepted us as if we knew what we were doing.....I didn't have a clue.  However , the drumming community is very supportive - when I forgot to hit 'record' they re-did entire interviews, when I was on the wrong part of the stage taking photographs...I was politely ushered to the side, when I didn't know what to say they carried the conversation.   Dan Shinder of Drum Talk TV mentored me and encouraged me to do what I was doing.   Drummers support other drummers like nothing I have ever witnessed or have been a part of....DRUMline is accomplished not because of me but because of who and what I have discovered and covered on these screens.

Three things set me on this path just before my senior year of high school when I started to realize I wouldn't be playing competitive sports much longer.  1. 'Cheap Trick at Budokhan' - infused me with the excitement of live music.  2. 'Roxanne' by The Police - I couldn't get the hi-hat part out of my head mouthing it every day before math class...I had to learn how to play it.  3. 'The Kids are Allright' the WHO Documentary by Jeff Stein - My cousin made me go see it and I was blown away by the Keith Moon solos so much so that I wanted to be in that picture.
So here I am on my journey five years down the road and I'm feeling great after a really productive NAMM 2017.   I had a few hours before my flight so I decided to revisit the Hard Rock Cafe, remembering my 5 year goal.   I felt like it had been reached and I wanted to reflect and celebrate.   There were a lot of events at Hollywood and Highland that day so the HRC had limited seating at the bar and along one wall.  I was going to just eat at the bar and be gone in an hour but a friend contacted me and said she would be in the area soon, so I got a booth and I waited with my backpack containing my video camera.   A little boy jumped in my booth to look at the Joe Walsh guitar on the wall (Life's Been Good to Me So Far).  I thought it was funny and I loved the kid's independence and bravado.   His mom came to get Monty down and return to the booth behind me.   'He's a guitar player' she said without apology as if it was fine he jumped in my booth.  My mom would have been embarrassed but she was cooler than my mom in that way - Monty was an excitable boy - hell yeah he's gonna look at that guitar - I loved it!   I said...'Would he do an interview?' I like to interview the kids, especially because over the years you see how much they change and mature, yet it's fun to remember them as children when they had so much enthusiasm and no limits to their creativity.....total freedom and joy....something to remember.

Well Monty 'Revelation Experience' ran off after his dad and his mom said 'My husband (Jeff Stein) he directed 'The Kids are Alright'.   What are the odds of that happening...that I would meet someone who had such a big influence on me nearly 5 years to the day after I launched DRUMline in that exact place.   Positive affirmation for sure...and although I have much work to do, what better place for a dream to come true than in Hollywood! - Michael St. John

Notes - Andy Dubitsky, Hard Rock Cafe Manager was working during our launch and subsequent return 5 years later.
It was cool for me to have this journey bookended by two independent filmmakers Ari Gold and Jeff Stein, especially since their films highlighted two of my favorite drummers, Neil Peart and Keith Moon.   The kid, Monty Stein who jumped in my booth offered to teach me some songs on guitar since I said I only knew three and he introduced himself as Monty 'Revelation Experience'....believe me - It truly was!...Keep Rockin' - Mike St. John, Founder - DRUMline
RUSHED: A Farewell to Kings
R40 Tour Wraps at LA Forum August 1, 2015
The only band better than RUSH is RUSH...who else can you compare them to?    As they Benjamin Buttonized their set list on R40 playing their newer material first, they recaptured the energy and wreckless abandon of their youth digging deep into their catalog in reverse chronological order.   They have often dismissed much of their earlier material playing only token bits before the 'Moving Pictures' era highlighting '2112' or 'By Tor and the Snow Dog'.   R40, however, did a pretty comprehensive job of covering their entire career.
They complemented the musical journey of the band with instrument and equipment changes to give a real sense of what the shows were like thru several eras of arenas, auditoriums, theaters and high school gymnasiums.    The prophetic robes from the 70's, perhaps wisely, remained a part of historical record.   
I originally had plans to see the show two or three times but settled for once due to the impact of seeing the show and being surprised a bit vs.  trying to top the initial experience thru repetition.   The circle of my RUSH experience , however, did close at the final show via some friends who shared it via facebook.
I suppose the most interesting thing about R40 is that the band played their earlier material with a fervor which seemed to surpass anything they had done before and they raised the bar again on their standard which is always set at excellent.   So yes, the only band better that RUSH is RUSH.    The newer version is more concise and structured in their material and the older version is more theatrical and progressive in a way.   The performances are done but the music remains.   One of the benefits of being a RUSH fan is revisiting older material whether 10, 20 or 40 years old and reliving old memories while appreciating how good they were at all stages of their career.   They've evolved but at the core they've always been three guys writing and playing music together well.
R40 stripped away all the fancy amps, washing machines and popcorn makers that came to decorate their recent shows and left us with the realization that the substance of the material and the willingness to experiment without compromise made the band special.    I left R40 with a profound memory of the music and realized they weren't all that different after all these years.
Actor Alan Arkin was recently interviewed about his film career and said people often asked him if the cast had a good time shooting films he was in.   He wondered why they would care and discovered it mattered to them because if they could get along it gave the audience hope that people in general stood a chance to be happy.    RUSH seems like they had the time of their lives on the R40 tour, perhaps realizing that it is probably their final tour.   They not only paid tribute to their past but to their fans as well.   It felt like a big 'Thank You Card' from the band.   You could see the friendship glue which brought the trio together held them together thru all the challenges and changes they faced over the decades.   'They left people with a pure memory, virtue is actually rewarded in the end' to paraphrase Cliff Burnstein from the documentary 'Beyond the Lighted Stage'.
There has been much speculation about their future and debates have surfaced over the possibility of their retirement.   I don't care, personally I say 'Thanks for the music, you've given enough...more than could be expected' - I will be happy to revisit RUSH in my memory and play their music often.    The good guys won and they had fun doing it - I will put on my Armour and Sword and wage my own battle realizing that doing something well with people you care about really is enough to succeed.

The Real TWILIGHT ZONE
Anthony Tiny Biuso / Etan G - LA Forum
Music can take you on some weird journeys let me tell ya.....I bought tickets for the final R40 show in LA thinking I would finally get to go with Ryan Brown, a dream we shared for 20 years.   As it happens, Ryan was still on tour with Zappa Plays Zappa and I counldn't make it out to LA.   So I gave my tickets to Anthony Tiny Biuso - our West Coast Editor.
     Around 2004 I visited Ryan in LA for the first time and saw a bit of what his life was like as he was pursuing his dream of being a professional drummer.   He told me about a guy he met recently, Etan G - the Jewish rapper, a huge RUSH fan who just happened to be on a game show that day.    We watched the show and I haven't thought much of it since.   Then Anthony started video blogging about going to the R40 show with his friend Etan G - the Jewish Rapper.    I couldn't go to the final R40 show and would have been bummed but instead was elated when I knew a friend of mine and a friend of Ryan would represent for us.  Ryan and I both saw the show independently and I was happy he could catch it in KC.
     However, to have that circle close in LA at the final RUSH show with some mutual friends was so bizarre and cool - I couldn't have wished for a better outcome.   First to reward Anthony for his stellar work for DRUMline this year and then to have Etan G go with such enthusiasm, well real joy comes when you benefit other people and I was truly happy at this outcome!


RUSH will be releasing an R40 concert DVD from the Toronto shows, this will hold you for a few months.
Jeffery Kelly (Kellly SHU) helped Lorne Wheaton set up the R40 kits in Lincoln NE...
RUSH's R40 TOUR - May 8 to August 1, 2015
When RUSH finished the last show of the Clockwork Angels Tour in Kansas City 2013, Geddy Lee said 'Goodbye............For Now'. I thought 'That's it they're retired', but the words following the long pause made me think there may be another tour.  As the months passed I was glad I saw the Clockwork Angels finale, especially because my first RUSH show in 1981 for the Moving Pictures tour was also in Kansas City.  Then Ticketmaster started posting RUSH tour dates late last year and the rumor mill started grinding but nothing was confirmed...........until Lorne Wheaton (Neil Peart's drum tech for many tours) told me on January 22, 2015 at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA that Neil, Geddy and Alex would be playing one more time and would definitely retire.   I tweeted - 'Rush R40 Tour Announced Today' and I damn near dropped my phone with excitement.  I knew the band was too classy to just quit and they're giving us all a chance to say goodbye.  Join me here as we celebrate their legacy and final tour of their stellar 40 plus year career over the coming months from the tour announcement to their final show ever at the LA Forum - August 1, 2015 - Hell yes I have tickets to that show!  My favorite compliment I sparingly hand out is 'I wouldn't be standing here if you weren't standing there', never truer than in the inspiration I have drawn from RUSH, the greatest live act in the history of music.    You're not gonna see it again - a spectacle of this magnitude.   Don't let it pass you by - THIS IS IT.   Whether you're enjoying the R40 tour or RUSH on the radio, CDs, iTunes, DVDs or wherever give them something they cherish and that Neil so eloquently stated in his book 'Far and Away' - Give them something they have earned over 40 years, 21 major tours, 40 plus million CDs sold, countless sacrifices of touring and studio time away from family and friends - give them something they truly value and deserve - a little 'LOVE and RESPECT'. - Mike St. John



Click Banner to visit RUSH.COM
R40 Kit - Learn some details about the wood and design of Neil Peart's Touring Kit in the videos below narrated by Neil and John Good of DW.   You can also buy a kit made from the same Romanian Oak used in the R40 kit, an incredible opportunity if you can afford it.   
SPOILER ALERT!!!! - Something Magical happens to Neil's Kit during the R40 Tour
The city of St. Louis in their infinite wisdom denied my Mayoral Proclamation request to make May 14, 2015 RUSH Day citing it did not fulfill their criteria of a business operating in the city, however, I'm sure they'll have no problem depositing the tax revenues from the show.   They certainly enjoyed all the earnings, propety and business tax I've paid for 30 years.  You can see why these geniuses are having trouble keeping our football team.  Since my mind is not for rent to any God or Government I can make my own proclamation so here is what I proclaim.


I Proclaim May 14, 2015 as RUSH DAY in the city of St. Louis, MO

WHEREAS, RUSH (Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart) are celebrating their 40th Anniversary by performing their R40 TOUR in St. Louis; and

 

WHEREAS, RUSH has been a longtime St. Louis favorite performing here since the KSHE Kite Fly in 1975; and

 

WHEREAS, RUSH has openly declared St. Louis as a special city to perform in and enjoy their hobbies of baseball, golf and motorcycling; and

 

WHEREAS, RUSH has consistently raised their standards of musicianship, performance and theatrical productions of their work ; and

 

WHEREAS, RUSH has performed thousands of shows, sold millions of records and become a staple of rock radio throughout the world including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame becoming one of the greatest live acts in history 


So let it be written, so let it be done - Mike St. John, Editor - DRUMline (drum-line.net)

RUSH - Time Machine and Clockwork Angels Tours

RUSH in St. Louis September 22, 2012 (one day after 9/21/12)


RUSH closed a lengthy chapter on their career with the live performance of Clockwork Angels (CA).  A chapter which came full circle with a final encore of 2112.

     My first RUSH concert was on the original Moving Pictures tour some time ago.   I recently revisited those memories on The Time Machine Tour.  In order to understand the significance of CA, I invite you back to a time when 2112 first came alive for me.  Myself and some college friends had tickets for a Saturday performance of RUSH in 1981 but we thought why not catch the Friday show as well.   So we arrived in the nick of time, having not planned very far ahead for Friday.
     I was in the hallway and heard the spatial intro whirring sounds to 2112.   I was transported thru the black curtain to a railing directly opposite the band on the upper level some 60 yards away at Kemper Arena.   My first ever concert was Bad Co. at that venue a couple years before which made me want to play the drums.   This was something quite different, however, thunderous yet controlled at the same time - it was magical to me...having never seen something so grand before.  I was hooked immediately and have been a RUSH fan ever since.   Neil Peart spinning his stick and never losing a beat on the intro,  Geddy Lee singing, playing bass, keyboards, pedals, Yahtzee and whatever else he could grab and Alex Lifeson soaring opposite him.
     I know DRUMline would not exist now if I hadn't seen that but somehow everything seemed possible.   I was 18 or so and in those formative years some things really grab you.   Had I met RUSH then, I probably would have fainted.   Should I meet them today I probably would discuss golf, baseball or trips to National Parks.   The cool thing for me is that through all the changes in my life, RUSH has been the soundtrack.  Usually their songs 'elevate my mood' as is suggested in 'The Spirit of the Radio'.
Until I saw the band live, however, I didn't quite get how amazing they actually were.  It didn't seem possible but I was witnessing it so my expectations were raised.
     Since their longer songs nearly ended their career, the Moving Pictures format became the new modus operandi and the material changed from 20 minute epics to 6 minute masterpieces (and they had several).   Ironically with the death of conceptual albums (and albums in general) they released CA, a collection of 6 minute masterpieces that tell a singularly epic tale some 30 plus years after they abandoned that path for shorter themes.  They pulled it off, however, in grand style...a complete thematic idea.   With the addition of the string section at the live performance, it felt a little like a cross between Broadway and a rock concert because the performance was telling a story.   Seeing Moving pictures live in 1981 was amazing.   Seeing CA live was transcendent.   Will we be treated to this again?  It took a generation for the band to complete the work they started with 2112.   I feel like I saw the initial sketch in 1981 and now the painting is complete.
     Initially, when I saw the CA Tour set list I was reluctant since I enjoyed so much of the classic RUSH on R30, Snakes and Arrows and The Time Machine Tours.   Yet...this was probably the best RUSH concert I have ever seen.   It forces you into the future while keeping a foot in the past consistent with the Steampunk theme.   For sheer spectacle RUSH have no match.   When you factor in the incredible music and musicianship and the amazing impact of the string section, La Villa Stringiato as I like to call them - WOW!


RUSH in Kansas City - August 14, 2013

  If I saw the last RUSH concert 8/14/2013, technically the final show on the Clock work Angels Tour, I can’t imagine any show being superior in any possible future or actual past.   The Steampunk Theme of the CD and tour explores the future as seen from the past.

     I got to relive some of the joy and wonderment of seeing RUSH for the first time by taking my niece, Anne Marie. She’s 19…the same age I was when I first saw the band on The Moving Pictures Tour in 1981. I also had so many emotions running through me bringing tears and laughter.  

     I never expected to laugh at a RUSH concert, they used to play a ‘Three Stooges’ audio segment and I just didn’t get it. I figured there’s three guys in the band, close enough.   Over time I discovered how funny the band members are, singularly and collectively…evidenced by Alex Lifeson’s ‘BLAH’ Speech at their Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   At the most serious of moments the guys knew the value of not taking themselves too seriously. When Paul Rudd showed up conducting the Clockwork Angels String Section (aka La Villa Stringiata as I like to call them) – what could have been more entertaining r funny than Rudd miming ‘Slappin Da Bass Man’?

     Tears? – didn’t expect that either. I guess they came during ‘Limelight’ partially because it was so good, partially because I understood a little of the alienation inherent in the lyrics, partially because I feared I may never see it played live again.

When Geddy said, ‘This is the final show…on The Clockwork Angels Tour’ that little pause gave me pause that this might be the end of their career.   Yet , tonight’s band blew away RUSH of September 22, 2012 (why couldn’t they have showed up a day earlier for 9/21/12). A year on the road made them fierce. I hope this last concert was a ‘magic show’ for them – it sure was for me.

     The only thing that bothered me a little was the $4 dollars for bottled water because the concession worker kept the bottle and poured the water into a plastic cup – Really?...I’m not going to chuck my bottle 70 yards and hit the band especially when the water is priced like gold. They advertised bottled water…but sold me very open and free 2112 individualistic uninhibited water, free flowing and soaking up the chalky residue floating about the venue…used to make the lights look a bit more three dimensional. Well at least I could ingest a little of something that was actually on that stage. In actuality, how many times had I done that…gone to the band and their music to quench my thirst, to celebrate life, to spark my creativity, to be inspired.

       I nearly let the lack of a plastic bottle cloud the view of what I actually was about to experience, so I looked at the cup and I thought… ‘I still have the water, my health, my niece’s rare but treasured company, a RUSH concert.’ That water remained cold and somehow lasted the three hour show. It was a bit miraculous that the water never ran out and I had to chug the last bit during the encore.

     Last year, I saw the Clockwork Angels Tour under different circumstances. Having been diagnosed with skin cancer and very aware of the fishing line in my back which closed the excision of a large area…I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic or in the mood for a concert. Yet I went because I did want to see the show. Any time you hear the word ‘cancer’, although mine was not particularly threatening, you do confront your own mortality. I did think that if I were to die, “At least I got to see RUSH” and that was comforting, not necessarily for the actuality of the experience but because it summoned a bit of gratitude in my depressed emotions at the time. I thought of the things I did have and what I had to be thankful for…The character travelling throughout Clockwork Angels has some varied experiences, some wonderment, some dangerous, some joyful, things ‘seen never seen before’ with positive resolution at the end.

     Over some 33 years I’ve had RUSH as a soundtrack to my life. Who would I be had our paths never crossed, I don’t think I would recognize that person. I probably wouldn’t be playing drums, so certainly there would be no DRUMline and many of the friends I have today would be strangers to me. I suppose if I wanted to I could interview RUSH, yet I don’t want to cross the front of that stage because what matters to me is the music and the live performance (although I do enjoy watching interviews of the band and reading Neil’s books).  

     Many people are bigger RUSH fans than me and have seen hundreds of shows in many countries. I’ve seen some 20 shows in the states over 30 plus years. There is, however, a bond there…something to return to and be celebrated occasionally.

       What sets RUSH apart is not necessarily their musical prowess but the ability to connect with their fan base and forge a relationship based on unpretentious striving towards excellence.   RUSH are to be respected simply for the effort put forth – 40 plus years with unwavering creativity, despite detours into less commercially successful waters. If success is living your life the way you want to then I wish that for everyone.   I have certainly been afforded that opportunity and I am truly grateful.   I know a lot of that inspiration came from RUSH for me.   I learned that ‘you don’t get something for nothing’ and ‘I will choose freewill’ ….Last year, when I felt like ‘a noble warrior who lost the will to fight’ I saw RUSH perform ‘The Garden’ from Clockwork Angels. It was my first glimpse forward to a place where life lay ahead for me and could be better than my past.

       …So I drank my water at this final Clockwork Angels show, infused with the empowerment of RUSH music and realized…should the band never play again…the inspiration would never run out. A year ago my outlook was bleak and I thank RUSH for helping me look forward.   A few days ago I left the plastic cup at the show because it was empty but my glass remains half full –Cheers!



We are merely players, performers & protrayers, each another's audience outside the guiled cage' N. Peart
My first documented performance around the time RUSH started with Terri, Caroline, Susan and Mike St. John.  We would like to congratulate RUSH (Geddy, Alex, Neil), their crew, collaborators and management on their epic career and say thanks for the show!
The Kids Are Alright
Me and Cole Smith
   Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson had a running gag years ago.  Whenever they saw a young kid drumming well, potentially representing competition, they would say -"You take the left arm, I'll get the right", implying they would break some bones and remain atop of the profession.   In actuality they were great teachers and encouraged the kids...but it's a funny joke.
   There are simply too many kids and too many cameras to do any bone breaking today, so I've embraced the kids...an easy task because there are so many good ones.   They not only play the drums well with style, they write songs, shoot videos and perform with major acts in concert.  Amazingly, they are quite generous at a young age and many have given their time and resources to charity.  They inspire with their enthusiasm and talent.  When you see their faces fascinated by all things drum...you can't help but be a little grateful when they remind you how fun it is to play....The Kids Are Alright!


Little Rock Star (Xavier Fudge) with MUSHROOMHEAD
Little Rock Star auctions off a signed MUSHROOMHEAD T- Shirt for Charity at Xmas
A Generous and Happy Little Rock Star
Today was the day!!! The donation money from the TShirt auction came through PayPal 4 days earlier than I expected, so we hustled to call the hospital to find out what the kids needed the most so the money was spent the best way possible. A lot of people tend to think "children's hospitals" are filled with nothing but little kids, but there's a bunch of tween and teens that get overlooked, so we decided to fulfill their dreams this year. We bought twelve $10 iTunes gift cards and ten $10 ear bud sets. I'm so happy the kids stuck in the hospital for Christmas got the gifts before tomorrow and it gave me pudding face to know they will get what they wished for. A BIIIIIIIIG thanks goes out to our friend Joey Diaz who came up with the idea of the custom signed shirt, who contacted the artist for the design and who made this auction for charity become a reality. Way to go Joey, you're bad ass in our book brutha!!! A second big thanks goes to MUSHROOMHEAD OFFICIAL for signing the shirt and to Waylon and his wife Jen who went out of their way to make sure the shirt was 100% signed right at the end of the tour AND MAILED OUT to the winner before Christmas. You guys are AWESOME! And finally, thank you to everyone who supported the auction by sharing the picture to get exposure, to the bidders and the WINNER JEFF BRICKNER!!! This truly has been a pay-it-forward type of blessing and we can't wait to do more charity work, locally and nationally!!! Thanks again everyone and we hope you have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!
 (reprinted from facebook.com/littlerockstarstl)
Jake Douglas with Contagious
Cole Smith with LOCKDOWN

I met Cole Smith at the NAMM sow in 2012.  After the DRUM CIRCLE ended and the 500 or so participants dispersed one kid remained.  Apparently, the festivities ended too soon for him.  I thought, 'I gotta interview this kid,' and we've been friends ever since.   Cole was also awarded two PDP snare as part of DRUMline's launch in 2012 and he donated one to the Rock School Scholarship Fund so other kids could play drums as well.   Cole plays in California with his original band 'LOCKDOWN'.


KEEP ROCKIN'
New Sign at Entrance to Grand Plaza
NAMM 2013 

     NAMM was amazing.   Great Products, Companies, Artists and Performances.   The Convention Center featured its new Grand Plaza, a beautiful tribute to Anaheim and Southern California with Palm Trees, Water Features and a River of Lights tracing Orange County's Origins in the San Gabriel Mountains thru Anaheim to the Pacific Ocean in the West. Props to the City of Anaheim for adding this wonderful space.   It helped the convention flow and move outdoors.
     NAMM also made badge pickup so much faster.  It took me longer to extricate my driver's license than it took to get my badge. Also, once inside the doors...you were in, which saved time getting around to exhibits...making a big difference with so much to see.
     This was my most intensive and exciting NAMM visit ever and I haven't slept much editing all the footage.   More will be going up over the next month so please check back often...Enjoy!
DW
LOS CABOS DRUMSTICKS
DRUMlne visits with Los Cobos Drumsticks at NAMM 2013 including:   a booth tour from founder Larry Guay, a visit with Elie Bertrand and Randy Black as he introduces his stick.

Elie Bertrand in Action
Randy Black Signature Stick Above, Signature Style Below
Kelly Shu Bass Drum Microphone Mounts
CRESCENT CYMBALS
crescentcymbals.com
GIBRALTAR
SABIAN
PERFORMANCE
dUg Pinnick, Ray Luzier - Sabian Party
St. John, Devin, Mover - BONZO JAMM
You can't go to the Car Show and see Jimmy Johnson turning left at 200 mph but you can go to NAMM and see Marco Mendoza playing the BASS.  Performance is what makes the NAMM show so exciting.  Besides the people you might expect, there are surprises around every corner.   Walking around and being blown away by killer artists is so much fun!
NAMM is not really set up for DRUM Performance...the cool drumming was at BONZO NAMM JAMM outside the venue, the Sabian Party and other remote sites.   We did, however, get a cool video of Will Calhoun at the Mapex booth.  Around every corner there are seasoned veterans and rising stars performing... making NAMM so exciting.   I was lucky to catch Kelly McGrath at the VocoPro booth so I shared her cover of REO.   She was tired, her speaking voice was fading and she must have known she was getting sick...yet you can't tell it in the performance.   When you realize the pros are out touring most of the year...their concentration and talent displayed under a tough schedule while fighting all the background noise...unbeliveable!
TECHNOLOGY
This NAMM I was in search of cool technology that may help drummers expand beyond traditional acoustic drums.   As much as I love 'em,  it's always good to leave that comfort zone and discover something new.   When I saw Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater playing the GEO Synthesizer - I knew that I struck GOLD!!!
Pigtronix



Dave Koltai of Pigtronix educates us that cool effects pedals are not just for guitar players and explains their cool uses live and in the studio.   Drummers would be most interested in the Keymaster and Infinity Looper.  Discover more at pigtronix.com (click their logo to the left)
Click to visit store!
NAMM 2013 had a Retro Theme 
Nobody did it better than Blue Microphones...I don't know who the evil genius is that designs their mics but they're amazing.   I, however, felt like Wayne Campbell in years past when Garth says 'Give it up man, you'll never afford it!'   2013 offered an option to enter the world of Blue with 'Nessie'...a USB mic with a wide array of applications for only $99.  If my addiction for Blue approaches my addiction for drums, I'm in real trouble!

ARTISTS 

Canadian Mafia - Nothing to fear, no one's getting hurt unless you make an errant hockey reference to the wrong person.  Thanks to our newly appointed Canadian Editor Evil Ed Nijjer, I spent many hours learning about the special bond between several Canadian drummers and equally as many hours laughing and having a blast.  See if you can tell which of the Artist Interviews are with Canadians before anyone mentions Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Canucks, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr or Sidney Crosby - oh yeah these guys and one gal play drums too!

Left:  Interviewing Andrew Shoniker, Evil Ed Nijjer and Randy Black in the DW Room - NAMM 2013
Not only did Zigaboo Modeliste give me a great interview, he taught me a valuable lesson at the end...Check out his DVD 'ZIGABOO' for more GEMS!
Ironically SOPA is Greek for 'Quiet'


Lots of Great Artists at NAMM but sadly, we couldn't find Kenny Aronoff!
dUg Pinnick - above at entrance to show, below with King's X
Jimmy D'Anda visits with us at NAMM and shares his BONZO experience...
Then announces his new band - 'Carnival of Dogs'

Gene Hoglan gives props to John Bonham and recalls his experience playing BONZO NAMM Bash 
Awesome Guitar Solo from Richard Fortus of Guns 'N Roses
BONZO NAMM JAMM 2013
Joe Travers of ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA shares his experience of playing in 'BONZO:  The Groove Remains the Same' and how John Bonham influenced his playing career. 
BONZO CAST bow after initial Key Club Show
BONZO
The Groove Remains the Same


     Brian Tichy is leading the charge to honor BONZO, John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s thunderous, evocative, sensitive, bombastic, spiritual… Ok, theres is no way to describe John Bonham’s drumming. You have to experience it to understand.

     Since Bonham’s passing in 1980, that experience has been relegated to recordings… that is until Tichy and Joe Sutton produced “The Groove Remains the Same”, a popular LA based John Bonham tribute. It features the top world class drummers of our generation who groove, funk, rock, syncopate and solo their way through the Zeppelin catalog.

     We get the groove of Kenny Aronoff, the funk of Chad Smith and the Heavy Metal bombast of Franki Banali as they not only cover the tunes but channel the spirit of Bonham, stamping the music with their individual styles while paying tribute. Tichy started the tribute to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Bonham’s death and celebrate his contributions to drumming. Bonham’s rhythmic progeny bring him back. joining hands in a musical séance around the Ouji board. Grooves are laid with the solid precision Bonham used as a brick layer in his pre Zeppelin days, stories are told between songs by the drummers who knew Bonham like Carmine Appice and Chris Slade.

     This set has an intermission and needs one because the show lasts for several glorious hours featuring some 20 drummers. At the end of the night we have an idea what it was like to see Bonham play live and learn how his legacy continues via his rhythmic sons and literal son in the case of Jason Bonham.

     After 30 years the groove Bonham established has passed into most capable hands and the influence Bonham has on drumming today is clear. Styles and times may change but The Groove Remains the Same!


MS:  Brian, what inspired you to produce this Bonham tribute.

 

BT: What inspired me was the simple fact that I always have Bonzo on the brain.

Everyday I think about his snare sound…. Since 7th grade…I was listening to Bonzo’s Montreux off of Coda last May and the memories of getting that record when it came out came back. I couldn’t believe how long it had been since he passed and how I still listen to him as my favorite drummer and main source of inspiration. I realized it was the 30th anniversary of his passing that year, (2010). I always come up with ideas I think would be fun, and the idea to get a rehearsal room and call all the drummers I know, pick their fave Zep tune, have some friends learn the music and have a party in honor of Bonzo just seemed too cool! Maybe get a keg and film it as it could be a great night. I then thought of booking a club on the exact night, which ended up being a Saturday. It seemed like too much work, so it all sat there as a nice idea for a while…

Jimmy D'Anda of Bulletboys (photo by Mike St. John)
MS:  What is the role of Joe Sutton in the production.

 

BT: I have known Joe for years. He is a Zep Head too. He has his own nights he puts together at various venues in Hollywood and oftentimes I am part of the house band and we all play some covers and have some fun. At the same time I was toying with the idea of putting a BONZO jam together, I was talking to Joe about the next gig I was playing of his.   I then told him my idea of a John Bonham tribute night. He thought it was great and… happened to have that exact night on hold at Key Club in Hollywood! We pitched them the idea and got the night.. I then proceeded to start the process of putting drummers and musicians together. Joe was the behind the scenes co-organizer. He knows everyone at Key Club which made it a lot easier to see the complete vision and have fun. I had played there many, many times as well over the past 15 years, and love playing there, but he had personal affiliations...It put everyone on a nice similar playing field to get a great night going!

   

BONZO Promoters Brian Tichy and Joe Sutton (photo by Rosie Acosta)

     Joe had the awesome job of “guest list balancing.” That went on for more than a week prior to the show and the last 5 days got more and more crazy. It literally engulfed his days. There was no way I could have sat there handling that and learning Achilles last Stand and The Song Remains The Same on guitar! (laughs)


Stephen Perkins and The Moby Dicks (photo by Torry Pendergrass)

MS:  What logistical challenges did you guys overcome to pull this off.


BT: The main challenge was the balance of “over-asking” too many drummers. We toyed with the idea of having as many as can play, or topping it off at 10. Every time I’d call a drummer, and wait to hear back, there was another drummer or two that confirmed or had to pass because of prior commitments, mainly touring. I had my main list of guys I was friends with as well as guys that influenced me as well as guys I didn’t know but I thought were great drummers and/or obviously influenced by John Bonham.

   It was a total juggling act. There were about 10 drummers that wanted to play but were on tour. There were guys that said yes right from the get go. And there were others that took some time to chat with. So it was a constant “ball in a lottery machine”. The names were all there you just didn’t know at what point someone would confirm.

     Also, I had every drummer pick their 3 favorite Zep tunes so as not have too much overlappage, (yes, my word…). That never became a prob as there are so many killer Zep tunes.

     

Jason Bonham and the Moby Dicks (photo by Torry Pendergrass)

     The band fell into place relatively quickly as we all are buds or had worked together before. They had plenty of time to get the songs together. And it didn’t hurt that bassist Michael Devin and keyboardist Stephen LeBlanc recently joined Jason Bonham’s band. Also, singer Keith St. John sings in Led Zepplica from time to time.

     Lastly, on the day of the show, 2 of the drummers flew in. James Kottak arrived from South America with Scorpions halfway through the show and ran through Nobody’s Fault But Mine in the dressing room. He didn’t sit on the kit until he played live! Jason Bonham arrived around the same time flying in from Florida. They both had to get on a foreign kit with a band they never played with and go for it. They both kicked ass!

Chris Slade of AC/DC

A lot of great stories were told including Chris Slade's recollection about Keith Moon's naming Led Zeppelin by saying their act went over like a 'lead balloon', basically saying they were a flop.

MS:  The drummers performing are all smiles and appear grateful simply to be involved giving some indication of the importance Bonham has as an influence and inspiration. This must make your recruiting efforts for drummers and other musicians easier.

 

BT: Without the awesome vibe created by all the drummers collectively, not forgetting about the band either, this night would not have been as cool. All egos were left at home, and I think the power of sitting on a John Bonham kit on the 30th anniversary of his passing, with his family watching, made for a night that changed all of us. It put back into perspective WHY we all do what we do and WHERE we come from. The reality of the music biz, being an adult and all the responsibilities of that definitely get in the way of the purity of being a kid, putting on a record and getting your socks knocked off.

A blissful Kenny Aronoff during 'Black Dog' photo by Terry Divyak

MS: There are several excellent musicians reprising the roles of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones as well.   Can you tell us a bit about them.

 

BT: Yes. My great bud Michael “Denim” Devin is the bassist. He has played with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lynch Mob, Mandy Lion and Jason Bonham’s Zep Experience. He now is also in Whitesnake with me. He lives for music and is a Zep Head through and through. He hits his stride best playing this kind of stuff.

Brian Tichy and Brent Woods (photo by Torry Pendergrass)

     My other great friend, Brent Woods, is the guitarist. We’ve played together in cover gigs around town for 5 years. He’s a super-well rounded player with a great natural feel and groove. He studied with Randy Rhoads in high school, which I think is killer, and has played with lots of bands including Vince Neil and is a kick ass producer in his own right.

     I met keyboardist Stephen LeBlanc through Michael Devin as those two were jamming in some other cover bands together. He came in and just nailed it all. He’s the real deal and a great guy! He is also in Jason Bonham’s band. Nothing but a total pleasure to hang and work with him.

Keith St. John, Michael Devin, Frankie Banali (photo by Torry Pendergrass)

     I met singer Keith St. John last year as he jammed a few songs with the cover gig we were doing, the Dropout Stoner Clan… lots of metal! He kicked ass and when we needed to find the right guy for The Moby Dicks (our band name) and his name came up, it seemed like a great call. It ends up he was already doing some gigs with Zep cover band Led Zepplica. He has also worked with Neal Schon, Lynch Mob, and currently sings for Montrose. I was super impressed with his stamina and ability to sing Robert Plant all night, especially the true recorded versions of the songs!

   Last but not least, I have to give it up to legendary KLOS DJ Uncle Joe Benson. When they heard about the night, they got involved and supported it.  Joe came down and offered his time to be a part of the show by introducing every drummer. He has an instantly recognizable voice and his presence further validated the night.

Simon Wright, Torry Pendergrass, Kenny Aronoff, Abe Laboriel, Jason Bonham, Chris Slade (photo by Rosie Acosta)

 Brian Tichy:  A night like this has many meanings, and you can ask every drummer and musician on stage that night, and I guarantee you , they’ll agree!   It is worthy of a DVD, and also a book, which are things we are talking about now… and these are all reasons why we chose to do 2 more back to back shows 3 months later.

     John Bonham has deserved this kind of tribute since 1980, and anytime is a good time to give him a night filled with amazing drummers and musicians having a great time honoring the huge amount of inspiration he left us all!! We did it on the 30th, but lots of people wanted to see it that didn’t and nearly every drummer came back for the next two shows. I think that says it all right there….

CAST

BONZO: The Groove Remains the Same

Produced by Brian Tichy and Joe Sutton

 

Drummers                                                                                         The Moby Dicks

Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Ozzy)                                        Brent Woods - Guitar

Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction)                                                   Brian Tichy – Guitar

Chris Slade (AC/DC, The Firm)                                             Michael Devin – Bass (Whitesnake)

Fred Coury (Cinderella)                                                       Stephen LeBlanc – Keys (Zep Exp)

Jimmy D’Anda (Bulletboys)                                                  Keith St. John – Vocals (Montrose)

Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa, Duran Duran)                           Sass Jordan – Guest Vocals

Bobby Blotzer (RATT)                                                                   Chas West - Guest Vocals

James Kottack (Scorpions)                                                                          Crew

Abe Laboriel (Paul McCartney, Sting, Clapton)                             Ryan Seelbach - Guitar Tech

Khurt Maier (Salty Dog)                                                        Craig Bradford - Stage Coordinator

John Tempesta (The Cult, White Zombie)                                Ed Steele - Production Assistant

Jason Sutter (Foreigner, Chris Cornell)                                   Torry Pendergrass - Photographer

Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO)                                            Todd Burr - Lead Drum Tech

Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty, Melissa Etheridge)                        Wayne Wilburn – Drum Tech

Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot)                                                          Michael Miller – Drum Tech

Simon Wright (AC/DC, DIO)                                                          Jeff Chonis - Drum Tech

Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crue)                                        Robbie Cope – Drum Tech

Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Philm)

Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot)                  Announcer - 'Uncle' Joe Benson, KLOS

Seven Antonopoulos (Opoiate For The Masses)

Steven Adler (Guns ‘n Roses)

Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Zep Experience)            Special Guests - Zoe Bonham and Street Drum Corps

Xavier Muriel (Buckcherry)                                                                  Deborah Bonham

Jojo Mayer (Nerve)         

Charlie Benante (Anthrax)

Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart)

Danny Carey (Tool)


Street Drum Corps with Zoe Bonham (photo by Torry Pendergrass)
Deborah Bonham (photo by Torry Pendergrass)
Brian Tichy signals the Crew


CREW


MS: You have drum techs who quickly adjust the drums between players with military precision, keeping the show moving along.   What makes them and the rest of your crew so good.

 

BT: The crew was so crucial to the pacing of the show. They kicked serious ass in the Drum Pit Stop! It was a show unto itself as they busted out their measuring tape and notebooks with all the heights, angles and diagrams for every drummer.

But first, I have got to thank Ryan Seelbach for teching guitars for us. I too played guitar on a bunch of songs throughout the show. I love guitar and had the most fun in my little guitar world at the side of the stage. It’s so nice to have a guy right there that has got his world together and takes cares of biz.

We also used Ratt Tour Manager Craig Bradford as Stage Coordinator. He made sure drummers were led to the stage and were ready to go. With 20 drummers, you need a guy whose sole job is to make sure the drummers are aware of where the show is at and when they are playing…

     Also… I gotta tip the hat to Joe Sutton's right hand man, Ed Steele. Ed bounces around all of us and helps with all things from drummer organization at rehearsals, video footage, to the artwork on the T-shirts, flyers and posters. He also put together the artwork that announced the “Bonzo Burger, Four Sticks and Heineken For $10.00” that we offered at Key Club! Ed kicked buttocks and became a familiar face to all the drummers throughout the whole event.

     I also have to give up to Torry Pendergrass, the creator of Red Monkey Leather Designs. He was our in house photographer. He was at rehearsals and all the shows and has some insane photos! He is a great guy, a hard worker and became another great person to have around and be a part of the show! For real, all these guys are guys you want on your side!

       Now, the drum techs. The main guy is Todd Burr. He just OWNED IT!  I let him create his own world within the show. I told him to take control and let everyone know his word behind the kit is the word. He was absolutely amazing.  My initial idea was to have one “front kit” tech, and one “back kit” tech, to make all necessary adjustments in between drummers, with Todd being the “Big Cheese in Control”. So my bud, Wayne Wilburn, Paiste’s Artist Relations guy, and Terry Bozzio’s old tech, offered his assistance. I had recently signed up with Paiste, so it was an added bonus to have Wayne involved. He followed Todd’s lead and the two became a team.

Then we also got Myron Grombacher’s tech, Michael Miller, to come in and lend an extra hand which, uh, came in... handy!....haha……

     And last but not least, Kenny Aronoff’s tech, Jeff Chonis, offered to help out all night as he just wanted to be a part of the whole show. I am not sure, but maybe this was the first time in history there has been 4 techs working together on one kit ???   If so, let’s call Guiness! They were all great.

     For the “Double Encore” shows, Todd came back in full force and got worked even harder with the shows being back to back and more drummers participating. We also used Mike Miller again. Todd’s bud Robbie Cope also wanted to get involved so those three took it over for two in a row. They rose up and threw down !! I am still so impressed with how in control Todd kept it, considering that there is a constant “party” going on behind the kit that totally gets in his world…. But … it is all part of the spirit of the night..   I wish we had a “ behind the curtain” video camera recording that footage. It was its own hang that no one in the audience was aware of. 8-12 drummers cheering along with some other various friends as one of “us” plays our chosen song…

   It was unlike anything I’ve been a part of….

   On this note, I gotta say … part of this is due to the fact that I love controlled chaos.

I love everyone to be able to do what they want and have as much fun as they want yet keep the show looking all professional from the front. We had a great time onstage, chit chatting in between tunes, high fiving and cheering every drummer that got onstage, goofing off a bit, telling stories, etc…   Stuff like that can get sloppy and there were probably some moments that stretched too long. But for the most part.. it is a rock show, not The Oscars… let loose and if someone falls, pick them up!!!! Haha… !!!

   Everyone involved is a pro, so we took advantage of the givens, and wanted to have our cake and eat it too!

Danny Carey (photo by Torry Pendergrass)

MS:  The show has been performed three times in five months. You mentioned possibly making this an annual tribute.  What are your future plans for the tribute?

 

BT: There are no definite plans. We have talked about everything from taking it on the road with not as many drummers; to putting it in Vegas so the list of drummers can be ever-changing and so on. It all would take a lot of work and involve a lot of people.  Those options are possibilities but they are also done with budgets that require more commitment from this group of people than just a one off.  Right now, I am psyched that we did the 2 in a row in January. I will not be in town next September to do the annual follow up.  Whitesnake will be on the road most of the year. That was the primary reason we went for these January shows. I have a couple months before Whitesnake starts touring but it would be a bit tight to try to do more shows right now.   So, we’ll have to see about next year.

Brian Tichy on the Bonham Vistalite Kit (photo by Terry Divyak)


MS: What has performing in The Groove Remains the Same meant to you.

 

BT: It meant more to me than most things on this planet outside of my kids.  It’s where I come from. It’s why I do what I do. It paved the road I travel on daily.  It will never be anything except positivity to me. To be a part of such honesty and purity makes you look at other things with a bigger sense of clarity. Yes, it was all that stuff to most of us. I got to start the night off with a barn burner, “Immigrant Song” and let it all go from there. I got to play guitar on a bunch of the tunes as well. I got to hang with a bunch of great drummers, some of whom I grew up on and that affected the way I play drums and think about music. How is that not heavy duty? All the while we are all on the same map as drummers that love how John Bonham plays.



MS: What of Bonham’s talents are apparent in your playing during or outside of this show.

 

BT: Everything…. I am Bonzo rip off / hat tipper and that’s fine with me (laughs) Of course we all do what we do in our own little way.. and I love tons of drummers, but I get the most fun out of drumming from the style of John Bonham.  Being that this is what I do with my life, I don’t want to whittle it down to calling my drumming merely an imitation. I love playing drums period. I’ve put tons of time, more than anything in my life, into playing drums well, not just playing Zep tunes! (laughs)  I love many styles but I wouldn’t be able to play with as many people as I have if I was only drawing from a Bonham bag of tricks.

 

 MS: Do you feel you channeled Bonham’s or Zeppelin’s spirit during your performance in the tribute.

 

BT: I don’t know, I just hope I grooved the song hard and that people felt the honesty, energy and power I was shooting for…

 

MS: What do you make of the camaraderie of the performers in the show.

 

BT: It is unlike anything else I’ve ever been a part of, for real. You don’t just get involved in things like that too often. The concept is strong. The people involved made it stronger. It took all of us to make it what it was.

Bassist Michael Devin looks like he's having a euphoric experience at the BONZO tribute because he is!
Moby Dick Bassist Michael Devin's Perspective on the Bonzo Tribute

MS:  Michael, you got to play with all those great drummers at the BONZO tribute.  How difficult was it to adapt to all of their different styles?  I mean, they were all playing Zep tunes but there were so many distinct styles and personalities.

MD:  Everyone who walked through the door to jam was in the best of spirits.  The challenge was in knowing a given drummer's feel well enough to adapt to his approach.  I had a good grasp on the styles of the drummers involved because I'm a fan.  Some had a huge impact on my life as a musician.  It really was a question of, 'Okay, then, let's see what this cat's gonna do with this one.  Danny Carey comes to mind...When he played 'No Quarter', his groove wasn't like the album.  He swung it differently, but it was equally effective and it was an intense performance  Lots of power and conviction.

MS:  Has John Paul Jones, BONZO or Led Zeppelin influenced you in your education and career?

MD:  Absolutely!  They've influenced me big time.  I'm a bona fide Zep Head.  Since the beginning, they've been the impetus. Page is such a great writer.  I always learn something new studying Jonesy's parts and I don't believe there's a better rock drummer than John Bonham.  Sure there are others...but he's the best.  He played with grace and implemented different feels and styles.  That rhythm section is where it's at for me.  Listen to an album or a bootleg.  Check out Tokyo from '70.  The proof is in the pudding.  Jonesy's lines, phrasing...he is a genius.  One of the most inspired rhythm sections in rock...I'll be influenced by that band until I am no more.

MS:  Frankie Banali told me how great a musician you are ad complimented not only your playing but communication skills and incredible attitude.  What does that mean to you as a player.

MD:  That's very thoughtful of Frankie to say.  My attitude only reflects my love for the music.  Best mood enhancer on the market is playing a live concert.  Frankie's words means a hell of a lot to me.  Banali plays with grit.  He's a real force.  We hit it off right away which is a huge plus.  You're not going to find that chemistry with everybody no matter what.  Frankie rocked 'Whole Lotta Love'.  We played it live together three times and each time was different with him.  That's the mark of a ballsy player...he mixed it up.  He also makes a mean linguini and red sauce.  He brought tow trays to rehearsal and we were all very grateful...we were starvin!'

MS:  You seemed to be in a very natural relaxed mood, although the music is quite intense and your energy was flying off that stage.  That was a long show, amazing you could be that loose and grooving for so long.  How do you do it?

MD:  Well man, the Moby Dicks (Tichy, Woods, LeBlanc) is made up of good friends, so that's relaxing.  Love playin' with those guys.  I was rehearsing with Jason Bonham for the Led Zeppelin Experience at the same time and I was confident with the music.  Who can say where the energy comes from?  Zeppelin played long concerts too.  Jamming with such high caliber drummers was enough fuel to keep me going all night, no problem!  Are you kiddin'?...go down the list of names.  Killer drumming all night long!  Joe Benson was in the house making the introductions...good hype man that Uncle Joe.  Everybody was thrilled to be a part of the night.  I was honored to play a part, I feel blessed for sure.
Editor's Note:   The picture below is a Groove Oreo, I'm just the filling and these guys are the real deal, the solid foundation.
Without that solid foundation, the cooke doesn't just crumble...it never exists.   Frankie Banali was one of my favorite performers at the BONZO tribute and one of the nicest guys I have ever met.    Frankie did some incredible hand drumming reminiscent of the Bonham 'Moby Dick' solo often played on the radio.   Then he did an incredible job with his Zep cover.
I didn't look for it...didn't want to find a video of it.   I want the memory of that live performance, that's a little selfish but
that's why you gotta see these guys play live at every opportunity...then you will understand.
     Anyway, Frankie introduced me to Michael Devin.  Well, actually Frankie went on and on about Michael's feel, groove, technique, attitude...forever it seemed and with such enthusiasm.  I really wish I had that direct quote from Frankie, but like his performance I don't remember all the details...I know how it made me feel and that I was honored to meet both Frankie and Michael.
     Their picture playing together introduced the first story in DRUMline history.   That was no random decision on my part.   They definitiely inspired me to write the BONZO story and a few minutes later I met Brian Tichy and had the confidence to tell him I wanted to write about the tribute.   Frankie and Michael will forever remind me that if you want to build anything well you need a solid foundation.
Frankie Banali, me, Michael Devin - NAMM 2011