Rock N’ Roll and stuff

When you listen to live music and you hear an ‘unshared’ change: A break, a stanza, a chord change, a post-break entrance… the drummer is most often right. When it doesn’t ‘hit’, when there are different opinions of how or when to re-emerge into the chorus, or some other mumbling point of re-entry, just listen. Usually the drummer has it right.

Not that I have a vested interest in the outcome of such a query, but it just so happens to be one of those things, one of those truths. It is, in fact, as it should be in any band worth their salt. The drummer, if no one else, should be ‘on’. If the drummer is on, the rest of the band will adjust. They will shift over, from their slightly off-paced place. Into the pocket, the groove, the place to be whenever any moving piece is piling its way into the short-ribs of your soul. Because that is where it will land. Not some esophagus place of muttered utterances, but in The Belly of The Beast: Rib-bound and fertile. Awaiting awakening from the spirit which moves across the various strings: plucked, stroked, slapped and pounded!

The drummer is right.

When the drummer isn’t right, the BAND is wrong!!! So the drummer better be right, all right?

Just a view from the apex of the EMC, you see.


Last weekend, my friend Win wanted to go see Hiromi in Boston. I had wanted to see her ever since I discovered her – thanks to my friend Andro – about a year and a half ago.

When I saw the video he posted, I immediately thought: “Who is this piano player?”

After that, I began perusing the internet in search for videos of her. The moment my wife got home from work I said, “You have to see this piano player.” In typical fashion, she wasn’t readily impressed. But by the time the video finished, she was hooked.

For my birthday, she bought me 5 Hiromi CD’s. They are all excellent. She is my all time favorite keyboardest, and when I went, Taryn was jealous. She knew I was about to experience something magical, something special… an evening with Hiromi.

Win and I had dinner at the adjoining restaurant, and Hiromi sat at the adjacent table, not 4 feet from me. I was respectful. I didn’t let on to knowing how close I was to immortality. That is what she is. No bullcrap. Hiromi is a world class pianist.

Although I love to be wowed, I reserve that status for the deserving. Few have ever achieved it. I remember King Crimson at The Pier in the 80’s had me wowed for hours. I am sure Frank Zappa achieved that status over the myriad of Halloween shows I saw.

Recently, I was wowed by The Tao of Drumming. This was yet another Win-musical-fest. Win told me about it, and I went with my daughter. That was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, and gets my highest recommendation for anyone who has ever believed music has the capacity to move them.


You know when someone tells you you have got to see a movie, because it is the greatest movie you will ever see? You know that feeling of disappointment you feel when it fails to live up to the hype?

Nothing could ever live up to my expectations for Hiromi. She was placed on a pedestal reserved for the best ever. After all, she was a she, and couldn’t, therefore, be worthy of ‘ultimate’ status.

Hiromi failed – – to disappoint.

After seeing the first of her 2 shows, Win and I went to the adjoining bar to imbibe at great cost to our wallets, health and mental well-being. Then we went back in to the second show and caught her last few songs. Win said to me: “You mean we could have been here instead of up at the bar?”

Apparently so.

Hiromi is, in my opinion, the best piano player in the world. I tried to diss her after being wowed, I really did. I thought, ‘well, she is fast, but can she play with feeling and emotion’?

I saw her live. The jury is in, and spent no time on that decision.

It is my hope to treat my wife to an upcoming Hiromi Concert. She deserves it, and I deserve to treat my wife to this event.

I’ll suffer through, if I must.


I’m an ‘outside in’ musician. Before I ever played, I fell in love with music. I soaked it up. I had freed music from it’s external abode so it could come out of me.

I love all sorts of music. One of my favorite past times is sitting at the computer, doing work (or playing around,) and having my musical library on random. Hard to soft, classical to eclectic, jazz to metal. It is all vital. It is all good.

There isn’t a musical genre I dislike. Sure, I have favorites. There are categories which are sparse, or even non-existent. But I have yet to hear a genre which repelled my sensibilities categorically. I understand there is music designed to do just that, but I often love it for that very reason.

I relate to the world in musical terms. There are chords, chord changes, varying rhythms and textures. Some of it is intense and in your face. Other parts are barely discernible, and go by unnoticed. With life you can’t just back it up and hear it again. You snooze you lose. If you don’t appreciate life as it happens, you can’t go back. The music keeps moving.

Some life is dissonant. Minor chords abound. Simplicity is often best, and most beautiful.

But it is really about the truth of music. It can’t be nailed down. You can’t ‘freeze frame’ music. Music is motion. Life is motion.

The best parts of life are appreciated by few people. Popular life is BS. Many people will claim to enjoy things, but few people understand the things they claim to enjoy. Truth, though hidden right in the fabric, can often deceive.

Here’s my secret admission: I enjoy having access to multiple audio sources. In the privacy of my own little office, I will start 6 pieces of music simultaneously. I then limit the scope of music to a single elongated song, in some cases, or set timers in others. The random music from the computer would be the constant, and one final musical piece will prevail as the soul source – – after about a half hour. 6 becomes 5, then 4, 3, 2… those two would mix for a while until the lone musical number will play out in what suddenly seems an immensely structured form, regardless of genre.

Music needs to breathe. I find ‘stuffing up music’s congestive cracks’ to be an enjoyable mental exercise, and one that no two people would hear the same way. As it finally pairs down to a single piece, music is once again allowed to breathe. Like the allergies which give us headaches from our inability to breathe, the lone piece becomes a breath of fresh air.

(So is silence.)


My therapist is right. She told me: “You are a person who places a great deal of importance on being genuine. You become frustrated when your true self isn’t allowed expression.”

This was a genuine evaluation, and it hit the mark sharp and pure. I had never really analyzed this facet of myself. I aspire to be as genuine as possible. In others my highest esteem is given to this un-fakeable characteristic.

Since seeing Tina Dico last January, I have tried to pinpoint what is so compelling about her. I discussed this with my wife, who is also becoming quite a fan. Aside from writing songs which have great lyrics and a tremendous hook – every one of them – I identify with her. She is The Real Deal. Her lyrics are raw and personal. What you see is what you get. The persona and the person are so closely linked it is indistinguishable.

When I met Tina at the Highline in New York City in early 2011, I was taken by her interest in MY interest in HER. At the time I only knew a few songs. My friend Antek was so enamored by her presence, when I took a photo of him with his arm around her shoulder, two clicks later his knees had turned to jello and he slinked away. This left me to try my hand at conversation without much knowledge beyond that evening. Since then I have collected her CD’s the way a squirrel gathers nuts.

This was a great moment as well as a missed opportunity. It isn’t that I couldn’t speak, I just didn’t know what to say. Now, a mere few months removed from that moment, I would have hours of questions and much to converse about.

While not every Tina Dico song moves me, many do. I listen. I hear the melodies. I learn the lyrics. I listen again. I sing along.

When I ‘discover’ a song, it resonates with me like a tuning fork. I also understand that – like a tuning fork – this exact song, melody, lyrics, and HOOK won’t resonate the same with everyone. (But that’s what makes music so cool.) Not everyone likes the same stuff, and you don’t continue to like the same stuff forever. Some music stays, some fades. Your personal tuning fork keeps adjusting with age. Different songs resonate differently at different times. Some wane. Some fall out of favor. Some come roaring back in, then out again.

Genuineness is no doubt why I like Joni Mitchell and Bruce Cockburn so much. They are – heart and soul, mind and spirit – true through and through. Few artists qualify. Tina has done a wonderful job in her art largely because – like great writing of any kind – when you are finished you feel as if you know the person better.

This song has been wearing out the victrola recently. I dedicate this to my beautiful daughter, (who is also becoming a huge Tina Dico Fan!)