I love my job…. who wouldn’t? For over 4 decades I have been privileged to play drums for some of the top artists on the planet. And the apparently appreciate what I do (I mostly know this because they re-book me). I know I’ve been fortunate to have been able to earn a living doing what I love. The additional plus is I get to travel, and see places most people would never see.
So, on a bad week, things are probably pretty good! Take the beginning of this month, for example: On March 2nd, I boarded a cruse ship in St Thomas (USVI), to play two shows with Richard marx. Apart from the fact that he is an incredible songwriter, and still sounds as good as ever, he’s also a very witty & engaging person. So, there I was, cruising the Caribbean with Richard!
The down-side to this was I caught the vicious ‘flu bug that was going round the ship (some people had even been quarantine, in an attempt to reduced the potential for an epidemic). As soon as I made landfall on the Sunday, I had an idea that all was not well. But Monday I was really feeling it. Normally I would then crawl into bed & get over it. But this was not an option: this was the week of the annual Sammys Awards, at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando. So, with a fever of 102, and every bone in my body screaming at me (not to mention my head exploding), on Wednesday I boarded a plane to Orlando, drove to the Hard Rock, set up my (rental) drums and sound checked, then retired to bed (while the rest of the cast attended the pre-show party). At the crack of dawn that next day, I was transported back to the HRL, where I played 1 6 hour rehearsal, followed by a 3+ hour show. A day that started at 8am, and ended after midnight!. Again, the up-side to this was I got to play for the likes of Tavares, Jody Watley, Buck Dharma (Blue Oyster Cult), John Cafferty (Beaver Brown Band), Emerson Hart (Tonic), Ed Roland (Collective Soul), Stephen Jenkins (3rd Eye Blind) and Mark McGrath! The other “UP” side of it all was I apparently managed to somehow rise above the illness, and play well enough to satisfy those involved. And so the show went on. I was able to board a plane back to Nashville & retire to bed. I did feel a little like Typhoid Mary, and desperately hoped I hadn’t spread my germs around too much in my travels.
Fast-forward to this past week: firstly I am now fully recovered from the Dreaded Lurghi! A few weeks back, I received a phone call from John Jorgenson, asking if I’d consider playing drums for a number of Nashville’s finest, in a tribute to songwriter John D Loudermilk. Naturally I jumped at the chance: to say this is outside my comfort-zone is something of an understatement, but an old friend (now sadly passed on) once told me “never turn anything down: you never know where it might take you.” This happens to be the same old friend who originally introduced me to Country Music: A gentle giant of a man, Tony Griffin ran a Country band (Blueberry Buckle) in the UK during much of the 1980’s. I received a phone call from him one night, asking if I’d consider sitting in with his band (his regular drummer had been unavoidably detained). I wasn’t so sure about it, but Tony persuaded me to go (using the above phrase), and this was the beginning of a 5 year friendship & collaboration. Sadly this was cut short by Tony’s untimely death (from a heart attack), or I’m sure we’d still be friends (on a side note, Tony would be tickled pink to see where I ended up, and who I played for this week).
We spent much of Wednesday at the Franklin Theatre, rehearsing the various artists, and continued on Thursday, before the show started. This was a star-studded evening, by any stretch of the imagination: Herb Pederson (Desert Rose Band), John Cowan (New Grass Revival, Doobie Brothers), Buddy Greene, Claudia Church, George Hamilton V, Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie), Becky Hobbs, Doyle Larson & Quicksilver, Deborah Allen, Tommy Emmanuel, Harry Stinson (Marty Stuart et al), Billy Burnette (Fleetwood Mac etc), Jon McFee (Doobie Bros), John Jorgenson (Desert Rose Band, Elton John etc), Bobby Braddock (Marty Robbins etc), Lee Roy Parnell, Ricky Skaggs & the Whites, Rodney Crowell, and Emmylou Harris!
To say the music I played was varied would be something of an understatement. Needless to say my skills were put to the ultimate test. But the euphoria at the end of the evening was entirely worth the effort. The equally star-studded audience was suitably impressed (and extremely appreciative).
Just to top it all off, I flew the next day to Phoenix Arizona, where I joined up with Richard Marx and played a show at the Wildhorse Pass Casino. Another wonderful show! And so Richard Marx ended up “book-ending” the month of March!