Smooth Jazz Guitar

Musical Anecdotes

These are some musical anecdotes of real incidents that have happened to me over the years. Some are funny, some are inspirational. I hope you enjoy them. Back in the1970's, I was touring the US in a show band. We wore jump suits with tux shirts, pretty dorky looking. One night as I bent over my pedals preparing for the about to begin show, I heard a RIP!!! from the bottom seam of the jump suit which extended all the way through the crotch. But the show had to go on and I stayed up there and performed. Needless to say, I stayed pretty still up there, facing forward, with very few of my usual stage antics! Back in 8th grade ( when the earth was still cooling and there were still dinosaurs!), I had a band which was slated to play at the 8th grade dance. The criteria for singers at the time was whether or not their voices had cracked yet. We landed one kid who had flunked 8th grade enough times that he definitely passed the audition for cracked voice. We rehearsed all weekend preparing for the gig. Unfortunately, come Thursday he chickened out, leaving me with my uncracked Vienna boys choir soprano voice holding the bag, as I was the only one who knew all the words to the Jimi Hendrix tunes we had on the agenda. Well, I did the gig ,with enthusiasm. No one in the band or audience commented one way or the other on my performance, but 14 years later my wife and I discovered the reel to reel tape that had been made of the performance in my parents back closet, and ,let me tell you, we never laughed so hard in our lives! “Purple Haze!!” Squeak, squeak!!” This next one is kind of a scary one: I was in a show band in the mid 70's in a southern town where we had become a resident band in the club we were playing. The pianist and I had pretty much had our fill of this club and town and were ready to leave at any time back to New York State where we were from. Unfortunately, our lead singer was thinking of staying and setting up a permanent position as the house band. Now the father of the club owner had the reputation of being a local mob figure, sort of a godfather type apparently for this part of the state we were in. One night this individual beckoned us over to his table with a swirl of a hand literally covered with rings. “So you boys sound good.” “Yes,” we  both croaked out.” Now Joey (fictitious name for our singer) is thinking of buying into the club and I hope you boys don’t have any ideas of leaving because all I have to do is make a phone call......”. No kidding! This actually happened. I have no idea of knowing whether it was all a put on but I wasn’t about to ask. With visions of severed horse heads and cement boots we made it through the next few weeks and we indeed did leave for New York. A prank? I’ll never know! One time I was playing a gig in a club in Utica, N.Y. I was kind of bored and was trying to think of ways to entertain myself on stage. I had a bluesy sort of solo coming up in the tune we were playing and I decided to take a slide solo. I looked on the floor for one of the drummers sticks to use as a slide. I picked up what I thought was a drum stick about 2 seconds before the solo began and I realized I had grabbed a sledge hammer of which the sledge had been covered by a blanket when I grabbed for it. What? Oh, its too late now. I played what to me was a very tasty solo with the big old sledge hammer. What fun the road can be!

This next story is an exercise of how you can achieve any thing you want if you put your mind to it: I noted in a local paper back in 2000 that Larry Coryell, jazz guitar great and one of my favorite guitar players when I was growing up, was playing a local gig. It mentioned in the article that he lived in the same state I did. I did a little research on the net and came up with an address. I wrote him a letter telling him how much I enjoyed his playing and that I’d love to take some lessons.About 6 months passed and he wrote back. We talked back and forth a few times and I took the 3 hour drive to his place twice for some very inspiring lessons. I next had the bright idea to set up a master class at the place I worked. As I assembled players to attend this I emailed him about doing a concert while he was over here. He was game. I started small, thinking maybe 25 people. It started to expand and I contacted a local jazz radio DJ to promote the concert. The day came, we had a great master class which went on for 6 hours. Then, the concert; with the radio promotion I figured we were up to 50-60 people. Well, guess what? We sold out the show at 230 capacity for the room and we had to arrange an emergency second show to cover the remaining people who were lined up around the block! It was a great concert, my band opened for him, and he called me up to play half of the second set with him. What a thrill and a demonstration of what one can do from scratch when you put your mind to it.