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stories of a musician's life on the road


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>they raided
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The Stories

the A

fter thirty-nine years in bands...
playing clubs all over the United States, I've accumulated a treasure chest of stories populated by talented and eccentric characters.

The following tales are factual; all reflect the chaotic, bizarre, always amusing existence of the professional musician. (Well, except for The Store, which is nostalgic and family-oriented.) Please let me know what you think.


They Raided the Joint
Illustrated by Kenny Neal

While we played our cutesie swing-thing downstairs... Since the earliest days of show-biz, musicians have been caught between a rock and a hard place while the patrons they live to entertain are rounded-up by police for all sorts of reasons, usually related to their having some sort of too much fun. After much legwork, a million tedious phone calls to blasé booking agents, a rousing success of a premier and a crushing defeat of a sophomore gig, the young Sitting Ducks looked themselves to be heading for the hoosegow, only to be saved by their obvious and terminal cuteness. Wha? Read on, and in the process learn what it takes for young bands to land those first gigs in the Big City.

HEY—MORE ORIGINAL ART! They Raided the Joint features original web art by the one and only, super-talented web and LEGO® maniac, proud papa Kenny Neal.


Weekendz with Bernie
Illustrated by Scott Bennett

It seemed like a normal gig... People admire the fact that being a musician is a fairly independent life, or at least seems to be. Indeed—seems to be. Certainly, the musician's lifestyle does enjoy some of the trappings of independence conspicuously absent from the standard, commuter "day gig" life. But the fact that come Monday morning, musicians can dispense with alarm clocks and tiresome commutes does not mean they are independent free souls, working for themselves with no one to call "Boss."

Just as there are good and bad bosses in Day Gig Land, there are good and bad bosses called Band Leaders in Music Land. Find out what happens when your struggling narrator shuts his eyes, signs on the dotted line and finds himself against all better judgement spending his Weekendz with Bernie

FEATURING ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS by Scott Bennett! Weekendz with Bernie features original cartoon art by Washington D.C.'s gifted political cartoonist, the one and only Scott Bennett.


The Concert Tour

danny When called in early 1991 to play an extended series of dates with guitar legend Danny Gatton, I was thrilled. Little did I know that these dates would be my last with Danny, who tragically ended his life in 1994. I recorded my impressions of the entire tour; the resulting web-piece presents an insider's look of life on the road, including a visit to Austin City Limits, the Texas/Mexico border and Elvis Presley's Tour Bus. At the urging of various friends, web-heads and Danny-fans, I finished the journal in the Fall of 1996. My thanks to those people for their encouragement.


The First Road Trip: Remembering New Orleans

crawfish graphicThough the world knows New Orleans, Louisiana to be the "birthplace of Jazz," the music and culture of this unique city go way beyond such a simple historical reflection. The essay portrays a magical first visit to Crescent City during the 1979 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and includes a plethora of links to sites devoted to the unique artists, events and places which filled-out the picture as it unfolded 20 years ago. Bonus items include some wildly original street art and a link to some mardi gras photos that give new meaning to the descriptor amazing spectacle.


Tales of Inexperience

hat This started out as a fun little project to catalog amusing vignettes from the earliest days of my musical career. Instead, I found myself witnessing the long-familiar tales unfold to transcend nostalgia, and reveal moments of pathos and heroism, wisdom and stupidity, laced cheerfully with gallons of youthful foolishness. All hidden from the wet-behind-the-ears drummer who at the time experienced them, now brought to light by the writing process and a few hundred thousand miles of experience.

The seven episodes occurred while playing with Charlottesville Virginia's Sitting Ducks and jazz saxophone legend George 'Big Nick' Nicholas. Included are a variety of photographs, artifacts and sound clips in both realaudio and 'wave' format.


Somewhere In Alaska

alaska map graphic Cowboy Jazz was a talented, happy-go-lucky Western Swing band that loved touring the most beautiful places in North America. This story, which documents a specific event of a 1986 Alaskan Tour, is much more than a happy-go-lucky travelogue however. By a string of odd coincidences, an awesome, yet awful musical performance, and a little alcohol thrown-in for good measure, I sat stunned as a pretty woman I hardly knew confided in me her darkest secret.


The Four Seasons of Driving

musicians are inextricably linked by driving When a child decides to play a musical instrument, driving is the farthest thing from their mind...

So begins this multi-part look into the myriad of circumstances, feelings and risks touring musicians share as a result of having to do so much driving. More than a dozen experiences are documented, loosely categorized into four "seasons": Fear and Danger (Winter), Beauty (Spring), Fatigue & Frustration (Summer) and Reflection (Fall). Many hypertext side-trips add color, detail and imagery to the stories, which also feature numerous carefully-selected links.


Working with Drug Addicts

bummer This essay about the realities and difficulties musicians face in regularly working with addictive personalities caused quite a stir, and me a bit of work, when it was published in Modern Drummer magazine in February 1991… Such is life. Someone likes it however, as it is a consistent entry in the web's most selective, hand-picked directories.


Lee Atwater and the Fundraiser

seal File this under 'brush with the famous.' Or maybe 'brush with the infamous.' Depends on your political leanings. An essay regarding The Assassins involvment in a bizarre and funny circumstance, which for me became a startling glimpse of the personal intensity of one of the most influential political operatives of our era, political legend Lee Atwater.


The Way Out... The Road Back

Things seemed to be going well. Then I got fired... As powerful and negative a thing as job burnout is, you'd think it would be impossible to be deeply suffering from it and not even know. Yet that's exactly where I was in 1990, when before I could say career change, I was unceremoniously dumped from the best band I'd ever been in. Not to worry—the firing set me free to begin a five-year odyssey that would lead me down numerous bizarre paths, and would eventually culminate in a joyful return to the intense pleasures of playing music.

But, what's with the Cowboy Boot? Read on and FIND OUT!


The Horse

horse Whenever called to relate a particularly incredible happening from my days on the road, this from the annals of Cowboy Jazz is the first to come to mind. It's not so much a tale of bizarre behavior (unless my getting out of bed at 4:30 am to watch 20 minutes of a movie counts!) as much as an incredible chance event that might have turned out so much worse…


The Store

pickle An historical and pictorial overview of one of Arlington VA's cherished institutions. The Super Garden Market Grocery and Deli was my stepfather's life's work of 50 years. (What better icon than a Kosher Dill?) Written in 1988, the piece also visits my own modest participation in this lifelong family project. For an objective look at this neighborhood landmark, check this reproduction of a 1989 Washington Post story covering the deli's closing.


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