Cheerleader Backflips for Music… Literally
“There I was, 15, shy, insecure and secretly basking in the scent of offensively fake peach lotion that high school girls wear. This cheerleader was standing just a foot from me, saying “I’ll do a backflip for you right now, if you write down the lyrics of ‘Jester’ for me.” Her lips were moving in slow motion, and I couldn’t believe our song was getting the most popular girl in school to do this for one of the most unpopular guys in school.
So right there, when she catapulted backwards she also shot me from a geeky loner nerd to king for a day. She landed a perfect backflip right in front of me, her fake peach scent blasting all students in relatively close radius, and that day I walked home on air. Sure, the outward validation that felt good, but what felt best was the inward satisfaction of knowing that I was now officially a bassist, singer and songwriter who could play live.
That weekend, with thid recent memory making me whistle, I went back to my normal grind: load the drums in my car, carry them down the stairs at Fultons Prime Rib, set them up and play jazz with the guys from 7-12. That cheerleader and her friends never showed up to these regular gigs, and in fact I only fell into jazz drumming by accident, but it had been paying my bills and would for the next few years. I actually loved playing drums and learning jazz, self taught, on the gig, 4 nights a week. Plus, people used to hang over the balcony and literally rain 1s, 5s, 10s and sometimes 20s on us, because we were cute high school kids playing old jazz standards. After a couple years, we were playing them WELL.
In fact, we played so much that our city started awarding us “best jazz group” every year, until we couldn’t win any more and we got inducted into the Sammies (Sacramento Area Music Awards) Hall of Fame. It was great but ironic, because each of us wanted to play other genres of music more. Of course my desire to play bass and sing was increased by the female attention it got, but similar to my jazz drums, I wanted to make my regular funk/rock bass playing a little more special now. My ambition was really shaped by two mentors.One was my bass teacher, who was blind and helped me see by teaching me tapping, slapping and other specialized, exclusive bass techniques. My other mentor was the store owner where I took the lessons. He’d breeze through the shop every month or so and tell me, “Learn to sing, you’ll make more money!”
Those two mentors helped me play and sing well enough to get that cheerleader to flip, but in all seriousness they helped me to be a working bassist after my band broke up, and the popular girls went away with their fake peach scent. But I survived, and between being a self taught drummer and a schooled bassist, I was never out of work because everyone needs a good rhythm section! It was a prosperous ride for the next few years but I myself was becoming a cheerleader, supporting other bands as a drummer or bassist from the back of the stage. Don’t get me wrong, I matured as a player and became teflon as a bassist/drummer, but I missed the self expression, the originality, the style that I had in my old band.
So being desperate, young, naive, full of pis and vinegar and not really giving a damn, I went to a couple of open mics. Everyone was a folk singer with a guitar, but I took the stage bass in hand, and sang some songs I’d been writing at home. People were confused that I was tapping, slapping and finger funking the bass by myself, on a stage in the spotlight, but they liked it. It became popular.
Fast forward a decade and I’ve got my own band which tours to packed out houses all over America, and I have prestigious appearances now under my belt like a solo bass performance for Comedian Chris Tucker, meeting and working with Les Claypool’s Grammy Winning producer, a performance with Billboard top 10 and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bassist and singer Larry Graham and another induction into Sacramento’s Hall of Fame for best funk singer. I even reunited with the other singer in my old band and we played as a due, this time in LA, with Bono from U2 in attendance.
Making my eccentric musical mark as a bassist, writer, singer and drummer on my own recordings is what I’m best at, its what lights me up. Actually, my 1st word was “light”, and it’s been a trip to live and discover what this word really means to me as a person, and not just as a musician, but an Eccentric Bass Rock veteran.
The best part is that it’s only the beginning, and of all the great things that have happened on my journey so far, perhaps most importantly its YOU, the listener, that makes it count.
With that being said, please know that I’ll happily make more and more music for you, and not just any music – the And as I make and share my brand of eccentric bass rock, I hope this music becomes your personal cheerleader. It hope it does for what she did for me in high school, and releases the “light” that has always been in you, whatever your light is.
Like me, the common service you provide or the high art you make is valuable, rare, inimitable and unsubstitutible. That’s why I do what I do, and this truly does involve you.
So if you’d like to here the latest milestone of this journey, click here to listen to my most recent album, ‘Single’.
Thanks for being a listener and making it all matter.