Sleeping In

One of the benefits of being away from “home” and being a full time musician and working on a musical is the ability to get rid of the alarm clock. Waking up at the perfect time (10:00AM) is glorious. It’s even better when it’s quiet and sunny when you open the windows.

Ahhhh…a preview of life as a retiree. Let me calculate my pension benefits, plus my social security, plus my Roth IRA…..add that up and combine my…

Oh damn…I guess I can retire in 40 more years. Maybe I should be getting up earlier?

Just kidding. I’m good. I’ll be just fine.

I can get used to not having to get up at 6:15AM to pick up my kids from my ex-wife every day to bring them to school in the mornings. It’s a good feeling to actually sleep in after getting to bed after a gig.

The bad thing is that I’m away from my kids. I’m happy with the fact it’s temporary.

This late morning thing is not bad. 8 more years and hopefully I’ll be able to do this on a regular basis. By then, my son will be off to some form of higher education.

I’m going to enjoy every minute of this for now.

Chuck Berry

In 1994 I had the opportunity to work with Chuck Berry. I was young and barely knew what I was doing but it was a great learning experience.

I had been playing with a pianist named Daryl Davis while I was in Washington D.C. and trying to move to New York City to be a full time professional musician. I did several blues gigs with Daryl and after a while he asked me to perform with Chuck who he had known for many years. I said, “Hell yeah!”

Why wouldn’t I?

Well, my first gig was at a place called Tramps in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. I’ll never forget it because it was my first big gig in the city. A few people who I just met came to see me there and I thought I had officially “made it.” A pretty big venue with an international living legend! I was really excited.

Well, the feeling was short lived. During the second song, Chuck turned around and gave me one of the nastiest looks. I was playing in one tempo and Mr. Berry was in another. His look was like he was saying, “Look motherf*cker, play MY Goddamn tempo! Do you know who I AM?!?”

Well, I carefully adjusted what I was doing and played with him. I guess I was a bit too excited.

We got through the gig and I had a blast.

I played with him again at an outdoor show and I did a week with him in Atlantic City. All of the gigs were fun. It is an honor to have worked with him.

One thing learned from him is how the music business can operate. I didn’t expect much and I was kinda just happy to play with him. But, he got paid $35,000 in cash and I got $90. Yup.

 

He deserves every penny he can get, but I know that I certainly wouldn’t do that at this point in my career. No sir! Get a young kid to do that or pay me a whole lot more for my time.

There is money to be made in the music biz. You have to find the people with the money and have them funnel those funds into your accounts.

I’m glad I had this experience. It’s fun to look back at these photos to remember a certain time in my life that I’ll never forget.

January-March

   
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks so far this year. I hung out with a bunch of old musician friends of mine (and some new ones) while filming a song for a new TV show backing up the Delfonics, subbed a bunch of dates at the musicals Avenue Q and The Color Purple, recorded three new songs for a new artist at a great recording studio in midtown,  played the Hora for what seemed like 30 minutes at a rare January wedding and backed up an amazing singer at a tribute to Petula Clark at the Metroplotan Room here in Manhattan.

 January-March are generally slow times for musicians. I’ve been fortunate to have been busy during the first half of this month. I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store for the next few months! 

#thankful

Branford Marsalis: The Problem With Jazz

  
When laypeople listen to records, there’re certain things they’re going to get to. First of all, how it sounds to them. If the value of the song is based on intense analysis of music, you’re doomed. Because people that buy records don’t know shit about music. When they put on Kind of Blue and say they like it, I always ask people: What did you like about it? They describe it in physical terms, in visceral terms, but never in musical terms.

In a lot of ways classical music is in a similar situation to where jazz is, except at least the level of excellence in classical music is more based on the music than it is based on the illusion of reinventing a movement. Everything you read about jazz is: “Is it new? Is it innovative?” I mean, man, there’s 12 fucking notes. What’s going to be new? You honestly think you’re going to play something that hasn’t been played already?

So, you know, my whole thing is, is it good? I don’t care if it’s new. There’s so little of it that’s actually good, that when it’s good, it shocks me

Read more HERE:http://www.seattleweekly.com/2011-09-14/music/branford-marsalis-the-problem-with-jazz/