Tony and the Tractor


SKF NOTE: Getting ready to go out last night I set my MP3 player to Herbie Hancock and Santana – Live Under the Sky 1981. Some of the tracks are the VSOP Quartet with Hancock (keyboards), Ron Carter (bass), Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), and Tony Williams (drums). The tracks with Carlos Santana (guitar) also add percussionists Armando Peraza, Raul Rekow, and Orestes Vilato.

I start the music playing and hop in the shower. Shower finished, I’m toweling off just as the VSOP Quartet is burning through the tune, Sorcerer. The tempo? Way upstairs. I’m listening, thinking once again, of how the rhythm section sounds of Hancock, Carter, Williams evolved from their start in the early ’60s with Miles Davis. The trio played tighter by 1981, their musical conversations non-stop, rolling on and on.

In the midst of the lickety-split, straight ahead, Sorcerer, something new grabs my attention. It sounds like Tony Williams has added rapid fire eighth notes between his floor tom and bass drum? Or was he experimenting at this concert with a double bass drum pedal?

DCltgL8XkAE1bDoI expect Tony to move on to something else, but he doesn’t. His precision, his stamina, his ability to maintain that eighth note pattern without slowing the tempo, or even missing a note — he’s like a machine!

Wait a second. Could it be? I step from the shower, moving closer to my MP3 player resting on the window sill. The window is open a bit and as I move, Tony’s eighth note drumming sound moves.

I take another step, pause, listen — and start laughing. Outside my neighbor’s Kioti KL2610 tractor engine is idling – in eighth note sync with the VSOP Quartet, precise as a click track.

What in the heck are the odds?

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Carmine Appice, Peter Criss Remember Gene Krupa at Criss Farewell


Newsday, October 17, 1973

SKF NOTE: Carmine Appice said through his Twitter account (June 17), “I went to Peter Criss’s. Last gig ever tonight…. He had a big band [and] even played Sing, Sing, Sing, a Gene Krupa song. His idol and mine.”

Carmine’s first album, with Vanilla Fudge, was in 1967. Almost a decade later, in 1974, Peter Criss made his debut on Kiss’s first album. Both drummers still citing, in 2017, their idol, Gene Krupa, who really hit the public eye with Benny Goodman’s Orchestra in 1938.

Drumming’s heritage and tradition continues hanging on. Sometimes I wonder how best to keep that heritage and tradition alive for the future.

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Doug Clifford: Music Quality Has Gone Down with Technology

Creedence drummer Doug Clifford ponders the then and now
By Rich Lopez Published 8:26 pm, Saturday, June 17, 2017

The music industry

“Rock ‘n’ roll was pretty new when I started back in 1953. Radio was certainly different and my dad hated it,” he said…. “Decades later, the industry has changed tremendously — both good and bad. I think quality has gone down with technology. And I just think it’s a lot harder to make it in this business now.”

Popular music

“I was captivated by Etta James and Bo Diddley. I really liked and was influenced by music from New Orleans and Memphis,” he said. “Now I think Bruno Mars is the whole package. I think Ed Sheeran is terrific. He reminds me of a young Van Morrison.”

CCR’s hit songs

My favorite song was always ‘Born on the Bayou’ but I love them all in different ways,” he said.

“I am surprised some didn’t make it like ‘It Came Out of the Sky.’ ‘Effigy’ was also a very powerful, political song but it never became the single I thought it would have.”

Full story

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UPDATE: Revising My MD Published Posts


Photo by Tony Cruz

SKF NOTE: Yesterday, Friday, June 16, I received an email request from Modern Drummer Publications VP Kevin Kearns, followed by a phone conversation. It was the first time  we had communicated since the fall of 1983 when I was stepping down as MD managing editor and Kevin was MD‘s advertising director.

Kevin was calling to say I had to remove all of the MD published articles posted on this blog. By the end of our conversation, I was okayed to keep the first page of each MD article posted here, with a link to MD‘s Archive Page where these early MD issues are now available for purchase.

Most of these interviews were unavailable when I started this blog, unless you owned the back issues or were willing to buy them from eBay. I’m glad that’s no longer the case.

I wanted visitors to my Life Beyond the Cymbals blog to know of this change ahead of time. Let me emphasize: what is in question here are the scanned pages here from MD magazines. That’s it.

In the grand scheme of things this revision enables me to focus more on my original mission for this blog.

Onward and upward.

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A Conversation with Charlie Watts (1981)

SKF NOTE: This interview with Charlie Watts took place in Charlie’s New York City hotel room on November 12, 1981. The Rolling Stones were on tour in America. Tina Turner was their opening act. The basic back story to this interview is posted here.

Since finding and reading the actual August/September 1982 Modern Drummer just yesterday, I am reminded that MD‘s Charlie Watts cover story is two parts: Robyn Flans‘s profile of Charlie, and the conversation Max Weinberg and I had with Charlie. I am including here the Fish/Weinberg/Watts conversation. MD‘s 1982 intro gives a better background story than I remembered. Here it is:

The following articles on Charlie Watts are the result of over two year’s worth of effort on the part of MD. There were numerous phone calls to record companies and management offices, where the answer was always the same: “Charlie Watts does not do interviews.”

Last fall, while the Rolling Stones were on tour in America, Charlie met up with his friend (and MD Advisory Board member) Jim Keltner, who persuaded Charlie to talk to us. (Thanks, Jim.) [Charlie] agreed to speak with MD’s Robyn Flans in L.A., but it was only after Robyn followed him to San Francisco that [Charlie] finally sat down in front of a tape recorder.

A month later, MD Managing Editor Scott K. Fish set up a meeting with Charlie and E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg. Again, Charlie agreed to let a tape roll. So here then is Charlie Watts who, although he actually spoke to us twice, began each session by saying, “I don’t do interviews. But we can talk if you want to….”

[SKF NOTE: 6/17/17 – Charlie Watts’s full interview is now available on MD‘s Archive Page.]


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Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys Fillmore East Concert Review (1970)


SKF NOTE: I was barely sixteen years old when the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album was released. Jimi Hendrix on guitar/vocals, Mitch Mitchell on drums, and Noel Redding on bass. Theirs was such a great unique sound that stretched across three albums: Are You Experienced? (May 1967), Axis Bold As Love (December 1967), and Electric Ladyland (October 1968). The Experience disbanded in 1969 and Hendrix died, age 27, in 1970.

Tucked in between the demise of the Hendrix Experience and the guitarist’s death, Hendrix, drummer Buddy Miles, and bassist Billy Cox performed and recorded a New Year’s Eve concert at the Fillmore East (January 1970), released a few tracks from the concert in March 1970 as the Band of Gypsys. Six months later Jimi Hendrix was dead.

I was never a great fan of Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys album. An unfair comparison, perhaps, but to my ears the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a tough act to follow. An impossible act to follow, really. But, almost a half-century later, I would like to give the Band of Gypsys another listen. The original album has since been released with added songs. Also, there are two more albums from that concert: Machine Gun Jimi Hendrix The Fillmore East 12/31/1969 (FIRST SHOW), and Live at The Fillmore East.

Chris Albertson, a respected music writer’s, review of the Band of Gypsys New Years’ Eve concert, was published in Down Beat March 5, 1970, providing us an interesting man-on-the-scene report. I will let Albertson’s review stand on its own — with one exception. Based on my limited listening to Band of Gypsys — this was not Buddy Miles’s finest hour. Perhaps it is the trio format. But Buddy Miles was exceptional on The Electric Flag A Long Time Comin’ album, and on his own, Them Changes. Comparing Miles playing to jazz drummers is pointless. (Plus, this has nothing to do with music, but Buddy Miles’s classic six-piece American Flag drumset remains a classic.)

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Will Calhoun: My Drum Gear (1989)

SKF NOTE: Among my favorite interviews, I am sorry to say none of my interview with Will Calhoun ever saw the light of day. By July 1989 I had been gone from my spot as Modern Drummer‘s managing editor almost six years. From what I’ve gathered reading through my notes, this interview was meant to be published in one of MD‘s offshoot quarterly magazines — Modern Percussionist. But before Will’s interview was published, Modern Percussionist had ceased publication.

This first excerpt is Will Calhoun describing his drum equipment used on Living Colour’s 1989 tour with The Rolling Stones. Here is the Cult of Personality video mentioned in this excerpt.

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