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February 21, 2018

Naming Songs

It’s funny how the first title of a song isn’t always the same as the first one you choose. Many of my songs are created with the music coming first, then the lyrics following. Like you lay the music track, then you create a melody, then you come up with a concept title for the lyrics and then you write the lyrics from there. I’ve also done  it other ways, such as the lyric first or the melody first, then music. But lately it’s been lyrics last. With this I’ve found myself coming up with titles that my lyrical co-writer only laughs at and says; “We have to change this to a more meaningful or relevant subject manner”. You know what, each time she was right? Sometimes its funny and sometimes it kind of stings for me, but the point is to get to where you need and want to go.





Beginning to Play The Drums

Learning how to play the drums is the easiest instrument when it comes to learning one. I say this because; I’ve taught myself how to play three instruments in my life.  The instruments are the trumpet, which was my first, the drums, which I am most fluent, and the piano in which I use mostly to compose with as well as perform with.  The reason it’s easy is because it’s the only instrument you don’t have to create a direct concept of strict expression on, in the beginning. This is because, the first thing you do when you sit down behind a set of drums is to express at random, your feelings.  But as you progress into truly playing with skill, it becomes more difficult.

It takes a serious dedication to learn to play any instrument, and it’s easier to gain a sense of confidence on the drums on your first try, because the sounds and natural personal rhythms you have can come across to your delight. But it also gives you a temporary false sense of reality.

Here are a couple of tips to help you on your journey.  It’s important to hold the sticks with a sense of relaxation, for that matter try to not be tense at any part of your body while playing. Drums are unlike any string, woodwind or brass instrument, where you don’t have to be able to deploy a somewhat defined technique.  But, right now I want to make it clear that once you get pass the point where you physiologically stop treating the drums as a toy and start appreciating them as a serious work toward an accomplishment, and you want to truly learn the instrument, you can then get a taste of what it truly calls for. Once you’ve passed the beginner stage you can learn to play with technique.

Now this is very important while setting your drums up, you must position them in a manner that is in position for your range. Adjust your seat at a level that allows a comfortable setting so you can reach any part of the set with ease. Your first challenge in becoming a drummer is learning to have patience. You may think you should be doing better than what you’re doing, but just like any other instrument you have stages you go through and brick walls you run into. If you stay true to yourself and the art of commitment you can succeed.  I’ll say once again, in the beginning you have high interest and you spend some time on the exploring.  The real playing begins when your muscles in your hands, feet, or legs are starting to cramp and you’ve just busted your knuckles on the snare, oh yea you’re developing calluses on your fingers.  Don’t fret; you’re starting to become somewhat a drummer.

Now that you’re serious about drumming, remember to take care of your tools.

It’s all right to let others play your drums, but don’t let anyone rearrange them after you have set them up for your style of playing.  There is a lot more we could talk about, who knows you may talk with me again.

That’s all for now.



Blues & Dues

Everyone has a blues story to tell, but can everyone sing the blues?  It’s funny, because I’ve been a songwriter for a long time and I’ve written a lot of different genres of songs, but I’ve never written a blues song. Sure, I’ve had basic experiences in life like anyone else. I guess I’m saying everyone has the story to tell, but maybe not the means to tell it. The funny part is that whenever I’m asked to sing on the spot I always sing a Buddy Guy song called “My Baby She Left Me (she Left Me a Mule to Ride)”.Here is Big Joe Williams singing his version of the songhttp://youtu.be/R4Xp2PEr8F0

Even though people may have never heard it before they always go crazy for this song.

Here’s a little story of my experience in singing the blues. I went to see a couple of great musicians that I used to record with in a group called The Headhunters. I hadn’t seen them in years and they were coming from back east to perform on the west coast as a part of their tour.  I went over to the show with a very dear friend of mine, matter of fact my friend is the one who taught me how to truly play the drums. We also had one of the best bands on the west coast at one time. So while we were there, at the club in San Francisco, the band was playing and they were really smoking. The crowd was having a good time and so were my good friend and I. After a couple of drinks we were talking about sitting in with the band. The next song they played was a slow blues song and for some reason I felt this unresisting desire to go on stage and ask if I could sit in.  I’m not a blues singer, but this desire took me there.  So I grabbed the microphone and started to sing, not really knowing what it was I was going to sing. But like all the other times in my life when I preformed, the positive energy took over and guided my actions. Even though I don’t know any blues songs, I still knew the basic melody of blues and since blues is all about the feeling it went over great.

Within that moment an eight bar Buddy Guy lyric came to mind, which went like this:






The funny thing about this experience was, for one moment before the positive energy kicked in I felt a sense of being unsure, but like the point I’m making, it’s all about the feeling and the experiences. The blues is played basically in two tempos, slow and faster like a shuffle and the feeling you put into the words and music makes the difference.  The blues, everyone has them and anyone can feel them.

Keep it up, no matter how low it goes,


The Platters Only You: The End of A Legacy

This is another event where great entertainers in the last twenty years have past on and left us with their legacy of doo-wop. Just like the others, the memory of Herb Reed will live on through the many expressions of his talent.

Herb Reed was the last member of the Platters, one of the most popular singing groups of our time. He was 83 years of age at his time of departure in life.  In the 1950’s the singing group, the Platters were formed. The Platters were extremely popular in the 50’s and 60’s and had many hit doo-wop songs, such as; SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES, TWILIGHT TIME, MY PRAYER AND THE ONE. Even though this is before my listening time, the one I remember most is, ONLY YOU.

What a lot of people listening and also a lot of today’s musicians don’t realize, is during this time of recording it wasn’t about a lot of overdub when they were recording, the band played live and together on each take of the song and directly on to the acetone without allowing a mistake.

It didn’t matter who was leading the song, because they all had quality voices and the background was always tight, whether it was doo-wop or sweet songbird oohs, it was of perfection.

The Platters had a very large range in their doo-wop style that influenced many groups such as The Four Tops, The Motown sound, Johnny Mathis, and many others of that time.  It is a smooth and sometimes up-tempo sound that consisted of three men and a woman. Most of the doo-wop songs had elaborate arrangements with a big smooth sound and sweetly sung vocals.  The musical doo-wop arrangement was unique and stylish.  With the big drums, the rest of the rhythm session was engulfed within and the strings on top with the horns playing off them and embellished by the flowing tinkling Harp arrangements.  But the prime giving of their selections were the vocal arrangements.

R.I. P Herb Reed and The Platters.

I pray your legacy continues to live on through the spread of your timeless music,


What is Fusion Music?

The definition of the word fusion is: the merging or blending of two or more things. So when we talk in terms that a certain type of music is fusion, we are actually saying two or more types of music are being composed together to form one sound. This is a diverse form of musical expression that has been around for such a long time. For instance, many don’t recognize it as a fusion sound, but R&B and Rock’n Roll as well as other genres are fusion.

The most popular fusion is jazz fusion music. If you head on over to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_fusion) you’ll learn about jazz rock fusion, which is fusion of jazz and R&B.

The blending of musical sounds can be to the extreme or to the simplest composition.

So if you are a composer as I am, when you compose your next piece, allow yourself to wonder into the creative thought patterns and fusion your way to a song that is so different but yet familiar. Think how different it would sound if you put your drum beat on 2 and 4, then run a bass line on top of that is 6-8 and some augmented 7th and 13th’s chords on top of that. Try that and let me know how that works out for you, check this out: if you don’t fuse you might lose.

 Peace to you,


In The Beginning (Learning To Play)

In The Beginning (Learning To Play)

I can remember as if it was yesterday, when I picked up my first instrument. It was a trumpet I started learning to play during my elementary school days. The thing I remember most was the exploding desire and amazement of wonder (not to leave out the dreams), because that was the beginning drive for achievement. I often dreamed of playing on stage in front of an audience and getting a great sense of approval for my presentation.

In the beginning as a kid I realized, just like you have to learn to play the instrument, you have to learn to respect the instrument. 

As I look back now, I can see the importance of engaging a learning experience like that. It helps to build character, because of the challenge and the demand for practice. If you’re serious, you learn about dedication and the creating of a core for consistency. So truly I would recommend every child at a young age should find a meaningful desire for learning something, for me it was learning to play a musical instrument and perform my inner feelings.

Still playing and learning,


Waking Up

I rose from bed this morning, and thought to myself, another day. Its 6 o’clock now and I am sitting here reflecting on that feeling. Where did it come from? Every day we experience waking up and it has other existences or meanings that derive from the original. First we wake from sleep to the consciousnesses of our day or night. Then we take the next step and attempt to adjust to the events of the prior day. I know the feeling is different for everyone and that’s, because it’s for each person to seek out what is most meaningful in the day’s endeavors. Reflection is the key to progression. When you reflect, step forward in a positive manner to view, and then understand those early morning revelations. After understanding what it is that deserves your complete attention, give it depth and value and support. The support is what gives it character and makes it complete. Now let’s take a slumber brake and start again tomorrow.

3 Ways to Relax

I find it a useful tool for relaxation; to create a method that would be tried and true for you each time you need it. My self I’ve developed three easy ways to get to a comfort zone when needed.

My first is exercise (when I can), because it releases a lot of the stress that is in my physical body and it gives you a chance to reach a physiological and psychological space that takes you where you were not before you started.

Secondly, I talk with someone that is able to listen and also express their opinion, which would be reflective of what we are talking about and not just an expression of how they feel.

Third, for me is my best option, because it’s something that I love to do and I’ve done for a very long time and that is song writing. When I sit down at the piano it seems to create a transformation of reality within my presence. It’s like anything you do that involves you to fully concentrate on what you’re doing. Also, for me it opens a door to the wonderment of my mind that releases an endless flow of thought and ideas and the good thing is it doesn’t matter if the ideas are good or bad. It’s all the same, because it’s the act of action more than it is the challenge of being right or wrong. It’s a place each person should attempt to find, because it’s simply finding the way to being you.







Just yesterday I was thinking about relative associations between the way we live our lives and how life presents itself to you.

Over the last few years I have from time to time purchased and eaten a small bag of pistachios. At the beginning of this year I developed a great desire for pistachios and began to purchase every month when I went to make my monthly groceries and believe me the bag I bought was big enough to last the whole month. You know how large things are at Costco’s.

Anyway, over the last couple of months my desire for the taste of pistachios began to lessen and the last bag I bought lasted me for two months. So today I had a small amount left and I decided to finish them off as a snack. I was sadden to find that the last one from the bag  I ate was no good and left a bad taste in my mouth. The thought that came to my mind was that after all the enjoyment I received from eating them, the last one left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It lead me to believe this was a bad sign, because at this time I had decided to take a brake from them for a while. But, to my surprise right off to my side I saw one last pistachio had fell next to the bowl. I gained hope that it would take this nasty taste from my taste buds. It did, even though the shell wasn’t perfect, but the nut it self was perfect in taste and shape.

The relative association is: even though you may come across a bad path in the road, even though you walked the good mile, don’t give up, because it’s the positive work you do in the present, that in the end proves to be the pavement of your road.


The heat inspires me

The heat wave here in the Bay Area is going to last for a few more weeks folks. It’s been from the mid-90s to 100 for the last three days for me. What’s really great to know though, is how families make challenging days into great days. Obstacles like these really allow my family to come together and work together to create creative ways for us to stay cool. Making smoothies, eating soft tacos, and pooling all our fans together in one room (rather than just turning the air conditioner on) and enjoying our company, are some of the ways we battled the heat.

Sure we could have each took our individual fans and went in our separate spaces, but unity is so much stronger and in this case cooler.

Anyone else?