Monday, October 17, 2016

Passing It On

I just spent 3 amazing, sleepless days as the musical director for the Ultimate Vocal Music Summit here in Los Angeles. We mentored a group of stunningly talented young people, ranging in age from 4 to 20, and got to show them what their dreams of a life making music looked like up close. The growth I saw from them in just three days was astounding. I was on panels with songwriters, players, and producers who have all been responsible for countless hit records (I have been responsible for exactly zero hit records, but there I was anyway!), and I sang a few of my songs and told the stories behind them. But mostly, I was the musical director: I wrote band charts and arrangements for some 30 tunes. Transposed them a few times, and rewrote them, as the kids worked with their vocal coaches and got closer to their vision of how they would perform the songs. Then yesterday, I led an all-star band of amazing players - including my John Fogerty bandmate Kenny Aronoff - through a concert featuring all of the singers. And even though I was sleep-deprived nearly to the point of hallucination, and I had mostly forgotten to eat for most of the weekend, and I had stared at sheets of music until they had nearly lost all meaning, I was transported with joy as I sat behind the piano and saw the show through the eyes of these young singers who were having their musical dreams come true. Many thanks to Dawn Elder World Entertainment for inviting me on this journey - it was unforgettable.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Notte Rosa

The first sign that this was going to be weird was when we pulled the van up, and two guys stumbled down the stairway that led to the stage carrying a third guy who was too drunk to walk, and seconds from spilling his cookies all over the road cases. These three were followed by a steady, firehose-like stream of drunken young people. As we loaded in, we were like salmon swimming against the stream. And the stream was seriously hammered. It was 3:30 am, and we were scheduled to play a 5am sunrise concert to close out the seaside bacchanal know here on the Italian Adriatic Riviera as Notte Rosa (Pink Night) - where the pretty girls wear crowns of flowers, and the pretty boys do their best to impress them. There wasn't a person over the age of twenty-five in the vast horde, and by the time we took the stage, they had been raging all day and all through the night. But from the first notes the drunken throng pressed up to the edge of the stage and sent a wave of happy, drunken, manic energy our way. For the hour we played, the scene was always on the razor's edge of spinning out of control. As I worked the crowd I thought: "Fuck yes! This is rock and roll the way it should be!" I also feared for my life. By 6:30, the sun was up, the show was over, and most of the kids had begun their long unsteady walk home. That was a gig I won't soon forget. #notterosa

Monday, June 13, 2016

Love & Hate

I am flawed beyond comprehension. A lucky flesh covered skeleton, passing my short time on a beautiful planet I can only barely appreciate. Prone to addiction, petty jealousy, gluttony, insecurity, cruelty, and self-loathing. But still I love. I love the creatures to whom this earth belongs - from the pod of dolphins wheeling magnificently before a Pacific sunset, to the mealybug making its way across my concrete balcony garden. And despite all of the well though-out and seamlessly logical reasons I have for disliking my fellow man, there’s nothing I love more than the human race. The only thing I crave as much as being alone is being with others. 

And because I am only human, I hate. And my true and lasting hate is mostly reserved for those who hate. Not the ones who have been dealt a bad hand in life and act out their rage on an indifferent world, but those who are dedicated to the destruction of that which they do not understand - or simply do not like - and use religion or ideology to cover their tracks. The person who picks up a gun and does the deed himself is the easiest to hate, and is indeed loathsome. But make no mistake, that person was not born that way - that person was made. Made by those who have the power and position to spread a poisonous message daily and methodically - all the while picking up a fat check, maintaining a facade of respectability…and using religion or ideology to cover their tracks. And when some unstable little fuck who has guzzled their Kool-Aid to the last drop does the dirty work for them, the idealogues feign shock and blame The Other, and the religious nuts offer aggressively misinterpreted quotes from their chosen book of faith to justify the act. And blame the other.

I am flawed beyond comprehension. And I am not qualified to judge. But it seems to me that the ones who pull the trigger are the symptom. The ones who convince them to do so are the disease.