I was almost embarrassed at the fact that I just recently heard about the death of St. Louis Blues musician Rondo Leewright.Rondo passed away this September 2011.This fact is made even stranger due to the fact that my family (on my father’s side) is really close friends with Rondo.As much as I want to, I can’t really blame my family for not getting the information to me because at the time of Rondo’s death I was in New York doing gigs.
I met Rondo in the early 90’s via my uncle, Keith Hinds, whom played drums for Rondo often at the time.In those days I was more of a local hired gun than I am now and would occasionally play with R&B, Blues, Jazz and Rock cover bands.What started off as me just visiting my uncle Kent while he played with Rondo, quickly turned into me subbing on drums for my uncle while he dealt with his personal problems. Once Rondo discovered that I could do last minute gigs unrehearsed without sounding like garbage he seemed to ring my phone off the hook.
Often I am called upon to give advice to DJs on negotiating price for various types of gigs. The hardest gig to negotiate while keeping your dignity in tact is the bar gig. With the advent of cheap DJ software, hack DJs seem to be falling out of the sky. Recently, a DJ friend was low-balled on a price offering for a residency. What was my advice to him? Stick to your guns, prove your worth and don’t sell yourself short. Better to not work than to work for Kaka while the bar makes money.
The point of a bar hiring a DJ is to keep people in the venue drinking. At a recent gig, a patron came up to me while I was DJ-ing and said, “DJ! You’re killing me, man! My girl doesn’t want to leave. My bar tab is outrageous.” That’s my job, to make patrons stay when they thought they were going to leave. There is a value in that. Unfortunately, some club owners don’t see it that way.
Following is the totally true story of how an alcoholic stole my gig.
A question I am asked often by beginner DJs is, “What gear should I start off with?” This is a tough question because the answer depends on what type of DJ-ing you are doing and where you have visually projected yourself in the future. The first question I have is, “Are you DJ-ing for fun or for money?”
If you are DJ-ing just for fun, then your choice of gear is irrelevant.If fun truly is the name of your game the options are many.There exists facial recognition software that enables you to use your face as a MIDI controller, there are ways to hack into your Xbox Kinect so that your whole body can be used as a MIDI controller, and there are countless new desktop controllers coming out everyday for computer DJ software.Then there are the practically outmoded CD players.Of course there is also the wagon wheel of DJ technology…the turntable.It’s really just a matter of preference and what level of frustration you want to experience while learning to DJ.The quick of it is: Software = fas…
A DJ controller for under a $100.00 USD is practically unheard of, so when I saw the Numark DJ 2 Go controller I was skeptical to say the least. My first question to the people behind the sales desk was, “Does it work with Serato?” A sea of question marks crowded the air above their heads followed by a shameful “we don’t know”. Well, I’m here to bring the good news. Yes, it works with Serato…mostly. The controller comes with a stripped down version of the software Virtual DJ. With the included software, the controller is mapped perfectly and lights up like Christmas. When you map the controller to Serato, the button lights don’t work at all and it takes a bit of careful planning to map buttons outside of the basic “play”, “cue” and “pitch sliders”.
What stopped me from taking the DJ 2 Go back to the store is the fact that I use Serato Video SL. If you use Video SL this thing is great for the simple fact that you can map the video cross fader, load deck A & B, scroll, pitch …
BEEF One of my favorite cult films of all time is the Brian De Palma film Phantom of the Paradise (1974). In the realm of originality, there isn’t much in this film. Basically the film is an amalgamation of Faust, Dorian Gray and Phantom of the Opera sprinkled with jabs at the recording industry and 70’s theatrical Rock groups. To give you a taste of the latter, below are lyrics and a movie clip of…Beef.
Life At Last (lyrics) Phantom of the Paradise Life at last salutations from the other side I can see that you're the devil's pride Do you realize that all of you donated something horrible You hated that is part of you I'm your nightmares comin' true I am your crime Life at last sit and listen while the fun begins Hearts are broken and the bad guys win Sit and listen all the cutting up is easy And this isn't for the queasy or the weak of heart You had better start for home while there's still time I'm the evil that you created gettin' horny and damned frustrated …
While sorting through and updating music crates (both real and virtual), I came across my favorite track by Patrice Rushen titled "Remind Me". Listening to the track instantly took my mind back to the post-pubescent, statutory Leon years. I remember my boyhood fantasies of marrying Patrice Rushen while I would sit and listen to her records on vinyl. This fantasy would lead to me chasing a girl that looked a lot like Patrice Rushen as she appeared on the album cover of Straight From the Heart. I can't remember the girl's name and the only reason I remember her at all is because of her unique (at the time) rejection. As I desperately threw out more game than Xbox 360, the girl broke it down in a quick and simple way. I was the polar opposite of her type. She liked tall, chocolate, athletic boys. I was short, light-skinned and a band geek that neither liked or played sports. I joked with her, "So...if I were taller and played basketball would you date me?&…
I was sad to get the news about Jani Lane of the band Warrant dying at the ripe age of 47. I first met Jani Lane in the early 90's in my hometown of St. Louis, MO. He would visit St. Louis often and I would run into him at a downtown bar called Kennedy's. Every time I ran into Lane he had a black eye.
Me -"Lane, dude...what's your deal? Every time I see you...you have a black eye."
Lane - "Yeah, every time I get drunk I start fights that I can't finish. Somehow, once I'm drunk... I seem to forget that I can't fight."
Me - "Yeah, if you're going to be getting plastered in St. Louis with a hit song called Cherry Pie... you might want to learn how to fight."
Lane laughed and said, "You're probably right."
Me -"What are you doing in St. Louis so much anyway?"
Lane -"Oh, I have friends and relatives here."
Everyone else teased Lane by calling him the Cherry Pie Guy, but to me he was the Black …
While I was playing musical espionage with Lauryn Hill and Apollo Heights this past spring, I received a call from Droidsong Recordings artist Gaia 13. Gaia 13 called to invite me to be a guest producer for the remix release of his track titled Trail of Funk. I was honored and accepted. Technology affords us the luxury of doing remixes through FTP sites and e-mails. Below is a link to samples of the remixes.
• My friend and Uber-Geek, Leon Gruenbaum (of Genes and Machines), sent me this great link as he teased me about how I missed my big payday by not having the chance to gig with Hill and later sue her for abuse. You can do that now? I've been treated poorly in bands for years...and all of this time I should've been calling my attorney?
TMZ- Hill Sued For Abuse
I call Gruenbaum an Uber-Geek with a tone of admiration because he is the only guy I know that became so bored with mastering his instruments that he invented his own...and got away with it. …
With the controversial announcement of Lauryn Hill having her sixth baby in between gigs, friends and family are constantly asking me two questions: 1) Are you playing drums with Lauryn Hill? and 2) Did you know she was pregnant? The answer to both questions is "no".
In March of this year, I received phone calls from both Danny & Daniel Chavis of Apollo Heights. They told me that they might have an audition to be Lauryn Hill's backup band and asked if I would play drums for the audition and possible tour. I told them "yes" and didn't hear from them again until...
Near the end of April, I received a phone call from Apollo Heights' agent asking me if I was still on board for the Hill audition. After I told him yes, he said, "Good. Your plane leaves in three hours. We're flying you in from St. Louis to LAX. When you get there, you'll see a driver holding a card with your name on it. The driver will take you to your hotel and you …
How can you say no to a girl that asks, "Help me destroy his world"? Every fantasy you've had about me will come true if this one thing you will do Help me destroy his world Let's start with his money because he will hardly think it funny It's the root of his happiness I know so the money has to be the first thing to go Next will be his toys we'll smash them one by one Not because we need to but because it will be fun Let's sully his good name amongst his friends and his bitches Let's say he has VD and on the street he snitches Let's send him a video of you and I making love doing things that I told him I never even dream of I know how you feel about me and "yes" I'll be your girl but first you have to Help me destroy his world the end.
I received my first drum set on my ninth birthday. It was a present from my mother. Being the most expensive present I had ever received at that point, the drums came with a threat: If I didn't practice every day...the drums would be sold. The threat wasn't a serious concern for me because I had been begging for a set of drums since I was five years old. My mother would later come to regret making such a threat as it resulted in nine straight years of constant loud drumming in our suburban household.
The above story came to mind because I recently acquired a set of drums by a mother following through on her threat to sell the drums if her son didn't practice. In her ad, the mother stated that the kit was hardly used because her son had simply lost interest. As a result of free online ads and a young boy's desire to switch form drums to brass, the mother regained some of her investment and I received a great deal on a practice kit.