Dispatches from the road from our wayfaring travelers.
We spent the morning preparing for our set tonight at the Key Club, then headed to the hotel for a few hours of R & R. The energy at the Key Club was peaking as camp bands ruled the stage one by one. Literally every band had performed with intensity and precision, and every camper’s faced expressed the same sentiment: It’s great to be alive! Our band was scheduled to perform last, and we scorched through “Rainbow in the Dark” (Ronnie James Dio), our original song, and “My Hero” (Foo Fighters) in honor of Rami for making our camp experience so positive and productive. Fellow campers and counselors said their goodbyes as we prepared to head back into reality. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, the entire Rock Camp staff accommodated to the campers’ every eccentric need. Most remarkably, they did it all with smiles on their faces and rock –n- roll in their hearts. I truly hope I get the opportunity to reunite with my band mates again someday, but I know they will keep music going in their lives and do it with a little more edge now that we’ve tasted the rock –n- roll fantasy.
Rehearsals resumed all morning for our recording session later in the evening. Rami then treated us to an amazing sushi lunch, followed by a tour of his amazing studio. After dinner, the band loaded onto the Gibson tour bus and headed to EASTWEST Studios for our original song recording. EASTWEST is the home of incredible legendary recordings from rock and pop superstars over the last 50 years. There to greet us in the booth was the notable producer, engineer and camp counselor, Ron Nevison. Ron has worked with the likes of The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Bad Company, Chicago, and Led Zeppelin, so I knew we were in good hands. The session was over before we knew it and the rough mixing process began. I’m looking forward to getting the final mix in a couple of weeks. Hopefully it will catch the great mood we all were in after collaborating so well together.
We spent the day at AMP Studios rehearsing our original song for the recording session tomorrow and jamming to various songs so we can fill out our set at the Key Club. We got a chance to jam with Ace Frehley from KISS, and I sat in on a Q & A drum session with Charles “Keep a Knockin” Connor (original drummer for Little Richard) and Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats). Connor created that unique, choo choo train sound with nonstop 1/8th notes that American and British drummers in the 50′s and 60′s copied over and over in the 1950′s and 1960′s. As a left-handed drummer, I am always navigating in a right handed world by constantly switching the drum set when I share gear with other drummers. Performances become logistically bothersome when the drums and mics have to be changed quickly. Both Charles and Slim Jim are lefties, and Charles even told us that he was discouraged by others at an early age not play drums because he was left-handed. It turns out that there are many left-handed drummers but are often pressured in their youth to conform to a right-handed kit, like Ringo Starr. The rock stars have all been generous in sharing stories about the road and the many musicians they have known over the years, and I’m stretching out as a drummer by playing a variety of rock styles.
The band rehearsed today in preparation for an acoustic performance at the Gibson Guitar Showroom in Beverly Hills. As we were deciding what song to perform, Rami suggested “No Rain” by Blind Melon. When the song came out in 1992, I listened to it thousands of times in my car until the cassette wore out. The choice of song was certainly a good one as Rami got on the phone and asked some of his friends to join us on stage that night – Christopher Thorn (bass) and Brad Smith (mandolin) from Blind Melon, and Jesse Greene (violin), who recently toured with the Foo Fighters and now with Pink. Rami broke out his accordion and the extended jam version of the popular song went over big with the crowd. The band is really coming together this week and ready for more.
Click here to see the performance at the Gibson Showroom
Campers arrive at the AMP studios via a Gibson Tour Bus at 10 am. Everyone’s still tired from the night before, but we quickly head to the practice rooms and crank up the amps. We rehearse for a few hours before various rock stars show up to hang with the bands. Our band rocked out on “Runnin’ with the Devil” with Michael Anthony of Van Halen and Chickenfoot, I traded drum solos with Steven Adler and Sandy Gennaro, and played a few Kiss numbers with Bruce Kulick. Our band has already written most of an original song for our recording. More to come.
Thanks to a fellowship grant from The Chicago Community Trust, I am here in Hollywood as one of about 60 campers spending six days with an incredible array of rock star counselors to live “the dream.” Today I was assigned to a band featuring Rami Jaffee (the Wallflowers and Foo Fighters, among other projects). The band consists of seven members including Rami, and represents East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, and Canada: three guitars, two drummers, bass, and vocalist. Just after meeting for the first time, we had 1 ½ hours to choose a band name and pick and rehearse a song to play at the Key Club for the opening party. We chose “No Logos” for the name, a reference to the dress restrictions placed on us due to a VH1 film shoot going on here the camp. Seconds after we were ready to play, one of the guitarists started to riff on “Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. We never looked back. No Logos closed out the student bands at the Key Club party, and handed it over to a rock star counselor jam that brought the house down.