One In A Million

Daoud Shaw. An Appreciation. I first had the pleasure of meeting Daoud back in the spring of 2000. I was in a Philly area band called Third Level and we decided that we wanted to record our first (and only) album entitled, “Altered Horizons”. Our guitarist had a friend who had recorded at this little studio out in Andorra on the edge of Philly. So after a couple of introductory phone calls and e-mails, we set up our first recording session. Prior to recording, I did a little research on the owner/producer of this little studio called Radioactive Productions. The guy’s name was Daoud Shaw. I didn’t know the name, but the resume leaped off the page. He played with Van Morrison, he was the original drummer in the SNL band, he toured with Etta James (and by extension, the Rolling Stones), he was in the Jerry Garcia Band and on and on and on it went. I can fully admit this now. I was unbelievably, off the charts intimidated at the prospect of recording with this guy and a little worried that he might be an egotistical jerk. Then I met him. I have never been more wrong about anything in my entire life. Daoud was as genuine and as kind and as sweet a person as I have ever known.  We all immediately felt right at home. Literally. We were in his home. He was always so welcoming. That studio was so comfortable and Daoud was the main reason why.

Over the next 6 years, we recorded a number of projects with Daoud. My favorite times in the studio were the times in between takes. When we would all just talk. Daoud would offer (almost always correctly) advice on how to make the song better or different or more appealing. We would be sitting there like little kids asking him about all of the famous people he had met and worked with. There was never and I mean NEVER, a hint of “Look at me and who I know” about Daoud. He was so incredibly humble and so incredibly sweet. Instead of hearing wild stories about Mick and Keith, we would hear fantastic little stories about him going out cymbal shopping with Charlie Watts. Or about the days up in Woodstock, NY when he was recording the “His Band And The Street Choir” album with Van Morrison. Or about when he recorded a ton of TV commercial jingles out in LA.  I learned SO much about the recording process from Daoud. Playing music is an art. Recording music is a science. And Daoud was a mad scientist in that little studio. He helped us create things we never thought possible. I remember one late Friday night where we had laid down an acoustic track that just featured vocals and acoustic guitar. We all agreed that something else was needed. That something was Daoud. He (again, 100% correctly) suggested some light percussion. Well, when you’re in the presence of one of the world’s greatest percussionists, it would be foolish not to at least ask him to play. He didn’t want to. Not out of ego or anything like that. “This is your project”, he kept gently telling us. It might have been the late hour, or maybe he was just tired of us all whining at him, but he finally agreed. He played the shakers and the triangle and, best of all, he let me run the board. I was in heaven. I got to watch the master at work (he played brilliantly) and I got to be the apprentice to the mad scientist. It’s a cherished memory that will stay with me forever.

I think the thing I loved most about knowing Daoud laid beyond the studio. He was, at his core and in his soul, a wonderful, peaceful, funny, beautiful person. During breaks, we would hang outside of his house and just talk. And laugh. Lots of laughter. We wouldn’t talk about music. Just about life. He was so fascinating to listen to. I think I enjoyed those times outside more than when we were inside recording. Daoud was a uniquely special person. I fought back tears this morning when I learned of his passing. But for as long as I’m allowed to stay on this earth, I will be eternally happy that our paths crossed and that I got to know Daoud as well as I did and that I got to consider him a friend.

Rest in Peace, my friend. And Make A Joyful Noise.


Excitable Boys

Last week, I asked Diane if she could spend time with any musical artist (dead or alive) who would it be? She said, “I really don’t know, but I know who yours would be.Warren Zevon”. Spend enough time with a person and they really get to know you. She was 100% right. Warren was uber talented (with a reputed genius level IQ), a brilliant lyricist (his lyrics often read like mini novels), a tortured soul (his demons had demons), but most of all, for me anyway, he was this different looking dude who made some of the best music of his generation. He wasn’t blessed with a great voice, but you always knew it was him even if you had never heard the song before. He wasn’t a chart topper, but record sales and musical genius are quite often mutually exclusive. He was equal parts funny, sad, brilliant, angry, romantic, sarcastic and wild. Warren left this world 14 years ago today. (You always knew he wasn’t going to grow old). But the legacy he left behind is astounding.


Yep, this my kinda post.  The coolest story I know about him is that he hopped in his dilapitated car with his guitar and drove to California in the late 60’s/early 70’s, then supplied Linda Ronstadt with “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me”, one of her greatest hits.  Apparently Warren was headstrong enough and so contentious with music critics that one wrote a quick bio of the man (after he was dead, mind you) condemning him as a person while singing his praises as a songwriter/artist.  As Chuck pointed out, the man certainly had an impact.

If anybody had asked me which musician I’d like to spend a little time with, the answer “Ringo Starr!” couldn’t come out of my mouth fast enough.  He’s so humble and likeable that I’d feel actually feel comfortable asking him questions like “what’s it like to be a friggin’ Beatle, man???!!!” Beyond that, I love hearing him sing “A Little Help From My Friends”.  It picks me up when I’m down and that’s the thing music has done, will continue to do and should always be so.

Lemme attach a coupla videos featuring Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money” plus Ringo’s “Photograph” (in no particular order).

As always, hit up when u getta chance.  Plenty of great stuff to see there.


The Doors Revitalized

Robby Krieger. A Concert Review…..

Last night, Miss Ruth and I were sitting 30 feet from an icon. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Robby Krieger kicked off his “Doors Greatest Hits” tour in Collingswood NJ. When you get the opportunity to see someone in the upper echelon of rock some 45 years after their pinnacle of fame, a part of you wonders will he still be able to bring it.

The answer here is a resounding yes! His guitar work last night ranged from fantastic to jaw dropping to mesmerizing. Ruth and I shared two major concerns prior to last night’s show. One, were they going to be able to replace the musical inventiveness of Ray Manzarek and two, were they going to be able to find a solid lead singer. We didn’t kid ourselves. A voice like Jim Morrison’s only comes around once in a lifetime so you can’t replace him. What they did, however, was very effective.

Robby’s son Waylon handled the lead vocals and instead of doing some sort of lame Morrison impression, he just used his own exceptional voice. And it totally worked. Nathan Wilmarth on the keyboards did a very solid job at channeling one of my musical heroes. The rest of the killer band, Phil Chen on bass (even though The Doors never had a bass player. Astonishingly, Manzarek handled the bass lines on the lower end of the keyboard) and Ty Dennis on drums, did the legend of The Doors proud. They opened with the unmistakable samba beat on “Break On Through to The Other Side” and rolled through a good portion of The Doors eclectic catalogue including almost half of the tracks from their seminal debut album, “The Doors” .

This was such a great approximation of one of rock’s greatest bands, I’m sure they were both looking down and as smiling almost big as Ruth and I were. For Ruth and I, the highlight of the evening was the final 3 songs of the show. “LA Woman”, “Soul Kitchen” and “Light My Fire”.  The energy and musicianship that was on display for those 3 songs was straight up amazing. Robby even threw a little Rogers and Hammerstein (“My Favorite Things”) into his extended solo in “Light My Fire”. Despite the absence of Ray (he passed 4 years ago) and Jim (he joined the Dead Poets Society in 1971), this was such a great approximation of one of rock’s greatest bands.

I’m sure they were both looking down and smiling.

Almost as big as Ruth and I were.