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.

Chuck

We’ll Take the Bill Now Waiter

I love progress, I really do.  It’s gotten so dysfunctionally slick that instead of just getting an e-mail showing what I owe on my cable bill I receive a full-on, condescending video of what I owe with audio notes explaining how I got into this mess in the first place.

Being a forward-thinkin guy, I’d like to recommend the next step in our world of progress by suggesting that my cable provider invent a cartoon character called “Billy: Your Friendly Bill Explainin’ Squirrel” wherein Billy would explain to us how idiotic and self-indulgent it was to order “Wanda Does Walla Walla” in a moment of weakness last month, resulting in a “very reasonable” charge of $17.99 per viewing.  Billy could then step into the next phase of the billing process where he resolves absolutely none of our questions in the billing and tax phase of our bill to the point of imparting in an appropriately high, squeaky voice “HAHA!!! F*&# YOU and I’m NOT GONNA TELL YA!! or “GET A LIFE GOOMBAH!

Still, I have high hopes for our theoretical friend. Being cute and fuzzy can really take u a long way in this world, much like the Terrier outside my window who figures it sound thinking to bark his ASS off at 2:30 in the morning. Getting back to Billy, I’d like to see his lovability used as a force for positive change bringing love, peace, goodwill, free love, opioids and all the other fun stuff that modern society provides us.

To be honest, all I’ve been doing in the preceding paragraphs is running interference while waiting for Chuck’s response to this e-mail:

Me: “1st off, I went to Nick’s for a beef combo and gravy fries today cuz I just couldn’t take it anymore after 3 months of introverted denial (Evil demon on left shoulder: “get Nick’s roast beest w/gravy fries Jim, Chuck would WANT u to do it” while the angel on my right shoulder is saying “No, no it’s a sign of betrayal!”

Guess which side won.  Having just driven 8 hours up and 8 hours back to and between a wedding in Provincetown, MA I’da thought that a good post or two would be easy money, but no dice. As my sister so eloquently put it “I can’t believe we got thru that incident-free.”  (My family’s weddings usually qualify as some kinda spectacle that’d make the Cirque du Soleil jealous.)

Having noted all this I’ll take ANYTHING in the way of ideas for a post (it’s been a while, man.) including your scientific opinion on the preservation of mastodon fossils.  Lacking that, I’ll post this e-mail and WHATEVER thoughts on the subject of wooly mammoths as u may  be so kind as to impart.”

As fun and wonderful a writer Chuck is he can also be a surly, recalcitrant bastard when he wants to be. Fear not, for I shall harass him when/where necessary. This is my solemn promise to u.

Oh, Tom Petty died last week as most of us know by now.  One person fancied him an equivalent American songwriter equal to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan (allow me to throw in John Lee Hooker) in a statement I’ll never disagree with. Once again lemme see if I can git this video goin’ (it always seems to be a challenge) If not, listen to The Travelling Wilburys “End of the Line” and “Handle With Care” on your own.  You’ll be glad u did.

Stay safe and be strong.

Jimmy

 

 

 

Wonderland

Time to swim against the current a little. I know at this time of year, most parents are overjoyed that the kids are heading back to school. Not this parent. I love all of the things that the girls and I do all summer long. I love being outside with them. I love game nights that start at 9 o’clock at night. I love heading to the local park to shoot hoops with them. I love taking them to baseball games. I love hitting the beach with them. I love attending outdoor concerts with them. But, mostly, I love the freedom that summer allows. Childhood races by at blinding speed, and childhood summers race by even faster. I, for one, am in no hurry to see them end.

Chuck

Yep, I have those memories too although I’ve hadda adjust mine to “stay the %#&* outta jail”.

Walter Becker of Steely Dan recently passed away so lemme see if I can hook you up with a good number here (below). Becker w/b the guy playing bass and singing in the background by the drum kit. He and singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen pioneered a lot of the music we hear today and yes, that’s Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar for you Doobie Brothers fans.

Jimmy

 

Let’s Hit it Again

I recently started mourning, while celebrating, the loss of great Americana traditions via the show “American Pickers” whereby the pickers find old motorcycles, jugs, art and other interesting memorabilia from people’s yards and barns, etc., displaying our past and how we got to the point we are today thru these objects.

This got me to thinkin’ about what treasures of the past I’d like to see make a comeback…

The Dunce Cap-Never heard of it? The Dunce Cap was used in elementary school to inspire lesser students to greater intellectual heights via ritual humiliation by seating the offending youngster in a chair at either the front or rear corner of the classroom while wearing a white, cone-shaped paper hat on his/her noggin that had the word “DUNCE” prominently displayed on the front of it.  (Scarring kids for life wasn’t a big issue back then.)

The Hotfoot- Apparently this was a big hoot during World War II.  Here’s how it works: If you notice that a friend, comrade, etc. has fallen asleep barefoot in your presence then the only thing to do (apparently) was to stick a lit match between two of his toes and wait patiently while the flame makes it way to skin contact.  The resulting hilarity involves the subject waking and suddenly hopping around like some kind of nitwit while screaming like a banshee. Unfortunately, the targeted individual didn’t always quite see things in line with the intended humorous effect often resulting in a fistfight.

Working on Your Own Car- Yeah, yeah, people still do this but not like before. Dinging your finger on the fan, spitting out black fluid from an ill-advised posture during an oil change or being semi-electrocuted resulting in temporary loss of consciousness while dealing with vehicle issues was a rite of passage back in the day.  It’s a man thing. Having black, oily, severe looking, emergency room-level cuts made you more of a man provided it didn’t kill ya.  Nowadays you’ll be needing such ultra expensive, sophisticated equipment and such intensive training that the average backyard mechanic just can’t compete.

Music- Don’t get me wrong here.  I LOVE seeing my favorite bands on YouTube while equally digging some of the new bands (big fan of the Pretty Reckless) and I don’t know what heaven’s like but I think I’d like to scan the radio, dealing with static only to hear “Hey WHAY listeners! Here’s newest number from Buddy Holly!” While I was used to scouting around my transistor radio, hearing static in my dialing search and getting frustrated from time to time, I still miss hitting a gem.  Nope, Buddy Holly died before I was even born but his legacy ultimately made me want the experience all the more (and again).

Jimmy