Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Have you ever been part of something that was fun during the moment and then that little voice inside your head says, "You know you're pay for that..."?

Yeah...me too. Only that little voice was my sweet wife pointing out the obvious truth about the situation.

The situation...

During our last show on the road with a huge country music super-star, my bandmates and I pulled a bit of a practical joke.
It was the last night of the tour, and said star has a reputation for pulling practical jokes on his opening acts. We once witnessed his entire crew dismantle a side-by-side ATV and drag it out onto the stage during another performer's set. That day we saw his crew dismantle an act's gear while they were playing their last song! We felt sure that we were going to fall victim to this regular methodology during our set, so much so that our fearless leader said right before we walked out onstage, "Well boys...here we go! One big sitting target!!"
Oddly enough, there were no practical jokes pulled on us. Apparently, the headliner was wrapped up in some pre-show business and ran out of time to play havoc with us during our set. Too bad for him and his crew...
During the encore, while we were all on stage together in one big jam session, the guys dowsed said country star Super Bowl style by dumping a very large Gatorade cooler filled with ice water onto him. Immediately after the dowsing, my bandleader said over the microphone for all to hear, "There you go, Coach!"

Poor guy...that water was REALLY COLD!!!

Everyone had a laugh...even the big superstar. It was taken for what it was...good clean fun. Said star even hugged us all afterwards and showered us with words of love and water-logged hugs.

Later, my lovely wife says to me...and I quote...
"You know you boys are going to have to watch your backs for a long time, right? I mean...he's gonna get EVEN. You DO know this, don't you?" (Leave it up to my wife to scare the shit out of me!)

(Gulp!) I can only imagine what twisted fate this gentleman has started dreaming up for us...

My day in the land of Wonka

In 1929, a man named Aram Zildjian passed the family business down to his nephew, Avedis III. The family business was cymbals. It had been highly successful and lucrative for over 300 years, and had been passed down from father to first son for many generations. Not having any sons of his own, Aram wanted to pass it down to the closest thing to a first born son that he had...his nephew.
Avedis had built a successful candy business in Quincy, MA and agreed to take on the family business so long as the business could move to America. Aram agreed and the Zildjian Cymbal factory moved to the USA.

Here's a picture of Avedis III in 1929...

The business almost immediately became a fixture in American music from that point onward, shaping the sounds of American music for generations to come. In fact, they are still making innovations today.

Recently, I had an opportunity to go and visit the factory. I had equated the whole thing(in an earlier blog) to feeling like Charlie Bucket having a golden ticket to visit Wonka's magical factory. My visit was all that I had dreamed of and more. Funny that I should equate my visit to a child getting to peer into his favorite candy maker's factory, when the first American proprietor was indeed, a candy maker himself before taking on the family business.

I met lots of folks there and even the current owner Craigie Zildjian...whose father passed the business down to her several years back. I find it very interesting and intriguing that a family business that had been passed down from father to son for so many generations has been, and will be for a while, passed down from mother to daughter.

The tour was, well...incredible! I got to see lots of cymbals. I got to see and touch drumkits that were owned by the great Gene Krupa, and the incredible Buddy Rich. I got to see almost the entire process of how cymbal comes into being...I say almost because there are some things there that have to remain secretive. To be honest, I don't want to know those secrets...it would be like seeing exactly how David Copperfield levitates over an audience or makes the Statue of Liberty disappear. I did get to see a lot though, and it was an experience that I will not soon forget. The phrase "kid in a candy store" doesn't even begin to come close to the level of excitement I experienced. My lovely wife was sooooo patient about it all. She patiently waited while I had pictures taken of me, while I ogled over every detail, and while I tried out several cymbals. Seeing her be so enthusiastic about something that should seem so foreign to her, serves as a reminder as to how truly blessed I am. Yes...I have the coolest wife EVER!!(she even loves muscle cars!)

Inside the factory offices, the folks there at Zildjian recreated the famous factory door from 1929. Here's me standing in front of it...

Holly was kind enough to humor me by taking my picture! I love her so much!!

Hopefully I can make a regular pilgrimage to the factory...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Come with me...And you'll be...

In a world of pure imagination...
Take a look and you'll see...
Into your imagination...

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it...
Anything you want to, do it...
Want to change the world, there's nothing to it...

Anyone who remembers the old movie "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" starring Gene Wilder, needs only read or hear those first two lines and the song gets stuck inside their mind indefinitely. What a beautiful way to punctuate that scene where the big door opens up and a magical world of wonder gets opened up to the eyes of a child.
"Hold your breath...make a wish...count to three...", Gene's character whispers gently before the song begins.

I will be paying a visit to the Zildjian Cymbal Factory and Headquarters in a couple of days. I'm sure that song will be quietly resonating through my head during my visit. It's a place that I've dreamed of visiting for many years...actually since I first started playing drums. Even though it's a business related trip, I feel as if I've been given a golden ticket with which to gain entry into Mr. Wonka's amazing and magical chocolate factory...only it is cymbals instead of chocolate and the owners' last name isn't Wonka...it happens to be Zildjian.(The family business has been around since 1623. It started in Turkey and then relocated to America in 1929. That makes it the oldest family-owned business in the USA!)
Just like Wonka's chocolates and sweet treats, the Zildjian family recipe for the cymbal alloy is a closely guarded secret...though I doubt I will be approached by anyone named Slugworth asking me to bring to him a percussion equivalent of the Everlasting Gobstopper. If any Slugworth does attempt to employ me for such things, I would definitely be like young Charlie and leave the Gobstopper on Wonka's desk. However, I can tell you now without doubt, that there will be no glass elevator for me, and no zany, wild-haired dude in a purple velure pimp suit is going to give me the factory. In spite of having no glass elevator(believe me, I've asked), the Zildjian factory has always been my "Wonka-land", where one needs a golden ticket to get in, and where dreams and creativity are the building blocks upon which the whole place is founded. I'll be sure to blog about it afterwards and maybe post a photo or two.

I have been thinking today about how charmed my life seems to be these days and through recent years...and how so many of my dreams have come true. I've got a great gig. I've won Grammys. I'm married to the only girl who has ever successfully taken my breath away every single time I have seen her...and still does(She's my best friend by the way, and has been since we were kids). Yep...my life is definitely charmed. It's not without struggle or strife...my life does have ups and downs. Just like everyone else in the world, I have to stretch the paycheck to make sure the bills get paid, mow the lawn when the grass gets too tall, and I bitch quietly to myself whenever I find that there's only one square of toilet paper left on the roll. However, more often than not, I find myself feeling like Charlie Bucket as he opens his eyes and peers into a real world that only pure imagination can create, and feeling as if Gene Wilder himself is looking at me saying, "Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted...He lived happily ever after."

"We are the music makers...and we are the dreamers of dreams"- Willie Wonka

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Detroit Rock City

We had a great show this past weekend in the Motor City!
A capacity crowd at Ford Field...an excited crowd...a rowdy crowd!
The energy in the place was HUGE!

I love it when the crowd is really into the show, singing every word of every song and having a great time...

It dawned on me at one point during KC's set that there is something that never happens to our band, at least, it never happens with any regularity. We never have issues with drunk people getting onstage, uninvited. We never have women throwing their under-garments at us while we're onstage. We never have women exposing themselves at us during the show. Not that we want them to...honestly, we're quite happy with that arrangement. We seem to have somewhat of a good-time party vibe without losing touch with the idea that it's cool to bring kids to the show...we really enjoy the idea that kids can generally come to our shows.

What would we do if someone did get onstage uninvited?- Probably nothing...one of many security personnel would politely escort them off the stage and the show would continue uninterrupted. We did have a drunk guy walk onstage during a show once. He was holding a t-shirt in one hand and a Sharpie in the other...apparently it didn't occur to him that the middle of a song is not the appropriate time to ask for an autograph. He got within ten feet of ZB and Massif had him wrangled up and was dragging him off before anyone could even tell what was happening. Poor guy didn't even know what hit him, though I could could imagine that it felt something akin to being hit by a truck, having that truck fold you up like a cheap lawn chair, and then having said truck throw you into a garbage bin.
What would we do if someone threw under-garments onto the stage?- Again, probably nothing. At most, we would laugh about it...but the show would go on. It did happen once on a cruise ship. Someone threw the most fabulously cute, pink striped thong onstage during a show. All of us pretty much ignored it. Later, I noticed the hand of a drunken woman reaching across the edge of the stage in an effort to fetch them. The funny part is she was squatting down, trying to hide her face, obviously in the hopes of not being noticed...epic fail. I was laughing so hard that I almost fell off the stage.
The question that begs to be asked is this...If you are going to be crass enough to fling your underwear at your favorite band who happens to be onstage, why on earth would you go and try to get them back? More importantly...Why would you think you wouldn't be noticed?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Funny thing about truth. It's rarely black and white.

I have learned that there are always three versions of the truth...this side...that side...and somewhere in between lies the actual real truth.

Truth, is clouded by perception. Thusly, depending on your perception of any given situation, the truth as you see it can be very different than what someone else sees it to be. Perception of fact colors the truth.

That's my opinion...I could be wrong.

Causing a ruckus

Ever have one of those experiences in which you say what you have to say, you mean it intently, and afterwards start having feelings of guilt over having said anything at all?

...me too.

Recently I was put into a situation in which I was asked to explain my reasons behind a business decision that I had made. I told the truth as I perceived it to be. A couple of days have passed and I still stand behind my decision and the reasons for it, however, I can't help feeling guilty about the potential backlash that could have possibly ensued on the other end of things. It was not my intention to be hurtful with my decision. It was strictly based on a well thought out set of principles and not based on a bunch of emotional whims. In spite of it all, there lies the potential for people to have their jobs affected or at least have to deal with unnecessary crap because of it all. I didn't want to screw up anyone's gig...I only wanted to point out some areas where improvements could be made.

Maybe I'm over-thinking all of this. Maybe the fact that I have a conscience is why I'm not cut out to be a business man.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What I truly am is...

Some people think I am famous. I guess to those few who think so, I really just might be. I personally don't subscribe to that opinion.

True, I have a job that is fairly high profile in nature, and it brings with it a certain amount of public exposure, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm famous.

What I truly am is blessed.

Blessed to have the ability to do what I love for a living. Blessed to have a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, and blessed to make enough money at what I do to be able to keep the bills paid. Blessed to be fortunate enough to be married to and have an incredible relationship with my best friend...whom I have always referred to as MY GIRL. Blessed to have two incredible daughters(they are actually step-daughters, but in spite of not providing the DNA, they are still MY BABIES!!). Blessed to have friends and family that love me no matter what. I am even blessed to have three dogs living here at the house, one of which, in spite of being a Chihuahua, finds it necessary to let everyone(including me) know that he will tear your leg off and eat it for lunch if need be.

Yes I am blessed beyond words...my blessings are almost too numerous to count, however I am deeply thankful every single day for the gifts that have been given to me no matter how large or small they may seem to be.

Change in the air...

Change is definitely all around us right now.
The summer is slowly starting to transition into fall. One of my daughters is back at school, starting her junior year of high school; the other starting her sophomore year of college in just a few days. My wife has started a new job today. And I have ended literally ended one business relationship while starting another that will take its place.
Change is scary for some folks...understandably so. It is our fear of the unknown that tends to create so much anxiety over change. I, however, welcome it. It means that new chapters in our lives are beginning...for some of us, it means whole new books are beginning.
Some things never change. It is there that we can find comfort. The things that don't change provide for us the stability to keep us up during the upheavals that changes can bring.
I could be wrong about all of this...who knows?


Hello World Wide Web

I've been thinking of starting a blog for quite some time now...
My wife recently started one and was raving about how easy it is to do, so I thought, "why the hell not?"
The title? Seemed like a good idea at the moment...Diet Drinks, Debbie Cakes, & Drums. Three things I like a lot.
I'm not sure what, if anything, I will have to share with the crazy ethos that is the internet, nor how often I will share my thoughts and musings. I only know that now I have an outlet for them.

First warning...postings may be silly.
Second warning...postings may tend to ramble. I get long-winded when I get on a rant.
Third warning...I may speak my mind...FREELY. If what I have to say offends you, and at some point I'm sure it will, then quit reading my posts or pick another one.

Ok...you've been warned. I don't want to hear any belly aching or bitching about what you may or may not be reading in this thing.