Tom between sets

My story..

Another of my hobbies is music. I love music! Maybe that is one of the reasons I like Morse code so much.. Anyway, ever since I can remember, music has played an important part of my life. I still have fond memories of Christmases where the whole family would sit in the living room on Christmas eve, singing Christmas carols. Mom with her great harmonies, and Dad's bass parts.Angels We Have Heard Another time another story..

When I was growing up, I always seemed to be fascinated by sounds, in fact, I still am. I do a pretty good imitation of several well-known celebrities, and can do a pretty good imitation of several day to day sounds. Ask my gym kids about that.. Another story...

Drums always seemed like the logical instrument for me. When I was in 6th grade, one of my friends, Steve Kam, had a real drumset. I remember him playing along with a "Hawaii 5-O" recording, and I was hooked. I tried it, and that was how I got started on real drums. I had "faked" it for years as a kid, but this was the real deal... I played there whenever I could. Never with other musicians though.

Guitar seemed also to be something I was attracted to; not screaming lead, I always tended to want to learn chords and rythm guitar. I guess it is similar to the drums-more rythm then lead....I do slightly better than average on my Martin D-35 acoustic guitar, I still love those cool chords. Someday I want to get one of those great "Chet Atkins" hollow-body guitars-you know the ones, the ones that are about 5 inches thick. Those things are great for those cool jazz chords......

I started guitar when I was in maybe 7th grade. Nothing fancy, in fact, it was my dads old nylon string guitar. Pretty much self taught myself a few chords, in a few weeks, I was playing my first song "House of the Rising Sun" (A minor, C, D, F-that "F" was a bitch too! )

By 10th grade, I had bought myself my first "real" guitar, a Gibson J-50 Deluxe. I wish I still had it, it was a real beaut! I started playing in the folk choir, lots of fun and memories there-mostly girls and Pat Megowan 's cool bass riffs. Pat-he is the best guitarist I've ever met! That guy could play! He still can. A few years ago, I met him up in Oregon-we had a gymnastics meet there. We didn't say much, but we played the old songs for two hours. It was the best visit I have ever had. We spoke with our old songs! The years melted away, but then as always, it was time for me to go. I wish I could have spent more time talking, but we did both have a great time. He still sure can jam!

My first band was called "The Voodoos". We were pretty good. I was drums. (of course) Mark, my older brother was lead guitar and songwriter, my younger bro Dave was the other guitarist. We had some pretty good tunes, songs like "Behold her by my Side" and "Jimmy Speckle" were big chart favorites back in the late 60's. Also several other songs were created. Unfortunately, we really didn't have much more than cardboard "voice" guitars (you know "ba-bah-bah, bi-ding ba-dinga" and "voice" box drums. I played a mean set of voice drums. See above for sound mimics. I remember I used an old tin bowl for my bass drum. It was about 20 inches across, it was originally used to make cotton candy. You know, you would melt the sugar, then put the container of molten sugar on a centerfuge in the center of this big tin bowl., and it would spin real fast inside the bowl, and make the cotton candy. Yum! It somehow broke (go figure!) and so we covered the big bowl with an old cotton sheet in front, and painted our "Voodoos" logo on it. It was pretty cool. We played some pretty big gigs back then. We played Hollywood bowl, The Palace, Shea Stadium, and many others. The fans were incredible. We were rock gods. All in our imaginative minds of course. It was great fun. I still think of those days sometimes when I play live.

My first real band was called "The First String". It was composed of my brother Mark on bass guitar, myself on drums, Mike on Guitar, and Richard on lead. It was a fun band- all covers, but loads of fun. Mark and I always wanted to learn to get our parts "just right", but the other two didn't seem to share our obsession. I think I still have some of our old stuff on tape somewhere. It was cool stuff.

I still remember the first kit I played in that band, it was Mike's. It was an old "beater" kit, you know the type, looks like it is a few years old, and the cymbals were old and worn out, but it was a drum kit! The first kit I bought for myself is also the kit I am using today. It is a five piece Pearl Export Series kit with a Ludwig Chrome snare, with nothing but Zildjian cymbals. I also got the cases for the drums, and those cases are worth their weight in gold. I use a DW5000 drum pedal, 5A sticks, Remo Ambassador drumhead on the snare, and hydraulics on the toms and kick.

When I was in Ventura, I did some recording for my brother Mark. Mostly drum tracks, he would tell me to just play a drum beat, and add breaks where I felt they should be. He would then use these tracks like a "drum machine", and plug his songs he wrote into the tracks. Kind of hard for me, but some actually turned out pretty good. Some songs he had already done the guitar and bass parts, and I would try and put the drum tracks in. That was kind of tough too! He had an eight track reel to reel multi-tracker he borrowed from Mike. Mike never knew how to use it so Mark gladly "borrowed " it for several months. He finally had to give it back. A few years ago I bought Mark an eight track machine on E-Bay that was almost exactly like the one he used back then. Mark had a TON of stuff still saved on tape (he never throws away old recordings) and it was really fun time to listen to those songs-some were almost 20 years old-again. I think we both had tears in our eyes when we heard 'em again-it brought back some good times. Good stuff! I wish he would try to market some of them. Here is one of my favorites. Its in mp3 format download, but its worth it! Smokin' and Drinkin' I like the bass and drum part, Mark "bumped them" a bit for me for this recording. I have been trying to get my current band to play this one as a original.

The second band I was in was called "Sidewinders" not "The Sidewinders", just "Sidewinders". It was mostly a blues band, great band musically, but lacking much vocally. Gregg and Eric shared lead guitar duties, and they both were real good. Gregg maybe slightly better than Eric. Gregg played a Fender Strat, a spittin' image of Stevie Ray Vaughn's axe, and I've yet to hear ANYONE play Stevie Ray better than Gregg could! This guy could jam.....I still have those songs we did, on CD no less! We did a version of "Spooky" (ARS version) that was pretty damn good. I still love to listen to the lead guitar part. Gregg really nailed it, especially that cool lead in the middle when they go to the key change...
Listen here to Spooky. I am especially proud of the way we switched keys, just like The Antlanta Rythme Section. Listen to the way I hit the ride on the "off-beat" during the lead part. Just like the record! Sorry about the quality, especially the vocal quality. We did these recordings with a Yamaha 4 track, with one mic in the center of the room. You MAY want to bump up your EQ for these recordings.

Here is one called Pride and Joy. It is an old Stevie Ray Vaughn song. It was always fun to play it. We did a lot of Stevie Ray stuff. Gregg could really nail the guitar part.

Here is another Stevie Ray song called Cold Shot. I have to "drag" the snare on the snare hits. Listen to Gregg wail with the guitar as Eric fills in on rythme. It sounds cool!.

Next is an Eric Clapton song called Empty Arms. It's another song much like Cold Shot where I drag the snare hits. It really bounces, it's just a basic I-IV-V progression. Again, Gregg really nail the leads.

Another classic Clapton Crossroads. I really wail on this one. What you can't really hear very well is my right foot pounding out eighth notes on the kick.

Next is a classic Rolling Stones song, Honky Tonk Women. We got some assist from one of Randy friends. It turned out pretty good. I never have seen anyone play this like Gregg did- He would tune the guitar to open "G". It has a cool drum roll ending. (hehehe)

Here is our version of The Doors Love Me Two Times. Even now when I listen to this song on the radio, I always find myself counting the beats when Jim Morrison sings "Love me two times, I'm going away" (then eleven hits-listen!)I was especially proud of the way the hi hats sound just like the record.

The next band I was in was called "Stranger Things". They did almost all Country stuff. Not my favorite music, but fun to play none-the-less. The members were good vocalists, but lacked musical skills. The guitarist was adequate, but the bass player and keyboards were kind of weak. It was a good gig, we even played once for the Kern County Fair, pretty cool. I could see my musical abilities change, but I think they improved as well. I looked, but couldn't find any recordings with that band . :( too bad! We did a great versions of some Shania stuff, way before she went Rock.....)

When I first moved to Nebraska, after a few months there was an add in the local paper for a drummer for classical rock. I figured what the heck, and gave 'em a call. Turned out that "Classic rock" was Poison, AC/DC and such. Not exactly what I envisioned as classic rock, but what the heck? I jammed with them, played along with all sorts of stuff I never even heard, just followed them, putting accents in where I thought they'd go, etc, you know the drill. Turns out that they thought I was pretty good, and asked me if I wanted to join the band! Well, not exactly what I had in mind, so I thanked them and said no thanks. That was the last time I played drums for a long time.

After almost 6 years of not playing drums, I saw an add in the paper asking for a drummer for a country band. I thought what the heck again, and auditioned. Now, I'm NOT a fancy player, but I can keep a beat, and fake it pretty good, and thats what I did that night! Well, it turns out they asked me back for another audition ( I played their drumset) and they asked me on! The name of the band was "Bakersfield"- don't that beat all?

We did mostly covers, and they are what I would call "traditional" country music songs, NOT new Country. Again, not necessarily my favorite genre of music, but I liked the people in the band, and it was fun, for a while. After a few years, some of the band members decided it would be cool to try some new things, so we "broke up", and reformed under the name "The Reloaders".

Here are some links to some of the songs we "covered" for a demo CD to use for enticing people to hire us!
Boot Scootin' Boogie
Neon Moon
Little Less Talk  

In late 2008, our leader decided he'd had enough, so The Reloaders broke up! I sat in for one band, but the keyboardist never called me back, so I read that as fate. Love to get back to it some day....



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