Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brubeck to Emerson to Squids in Binghamton

Road trip!

I drove up to Binghamton, NY to meet up with Randy McStine who I've been working with both on my own project Sonic Elements as well as his original music project called "Lo-Fi Resistance". This past year I co-produced, co-wrote and played keys on his album "Chalk Lines" and I came up to celebrate the release of the album in his home town!

Here's the "Chalk Lines" album in a record store 
(as a joke we put it in the Nickelback section just for the photo)

It was a 3 and 1/2 hour drive from where I was in Connecticut. But when you're into music like I am you don't talk about how many "hours" driving. It's how many "albums"... like this: "It was 4 albums away". That's nothing! What a great chance to listen to 4 albums all the way through... and with cool scenery like shown above. I listened to all of ELP's Tarkus and I listened to all of Chalk Lines as well. I put on the roughs of my own solo album and I cranked up Led Zeppelin's new Celebration Day live album. It was quite an enjoyable ride! 

When I arrived we immediately head over to a college radio station called The Signal, WHRW 90.5 in Binghamton for a live interview promoting Chalk Lines. They played 3 songs from the album, one song from Randy's first Lo-Fi Resistance album "A Deep Breath" and they also played the Sonic Elements version of "Limelight" by Rush which features Randy on vocals, me on keys, John Wesley on guitars, Billy Sherwood on bass and Neil Peart Drums by Sonic Reality (Neil Peart of Rush performing the drums via a sample library I did with Rush producer Nick Raskulinecz). It was a lot of fun. 

The next day, while I was waiting for Randy to personally send out CDs to his Kickstarter backers, I gave Keith Emerson a call. We had talked tentatively about doing another session this coming weekend so I wanted to confirm. The 45 minute epic conversation I had with Keith was very emotional because today Dave Brubeck passed away and he was a huge influence of Keith's. He was telling me how he had just spoken with Dave's son a few days ago and they were making plans for Brubeck's 92nd birthday which would have been tomorrow. I had actually read that on Keith's girlfriend Mari's Facebook page... and also that they had been crying all day when they heard the news. So, I knew this was going to be a difficult conversation for him to have emotionally but it was good we did. Pretty amazing that here one of MY musical heroes was telling me all about one of HIS musical heroes. What an honor to see Brubeck through Emerson's eyes for that moment. Keith was telling me how Dave Brubeck signed something for him once and that Dave had asked Keith "How do you do that spinning piano trick?" and Keith replied "I don't recommend it"... a lot of fond memories that I was privileged to hear. 

Dave Brubeck and Keith Emerson in 2009

We talked about Brubeck's musical legacy and of course I reminded Keith that we all feel the same way about him. He knows that. But I think it's safe to say that it means a lot to him to know that he's influenced younger generations of musicians. He even said at one point in the conversation "we should perform a dual piano thing live" and I thought to myself "uh oh... how good does he think I am????" haha. It'd be a thrill for me and I'd just have to embrace my inner Tarkus. I suggested that Keith join me and Francis Dunnery for one of the charity event gigs at some point. He seemed to like that idea a lot and it just so happened that Francis called through while I was talking to Keith. Some nice serendipity there! I love that. 

Keith and I talked about many other things including some very funny stories as well. You can imagine how many great stories someone like Keith Emerson might have to tell. I have some good ones too and we both agreed how important it is to have a sense of humor. We also talked about how music has a life of its own and lives on past the people who have made it. Dave Brubeck has an amazing legacy and his music has had a huge impact on so many people. He lived a long life and we should all be so lucky to make it within a day of turning 92. We sometimes think people will be around forever. But we all have to go sometime. C'est la vie. Dave Brubeck will be missed and will continue to be celebrated by many. 

On the way back it started to snow. It was really beautiful. 

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