Rock Harp Diaries … Sunday, June 4, 2012

10AM -I emailed Larry Luddecke last night for an emergency Skype Hammond B3 lesson for one of the tunes I’m playing on tour with Steve Vai.  I can play keyboard – but know nothing about various ‘styles’ of playing – and I often turn to Larry for help – but that’s when I’m in Boston.

Turns out Larry’s not a Skyper – but he did me one better, and this morning called with a phone number for Jim Lang, a great player, composer, and person-who-can-speak-my-language-musically who came to my hotel room and gave me a B3 bracer plus some history of Hammond Organs, Lister Amps and we talked about the language of music.

Jim Lang Gives me a B3 Boost

I never really liked that organ sound, but after the lesson with Jim, I love it.  No time to explain everything he said, but was struck by the lengths to which the builders in the 30’s worked to give keyboard players the chance to bring a new level of expression and color to their sound.

Then off to Starbucks and Ralph’s for provisions and hoping to stumble on a few dogs to pet.  Petco accross the street gives great access.

Also have discovered source of falling carrots (on door of fridge, bag upside down.)

Last night up til 1:30 (early) reworking “Builiding the Church” to try to get more of notes into my part — so that means slowing it all back down again.  Final tempo is quarter note around 120 – currently I’m about sixteenth note equals 50.  For non musicians, the equivalent would be a snail looking at Boston Marathoner.  Seems impossible.  Am ignoring that for now.

Had to find a way to practice loud singing today.  Hotel room not conducive.  Remembered isolated parking lot, but on way there, in that magic time of evening when everything glows from inside, two impossibly-illuminated purple trees, like out of a fantasy, right in my path – but no fantasy — just  light and nature – maybe that’s the best fantasy.

Made it to isolated parking lot, ran around in circles singing to my ipod and hoped it truly is isolated.  But it’s LA … maybe they’re used to that.

On way home I heard a mockingbird, through music on ipod.  Pulled out headphones to hear two mockingbirds, mine and another in further tree, in call and response. So I tried my own call, thinking he might sing back.  But no – he stopped singing. Then shook his head, hopped back in to his tree — probably to check bird dictionary or complain about the neighborhood deteriorating.

Then felt suddenly shy because when I looked up there saw a lanky man, looked to be in his seventies, headed up the street  So I commented, made light of singing to birds, and we stopped to talk.  Turns out he’s 92 – not in his 70’s – and the father of Paul Stanley from Kiss.

He’d never heard of Steve Vai, but I’d never heard of Paul Stanley, even though I’ve heard of Kiss.  So we talked about Rockport, Massachusetts, and opera, the fine art of Jewish Sabbath.

How does LA do that?  You stop to talk to a nice stranger in the street and you find out he’s the father of a rock star or a movie star.  Out of the two strangers I’ve had spontaneous personal conversations with out here both were parents of stars – one a rock star, the other a movie star.  You’d think the odds against that were pretty high.  But it’s LA being LA.

Came back home.  “Home” – ha!  I mean the hotel.  OK, so I guess it’s home for now, and worked again until 2AM.  Transcribing, practicing, prioritizing – hoping that what I worked on is what we’ll rehearse tomorrow … and making a commitment to chronicle … and wondering where I’ll find the time to live up to that commitment.


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