Derek Sherinian

Posted September, 2011

 

derekcurrent2As a teenager growing up in Phoenix in the seventies, it seemed that music was alive everywhere and boundaries were being both explored and exploited.  Rock and roll was no longer relegated to three or four piece bands that were made up of a drummer, bass player and one or two guitar players and/or a vocalist.

Keyboards – and by that I mean the new fangled synthesizers that were sweeping the entertainment industry – were beginning to make their presence known in the music business and on our stereos.  Keyboard-heavy bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, and Deep Purple commanded our attention and filled our ears with incredible, intricate sounds that seemed to permeate every cell of our mushy brains.  The keyboard wizardry of Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Jon Lord, respectively, took the tickling of the ivories to a whole new, mind blowing level.

In the new millennia, an artist who has the same kind of keyboard genius pulsing through his veins and is of the same superior level of talent and creativity is one Derek Sherinian.  Beginning his affair with the piano at the age of five and, after three semesters of attending the Berklee School of Music on a scholarship, Derek found himself playing the keys with the legendary Buddy Miles, learning the ways of the road and sharpening his performance skills.

Sherinian then went on to work with the likes of Alice Cooper (who called him “the Caligula of the Keyboards”), KISS, Yngwie Malmsteen and Dream Theater.  He’s currently the keyboard maestro for the super group, Black Country Communion (with guitar great, Joe Bonamassa, bassist, Glenn Hughes, and Jason Bonham on drums) as well as for Billy Idol.

When he wasn’t working with these rock power houses, he produced an incredible body of solo work over the years with albums such as his first release in 1999, Planet X, which was followed by Inertia two years later.  In 2003, he released Black Utopia and Mythology the following year.  Between then and now, he produced Blood of the Snake  and Molecular Heinosity.  These albums still stand very well on their own and are a definite must for the discriminating listener who loves exceptional music.

On the 27th of this month, Derek releases Oceana and it is his best work yet.  Co-written with his good friend and drummer, Simon Phillips, the project also enjoys some great musical muscle from friends like Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Tony MacAlpine, Tony Franklin, Steve Stevens, Doug Aldrich and Jimmy Johnson.

I got to chat about Oceana with Sherinian recently.  Despite the fact that he was enduring a gauntlet of interviews, Derek didn’t act at all tired from the grueling chat-fest schedule. In fact, he sounded enthusiastic to be talking about his new album.

I started off the interview by asking Derek how he would describe Oceana to any of his fans or fans of the various bands and artists he has worked with, or are currently working with.

“I think Oceana is the most melodic and the most grooving of my solo records – and the most focused. I’ve always been very adventurous with the genres and styles of my past records. I’d say that Oceana has the most emphasis on the strong melodies. It’s less heavy metal and less progressive than its predecessors. I really think it’s my best work to date. I know that’s a cliché that artists will say but Simon Phillips and I really but a lot of time and care into the composition, the playing, the production and the choice of players.  We’re very happy with the outcome. The record’s getting rave reviews all around the world so we’re very excited about it.”

I asked Sherinian if he and Simon wrote all the parts for the various artists to play who appeared on Oceana or did they listen to the song and come up with their own magic, he said, “Well, all the songs that I wrote with Simon where it was just the two of us, we brought Steve Lukather in to play guitar because we always hear his guitar – it’s just always there in our minds. He always comes in and exceeds our expectations.

“Then, the other songs where I co-wrote – I did two songs with Steve Stevens  where we came up with the stuff and then put everyone else behind what we wrote.  One song I wrote with Joe Bonamassa and the other with Doug Aldrich – it basically works out that, if I write with a guitar player, that’s who winds up playing on the record.

In this day and age where albums are often made by way of e-mailing tracks back and forth between artists who then add their track in at a studio more convenient to them, I asked Derek if there was much in the way of face time in the studio with the other artists or were they e-mailing tracks back and forth?

“Oh, no, there was no e-mailing.  Everyone came into Simon’s studio – all the guitar players and we tracked everyone. It was great! The cool thing about living in Los Angeles is that you have the best musicians in the world within a five mile radius from my house. They’re all here.

 “The album took four and half months from the first day of writing to the mastering. It usually takes three to six months depending on everyone’s schedule because everyone’s busy in their own band or making their own records. It’s a challenge to coordinate and schedule everyone to come in.”

I figured the toughest part of making an album would be sweating over the finer points of engineering the album, finding a producer one could trust or work well with, or trying to nail down the precise sound one was looking for.  When I asked Sherinian what he thought the toughest part of producing an album was, his answer surprised me.

“The toughest part is coming up with names for these instrumental songs with no lyrics and then naming the album. That really is the toughest part. That really is the hardest part and the biggest struggle.”

Musical geniuses all derive inspiration for their music in endless ways.  Derek said that, “I get inspired by whoever I’m collaborating with. I do write some songs by myself but I get much more enjoyment by going into a room with nothing with someone else and then yanking something from nothing and watching it evolve – the feedback, the back and forth. That, to me, is exciting and I get inspired by working with people that I really respect.”

I followed up that question by asking if he has a particular person or audience in mind as he crafts his music.

“I don’t know. I all just comes down to just closing your mind off and letting your hands move and let your ears rule what’s going on. It all just works out how it’s supposed to.”

I found it interesting that Sherinian co-wrote Oceana with a drummer (Simon Phillips) instead of, say, a guitar player.  I asked him why that was.

“Well, Simon and I first started working together on my Inertia record in 2001. For one thing, Simon is my favorite drummer. I love his choice of beats and groove.  But he’s also very melodic. He’s very capable of going on a keyboard and writing and comes up with great ideas. We just have a connection when we write – a chemistry and it always flows very nicely and we always come up with great stuff together.”

As mentioned earlier, the “Caligula of the keyboards” has worked with some great people throughout your career.  When I asked Sherinian who he hasn’t worked with but hasn’t yet, his answer appeared to be very much at the forefront of his mind.

“I haven’t worked with Jeff Beck yet. He’s on my list and it’s going to happen at some time. I don’t know when but it’s destined to happen. That’s on my bucket list. I’d like to play on his record or, more, I’d him playing on my record with me and Simon writing and playing – or tour with him – in any capacity would be great. But I think that would be the best if he agreed to play on one of my records and have Simon co-write and produce.

“It would also be great to get Edward Van Halen to come in play on one of my solo records. I got a chance to play with him live in 2006 at a private party. That was very cool but it would be nice to write a killer instrumental with him and have him come in and track it.”

With someone who is as intricate in their playing guitar as he is on keyboard, I asked if creating music with a Lukather, Stevens or Bonamassa proved to be more challenging or more synergistic.

“It doesn’t matter. I’ll go in and do something with someone like Tony MacAlpine, who has amazing chops. I just blend. I’m very chameleonic but at the same time I keep my signature sound with whoever I’m playing with. So, it doesn’t matter.”

As for tour plans in support of Oceana, Derek shared that, “there’s talk of us doing some stuff in Europe next year. We’re trying to put that all together. Just stay tuned to my website, DerekSherinian.com for updates on that.”

Sherinians said that, as for plans for the next year, five years, beyond, “I know that next year I’m going to do some more stuff with Black Country Communion – another record.  At the end of this month I start rehearsing with Billy Idol. We’re going to do a short run.  Beyond that, it’s just broad strokes. I just try to stay musical and creative and surround myself with the best players in the world and keep moving forward.

“I would love to get to a place where I sell enough records that I can go tour my solo stuff around the world so that I don’t have to do anything else. That would be an awesome place to be, career-wise, and I’m not there yet.  That’s what I’m working on.”

As our call was wrapping up, my final question to the keyboard genius was the one I often ask at the close of an interview these days: How do you want to be remembered and what would you like to have accomplished when you’ve gone to the great keyboard in the sky?

“I want to be remembered as one of the greats and I want to be known that influenced a whole legion of young – not just keyboard players but musicians. I want to be known as someone that was the architect of metal fusion through my albums, my legacy of who I’ve played with. I just want to leave a mark.”

No doubt, Derek Sherinian will be around for a very long time and will build just such a legacy.  You can pre-order/order Oceana or Derek’s other great solo work by clicking on the icons on the right side of this page.  Every serious rock music library should have these albums.

Also, as he mentioned, you can keep up with his solo tour schedule as well as with Black Country Communion, Billy Idol and others buy visiting www.dereksherinian.com.



Rob Shanahan

Posted March, 2010

robshanahanringoShanahan on Drums Behind Ringo Starr - Photo Courtesy of Rob ShanahanWhile working on my interview with Aerosmith drummer, Joey Kramer, I needed some great photos of him to grace the pages of the interview.  As I was checking out various shots on Kramer’s website, I noticed that my favorite ones were shot by photographer, Rob Shanahan.

I tracked down Shanahan to ask for permission to use his photos.  My search for him led me to a huge array of photographs of many other easily recognizable artists – not only from “my day” but many current celebrities.

While he was gracious enough to allow me to use some of his great pictures, it reminded me of an idea that I had when I launched Boomerocity.com: Interview some of the better rock photographers who have “shot” some of the icons of our day.  After checking out Shanahan’s online portfolio of artists he’s photographed, I knew that I wanted to interview him.

I’ve had several conversations with the 42 year-old Shanahan.  The first observation that I had was that, though he takes his craft very seriously, he’s clearly having the time of his life doing what he does.  When he mentions who all he’s had the privilege of photographing, it’s not in the spirit of name dropping but of sharing the excitement and awe just as he surely did when he first started shooting pictures at the age of fifteen.

Since those early days, Shanahan’s work has appeared on such international publications as Rolling Stone Magazine and has been used for such album covers as Ringo Starr’s latest album, Y Not.

Early in the conversation, Rob immediately confirmed what I gathered from his photographic portfolio:  Not only is he an incredible photographer, he’s also a professional drummer (and a darn good one, at that), having pounded the skins for 16 years with his band, the Hollywood Stones. He’s been drumming since he was 11 years old. 

Let me stop right here to plug his band, Hollywood Stones.  The band is probably THE best Rolling Stones tribute band in existence today.  I’m a huge Stones fan and I don’t like my Stones music messed with – even by the Stones.  But these guys are REALLY good.  Seriously.

Don’t believe me?  Well, then, will you believe accolades from the L.A. Times, NBC News or Showtime! Magazine?  Or, if you think you can’t trust the press to get it right, how about the likes of Dick Clark, Slash, and Eric Burdon?  Yeah, they’re THAT good.

Their uncanny ability to mimic the Bad Boys of Rock ‘n Roll has taken them, not only all over the U.S., but to the U.K., South America and other parts of the world.  Did I tell you that they’re THAT good?  Well, they are.

Back to the Stones in a moment.

It’s obvious that Shanahan’s role as an acclaimed professional drummer has guided him to shoot photographs that reflect not only the perspective of audiences and readers but the perspective of the artists (especially drummers) as well.  His musician’s eye guides him to produce the kinds of shots that his subjects and the readers love and are captivated by. 

Early in our first conversation, Shanahan had me spellbound with his story of how he met Stones drummer, Charlie Watts.  The story was prompted by my comment of the pictures on his website (www.robshanahan.com) of Watts and that it must have been “a dream come true” for him.  His telling of the story reveals his almost childlike awe of the circles he travels in.

“Unbelievable!  I should probably tell you how that came about because it’s a really great story.  Do you know Jim Keltner?  Jim Keltner is one of THE drum studio session guys.  He did all of George Harrison’s and John Lennon’s solo records.  He played drums for Lennon on ‘Imagine’ and on so many great songs we’ve all heard a million times on the radio.  He’s just a really terrific guy.

“I met Jim through the Paiste cymbal company. I’ve become really good friends with Jim photographing him probably a half a dozen times over the years.  Every drum or cymbal ad of Jim within the last seven years, I’ve photographed.  I love working with Jim, I feel that he’s the older brother that I never had.

“He knows my love of the Stones and I told Jim that I’d love to meet Charlie.  He made the call to Charlie and made it happen.

“I think the first city that I went to see him was in Las Vegas at the MGM. I go to the ‘Will Call’ and I get my pass and I noticed the initials ‘C.W’ on it.  I realized that it’s Charlie Watts initials, signifying that I was his guest. 

“I go in and get escorted to the back.  Everyone was really nice.  They knew that Charlie was coming out to meet me.  All of a sudden, Charlie comes in and I was like, ‘Holy crap!’  So, I met Charlie backstage and we had, maybe, five minutes so he asked me, ‘What are you doing the next couple of days?’

“I’m sure that I had something going on.  I don’t remember but I said, ‘Whatever you want to do!’  He asked, ‘Why don’t you meet me in Little Rock?  I’ll have a lot more time.  I’ve got a lot going on in Vegas with ‘meet and greets’ and such.’ So, I went to Little Rock to meet up with him again.

 “So, when Charlie says, ‘Why don’t you meet me in Little Rock?’, you go!  I went and had a really good time with him there.  He took me backstage and showed me around - hung out in his dressing room.  We talked about old drummers and all the drummers that I had been working with lately – recently, etc., etc.  And then, when they came back into Los Angeles, I had an idea - to get Charlie and Ringo together – again – back together! When was the last time these guys had seen each other? 

“So, I called Ringo to ask if he would be interested in doing a shoot with Charlie. He said (sliding into a perfect English accent), ‘Oh, that would be lovely!’

“So, back in LA, the day before the Dodger Stadium show, Jim picked up Charlie at the hotel and came up to Ringo’s.  I was there with Ringo, waiting in the driveway for Charlie. The car pulls up and out comes Charlie.

“Ringo yells, ‘Charlie!’ and Charlie yells, ‘Ringo!’ and they go running towards each other.  I just grab my camera and just start shooting.  I have this great sequence of them running towards each other with outstretched arms and hugging.  It’s a fantastic sequence.

“We hung out at Ringo’s house for the afternoon, for like four or five hours.  He has a couple of rooms in the house just devoted to drum kits.  One is with an electronic kit and the other one has an acoustic kit.

“They went back and forth and played and talked.  I shot pictures of everything and then, at about four o’clock, Ringo looks at his watch and says, ‘Oh!  It’s tea time!’  So the four of us - me, Charlie, Ringo and Jim – are sitting there, poolside, at this little table, having tea and we’re talking about drums, recording, what the Stones are doing now, family, this and that.  I had to pinch myself! 

“What I did is I put together a book of that day and had it published.  I did just a small run of five copies.  I sent one to London to Charlie.  I gave one to Ringo, one to Jim and I have two copies here.  One that I don’t touch – it’s just tucked away and then one that I show people that sits out in my office.  People freak out and go, ‘Holy crap! Do you realize what you’ve got?’

“The important thing is the four of us like the book.  I’ve received a call from Ringo, Charlie and Jim, all completely thrilled with the book.  It was a special day and I am thankful I was able to document it.”

Having been immediately blown away by such an incredible story, I had to ask the obvious question: How did Shanahan break in to the rock photography field?

“I landed in California in the summer of ’88, fresh out of school in Minnesota.  I went to Minnesota State- Mankato.  Studied Photography and business then moved to California.  I just started taking pictures of whatever I could to make money.

“It’s a long story but I started shooting sports – I was the big long lens guy on the sidelines of the football field.  I was shooting for the NFL and Major League Baseball. I did that for about ten years. I’m really not that big of a sports fan but I love my Minnesota Vikings! 

 “I enjoyed shooting but my real passion was music.  I just felt that I really needed to start shooting music so I started poking around in the industry.  I figured that I would just go with what I know.  I know drummers and I know drums.

“Every time I‘d look through a drum magazine, I would think, ‘I should be doing these photographs. Why shouldn’t a drummer be the one to photograph drummers?”

“So I got busy shooting in the music industry.  The next thing you know, I’m shooting more drummers and more ads, then other musicians– and the phone started ringing. It just kinda goes from there, you know?  You never really set the path – it just kind of happens.”

My next obvious question:  How did he manage to not only meet, but become the personal photographer and a friend of, Ringo Starr?

“I met Ringo through Sheila E. I photographed her for a Paiste cymbal ad and she really loved the ad.  Ever since then, she’s called me for all of her stuff. I’ve shot her record covers and her drum and cymbal ads.  Whenever she needs photos, she calls me. 

“She was out on tour with Ringo in ’06 for the All Starr tour. When they came through L.A., she called and said, ‘Rob, you’ve got to come, take pictures.  I’d love to get some shots live, backstage with Ringo, etc.’ I was so nervous.  I was about to meet Ringo.  I couldn’t believe it!

“At the time, in the band, were Billy Squier, John Waite, and Richard Marx. So, I’m back in her dressing room and those guys are popping in and out, saying, ‘hi’.  She’d introduce me and I’m, like, ‘Hi, Billy, how’s it going?  I’m a big fan.’ ‘Hi, John, I love The Babys and all that stuff.’  ‘Hey, Richard . . .”

“The whole time, I’m thinking about Ringo.  Where the heck is Ringo?

“Finally, he comes in and she (Sheila) goes, ‘Hey, Ringo, this is Rob.’  The first thing he says to me, and this is hilarious, ‘Oh, so you’re Sheila’s photographer.’  That’s all he said to me and he walks out.

“I’m, like, ‘Okay, that went well.’”  I thought, ‘That’s Ringo!  I was in the same room!’  I freaked out.

“Anyway, everything went fine.  After the show, I’m hanging out and talking to Eric Singer, the drummer for KISS. I’d never met him before so it was cool sitting and talking to him.  Ringo’s publicist came up to me and introduced herself and said, ‘Hey, Ringo wanted to know if you would be interested in shooting the next couple of shows for him – a band photo and some things for the press.  He wanted me to ask you.’  I’m like, ‘Holy crap! Yeah, of course!’

“So, that was it.  I drove down to San Diego the next day for the show down there.  I brought lights, brought the back drop and did the band group photos after the sound check and before the show.

“I remember Elizabeth, Ringo’s publicist, telling me in San Diego, ‘Just do your thing.  Whatever you want to shoot during rehearsals, sound check; if you want to be up on the drum riser – whatever you want to shoot.’

“I’m up on the drum riser shooting, three feet from Ringo while he’s playing.  I can feel the drums and he’s playing with the camera.  We had a good relationship from the beginning, you know?”

Shanahan also enjoyed the unique privilege of traveling with Ringo during his trip to his home town Liverpool a couple of years back. While Rob shot around 1,900 photos of the historic shows that took place in England, he also accompanied Ringo and Barbara on their visit to Ringo’s high school and his two childhood homes on Madryn Street and on Admiral Grove.

While we were chatting about all of that, Rob also mentioned that he was traveling with Ringo the following week to New York City for a PR tour for Ringo’s new record, Y-Not, which Rob also photographed the cover.  While he was in New York City, he also had a shoot with Steely Dan’s drummer, Keith Carlock, as well as shoot Ringo’s various appearances there (The Jimmy Fallon Show, Jon Stewart, TV and print media interviews, and the like).

I asked Rob the same question that I asked Bob Gruen: Were there any photo gigs that “got away” that you regretted missing.  Again, his answer was revealing in ways that I wasn’t counting on.  He indicated that, while he hasn’t really missed any photo shoots that he regretted, he did miss the chance to do some drum session work for KISS’s Gene Simmons. 

However, what Rob DID get to do is play drums for Ringo Starr at his Eden Prairie, Minnesota, All-Starr stop during the 2008 tour. He played on the last two songs (All You Need Is Love and Give Peace A Chance) while Ringo was singing up front of the stage.  Shanahan says of the event, “This was near my hometown so there were approximately 50 family and friends in the audience, including my high school band director and his wife.  For all of them to see me play drums on stage with Ringo, Billy Squier, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Colin Hay, Hamish Stuart and Gregg Bissonette was a dream come true!”

Is this guy living the dream or what?

One of the more surreal moments of Shanahan’s career was when he got to meet one of his other drummer idols, Mitch Mitchell, of Jim Hendrix Experience fame.

I pick up the story as Rob tells of catching the Experience show at the Greek Theater.

“I went to their gig at the Greek Theater last fall.  I met up with Mitch during the sound check and had a photo shoot with him with his brand new DW drum kit that he was so excited about.  It was the day before his birthday and he was getting birthday cards and calls from family.  He was in really great spirits.

“We were talking about his new drum kit from DW and the photo shoot went great.  Then we had dinner with Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, who was playing guitar on the tour. I’m telling you, that was a trip!  It was really a great experience.

 “The show was fantastic.  Then, three or four days later, I’m driving home from the gym and I hear on the radio, ‘This just in: Mitch Mitchell was found dead in his hotel room.’   I couldn’t believe it!”

“After the initial shock and disbelief, my first thought was that I may have the last photos of him alive. And it turns out that I do – the last real photo shoot.  He had a show after the L.A. show in Seattle and there were a photographer from the local paper that had a few live shots that went around on the news wire.  But, my shots were the last one-on-one posed shots. I had a few on Getty Images’ website that went world-wide but I didn’t really want to exploit them, you know.  His wife, Dee, called me to see some photos.  I sent her a real beautiful print, and also sent one to Drum Workshop – the company that made his drum kit.  They got Mitch’s kit back after the tour was over, and have it displayed at their showroom up in Oxnard.  It’s really beautiful.  They have it under beautiful lights, on display, along with my picture of him sitting with that very kit. I wish I could tell his daughter how much the birthday card she sent had meant to him. He proudly carried it around and was showing everybody that night I was with him”

What hasn’t Shanahan done that he wants to do, photography-wise?

“I’m still dying to do some work with all of the Stones – the whole band.  I would love to be able to be their number one photographer – their go-to guy.  I think that would be fantastic!  Kind of like I do for Ringo.

“There was a rumor going around the internet a couple of months ago that Charlie Watts was retiring, was quitting the Stones.  He didn’t want to tour any more.  I immediately got on the phone and called five drummers, friends of mine who had worked with the Stones, Curt Biscara (Jagger’s solo records), Charlie Drayton (Keith Richard’s old band, Expensive Wino’s), and I called Jim and I said, ‘Man, if the Stones are going out on tour and they need a drummer, obviously, I would LOVE to do the gig!’ That would really be my all-time goal.

“Curt has seen my band play and he said, ‘Dude!  You have to do that!  Nobody else can do that but you.  You would have to do it!’ So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  It’s a far out dream but, you know, hey?”

As our chat progressed, Rob drops another gem into my ear canal.

“I should tell you about my working with Paul and Ringo together.  It was at the Love - Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas. I was hired by Apple Corps to do photos for the one year anniversary. Paul was there; Ringo, Olivia and Yoko; George Martin; all the Apple people; all the EMI people; all of the record execs.  It was a pretty big thing.

“So, all I did was follow Ringo and Paul around the whole day. Larry King was there and they taped a show. Just before we were going on to the Larry set I asked them, ‘So, when was the last time you guys danced?’  They looked at each other and started spinning around so I started shooting.  I have this really great photo sequence of the two of them having a dancing moment.”

 “So, fast forward to June of this year when the Beatles’ Rock Band was coming out.  They hired me to do the promo photos for the cover of USAToday.  It was downtown at the USC Galen Event Center.  It was the official press launch for Beatles Rock Band. CNN as there; USAToday, CBS, NBC, etc. – all the biggies.

“We’re waiting for Paul and he walks in.  He’s the last to arrive. He eventually walks over to where I had a studio set-up and says ‘Hey, Rob, how’s it going?’  I’m thinking, “Wow.  This is Paul McCartney and he just remembered my name!  He’s freaking me out!  He then asks, ‘How ya doin’?  How ya been?  I’m glad you’re on this!’

“I put him and Ringo in the white background and started shooting.  They started clowning around – their usual selves.  It was fun to shoot those two again.  I realized that, whenever those two get together, I get the call.  It’s a good feeling.  It’s something special.”

No doubt, this speaks volumes of Rob’s work and his respect for his clients who then become friends.

Still speaking about that particular photo shoot, Rob continues, “Paul actually wanted to go through and pick out the shots with me.  So, immediately after the photo shoot, while he went off to do interviews, I uploaded the pictures into my laptop.  I quickly edited the shots down to about 40 before he came back to view them.”

“Paul and I then went through them and picked out 10 shots – it was just me and Paul, working at my computer.  It was a trip, man!  It was funny because he was chewing gum during the photo shoot, which is a big no-no, and you could see it in the corner of his mouth on a few of the shots.  Of the ones we liked, you could see the gum!

“So, he asked me, ‘So, can you remove the chewy?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, of course!’ So, I retouched out the gum. Did my magic with PhotoShop. The photo ended up on the cover of USAToday.  I couldn’t have been prouder than getting a copy of USAToday and seeing my photo with my photo credit with Paul and Ringo on the cover.  I thought it was going to be on the cover of the music section but it was on the cover of the ‘A’ section, the front page, above the fold – like BIG!”

With Rob’s legacy in the business, he obviously has a vast collection of photos of a myriad of people playing a wide variety of instruments across all genres of music.  As has already been mentioned, Shanahan has been shooting all the top talent who endorse Drum Workshop drums.  It was during one of the calls with Rob that he mentioned that the company wants to publish a book of his photos of their artist.

While describing the book project, he says, “Unfortunately, it’s not going to be the definitive collection of all of my drummer photos.  Since it’s a Drum Workshop book, they only want to use the drummers that play their drums, of course.  There won’t be any of my ‘Ringo’ or any of the non-DW drummers, although, some day, I’ll have THAT book out.

While it’s obvious that Rob’s formal education in photography has served him well, his business studies from his college days has come in handy, too.  In listening to him describe some of the agreements and licensing deals that he has negotiated, it caused my inner business geek to salivate with envy.  The guy is certainly no dummy, that’s for sure.  Case in point, while discussing the cover shots for Ringo’s latest album, Rob shares the following story:

“I was able to negotiate a licensing deal with Universal Music because they wanted to use the cover art for t-shirts.  So, that was in addition to what Ringo paid me for the album and the design.  Universal came out and said, ‘Hey, we really like the cover.  Ringo wanted us to contact you to find out about licensing the image and the art.’  That was actually a nice bonus surprise that I really wasn’t thinking about.

“So, as a result, I’m more keenly aware of licensing opportunities and doing stuff like t-shirts and merchandise and limited edition prints and stuff like that.”

As the old Ronco commercials used to say, “But wait!  There’s more!”  Rob shares this story about the events leading up to the retrospective/gallery show of Ringo’s career in the historic “Studio A” at Capitol records.

“Ringo, Barbara and I got together at his house, looking through a bunch of photos on my laptop.  We needed to pick some photos to display at the Walk of Fame event at Capitol Records. Ringo was getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and having a party in Studio A. We ended up picking ten, and of those ten, seven were mine and three were from a collection I got from Apple Corps in London. I had all ten of these photos printed 4x5 feet and hung on display for the party.

 “In dealing with Apple, they sent me their FTP site and password and all of that.  I got into the folder and I’m looking at these photos that I realized have never been released!  Old Beatles photographs that, through the years and for whatever reason, have been sitting in their archives.

“A lot of them have been digitized – probably just scanned and sitting in this folder at Apple.  It was amazing going through these because I’d never seen 80% of them.  It was their own private collection - pretty amazing stuff.

 “I showed them a ‘before and after’ of what I did with one of the photos.  They go, ‘Wow, we really need to have you do that (the restoration).  It would be great to have you restore them for historical purposes.’”

Later in the conversation he shares this story about the iconic, “Abbey Road” photo and its restoration.

“I zoomed in really close and started looking around in that photo, which is kind of eerie because I know that the license plate means something to a bunch of people.  Paul’s barefoot.  There’s a guy standing on the right side of the frame, looking at them.  There’s all these little things going on in that photo that, through the years, the total Beatles freaks have claimed to be some iconic meaning.

“So, I’m diving into that photo in super high res, seeing that picture big on my 30” monitor.  I zoomed in on that thing at 400% or 500%.  I noticed that there was trash on the right side of the frame in the gutter – like wrappers or an empty cup or something. 

“I realized that I could clean up trash on the curb and I could clean up the photo a little bit. But do I really want to alter the historical significance?  So I decided not to and left that one pretty much alone.  But the other ones – there’s a photo of Ringo playing drums – an old black and white photo that Ringo really liked.  But it was a scan from a black and white print that was made in an old dark room.  You can see a bunch of dust specs and little hairs.”

The story begged the question:  Was there a particular photo that he saw and restored that had a particular impact on him?

“Let’s see.  There’s one shot of Ringo sitting on his drum riser, like it might be between takes on a TV set or something.  He’s got the classic black oyster pearl drum kit up on the drum riser.  The drum riser looks like it’s about five feet tall.  Ringo’s sitting on the drum riser – on the high hat side. He’s got a cigarette in his hand, just kind of leaning down, looking at the floor. 

“It’s a moment that the photographer captured, in the middle of the mayhem and the screaming and the Beatlemania.  This looked like this is one of the only places that Ringo felt truly safe – on his drum riser - his place of Zen. I had a good time studying that photo.  It was good to see my friend, Ringo, enjoy a little peacefulness in the middle of the madness that was his life at that time.”

How does Ringo compare to the other drummers Rob knows?

“To compare Ringo to other drummers is really hard for me because, of all the drummers that I’ve met over the years – and I’ve met a lot of them – I don’t think any of them can relate to what Ringo has gone through.  To be a member of the Beatles, the British Invasion and all of that stuff, I don’t think anyone can relate, except, maybe, Charlie Watts.

“I would say that Charlie is really quite different than Ringo.  Ringo has a real outgoing personality.  Very funny and witty.  He likes talking to people and interacting with people.  What he doesn’t like is people coming up to him and asking for a photo or to sign stuff. 

“Charlie, on the other hand, is really quiet – in his own little space.  He doesn’t like all the adulation.  He would rather be playing in a jazz band in Harlem somewhere with 50 people in the audience.  He’d be happy with that.”

It’s clear that Rob knows it photographic subjects from a perspective that I would dare say no other rock photographer does:  From their place on the stage whether it be the microphone, the keyboards, guitar or drum riser.  When you couple that with the profession respect and awe that Shanahan brings to the photo shoot, one understands why he connects with his subjects in a rare and refreshing way. 

Rob will, no doubt, continue to make his incredible mark in the realm of Rock photography.  You can keep up with his work by visiting www.robshanahan.com.  As hinted at previously, keep your eyes open for books that showcase his incredible work.

Jason Sawford

Posted September, 2012

 

aussiefloyd1When I was a teenager growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Pink Floyd was one of THE bands that real serious rock aficionados hailed as being the best. Their music was considered deep, meaningful and intelligent.  Their album, Dark Side of the Moon, ruled the turntables of many a teenager’s stereo, including mine.

My favorite music store in those days was called Wide Wide World of Music and was in our new mall, MetroCenter.  The front two thirds of the store were albums (yes, the vinyl kind) and musical instruments.  The back third of the store was raise up about four feet and had high stereo equipment with the back wall being a wide array of the best speakers money could buy.

One day I walked into the store as the alarm bells from the beginning of Pink Floyd’s Time came blaring out of the wall of speakers in the back of the store. As my stylishly long hair was sonically being parted down the middle, I felt my innermost being getting rocked to the core.  I’ve obviously never forgotten the experience.

These days, Pink Floyd doesn’t tour much. You’ll occasionally get a chance to catch a gig by David Gilmour or Roger Waters but the odds of a Pink Floyd tour happening are, well, on the dark side of the moon.

However, don’t despair. There is a tribute band that is (I dare say) every bit as good as the original (and I don’t make that claim lightly).  They are The Australian Pink Floyd Show and have been hailed as being at the top of the tribute band tree.

“Aussie Floyd” was formed back in 1988 by guitarist Lee Smith in Southern Australia capital city of Adelaide.  Smith formed the band with his drummer, Grant Ross and bassist, Trevor Turton.  They recruited Steve Mac and Jason Sawford for additional guitar, vocal and keyboard work and off they went.

Over time, there were a couple of personnel changes with the current band line-up consisting of: Steve Mac (guitar/vocals), Alex McNamara (vocals/percussion), Colin Wilson (bass), Jason Sawford (keyboards), Paul Bonney (drums), Dave Domminney Fowler (guitar), Mike Kidson (sax), Lorelei McBroom (lead/background vocals), Lara Smiles (background vocals), Emily Lynn (background vocals) and their top-shelf sound engineer, Colin Norfield.

Since their humble beginnings, the band has gone on to sell over three million concert tickets for shows in thirty-five countries. To give you an idea of just how good these guys are, they were asked to play for David Gilmore’s 50th birthday celebration.

Yeah, they’re that good.

With a new world tour starting up again here in the states this month, I was given the opportunity to chat with original member and keyboardist for the band, Jason Sawford.  He called me from England to talk a little bit about the tour and the band.

About touring, I asked Jason how much of the year the band is typically on the road.

“We’re pretty busy. I mean, I think we’ve done about 120 shows in the last year. Of course, you have all the travel days getting there so we’re on the road a lot of the time. I don’t get much time at home at all. I just view my house as a stopping over point, really”, Sawford concluded with a chuckle.

In sharing how this particular tour will be both different and the same as previous tours, Jason shared, “Obviously, we’re doing a Pink Floyd show and we’ll be doing a lot of songs that we didn’t do last year. There’s quite a psychedelic theme to the show this time around and we’re doing some more unusual numbers. We’ve got some new film material and animation material that is included into the show and we’ve rearranged the light show. It’s kind of a new design to the show we had last year. It’s a stunning show. I think it’s the best we’ve ever done.”

When I asked if they’re “mascot”, their pink kangaroo, was going to be part of the show, Sawford said, “He’s always there. We’ve got the other things, as well – the teacher and the pig but the kangaroo is always there. ‘Skippy’ is what we call him. He always brings a smile to the face of the audience. When I’m playing there and he comes up, you see everyone laugh. He’s a favorite.”

The business geek in me had to ask Jason what kind of logistics is involved with getting a show like theirs on the road.  He said that, “It is really involved. When we started out many years ago, it was just a few guys and we used to drive ourselves to the show. But now we’ve been doing it for over twenty years and it’s become a pretty big operation now. We have to have a separate management company that organizes everything. We’ve got to get the tour buses; we’ve to get the equipment to and from; we’ve got to work with lighting companies and sound companies and get everyone who lives all over the place together to rehearse.

So, there are a lot of costs involved in just trying to get everyone together to arrange a tour. We don’t do it ourselves. We have to get a separate management company to that for us because it’s so busy and we get so busy with the music that we have to get someone else to do that for us. It’s really a major operation. I sometimes watch all these people get together and setting it up. It’s amazing how it’s grown over the years.”

In doing my research for this interview, I read that Mr. Sawford puts a tremendous amount of time perfecting his part of the sound of the band.  I asked him if he feels that he’s reached perfection yet.

“It’s pretty much an ongoing process. I think we’ve done very well and we’re getting better and some of the sounds I’m really proud of. What amazes me about the music is I can listen to a classic album like Dark Side of the Moon or Animals or whatever and I’ve must have listened to them umpteen times and I always discover new things, new little subtleties in the music and trying to recreate that sound – that little bit of feeling or phrasing of the music. There’s always something new to discover in the music so you never really finish it. You’re never totally satisfied. The people out there listening to it might not know the difference but we notice it so we’re always working at it to make it better. I think people do appreciate it.

“We do have fans – not only just people who like the music. We do also have hardened music people who know and get into it and appreciate it, the subtleties and the effort we have to put into it.”

Jason and his band mates have been asked countless times about what Pink Floyd albums that they can and can’t do in their shows so I asked him that question. However, I did ask him, of all the things they’ve been able to do, what haven’t they yet done that they think is doable on stage?

“We’ve done a lot of Pink Floyd stuff. I mean, we’ve done The Wall. We’ve done Dark Side of the Moon. We’ve done Wish You Were Here and Animals and we’ve done stuff from their newer, later stuff. But I would love to do something like Atom Heart Mother which had the orchestra and the choir but, I mean, bringing all those people on stage, that’s going to be hard. But we might be able to do a condensed version of it, perhaps. You have to think about how practical you can do it but that’s something I’d love to do and maybe we’ll do it one day. When you’re trying to recreate something like Pink Floyd, there are a lot of challenges – how you do it musically, how you do it with the lighting, how you do the affects and so on. But, with enough imagination and creativity you can figure out how to do it.”

Then, comparing how Pink Floyd addressed those issues back in the day, Sawford adds, “When they started out doing those things, they didn’t have as much technology. We have the advantage of (newer) technology, but, yeah, they would’ve faced a lot of challenges themselves and it is challenging. How do you do this? How do you present that? But it’s a team effort. We discuss amongst ourselves and with our crew about how they would do things and we find solutions.”

Aussie Floyd has had some interaction with the members of Pink Floyd.  I asked Mr. Sawford if any of them shared anything with him or his band mates like, “Wow!  If we had this kind of technology when we started out . . .” or something similar.

“Being a keyboard player, I would love to sit down with Rick Wright but, of course, he’s no longer with us, very sadly. But, no, not particularly on that question. We’ve spoken with members of Pink Floyd and we’ve actually worked with people who have worked with Pink Floyd but not actually discussed that much, really, about it. That’s a good point, really.”

As for what’s after this tour as well as long range plans for The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Jason said, “Well, we’re always thinking, ‘what else can we do?’. Next year will be an anniversary of The Dark Side of the Moon and we’re planning a celebratory tour of it so we’re going to do a lot of stuff from Dark Side and design the show again which will have very much of a Dark Side to them. After that? I don’t know. We’ll have to see. As the years go by, we’ll see what else we can do. We’ve done quite a lot over the last few years. We’ve done all the albums. We did the 3D show. We’ve had this new kind of design recently. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re going to do until the last minute, actually.”

When this is all said and done and you all are on the dark side of the moon, how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy is?

“Well, you know, it’s funny, because, as a tribute band paying tribute to a band that, obviously, is a very great band and they’ll be remembered for their music and we’re sort of in their footsteps and shadow, in a sense. But I do like to think we’ve done is preserved the memory of one of the great bands. It’s almost like we’re like a classical orchestra in a rock music tradition and we’ve continued it on and studied it like scholars and preserved it. It opens up new potential for what musicians can do; what was once this rock band can now be remembered and preserved live.

“We’re even doing things with our shows. We did this 3D show last year. We’ve taken the whole concept and taking it further. I think we’ve managed to achieve that and I’m quite proud of that.”

As well he should be.

I plan to catch the Dallas stop of The Australian Pink Floyd Show here next month.  I’m sure that Time will be blaring out of the band’s wall of speakers on the stage and my now less-than-stylish hair will be sonically parted down the middle and I will feel it in my innermost being while getting rocked to the core.

And I expect that I’ll, obviously, never forget the experience.

Jerry Scheff

 Posted May, 2012

 

elvis scheff1As a huge Elvis fan, it’s always a huge honor and rush for me when I get to chat with anyone who has worked with the King in any way, shape or form – and I’ve chatted with quite a few of them.  Having recently reviewed his autobiography, Way Down, I was given the opportunity to ask former Elvis bassist, Jerry Scheff, a few short questions, I was absolutely delighted because not only did Mr. Scheff play bass for Presley but with other music icons such as Bob Dylan, John Denver and the Doors.

However, in my mind, THE most memorable bass riffs in rock and roll history are those played by Scheff on Elvis’ live versions of Polk Salad Annie (especially on the Live from Madison Square Garden album) and on the Doors’ L.A. Woman.  Those riffs will be etched into the American psyche until the end of time.

After complimenting Jerry on his outstanding book, I asked the legendary bassist how sales have been going with Way Down.

“Thank you Randy. The book is selling nicely in the U.S. and Europe and, so far, I’ve received great reviews. The only negatives have been from fans of this singer or that, who complain that I didn't devote enough time to their favorite. Oh, I suppose I could have built six weeks working with the Doors into two or three chapters, but it would been a bunch of crap.”

Many authors, after completing a book, will often second guess what they should or should not have included in their books.  One clear image of Jerry Scheff that I gleaned from Way Down is that, whatever he does, he does and moves on.  That said, I still asked him if there was anything he wished he had or hadn’t included in his book.  His answer was short, direct and to the point.

“Being that I wrote the book as a musical history of my life I am satisfied with everything as it is.”

Jerry is a monster talent and has played with and for some monster talent.  With such a long list of musical dignitaries who he has supported over his distinguished career, I was naturally curious who he wished he could have played with before they passed away.

“There isn't enough disk space in my computer to list everyone I wish I had played with. Where would I start? Probably Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Chopin, Louis Armstrong, etc.”

In my interview with Scheff’s former band mate, James Burton, he spoke highly of John Denver.  In Way Down, while he was characteristically plain spoken about Denver, he ended his segment about him by saying, “. . . of all the musicians with whom I have been acquainted with who have since died, John is the one I miss the most.”

When I asked Jerry if that comment wouldn’t come as a shock to Presley fans, he said, “I don't think so. Maybe I should have said 'personally missed the most.' I spent much more personal time with John than I did with Elvis.”

Scheff’s  last line of the book says, “ . . . I don’t think I will dance on Elvis’ grave again” and comes after a scenario involving a European TCB tour.  I asked him to elaborate on that comment.

“First of all, you have taken that line out of context. The pages leading up to that explain that line in a little more depth.  The 'Mr Potato Head', make-a-buck mentality had affected the shows to the point that music was taking second place. My bank account is lighter, but my heart is lighter too.”

At the time of my questioning of Mr. Scheff, I was also working on an interview with one of Elvis’ former back-up singers, Donnie Sumner (who, coincidentally, has a new book out, too, entitled In The Shadow of Kings).  The comments Jerry made relative to Donnie reveal more of what the social structure of Presley’s massive musical support.

“I didn't really know Donnie. I was from a different neck of the woods so to speak. He always seemed to be a happy, friendly guy. I spent a lot more time with Donnie;s uncle J.D. Sumner. On the other hand, Donnie was around Elvis a lot more than I was. I am sure he has some good things to say in his new book.”

Scheff’s son, Jason, is quite an accomplished musician in his own right and plays for the group, Chicago, joining them in 1985 as Peter Cetera’s replacement.  I asked Jason’s proud dad what differences and similarities did he see between his and his son’s careers.

“First of all, Jason is a great singer. I never have been. Jason writes much more music than I ever did. He certainly is a better business man than me. I have made my mark as a bass player playing many styles of music over a lot of years. I wish I could be around to see where his career takes him to when he's my age. In other words, it’s the old 'comparing apples and oranges' thing isn't it?”

In discussing the state of the music business, I asked Jerry if he thought the music business needed fixing and, if he were made “Music Czar”, what would he do to fix it, if anything.  His answer revealed both the mind of someone who has watched it all happen as he was along for the ride as well as one who knows that things change and, in order to survive, you either adapt or die.

“I would never take that job. However, I think the freedom of the internet is already doing a lot to expose new talent and the old style record business is on its way out.”

My final question during our exchange focused on how the legendary bassist wished to be remembered and what he hopes his legacy will be. He deferred to an interview that his son gave and I thought the quote he used was incredible.

“Back to my son Jason: Jason did a radio interview in Los Angeles on KROC I think it was, and the interviewer asked him, 'How have you been influenced by your father'. I am sure he meant as a bass player, but Jason said, 'My dad taught me to accept people no matter what color, nationality or religion.”

Eric Sardinas

Posted September, 2011

Sardinas3I love the blues.  In fact, if I had to pick only one genre that I could listen to for the rest of my life, a) it would be a hard choice to make and I would bitterly complain about it and, b) I would be hard pressed to think of a genre that would dethrone the blues.  There’s something about the blues that just hits you where you’re at no matter what you’re going through in life.

Recently, I was turned on to an incredible blues player that blew me away with his style and performance. His name is Eric Sardinas and his band is Big Motor and, I’m telling you: You haven’t heard blues quite like this cat produces.  He’s a prolific slide guitarist and his weapon of choice is an electric resonator guitar.  His musical alchemy takes the basic elements of rock and blues and creates melodic gold that will both entice and thrill even the most discriminating blues enthusiast.

After writing a review of his latest project, Sticks and Stones, which drops September 13th, I had the opportunity to interview Sardinas by phone.  Relaxed but clearly anxious to hit the road for a short tour before heading to Europe, Erik was most gracious and engaging during our chat.

For the benefit of those of you who haven’t heard of Sardinas before, I asked him to give me the Reader’s Digest version of him and his work.

“I’m, basically, been a live band and pretty much forged my way through music – within music – by being a live band and have dedicated myself to pushing the boundaries of myself musically through the blues and blues rock genre – my style, through live performing and non-stop touring. That’s pretty much been the recipe for how I’ve been growing as a musician and, also, creating the music that I’ve recorded on the past albums.”

I knew that Eric had first picked up the guitar when he was six years old and was heavily influenced by his mother’s collection of gospel, Motown, soul and early rock and roll.  I was curious as to how old he was when he formed his first band and what kind of band it was.

“First band. Wow, I don’t know. I played in a lot of different bands when I was in school. I was always listening to blues and playing blues. There were some rock bands that I played in in school. Then I started doing my blues thing simultaneously, you know?”

I hate asking people that I interview questions that I know they’ve been asked a million times but sometimes they’re just hard to avoid.  In the case of Sardinas, I had to ask him: What made you chose an electric resonator guitar as your weapon of choice? Despite the fact that he was now answer the question for the “million and oneth” time, he was gracious in his answer.

“I don’t know, I really fell in love tonality and energy of resonator guitars. I think that was just my romance and my love for acoustic blues and the energy of pre-war country and Texas and Mississippi delta blues. I really found myself within that energy. I wanted to push that sound into a different place - the energy and the way that I play my kind of blues.  In fact, that instrument kind of grew with me and I took it outside of the box and I pushed the limits with it.”

As I do with many of the guitar slingers I interview, I was curious as to, a) how many resonators did Sardinas own and, b) is there a “holy grail” that he’s just dying to add to his collection.

“I’ve got quite a few – quite a few!  I have my favorites because no two are the same. I always have my favorites nearby. I have quite a few. I think I have somewhere along the line of 18 to 20-something.”

 “You know, I salivate a little bit when I see something I really like in the resonators. Yeah, I’m a big fan of the early National’s and, of course, anything that has that sort of mojo on it – something that I really connect with.”

Since I’m absolutely nuts about his latest CD, Sticks and Stones, I asked Eric to share how it all come about and what sets it apart from his previous five albums.

“This album’s been a long time coming – not in any other way but that it’s just been awhile since our last release. We were on the road non-stop. There were a lot of ups and downs.  The road takes you in all sorts of different ways. It was a long time coming and I think the motivation behind these songs – each song was a culmination of moments and places in time that everybody finds themselves at one point or another. I think these are moments and bits of that.  This album was really about capturing the energy of the band and bringing these songs to where I felt deserved to be with that energy.  That’s something that I’m always concerned about – in the studios – to capture that energy.”

 “I think each record is like a stepping stone in one way or another. Also, it’s like moment of time of where I’m at. This album – my goal was to really push myself musically and lyrically.  I feel that it came out very natural, as it should. There wasn’t anything forced. It was very natural. The songs all came from the heart.  There’s no sense of this album being forced or reaching too far out of the box. I think it has maturity and that it’s a move forward.”

Every artist approaches their craft differently – sometimes very uniquely.  For some, the music is easier for them to create.  With others, the lyrics come easy to them.  What’s the easiest part of it for you, creating the music or writing the lyrics?

“I think everything is kind of organic. I think it all melds itself together. There’s no real recipe I have for writing. Sometimes it’s lyrically; sometimes it’s musically. I never work on anything from front to back. Each song has its own energy and it comes together in my mind. I learned by ear and I don’t read music so I’m very unorthodox in the way I write and memorize things. I’m left-handed and I play right-handed. So, yeah, everything is a little unorthodox. It’s just one of those things where each song comes out differently. Some slow. Some take their time talking to me.”

I comment that blues just seems to be that way, lending itself to a natural, organic creation process.

“Yeah, exactly! It’s close to the human heart. It has that primal kind of beat to it that connects the energy, you know?”

As for how the crowds are reacting to the new tunes being included in the band’s live set, Eric says, “I like to play all of the record. We never really play the same song the same way twice. We’re always mixing it up. It’s been good. I think people are diggin’ it and I’m really enjoying playing it.”

While on the subject of his live shows, I asked Sardinas what people can expect from one of his shows.

“If you love your music and if you love the energy of a live show and of the blues – if you love your southern blues rock and like to get a little loose then it’s something then to where you should expect a little of the unexpected. It’s really about having a musical experience; about having a good time and connecting with what you need to be connected with and forgetting about all the things you need to forget about for a little while. When you take something away with you that makes you feel good, that makes me happy.

“Sometimes people need to see something or to actually experience it because it’s hard to explain.  ‘Oh, it’s blues’ or, ‘It’s rock’.  It’s what it is. I have my own voice. One of the worst questions people can ask is, ‘What’s your style?’  I just go, ‘It’s just what it is, man! Just come to the show!”  He says with a laugh.

With the economy in the toilet and the world facing dark geopolitical clouds, I asked Eric if he sees these things affecting the vibe of the crowds that he plays to.

“I have a song – and everybody has a song for everything they’ve been through – music’s the one thing that gets you through everything you’ve been through – good, bad, the ups and the downs.  There’s always been music for you there.  That’s really the romance of coming to see a show. I don’t think it’s escapism. I think it’s to feel music and to be plugged in to that place you go when you’re connecting to that. It’s part of the spirit.”

Great musicians tend to gravitate towards each other and find themselves sharing stages and studios.  While conducting my research before my interview with Sardinas, I saw found that he certainly was no exception to this trend, having jammed with the likes of such greats as Steve Vai and Johnny Winter.  Who else would Eric like to play with?

“There’s a lot guys out there. There’s so many great players. I had the pleasure of playing with Les Paul. That was great!  He had a series he would do called Les Paul and Friends and we got together and played a song together.  Jimmy Page.  I’d like to jam with him for a little while.”

Eric Sardinas and Big Motor have logged a lot of miles and years on the road, delighting crowds the world over.  With Sticks and Stones hitting the market, I asked the slide guitar virtuoso what his plans were for the next year, five years and ever ten years.  His answer revealed a man who knows where he is, where he’s going and what it takes to get there.

“We’re really going to hit the ground running here. We’re really looking forward to the release once the album’s out. We’re going to be doing the road – we’re going to be on the road pretty consistently. We’re pretty much gonna keep it pedal to the metal. New music is always being written in my mind as I’m travelling so I guess, technically, I’m always moving forward with where I’m gonna go next.

“If you ask me in six months where I’m going to be and I’m gonna say I’m going to be at the same place. I’m on the road and I’m ready to make a new record” he says with his engaging laugh.

“We’re going to be hitting Europe after this short run her in the States. At the end of September we’re going to Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland. I think we have something like 20 shows through Deutschland. We’ll end up back in Spain and the U.K. Then we come back and hit the states and continue on.”

I asked Sardinas to fast-forward the tape of his life to when he’s stepped off the tour bus for the final time and his life on earth is over, how does he want to be remembered?

“I suppose that it would be along the lines that I definitely put it all out there and I didn’t do anything except give it all I had.”

After watching this video of this man’s performances and feeling the incredible energy from his CD’s, I don’t think there’s any question that he’s accomplishing exactly that.

You can keep up with the latest happenings in Eric’s world, his touring schedule and even purchase his great CD’s by visiting www.ericsardinas.com.  Be warned: You’re going to be hooked.