For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in music in a way or another. When I was nine years old, I joined my school’s band, where I learned to play the clarinet. A few years later, I picked up the guitar and was part of several bands.
My longest experience was with a Beatles Tribute band called The Shout. That group lasted several years with different lineups (though the drummer, the lead guitarist and I remained until the end), and generated several other projects, including a country and western band named Tennessee & Co (hey, it was fashionable then) and also various other original groups (always featuring those same core group within the ensemble). That explains why I own a Hofner bass, the most identifiable instrument related to the Fab Four.
When I relocated to New York in the fall of 2000, I responded to an advertisement on the New York Press – a Beatles tribute band called Plastic Sole was looking for a bass player. I went to the rehearsal and immediately joined. We played a number of gigs (including an appearance at BeatleFest in 2001) over a period of a year and a half, but by then I was frustrated with the whole tribute band thing, and I decided to leave the group. I did play two gigs with them after I left (my replacement quit), and started a trio with a female singer and a co-worker at the school where I was teaching at that time. However, that project went nowhere, and by the end of 2003 I was – for the first time since 1986 – without a band to play with.
But I did not miss it. After so much time, I was tired of dealing with people and their egos. Also, I had started seriously working as a freelance writer, and I figured it was impossible to have a day job, a freelance career on the side, a relationship AND a band. So basically I went behind the scenes, and was happy just to perform at my church in Greenwich Village (I am still there every Sunday… check out www.catolicosny.org ). Also, I was a bit frustrated with the attitude that some venues here have – they expect you to draw a crowd, but they give you zero in terms of advertisement. You are solely responsible for everything – which can honestly be exhausting.
But like Al Pacino in The Godfather III (“they pull me back in,” or something like that) I guess fate had other plans for me. Last year, a friend from church came up with the idea of starting a Brazilian band. I told that to my longtime friend David Russell, and he was immediately interested. We talked, and the decision was made to form a bossa nova band, which would reconcile Russell’s jazz influences with what the other two had in mind. But after two rehearsals, we all came to terms that the guitarist wasn’t right, so we parted ways.
I thought that would be the end of it, but then we found a guitar player by chance (he was attending a show at Americas Society). His name was Peter Jarvis, and he was writer and teacher like myself he was immediately interested, so we decided to have a rehearsals at a studio. Russell then contacted drummer Rick Murray, and after a few sessions we contacted saxophonist Brad Baker.
Bossa d’ Novo was formed.
And so it happened that I am again involved with music. And we have a gig at a Staten Island venue called Alor Cafe www.alorcafe.com in just a few hours. I feel that this band will work, in spite of our personal differences and our individual approach to music (will not tell you how it works – just come out and check us out). We have even written some new songs – something I hadn’t tried in years.
So we’ll see how that goes….