News and Views
In the last week of October I played some very fun shows with Thomas Dolby. (Check out the Audio/Video page and the Gallery page for photos and videos). My first gig with the band was at the Parish Club in Austin, before an enthusiastic and supportive audience. From there we went to New Orleans for the Voodoo Festival where we were joined onstage by the one and only Michael Doucet! He sat in with us on the songs, “I Love You Goodbye” and “Toadlickers”.
Next up was Moogfest – we flew to Ashville, North Carolina and performed at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Before the show Thomas was presented with the 3rd annual Moog Innovation Award (previous recipients Devo and Brian Eno).
Photo by Diana Wong
Our final gig was at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. We really stretched out that night, played a long set covering a wide spectrum of Thomas’s diverse repertoire. I enjoyed talking about music and bass playing with some of the audience members in the bar after the show.
The next day we were scheduled to fly back home – Mat, Kevin and Thomas to England, me to California – but the airports shut down completely because of Hurricane Sandy. So we spent a couple of extra days holed up at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria. I spent the time watching the wind and rain pelt the trees outside, reading, learning how to use my new iPhone and enjoying a few tipples with my British travel companions.
Back in California I played a fun gig with the Bill Hopkins Band down in LA. We were on the roof of the Icon Ultra Lounge, backing up Overtone, Kenny G and Tone Loc. A couple of weeks later we flew to St Paul, Minnesota, played another fun show with Kenny G and also Pia Toscano (from American Idol). The next day the airport was snowed in and our return flights were cancelled! So I got to spend a little more time in St Paul, hanging out with the band, walking in the snow. Back home now, tackling along To-Do list and getting ready for the holidays…
By the way, there’s an article all about the making of the Bruce Kaphan Quartet album in the August 2012 issue of Recording Magazine.
Thomas Dolby’s album “A Map of the Floating City” was released last November. I played fretless bass on 2 cuts – “17 Hills” and “Evil Twin Brother”. The rest of the songs on the album feature the wonderful bass playing of Mathew Seligman. Some of these new songs are among my favorites that Thomas has ever done.
For the last couple of years I had been working on an album with my friend Bruce Kaphan. It features some inspired performances by drummer Jason Lewis, pianists John R Burr and Rich Kuhns and Bruce on pedal steel guitar. Upright bassist John Wiitala played beautifully on one of the tracks and I played fretless bass on the rest.
In June of 2011 we had our final tracking session at Fantasy Studios with producer Mark Needham (Chris Isaak, Cake, Blondie). We wrapped everything up at the end of 2011 and flew to Boulder CO for a session with David Glasser at Airshow Mastering. David was wonderful to work with – patient and intuitive with a phenomenal pair of ears – and he did a fantastic job of mastering the CD. In May of this year the Bruce Kaphan Quartet album was released. I am very proud of this album!
In April, Thomas Dolby invited me to sit in with his band at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco. I had a great time, really enjoyed meeting and playing with Thomas and his excellent band: Kevin Armstrong (guitarist), Matt Hector (drums) and Aaron Jonah Lewis (Fiddle, Guitar and Mandolin). I guess I did OK that night, as I’ve been invited to play some tour dates in October! We’ll be playing shows in Austin, New Orleans, Asheville NC and Alexandria DC. If any of you reading this will be in those necks of the woods toward the end of October and would like to check out the shows, shoot me an email ad I’ll get you the details.
Photo by Laura Weyl
“With Mat Hector and Thomas Dolby at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco"
That’s all the big news for now. In between those landmarks I’ve been spending a lot of time, energy (and $$) on upgrading my live bass rigs, pedalboard and making modifications to my Fender bass. Check out the Bass Playing page if you’re of the geek mindset and would like to know more…
The first half of this year was pretty hectic: as in previous
years, I was Music Director for the AT&T Celebrity Golf Show
in February, backing up Huey Lewis and other celebs. This
was followed by a string of gigs in Hong Kong, Washington DC, LA,
Cancun, Vegas, San Francisco and Miami (where I got to play with
legendary percussionist Sammy Figueroa!).
Things have slowed down for the time being, allowing me to turn
my attention to some critical hardware and software upgrades in
the studio and to resume work on creative projects.
I recently had the pleasure of recording the fretless bass track
on a gorgeous new Thomas Dolby song called “17 Hills” featuring
Mark Knopfler on Guitar. I’ve been a fan of TD’s
music for a long time – I remember a particularly sad day
in the late 80’s when the cassette player in my old Datsun
pickup ate my copy of “Alien’s Ate My Buick” – I’m
thrilled that Thomas is writing and recording again, honored to
be able to play on one of his songs.
Bruce Kaphan recently released “Hybrid”, his 2nd solo
album. As the kids say, it’s “the bomb” (a
beauty bomb, that is). Really extraordinary music. I
played on 2 of the cuts, one of which is a hauntingly beautiful
piece called “Pohakala” featuring Jake Shimabukuro
on Ukulele. Jake gave an unforgettable solo performance at
Yoshi’s in San Francisco a few months back; we hung out and
talked for awhile after the show. What an incredibly talented
and sweet person.
I’ve been working with Bruce on a new album project featuring
the quartet of Steel Gtr, Piano, Fretless Bass and Drums. It’s
music unlike anything I’ve heard before; challenging, inspiring
and truly one of the most artistically rewarding projects I’ve
ever been involved with. Probably another couple of months
of writing and recording to get it all done…
I’ve also been continuing to work on my own instrumental
album, just finished the rough draft and scoring for a piece called “Isolate
Song”, written for clarinet, trumpet, trombone and rhythm
section. It took about 2 weeks to sketch it out; that’s
pretty fast for me…
Here’s the big news: I finally have a website! I
was beginning to think it would never get done. Before I
go any further I should take a quick moment and say “THANK
YOU” to friends n family who kept nodding and smiling at
me throughout the process. And, of course, many thanks to
web designer Michael John Parker for putting it all together.
I extend a warm welcome to all of you who’ve come to visit
here. I hope that this site will serve as both a nexus for
promoting my work as a musician and a link in the greater network
of creative musicians online.
The last few months were an incredibly busy time as I was MD on
3 large projects that segued from one to the other: producing a
new video for the Bill Hopkins Band, doing music for a new interactive
video game “American Idol Talent Challenge” and arranging
for and directing the band for the AT&T Celebrity Concert in
Monterey - 3 exhausting yet ultimately very successful projects. After
a couple of days off I’m taking advantage of the “slow
down” to resume work on my instrumental CD and installing/framing
new windows in my house (and, of course, doing the Taxes!).
front burner is a piece called Fumiko’s Passage. It’s
been a real tough piece to compose/record – I worked at it
for over 6 months and I have to confess that it was actually a
relief for me to put it down for awhile so that I could tackle
some other projects and work on this website. However, it
feels real good to be getting back to the composing process and
I’m hopeful that I will wrap up my “in house” recording & editing
within a couple of weeks, at which point Fumiko’s Passage
should be ready to go to Bruce Kaphan’s studio for final
tracking and mixing.
Also, I’m currently shopping 3 new songs for publication:
a rocker called “Changing Her Mind”, a ballad called “When
Time Stands Still” and the instrumental, “Empathy”,
which features Fretless Bass and the marvelous Trumpet work of
Don Beck. You can hear short bits of these tunes on the Audio
I’m halfway through the process of archiving some older
recordings, transferring them to digital. I’ll post a few
worthy ditties on the audio page soon – a couple of these
older pieces are slated for inclusion on my upcoming instrumental
If you’d like to be included in occasional email updates
regarding my latest musical projects, please take a moment to sign
up on my email list. I promise not to abuse having the info,
won’t hit your inbox with unnecessary junk – who’s
got time for that anyhow? – but I’ll periodically
send out announcements about new CD’s and/or major site enhancements.
Thanks for stopping by.