Things are good. No, things are great! In my personal life, I am about to marry a woman whom I have dated sporadically, as well as briefly, yet it was over a period of some 35 years. Got that? When I say occasionally, well I said, sporadically – same thing – I mean, about a dozen times over those 35 years. We would then lose track of each other for great lengths of time. This last time we had not seen each other or spoken a word to each other in almost eight years! Then suddenly we were thrown together for what has so far been two very happy years. (See kids, this is how Life works sometimes!) And now, Good God A-Mighty, we’s a-gettin’ hitched! There’s a lesson in there, friends– probably several lessons, as well as a helluva story, in fact, none of which I am going to get into at this time or in this place, however. And, that’s because there is Del-Lords activity a-plenty to get to.
Where to start, where to start? Ok, first things first: Duke aka Michael DuClos is officially the new member of the band. He will be taking Manny’s old position, playing the bass as Manny had done since before the beginning. But Manny is no longer able to stay involved on a regular basis, as he is doing good work, important work, that needs someone with Manny’s heart, soul and intelligence to get that job done right. So, while Manny will always be a part of this band, there has been a changing of the guard in the day-to-day.
Duke is a natural fit. It just fell into place with him quickly and painlessly. His personality, his considerable skill, and sense of humor, has been a real shot in the arm. Plus, (I just can’t stop saying this — it’s that amazing!) Duke is the only person alive who has worked with both Pete Townshend AND Buddy Hackett!! This is true! We just finished the final two basic tracks for the record last week, with Duke on board. So, the basics are done, we now turn full time to the details: backing vocals, some guitars, maybe some percussion, a little this, a little that, and whatever other little touches will help this baby shine, roar, and stand out from the pack once it’s out of the garage and out on the street.
Let me tell you, it’s no small thing to be at this point of the record. We’ve done it completely on the resources at our disposal; first and foremost, the band itself being back together, everyone being all in on this thing of ours, our own La Cosa Nostra, for no other band or individuals could do this thing we – Frank, Eric, myself, and now Duke – do quite as we do it, and that, mis amigos, remains the point of the whole shebang does it not? .
What’s left to say about Roscoe? Well, whether I’ve said it before, or you’re hearing it for the first time, stay cool, it bears repeating. Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, he of the many skills and vision needed, not to mention the studio, to produce this record, to take the vision and run with it, but to also know the ins and outs and brass tacks of what that ACTUALLY requires. Plus, at the same time, he’s a full-on performing member of the band, making his hat switching just that much more of a daredevil, high-wire stunt. You could forgive him if one of these duties took a backseat in order to focus on another, but Eric is working them all at a consistently, astonishingly high level. His playing, singing and arranging is on the same par as his considerable producing skills.
Of course, there’s Frank. I remember the day we first met (it was coincidentally the same time I met Eric) and Frank had a sort of wound too tight, edgy, friendly aggressiveness that is usually a hallmark of a great drummer, as it was this time, too. Frank’s musical taste at that time ran the full range from AC/DC to Black Sabbath, and then right back again. But, within months of being in the band, Frank was digesting Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, Benny Goodman, the Blues, and The Beatles. Now, he’s got it all, and plenty more, stored in his noggin, and he carries it all in his back pocket into every musical situation. An encyclopedia of rhythmic choices is what he can whip out on the spot. To know that he is back there is one of the few things I have learned I can actually count on in this dirty old world. And, oh yeah, he sings great, too. And, like Eric, Frank is my brother. Ten lifetimes of shared experience has forged and tightened that bond a little more each and every day.
And now, with Duke, we are once again whole. When this record is done (should be done in February), it will be released in the Spring on GB Records, run by the great rock’n’roll lifer, fan, friend and patron, Gary Borress. Gary is a man constantly burdened by great, constructive, and realistic plans, as well as a passion for the music that is another basic Del-Lords requirement. We have finalized our deal with Gary, and both he and the band are excited and optimistic about pretty much everything. Yes, things are good. No, make that great!
We did play a coupla shows while I was in town last week. One was at the Lakeside Lounge, which was a total blast. There were friends old and new, and the band found a new, higher gear, stepped on the clutch, and let it ride. Then we played a great house concert at Dan and Liz Boudin’s place in Rhode Island. It was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever done. It was tight, it was loose (way loose), it was rockin’, and the audience was a solid wall of raving, excitable, knowledgeable, and attentive music fans, which is a decidedly different vibe than the feel of a club or festival audience. While a club or festival audience going nuts is great, this too is great, although in a very different way. It is exciting, but there is also a dominant Music as Art factor, an intimate communication, and an undiluted love of music that rules the general feel of the night.
I feel like I gotta mention the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is really dominating the spotlight back in NYC at this moment. Firstly, I am incredibly energized by it, in and of itself, as well as the way it has been catching fire here and there throughout the country. One thing that becomes instantly apparent when you talk to folks who are down there, or listen to them when a reporter sticks a mike in their face, or through some other instant media have suddenly found themselves owning that spotlight for a moment themselves, of ACTUALLY being heard, is that this is not about anything as infantile, or as moronic as “hating the rich”, or “hating money”, etc. Who falls for this shit, anyway? There are lots of issues here: Greed, Big Business and its role in our Democracy, Crime (fraud, insider trading, conspiracy to commit a felony or two or three, etc), the disappearance of the middle class, outrageous inequity, and Fairness in a very broad and very real sense), but the underlying principle that connects them all, at least for me, is accountability. Yes, accountability, as in transparency, investigation, and, if necessary, if you broke the Law, too — on your way to blowing up 20% of the country’s accumulated wealth since we first became a country — for your own personal gain — prosecution. Yep, a fair trial and a fair hangin’. Consider it a crime deterrent.
So, I am now back in California, got the new Beach Boys’ SMiLE Sessions box, something I’ve only been waiting for since my Bar Mitzvah, and it was well worth the wait. It’s on constant replay, although I took some time to check out the latest rough mixes from the Del-Lords album, and yes, they do sound great. And, next week Sharon and I get married. My bro, Neil Giraldo, is gonna be my witness. It will be at one of Neil and my favorite haunts, an Italian joint, just off the beach, around sunset, so we will hopefully have that as a backdrop when the vows are made. And, then the future awaits. Big changes. AND, a soundtrack comes with it.