Steve and Me
last summer i began work on a new project called "Brief Interviews with Great Drummers". i record/transcribe each interview, then magically turn a portion of it into a hugely entertaining 2-page comicstrip! conceived as a sycophantic way for me to rub shoulders with some of my heroes, it's become a really strange challenge for me. both the pseudo-journalistic angle, and the tracking down of celebrities are totally new to me. i have a few interviews in the can and i feel like i'm starting to get the hang of it a little.
of course you always have to have a wish list for a project like this, and right at the top of mine was the great Steve Gadd. i'd been trying to figure out ways of contacting him over the past several months but all attempts were fruitless.
..until i happened to mention the project to my writer buddy Kyle. turns out Kyle knows the wonderful guitarist Fuzzbee, who knows Malcolm, who does Steve's website. i send Malcolm some of my books, he loves them, emails Steve's wife, Carol, who arranges for me to meet Steve in New York during a weeklong club gig with his all-stars band, L'Image!
Carol just gives me Steve's cell # and says to call him when i get to New York. says he'll see me at some point during the 16th or 17th. so i jump onto my private jet and check into a snazzy hotel. once i'm settled, i nervously phone one of my biggest heroes and he kindly offers to meet me at his hotel at 1pm on the following day- the 16th! yay, i go to bed early and wake up buzzing. bacon and eggs at a groovy Manhattan diner, then my usual stretching routine, shower, then hop in a cab to Steve's hotel, The Phillips Club. it's a swank place right across the street from Juilliard where lots of music royalty VIPs stay.
i got there early to case the joint, then went for a walk. 20 mins before 1 i leave a message just to let him know i was there, no pressure.
called at 1. answering machine again. just kicked back and chilled in the elegant lobby. 15 minutes after 1 i left another message. starting to get worried. sitting waiting/thinking.
at about 25 after, a scruffy guy comes in off the street wearing running gear holding a cardboard tray with 4 coffees. as he approaches, i start to recognize him. he notices that he's being recognized so he kind of slows down with a puzzled look, as if to say, do i know you? "hi Steve, i'm Dave, the guy that's supposed to interview you?"
he'd totally forgotten.
he sat with me trying to decide what to do. finally he said he'd go up and talk to some friends then come back and let me know. waited for 10 minutes. he comes down, shakes my hand warmly, apologizes sincerely. he says he has plans and it would be great if he didn't have to change them. "of course", i say. any time is fine, i'm at his disposal. he says tomorrow, same time. i gratefully accept.
he asks if i'm going to see him play at Iridium. i say yeah, tonight. he says maybe he'll get his second wind after the show and we can do it then. but if not, then definitely tomorrow. he shakes my hand again and gives me a warm hug. whatta guy. real laid back and kind.
spent the day wandering around Manhattan, then met up with my good friend Scott and his wife and daughter. went out for a lovely italian meal. after dinner Scott (a big music fan/aficionado) and i headed over to Iridium. cool place, lots of history. interesting ticketing system- you just go in and there's a $10 drink minimum, but at the end of the night you're also billed for the entertainment ($40ea). we got seats RIGHT next to steve's kit. perfect! it was a thrill watching him play. he spotted me in the crowd and smiled (swoon! ha ha!).
afterwards we waited around for a while and finally he came out to shake some hands, sign some autographs. i waited till everyone was seen to, then came over. he was pleased to see me and we went into the back room. he was obviously exhausted, but gave very generously. it was a really nice, warm interview.
i went to see him the following night for the early show (can you believe they do 2 shows/night?) and was pleased to get the chance to meet and thank Carol Gadd for her help. that night's show was quite different from the one i'd seen the previous night and i felt really fortunate to be able to see Steve play twice. i even got to see him drop a stick (so weird to witness). of course he didn't miss a beat, and no one but a drum nerd like me would have even noticed.
walked back to the hotel buzzing from the fanboy thrill of it all. super-cool!
hopefully i'll have this strip (along with 2 others) done early in the new year. watch for them!
|arriving at Iridium, being seated...|
|New Yorkers! this is nothing unusual for them!|
|hard to believe i was this close. the second |
night my view was JUST AS GOOD!
|the legendary Tony Levin|
|that's Scott taking a drink of his G+T|
|It's hard to explain watching Steve play. he's practically |
a mythical figure to drum nerds. his playing is so masterful, yet beautifully primal and intuitive
|Steve getting permission from the sound guy to |
use the back room for the interview
|Steve chatting with the great Warren Bernhardt |
just prior to the interview
|needed proof of my presence!|
|Steve just after showing me the most baffling magic trick!|