Return to the future

Back in 1971, the future of music was a hybrid of Rock, Jazz and Classical. Alot of groups were doing various combinations of things; prog rock combined classical and rock, for example. But for my money, the forefront of this movement was a band called the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The music was called “Fusion”.

Run by guitarist John McLaughlin, the M.O. pushed the limits of what was possible for a live band to do. The writing, performing and recordings were second to none. If you’ve never heard of them, you owe it to yourself to check them out. They helped define the music of a generation – my generation. Learn HERE.

Right around 11th grade in High School, we got the “book”. This was the McLaughlin Book – containing, in score form, the first four albums of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. My musician friends and I in high school spent many, many – I mean many – hours, working through every inch of that book. Trying every tune; re-arranging things, re-orchestrating, and just having an incredible time of it all. I learned a lot from that experience. I continued to play this music with whoever I could find for the next 18 years, often playing to empty room after empty room and getting turned down for gigs left and right. Seemed like no one wanted to hear this music. “Fusion” had become a “dirty” word. Too bad.

I finally walked away from that sound & style in 1997, concentrating on finding my voice in a new world. This finally happened in 2005, when I had a Eureka moment, and I realized how I could combine all my diverse influences into one thriving, growing musical unit – NAIL.

But – life isn’t finished throwing those wonderful curves yet. Through a convoluted series of events which included 10 years on the road with “the Machine” (those who know me know about that), I find myself receiving a phone call from Gregg Bendian, drummer and bandleader of a group called – and here’s where it gets interesting – the “Mahavishnu Project“. Well, having practically lived and breathed this music for so many years, I jumped at the chance. We’ve played 2 shows so far; I can only describe the experience as surreal. Going back and playing this stuff – it fells like I’m falling backwards through time. But the audience is there – now more then ever, perhaps, as new generations discover this (what I always thought of as amazing) music.

Anyway, enough rambling for now – I will keep you all posted.

As always, thanks for listening –

-NAIL

A Day to Remember

Hey yowie zowie. How are YOU????

I just had the best day ever. Seriously, a really great day of Music & Money making. First, a dance class in the morning. I forget, sometimes those are really FUN. Then, onto Long Island NY and Hofstra University for a NAIL performance for the music students, part of their “Music 20” concert series. 150 – 200 students, mandatory attendance. They HAVE to be there; we get the benefit of a built in Audience. Nice little theater type space; holds about 380 people so the place felt close to full.

And then we played – and did we ever! Man, we rocked the free world. No major gear issues… I even got a little Q & A in there, bit of a lec/dem vibe. There was a beatiful grand piano which we used for “Darn That Dream” – we usually do it electric, but we did a short acoustic version up front adding to the “demonstration” aspect. And then on top of all that I sold something like 8 CD’s at $15 a pop. But – what I friggin’ great show. I was on toop of the world after that…

Then – it was on to Teaneck NJ for my first gig with the Mahavishnu Project. Even though I was travelling from Long Island, through NY City and on to NJ at the height – the middle – of rush hour, I encountered almost no traffic at all, and arrived the the club an hour before I expected to. So far so good. In any case, I felt so good from the afternoon show I had no fear and no worries.

Then we played the show. Another success! Completely killer. Honestly, I live for the NAIL gigs – to me those are the REAL deal – but damn this was good. My old friend Conrad was there, and afterwards we went to a diner – like we hadn’t done in 15 years. I got home at 3 am – but I was still wired, and flying. “Cloud Nine” is what I think they call it. And Iget to do the Maha gig again n Wednesday, at the Iridium in NYC. YES!!!

Seriously though, it was the kind of day I dream about. Playing music I love, with great musicians (at high volumes!), and making money doing it. I mean really. I’m having trouble with the bills this month; things have been tighter than usual. But for me, a day like that? There’s not much more I could hope for – except of course for many many more of them. The memory of that day will help me through. I can’t wait to do it again.

So thanks all you people for the support. I hope to make music for you again soon.

“All is full of Love” – Bjork

Peace out

NAIL

Needs to be said

I just wanted to mention, before I forget again, how cool Benji & Jake are at Benji & Jake’s. They are without a doubt some of the hippest venue owners I have come across in recent memory. Their place is beautiful, well maintained; the backline musical equip. is good quality stuff in great shape; the food is awesome, the location is beautiful. The whole place has this great “vibe”. You’ve gotta check it out. We even met their folks! terrific people as well.

They’re really building something wonderful out there in the woods, and we’re glad to be a part of it. Thanks, guys!!!

– NAIL

The Return of “Strictly Kill”

Nice, nice, nice. Nice!!! The venue was Benji & Jakes. If you’re in Sullivan county NY, you need to check this place out. We will be back. so don’t forget to sign up on the mailing list….!

The show was a complete success! What that means is:

Biz wise, we played great, were on time and professional, and made a good impression.

Gear wise, everything worked. My rig threatened to crap out right at the very beginning, but once I got it going it never failed. Adds to our professionalism, and helps with my “sanity clause” (i.e. when my gear doesn’t work, I go nuts).

Performance wise, we played from 8:40 till 1 am (!). THIS is what it means to be a real working band. Everybody there dug the band – especially the owners! We really earned our bread last night.

Musically – not everything was perfect, but it was a great opportunity to see which tunes worked in that context, and which didn’t. Some not so great decisions about what to play next on my part, but I really started to get a sense of how to structure the sets. Of course, the best way to find out is to be doing this all the time. As I said, everybody dug the band, so it didn’t feel forced or difficult even when playing tunes we had hardly rehearsed.

YES!!!!!

I used to play with Mad Mike Cullens. He was a hell of a drummer (still is). Our motto then was: Strictly Kill. Let it be known: Strictly Kill is BACK, BIG TIME.

We love YOU! See you on stage…

– the NAIL

NAIL at the Goshen Jazz Festival 2007

NAIL at the Goshen Jazz Festival (2), originally uploaded by nailosity.

Man, last summer was great. We did a whole pile of shows, We actually started to get really tight, in that way that bands do when they play alot. Hasn’t happened to me for decades, since A. Animal days (not counting the Machine, of course).
Here’a shot from the Goshen Jazz Festival. My daughter Rebecca took the photo.

NAIL at the Blue Note

BN6.JPG, originally uploaded by nailosity.

One of our Banner Moments: At the Blue Note in NYC, with Steve Rust and Nadav Z. Boy, we had fun.