I am a little bit Country

In this scribblin' I am going to talk a lil' bit about my time in the country and the country music biz.

That's right.

I've done my time on the best of ole Hank's tunes, while living in Hillsboro Village in the heart of Nashville, as well as shared fence lines in Brentwood with Waylon Jenning's estate. Right in middle of the crazy rock n roll lifestyle I lead (which if ya believe I am like that 24/7 scroll down to the last entry on this section) I have played many a show with some of country music's finest.

From Wy to Tanya Tucker ... Billy Ray Cirrus to Dusty Rhodes. I have always had a country bug in my ear even in the rowdiest and hardest of rock tours. Now with the advent of Outlaw country's return, I find rock drummin' is working it's way deeper and deeper into the Nashville sound. To the point that now it is almost impossible to separate Rock and Country. An isolated studio drum track in a New Young Country song could easily be used to to pump a rock raised crowd into a frenzy with the abandon of hard metal.  Just listen and feel ... you will hear what I am sayin' without to much of a strain on the imagination.

In case you haven't read the drum kit bio and know the facts of formative years ... upon my father's retirement from the Air Force in 1971, I was moved from the jungles of Okinawa to the backwoods of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains. Where I was privileged to grow up onna farm.  Ridin' my horse bareback through the woods and across the meadows. Probably the reason I spend so much time in those hills today is too keep that down to earth grounded feeling in my soul and in my playing.




Requiem for an Old Tyme Fiddler

It is only fitting that if I am gonna talk country music that I mention a legendary Champion fiddle master, Dusty Rhodes who recently pasted away at the age of 85.

Now some of you younger ones may not have heard of Dusty Rhodes. Even some of you older country types (without cow shit on your boots) may scratch your head and attempt to place the name.

Dusty came from the old traditional country school of fiddling. He could slide easily from Irish jigs, which were learned and transferred by ear from immigrants coming to this country a 100 years ago, to the Bob Will's western swing, doghouse bass on the roof of the car days.

Dusty started out in radio in the 1930s and had his own variety show that ran 25 years. Guests included Elvis Arron Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and my main country man in in black, Johnny Cash. Rhodes also made many guest appearances on the Grand ole Opry and performed on over 80 recordings.

At 16, he played for Henry Ford, using Ford's Stradivarius violin. In 1967, Rhodes performed for President Lyndon B. Johnson and wife, Lady Bird, at their Stonewall Ranch in Texas.

My time with Dusty started when I was fourteen.

Dusty had just moved back to the Ozarks after many years in Nashville and hired me to play with him on weekends, in a local restaurant he was part owner of. He was basically going into retirement, but being a professional musician all his life, he was not exactly looking forward to sittin' around his front porch, when he could still get out there and saw the strings offa fiddle with the best of 'em.

He prepared me well for some of the thrash bands (like DRI) I jammed with later in Los Angeles.

You see Dusty's fiddlin' feature was a version of the classic country tune, "The Orange Blossom Special" ... played somewhere between 225 - 250 beats per minute.

Stamina my friends.


Through hiring me, Dusty gave me one of my first payin' gigs and I worked with him all the way through my second year in college. Where I would make the 100 mile drive every weekend to play and would sit in between breaks working on my music theory assignments.

This worked out great since most of the time Dusty's son in law, Charlie Chalmers, was present on the sax and helped me through many a tough second inversion German Neapolitan chord progression. Yes they even make drummers learn such things when you study classical.

In case ya haven't heard of hitman Charlie. Google in his name cross-referenced with Al Green and Stax sometime.

When Charlie wasn't sittin' in with Dusty's group, he was out on the road more often than not with Bee Gees. We are talking the early 80s here so you can imagine I ain't Jive Talkin' with a Saturday Night Fever.

But back to Dusty ...

I was glad we got a chance to play together a few months before he left us. Nothing big. A few local shows, where Dusty would only do a few numbers, before adjourning to the dressing room to smoke a cigarette, under the no smoking sign ... his frail hand serving has a make shift ashtray.

This was about a month before Dusty had to be put in an old folks home, where I would often visit him. I always felt in debt to him for giving a little teenage kid a break so many years ago.

Dusty taught me a very, valuable lesson when I was a young drummer just starting in the business. At that time I was still learning the basics of professional drumming and my timing was not near what it would later become. So on one particular night when my tempo was wavering. Dusty approached me on our break and with manner befittin' such a country gentleman offered this little piece of advice.

"Son when you play behind me you just keep that snare drum and bass drum steady. Think pay -check. pay-check, pay-check." I use that philosophy successfully to this very day.

Unfortunately for me, but I am sure one of the best things for him, Dusty was taken out of the retirement home a few months before he passed .

The last time I saw him I walked him to his car, shook his hand and told him I was  honored to carry his fiddle case. Then I watched his pink Lincoln drive off into the night for the last time. Leaving me with the last fiddle tune I would ever hear him play.

He will be sadly missed by alot of wonderful musicians who shared stages with him around the world and on his television show. There will be no more like him. When he left us he took with him a tradition of fiddling that can never be replicated by any slicked up Nashville production team ... never.