A tennis partner of mine was recently telling me that he went to see Pet Shop Boys in concert. He asked me if I liked them, to which I replied that I wouldn’t have gone if he’d paid me. He explained how aside from whether the music is great or trendy, it’s the music he grew up with and is special to him as it’s linked to so many memories. There is definitely something to be said for the power music can have when linked to memories and experiences.
I recently got to play with guitarist Mike Stern who is probably my all time favourite musician or certainly the person I wanted to play with more than anyone else, partly because I grew up with his music. I discovered a few of my favourtie drummers through his music as a teenager so it meant a great deal to me to play with such a hero. All those years as a kid playing along to his records and going to his concerts, the milestone of getting the chance to play with him, on his gig, was a real feeling that my perseverance in music had paid off. Sure, I wasn’t being hired for a whole tour where I’d earn a ton of money, but it was a great life experience and all the hard practice I did and still do means I did a good job and will get to play with him again.
I always enjoy listening to famous musicians talk of how they got to experience playing with artists they grew up listening to as a child. Dennis Chambers once told the story of listening to Steely Dan’s ‘Aja’ as a kid and marvelling at Steve Gadd’s drum solo. When the song used to come on the radio he used to stop what he was doing and hang on through the 8 minute song to get to the drum solo and running after the school bus because of it. Then some fifteen years later he is onstage counting off that very same song.
People often say 99% of success is perseverance: simply not giving up. A teacher of mine said you need to be like a mule in a snowstorm: just keep your head down and carry on. It’s moments like this that allow you to reflect on the work you’ve done and provide you with some fuel to carry on and work harder and keep persevering.
Here is some video footage of the gig I did with Stern. I’ll be posting more clips over the coming weeks as well as some studio footage later in the year.