The beat goes on …
Especially for drummer Leslie ‘Snooky’ Alston.
Kicking the bass peddle, cracking the snare or shuffling on the high hat- this American – born keeper of all things rythym, feels as if he has something to say …
“I always thought I was a drummer.” Says Snooky. ” Recently, my 86 year old Mother tells me I was a singer first. It comes as a surprise to me …!”
Leslie Alston grew up in Rhode Island and as early as the age of six (according to his Mom), Leslie sang hymns to the matriarch of the Alston clan while drumming along with his mouth at the same time. It has been a long musical journey since then, a trip which has seen ‘Snooky’ play with every type of musician imagable. Motown, Jazz, Funk and disco to name a few.You name it – Alston has been there done that.
His current gig with Snooky and the Bandits every Monday night at the House of Jazz is not enough however.
“Inside, I feel as if I have something to prove. Something to say musically.” Admits Alston. “Something which is chasing me …”
The musical demons which follow this fifty – something man, are the reasons Snooky is planning to embark as the resident drummer on a cruise ship. Alston agrees that most musicians are like gypsies – always on the move.
“It won’t be the first time that I have travelled. I have been to Japan and Africa touring with Freddy James. The band was named Fusion 3 and it was an interesting foray into the world of professional music.”
Perhaps Snooky’s most defining musical education came when he was stationed in Morocco. He signed on with K9 Entertainment in 2007 and for the next three years travelled back and forth between Montreal and Casablanca. According to ‘the Snooksta’ – the experience made him realize how easy life as a musician is in North America.
“Over there, entertainment is not as abundant as it is here and in the States. When the people go out to be entertained – they want to be entertained ! They get all dressed up and they want the entertainers to be sharp. They can turn on you pretty quick if you slack off on stage.”
Alston does not want to ‘slack off’ with the rest of his life. He is currently working In the studio lending his voice to a local musician and plans on recording his second cd. His first disc – recorded in 2006, contains a virtual stew of musical genres. Snooky not only played drums and sang every song on the disc, he wrote all the tunes and produced it as well.
The album – ‘Snooky – Let’s Talk About’, contains every influence this man has employed into his drumming. Michael Jackson, Prince and George Clinton to name a few. Snooky came very close to playing with Clinton and the story is a funny one …
“George was playing in a club downtown Montreal. Most of the people attending were white so I figured if I attempted to sneak in the back and pretend to be part of his entourage – I just might have a chance.” Continues Snooky …
“George often has fifty people on stage with him and I figured I could blend right in with the predominantly black crew and performers.”
Sure enough, the ‘white’ security guard assumed that the African-American Snooky was part of the crew and let him in. For once – racism was a good thing.
“I ended up talking to George in the hallway. I told him how much a fan I was and that I could go on stage right now and play any song in his catalogue. If it was not for his loyalty to his drummer (someone who I thought was bad at what he does), I would have played with one of my idols.”
Leslie ‘Snooky’ Alston will continue to bash out beats with his Bandits every Monday night at the House of Jazz until he departs on his ship.
One thing is certain in this musician’s life. One thing that ‘Mama’ Alston can be proud of …
Snooky will not be sailing on a ‘ship of fools’ …