Rick Keene Music Scene – The ‘Rock Doc’ Neil Ratner Talks Music Industry, Anesthesiology and Michael Jackson

Special to Rick Keene Music Scene.com

Neil Ratner is a name that has been associated with the Rock n Roll scene since the 1960s. While pursuing a career as a drummer, Neil got a gig working on the road that led to associations with Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd and later on the king of pop himself; Michael Jackson.

Neil recently released his book Rock Doc which is a blend of fascinating fun stories of the Rock n Roll lifestyle to heartfelt messages about charity and personal redemption. Neil gave Ron Roxtar a call from Ratner’s Woodstock N.Y. office.

Roxtar: Hi Neil, Thanks for the call. You know looking over your career I’m not even sure what to say it is you do. Tour manager, anesthesiologist, author and maybe we can say future rock star.

Neil: (laughing) Thank you for that although I feel my days of trying to be a rock star are well behind me.

Roxtar: You have your latest book out now, Rock Doc.

Neil: Yes it’s been out for a while now. It has so many interesting stories and people in it. There are ups and downs in life’s lessons. Even though I wasn’t trying to be an author I was always writing down on pieces of paper.

Roxtar: So what were your initial beginnings?

Neil: Growing up I always had two dreams. One was to be a doctor and like most people growing up in the 60’s we all wanted to be rock stars. I wanted to be a drummer so I played in bands in high school through to college.

Roxtar: I heard you came up here to Montreal to join a band.

Neil: Oh yeah! I was hoping you’d ask me about that. It was the local rock station up there CHOM-FM. They said a band up in St. Agathe was looking for a drummer. I called the station and they got me in touch with the band who said to come on up, which I did. I was the drummer in that band for about four months. I don’t even remember the name of the band but it fell apart and then I came back to the States.

Roxtar: So after that experience what happened?

Neil: It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year I took an apartment in the city because I had a job at the hospital that I thought would help me get into medical school. I found out by chance that my upstairs neighbor is a musician. I knocked on his door and he’s standing there with a guitar slung over his shoulder. He invites me in and tells me his name is Rick Derringer. I was like “You mean Rick Derringer from the McCoys?!” He was like “Yeah.” From that, we became very good friends and he heard me play the drums. I asked him to help get me a job. One day he calls me up and says he’s got a gig for me but not as a drummer. He was working with Johnny Winter at the time. Johnny had a brother named Edgar who was forming a band and they needed a manager so my whole life took a major left turn.

Roxtar: So in a chance meeting everything changed you ended up eventually working for some big names like Pink Floyd and (ELP) Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Neil: Yeah, well I spent more than a year with Edgar Winter’s band it was called White Trash. I then met a big-time manager who was managing Humble Pie, J Geils Band, Peter Frampton and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

They were at the time changing management and they offered me a job to go over to London and run their lights and stage production. I was basically the general operations director.

After about a year I noticed all these bands were using too many companies. They had a lighting company, a sound company, accountants and more. This is back in the day where it made things very complex. I got this idea to form a company called Circus. It would provide trucking, lights, sound and everything that a group needed under one tent so to speak.

Ratner – Watts


The guy who helped me form this company was named Peter Watts. He was the husband of an old girlfriend of mine from college and we just happened to meet up in London one day. Peter was the sound technician for Pink Floyd. One day he came to me and said “You know we’ve never used anybody for anything. We’ve always been self-contained. Now we’ve got this new album coming out called Dark Side of the Moon and for the tour I want us to be the first to use quadraphonic sound and digital lighting. The only way we can do it is if you combine forces with us. So we did the Dark Side of the Moon tour and even afterwards a couple of other things. After five or six years I had pretty much set out do everything I wanted to do before I got an epiphany to follow my other dream which was to become a doctor.

Roxtar: So after achieving let’s say some of your accomplishments in the music business you go back to wanting to be a doctor.

Neil: Well you have to remember, Ron, one of my first dreams was to be a doctor. Plus those years in the music business was taking a toll on my body and I ended up in the hospital with kidney stones.

I remember watching this movie one night about American medical students on their way to becoming doctors and that’s when I got my epiphany. I had achieved everything on the business side of things and I was not going to be the rock n roll star drummer I wanted to be so it was time to go back to being what I wanted to be which was a doctor.

That was a ten-year journey since I had stopped going to college. I had to study outside of the US. I studied for years at a Mexican medical school, then a year of unpaid internship just to get back into the American system. I then did a couple of years of surgical residency. After ten years I finally had switched to anesthesiology and became an anesthesiologist.

Roxtar: Someone coming from the world of music let’s say back into medicine there seems to be a connection. I’ve read that some doctors play music during operations and it’s almost as if music can if not be a cure, certainly can be a helping healing factor.

Neil: Well I’ll tell you a funny story about that. At the end of your residency, everybody has to do some sort of research project. Mostly everyone does a scientific study of some kind. I had an interest in consciousness in a sense. There is a type of procedure doctors do that’s called conscious procedure where the patient is not completely out but certainly not wide awake. It’s somewhere in between. As an anesthesiologist I somehow knew if I could play music in a patient’s ear during the surgical procedure we could use fewer drugs and decrease the stress and tension of that patient.

All the doctors laughed at me and thought why would I ever want to do that, but I persisted. In the end, my study did show that there was a great benefit to music being played almost as if it as an extra drug.

Then after a little while, I realized I didn’t want to be a hospital-based anesthesiologist. I looked around and noticed that a lot of doctors wanted to perform procedures in their own offices but couldn’t because the equipment wasn’t monitored properly. So I offered my services and would go into the doctors offices to be their anesthesiologist. I was one of the first to do that in New York City.

Roxtar: You also spearheaded doing some overseas charity work. You were instrumental in helping the victims of the bombing attacks in Kenya and Tanzania that took place, which was the first time the world heard about Al- Qaeda.

Neil: Absolutely. I was in New York when the acute bombings happened. We arrived afterwards. A friend of mine who lives in Kenya called me up. They were aware of my previous charity work. My wife and I had been to Africa and we were very concerned for the Indigenous people. We went to a very remote village near the Somalian border.

We went down there all self-contained and started a bush clinic for the local tribes there. We started a mission of mercy down there working along with the various charities. A friend of mine helped me to get started on making three micro bakeries in some of the poorest of the regions. One of the most meaningful things you can do in life is to give back to those less fortunate than yourself.

Roxtar: If someone’s going to buy this book what exactly will they be reading about?

Neil: They’ll be getting an incredible journey about different areas of life. One journey is about the rock n roll business of the late ’60s and early to mid-’70s. That was a really good time in rock n roll because that’s when the business was developing. You’ll read about ELP, Pink Floyd and others. There are stories about the rock festivals and how we made sure we were doing our best to make things happen in the right way.

Another journey is about what it’s like to go into the world of medicine at an older age in a foreign language in a foreign place and what that’s like. With that comes the journey of anesthesiology. The world of plastic surgery and celebrities.

From there is the journey of meeting Michael Jackson and not only becoming his doctor but his close personal friend. I spent eight years with Michael traveling and being with him in various ways.

There is a journey about me getting into a little bit of trouble. From that, I learned to be a humanitarian and try to do good in life.

The book has all of those things and more. I’m getting a great response and people are really enjoying it. Let me add there’s even a section of pictures so you get that as well.


Roxtar: So what was it like to work with Michael Jackson?

Neil: You know Michael was a great guy. A lot of people did not have an opportunity to get close to Michael and I was one of the few who did have that opportunity. He was a great friend.

We could talk about anything. We talked about spirituality, nature, even old rock n roll. We talked about anything.

Mandela, Jackson, Ratner and His Wife

He was very supportive. The time that I was in trouble in life he was incredibly supportive. He was what a friend should be. I have very fond memories of him.

He was also a great humanitarian and a lot of his efforts were unheralded. There was a time when we were in South Africa. He insisted on going to the hospital there. This is at a time when people were still very afraid of HIV. Michael was not afraid to go in and mingle or hold the patients. He wasn’t afraid to touch them, whereas most people never would. I had some great times with my friend, Michael Jackson.

One of the greatest things Michael did was introduce me to Nelson Mandela. That was an amazing thing and because of it I got to meet Nelson on a couple of occasions afterwards. During one of those meetings he helped to finance the first micro-bakery I talked about earlier.

Ratner – Winter

Roxtar: You are stranded on a desert island with no hope of ever being rescued. What are your top three desert island discs?

Neil: Oooh, that’s a tough one. (thinking) Okay, I got it. Gaucho by Steely Dan.

My second would have to be Dark Side of The Moon. If you’re on a desert island you’re going to want to have a record that takes you far away from there in your mind.

For my third, I’d want to have a real rock n roll record. I’m going to get personal and go with Edgar Winter’s Roadwork. I really think it is one of the best rock n roll records out there and not many people know it.

Contact Ron Roxtar

ronroxtar@yahoo.com

Gabriela Martina – Her ‘ Sound of Music’ is Real ! Full Interview.

Gabriela Martina yodelled as a young girl in Switzerland. That is where the similarities between her and Maria Von Trapp ends.

 

Gabriela’s story is real … 

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Please listen below to my interview with Gabriela !

 

 

Visit Gabriela Here !

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Jean-Michel Blais – A Pianist Making Waves …

 

Jean -Michel Blais is a newcomer. Sort of …

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Jean – Michel Blais started playing the organ at a young age which – in turn, led to the piano. Even though, a love-hate relationship developed for a while between Jean – Michel and music, it is now part of his life in a big way.

It may even get bigger …

 

Please listen below to my chat with Jean-Michel.

 

 

Visit Jean – Michel Here !

 

 

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The Real Reason We Mourn Prince’s Death …

The artist formerly known as ‘ the artist formerly known as Prince‘, aka ‘Prince‘ or ‘Prince‘ Rogers Nelson – passed away.
His death, echoing around the globe with thunderous fanfare via social media.
Why ?

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The obvious reasons are acute. Fame, fame and more fame. The brighter the flame, the harder to extinguish. The brighter the flame, the more it spreads with the oxygen provided by the corporate machine, the fans and the product itself. In Prince’s case, the product was music.

How could anything else come from a man whose parents were of music lineage?

Mom ( Mattie Shaw) was a Jazz singer. Dad ( John L. Nelson), a lyricist and pianist. Music was part of Prince’s genetic code. Chances are if Prince’s chosen career happened to be a forklift operator – at home, as a hobby, Prince would have probably played the piano or sang  ‘just for fun’ …

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So what? Lots of folks are musical. Lots of souls possess the God-given ability to pick up any instrument and play it well. Some, such as Prince, are either lucky or blessed to reach a level where all the tools required to reach millions are at their fingertips. Artists such as Prince can then preach their messages to the hearts and souls of their followers. In effect, affect people’s lives.

Scanning social media in the hours following the death announcement, everyone had a thought, a picture or a paragraph pertaining to their ‘hero’ ‘Prince’ Rogers Nelson. 

Fifteen – year-olds, teenagers – people not born when Prince hit the Pop charts were mourning his loss. Eighty-year-olds, folks who had no idea that Prince, not so long ago, went by a symbol as his moniker. Fifty-year-olds who had no idea that Prince played guitar. Folks whohave no idea just how much of a musical genius Prince was.

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There are reasons why Prince’s death spread faster than the Ebola virus and caused many bosses panic attacks.

First ( and the most symbolic indication of humanity’s demise); people are like sheep. If one person shares the news, one ‘cool’ person, it inevitably goes viral. ‘Everyone’ must be the bearer of bad news even though ‘everyone’ has witnessed ‘everyone’ being the bearer of bad news on their newsfeeds. If this was not bad enough, suddenly ‘everyone’  is an expert of at least one aspect of the subject of the bad news. ‘Bobby Joe’ knows everything about Prince’s music. ‘Harry’ grew up with Prince in Minnesota. ‘ Darlene’ has a friend who knows what killed ‘ The Purple One’. On and on it goes …

Secondly, there are genuine fans out there. People who know more about Prince than the time of day ‘doves cry’. Fanatics who can toss ‘Purple Rain‘ aside as a commercial jingle. Folks who can say “Let’s go crazy’ and not get into a ‘Little Red Corvette’ and party like it’s 1999. 

These fans, these people – are the divine holders of any profound detail concerning the life, the times and the music of The Prince of Funk. These folks are genuinely hurting. They mourn and will continue to mourn the depth of not only Prince’s musical ability, his knowledge and his craftsmanship as a true artist. A songwriter, a composer and a groundbreaking figure. The ‘Spike Lee’ of musical direction. 

Musicians, fellow artists also fall into this category. People – women, men and transgenders who recognized the abilities of a man who accomplished in the studio and on stage what they could only dream of doing in their finest moments. For them – ‘Princes’ exist solely in fairy tales and rightly so.

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Lastly and the veritable reason everyone mourned Prince on a level normally fit for Kings and not Princes; people are human and nothing touches the human soul more than music …

Sally’ recalls quite vividly where she was was when the riffs of ‘Little Red Corvette’ eased her pain. Lifting whatever was troubling her for a fleeting moment of a busy workday. ‘Jimmy’, the once pimply teenager, at the drop of some purple misting – zooms to a backseat and his first kiss with Prince providing ‘the condoms’ in the form of ‘dearly beloved’ oozing through the Blaupunkt speakers of his rusted Honda Civic. His first car mirroring his first ejaculation.

‘Jane’, the once party animal-turned-mother-of-three snickering of ‘the fight’ that took place as she defended Prince in the ever important Michael vs. Prince debate. Arguments as important at the time as Trump vs Hilary is today. Music was and continues to be the pulse of the people. It escapes no one and leaves no one indifferent.

An artist on the scale of Prince, a man who affected millions through music, showmanship, songwriting and individuality left no one indifferent.

That is the reason we mourn his death. That is the reason we will never mourn his music.

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1958 – 2016

 

 

 

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Who was Lou Reed?

Inevitably – age catches up to everyone. Rock n’ Rollers are no exception.

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Lou Reed is the latest victim of a combination of age / sickness. Who is next? McCartney? Ringo? Jagger? Richards? ( never mind the latter – the Stones’ guitarist’s shelf life has long since passed and his existence is questionable  …)

The common denominator within the names above is simple…

Legendary.

What is that? Reed legendary on the same level as The Beatles and The Stones? Did Reed ( who passed away at the age of seventy-one) pen tunes along the lines of Hey Jude or Brown Sugar? Over and over? Are his songs implanted into the gums of music history – never to be removed or destroyed in fire?

Around the world, in the past few days, young rockers ( or just plain youthful musicians) have prodded their parents with pesky questions pertaining to Mr. Reed. Truthfully and sadly –one response to the rockin’ requests was undoubtedly delivered. Answered with a glint in the eye and a  jump to the past …

Take a walk on the wild side …” The PARENTS may have said, thinking back to a simpler time. ” … Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.’ ….’And the colored girls say dododo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo …’

‘Yeah …’ Came the responses from unresponsive teens. ” I know that tune! Great song …!” With that – the young ones would continue listening to Muse or The Sheepdogs in their interior worlds known as iPods. The horror!

Lou Reed – who passed away on the weekend, was known more for than just one song. His work with The Velvet Underground and specifically Nico – produced one of the greatest albums of all time. ‘Femme  Fatale’. ‘Venus in Furs’,’There She Goes Again‘, ‘I’ll be Your Mirror’ and ‘I’m Waiting for the Man‘ – songs to be sung forever …

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What made that album legendary – is something most artists cannot claim. The melodies, the harmonies, the musicianship, the songwriting and the chemistry between Cale,Reed, Nico, Morrison and Tucker – impeccable. Many artists can claim that on discs such as  ‘Pet Sounds’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Exile on Main Street‘ yet the songs Reed wrote or co -wrote did not make Reed a legend. What made Reed a legend was his courage or ‘defiance’ to talk or sing about all things taboo. The music was the vehicle.

Heroin, Transsexuals, open sexuality ( the pre-cursor to f*ck friend) and general decadence. Things that existed. Things that lived and breathed in the pores of society long before Lou entered the dangerous picture. Reed made these subjects fashionable. The Rolling Stones may have opened the door – Reed and his ‘underground’ took it to another level. The Stones had their ‘Mother’s Little Helper‘ – Reed and his cronies raped her and  stole her pills. Publicly!

Lyrically, Reed opened up to everything he saw. No candy-coating on what was happening in New York from 1966- 1973. No sugar in his coffee as he stared down the core of  the rotting Big Apple. The world contains a lot of blackness and Reed drank it and spat it out. Darker than ever. Prettier than ever. Right up to his recent passing.

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Some musicians are poets. Some poets are musicians. Some – talented in one way more than another. Reed was equal in his talents. Raw, undressed and ready to go. A guitar riff as raunchy as his scowling words. You could not dress him up or take him out. Not on terms that disagreed with him. Not on terms deemed ‘politically correct’ …

Mr. Reed invented political incorrectness. A child of his environment – Reed saw the United States for what it was. Hypocritical, seedy, uncouth, unworthy of his worthiness. The peace and love generation wanted to ‘fix’ things – Reed basked in the horrors. Somehow aware things would never change and if they did – they would stay the same.

Rock stars, Jazz stars, Pop stars, Country stars and Disco stars can all be labelled. Even if their personas flop between identities. Bowie was a spaceman, weird but understandable. Michael Jackson? A weirdo from space? Unidentifiable yet classifiable. Johnny Cash – a man tormented by demons yet agonizingly shelved with so many artists. On and on except for Lou Reed …

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A rebel …? Sorta. A junkie in the form of Keith Richards …um …no. An alcoholic a la Moon? Nope. Not even close. A genius in the form of Dylan? Bite our collective tongues …

Reed was a man unlike any other. Lost in translation yet translated as lost. A man in the mirror. An introspective soul unafraid to discover himself. A guitar player whose chords were tuned to his world while staying out of tune with the world’s. Above Dylan yet darker? Tortured like Cash yet tamed through words. ‘Out there’ like a Bowie /  Jackson tandem yet with feet planted firmly on Earth.

Lou Reed was an exception. In life and death.

I don’t know just where I’m going
But I’m gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
‘Cause it makes me feel like I’m a man
When I put a spike into my vein

Christine Jensen – It’s All About the Sax …( Sorta )

Christine Jensen has a new album out.

Habitat will be released on October 1st in stores near you. This release will be followed by a live show on October 3rd at Lion D’Or as part of the Off Festival. Christine’s latest ‘opus’ is a labor of love …

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” Every time I do a large ensemble thing like this, it’s not a short event.” Explains Christine from her home in Montreal.” There are a lot of pieces that have to be put in place which includes writing the music …”

An album this size takes Christine about three years to complete. Eighteen musicians take part in what Jensen describes as short stories. Each song has a different theme and they all contain spontaneity. Slightly organized tunes which contain great rhythms – something which Christine adores …

” This is Jazz.” Says Christine.” It is so different than most types of music. I have to structure everything down and when we go to record we get about two days in the studio, as opposed to what may sound like months and months and months. Just to do the live stuff – it’s all about capturing the live element of the music.”

Christine Jensen is foremost a Saxaphone player and a current Montrealer. Christine.JensenMathieu-Rivard_hires1Originally from Sechelt, British Columbia, she grew up in Nanaimo and learned her craft among some of Canada’s finest crop of musicians. Diana Krall, David Gogo and her sister Ingrid to name but three. Once in Montreal, Christine obtained her Bachelor and Masters degrees from McGill University. She has studied with Pat LaBarbera, Kenny Werner, Jim McNeely, Remi Bolduc, Dick Oatts and Steve Wilson. People who have taught Christine well in the city she calls the greatest in the world for musical talent …

“We have our struggles in this Province …” Admits Christine. ” But those struggles also help us to band together. The struggles add to the dimension for this need of creation here.  There is no better place than Montreal.”

Habitat is the second disc of such magnitude for Jensen. Treelines (released in 2010) won Christine a Juno award yet the new album was much easier to complete. Christine’s experience from the first – enabling an ‘easier’ go the second time around.

The new album from The Christine Jensen  Jazz Orchestra, is composed of six parts, all arranged and composed by Jensen and dotted by the places that inspired her. From the Prairies to Port-au-Prince, Peru to BrooklynJensen’s new album is the most inspired project she has released. Particularly the song; ‘Nishiyuu’. One of six tracks on the album ‘Habitat’.

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” This is my most political piece although it is not political per say … ” Explains Christine. ” It’s about the march the Cree young men took from up North this past winter to Ottawa. It took them three months through the winter. I thought it was a beautiful and a hopeful journey they went through. If I had undertaken something like that, I liken it to climbing  Mount Everest  – I’d probably get a lot of satisfaction from it. Like you went somewhere on your journey. These young men went through some deplorable situations to send a message.’

Jensen came up with the name for her album for a reason. Her ‘habitat’ is a concept as an artist thinking in architectural terms as a place where her songs can live. Her ‘children’ – safe for now as Christine tends to live in the moment. Each older piece from ‘Treelines’ – safely and respectively placed in the past. Jensen does not write things in an hour – the most recent compositions are loved the most …

Christine is also a world traveler. She has played all over the world and those experiences have taught her ‘global’ lessons in music. ‘Academic’  truths based in ‘Alchemy’ …?

“It’s funny – every Country has it’s own flavor when they approach music.” Explains Jensen. ” There remains a common underlying theme. We are all well versed in what I call ‘Big Band writing’ in terms of executing and interpreting it. Yet there is always a different sound with each band. I am sure in Classical music it’s the same. If you play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in England or Spain – you will get a different interpretation of it …”

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One thing which does not need interpretation is Christine’s view on the new age of selling records. The new age of the record industry. An era which Christine believes is good and bad …

” Technology has a changed a few things … I find it is so hard out there to crack open, to get your music out there.” Explains Jensen.

“You have to find every opportunity to do that. The game has a changed a lot over the years. To do large ensemble compositions takes a lot of time and energy and you have to want to do the other side of the business as well. It is a huge investment to do this type of thing. I hope there is someone out there who can help a little bit. My thing is to tell people to buy hard copies of musicians’ works. It’s the only time we see money. ”

Jensen also believes we live in a ‘fast’ throwaway society, especially when it comes to music. Guys like The Beatles and Micheal Jackson – may not be as huge today because of the nature of speed which artists disappear.

Christine’s personal choices as ‘idols’ are vast and somewhat universal.

Charlie Parker, Myles Davis and Coltrane.

Jensen believes the trick is to find an individual voice when choosing an instrument. Something which she believes takes a long time, self – analysis and focus. According to Christine – Jazz is much like Classical in the way that the goal is to be individualistic within a group. Alone but together.

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” I am looking forward to my show and the CD launch on the 3rd of October. As much as I would like to say; ‘ it’s done; goodbye …'” She laughs. ” I am looking forward to playing the music I spent so much time working on.

Christine Jensen will be performing all her new songs on Thursday at Lion D’Or. She will also toss older ones into the mix as she plays with her eighteen piece orchestra.

That’s a lot of people …

On her new album; Habitat.

Visit Christine’s Site here!

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‘Snooky’ Stuck in Music School

The beat goes on …

Especially for drummer Leslie ‘Snooky’ Alston.

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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 …

Musically anyways.

“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.

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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.

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A Younger Alston on Drums

“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.”

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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 …

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“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.”

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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’ …

Top Ten Duets You Will Never See

It seems nowadays – everyone does a duet together …

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From Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett to Carlos Santana and Rob ( whatever happened to him?) Thomas. Yes – the unlikeliest of pairs unite.

Was it Michael Jackson who started the trend when he hooked up with ex- Beatle Paul McCartney to sing ‘ Say, Say , Say‘? Or – maybe it was Stevie Wonder who commenced the duet trend when he and McCartney sang ‘ Ebony and Ivory’.

Hmm … McCartney’s name comes up alot!

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Regardless, there are certain people in the world of musical notes who will never hook up. No matter the amount of money offered.

They are …

10. Janet Jackson and Bob Dylan.

9. Madonna and ANYONE under fifty!

8. Sting and David Cassidy

7. (Insert name here) and David Cassidy

6. Adele and Billy Idol

5. Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber

4. Katie Perry and Iggy Pop

3. ( Insert name here) and Iggy Pop

2. David Lee Roth and Cher

And the number one duet you will never see or hear ….?

1. Taylor Swift and Marilyn Manson!

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