Billy Ward - Diary Of A Moving Musician - Part 3
Billy Ward - Diary Of A Moving Musician - Part 3
When I first started touring in bands I would take pictures of places and people. Then years later I''d just take photos of the great places – the artsy photos and inspiring landscapes. But now, what about photos of people? Yes! Take photos of people that you love. I wish I had more photos of Chris Whitley, George Russell, Doug Fieger and others who I once played with and have since left this planet. But photos of amazing scenery? For me at least, I have decided to be in the moment and not document everything. This is why this is my third and final entry into my diary here for www.mikedolbear.com, because things are looking up again and I want to get on with my life. I don’t want to get in the way of my momentum.
I got a call to play the Ringo drum solo at the end of the genius album, “Abbey Road”. (If you can’t sing that solo right now as you think of it, then you are not a student of pop music!) This is to be added to a project called “The Beatles Complete on Ukulele”. Yep. Ukulele. The first time I wrote it out I started with a “Y” LOL. And then I spent even longer spelling it as ‘ukelele’ instead of the proper “ukulele”. This project is not just songs entirely made up solely of Ukes, mind you, but there are ukuleles on every song.
Some of the versions are quite creative and offer a unique view –Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds for example is great. There used to be a free download on iTunes as this project was progressing and hopefully it is still available. If you want to check it out, go to iTunes and search for “Ukulele Beatles”. Then go down to the bottom and subscribe to the FREE podcast. I hope this works for you. So anyway, I tried to honour Ringo, and up to the very end played what he played note for note. Direct copying is truly not my style, but when something is perfect, it is perfect. I did veer away at the end for a small surprise though - cue Robert Goulet’s “I’ve gotta be me”. This small bit of work got me to finally wire up my little home recording studio and I felt happy to have broken through into being productive again.
Since this session, I have been playing the drums again. Finally! Why was I withholding from myself the very thing that I love the most? I’m not sure I will ever know that answer but am relieved that the drought is over. The Uke project has called back and they have a couple more songs for me to play. While I have not called my contacts to announce my availability in Nashville, I have accepted a bit of work. Tomorrow I will in the studio for nine hours with a young Taylor Swift (I’m told this as the 16 yr old singer’s description) with some very, very great musicians. I like Taylor Swift, but once again, when one style or persona breaks through into success, the industry gives us ten more of them. For the drummer porn sensibilities in us all, I’ll share what I’m playing tomorrow: This is a Lake Birch VLT DW kit: 16X22 with 22 woofer, 6X14 snare, 8X12, 13X15 and 14X20 toms (one up and two down). These are yummy drums that I used on my trio record as well as the BB King stuff on his album “80”. (It still rankles me that us players didn’t receive a Grammy statue for that best R&B record award!)
Also, on Monday, April 2, I’ll be filling in on a gig with a soul band. Having grown up in Cincinnati and the music of Al Green and James Brown and all other greats of that era, soul music is second nature to me. It will be a blast to play funky! My drum recipe will be part of the kit that I played at the MD Fest in 2008 only with a smaller bass drum (14X20) and only two toms, 8X12 & 14X 14). These will be Jazz series only tuned more low for the soul vibe. Sweet!
The biggest fun of March came from a surprising source; the release of a record by members of my discussion forum at my own website. Every February (this is the third year) a chosen few, or perhaps I should say willing few, have done a record entirely recorded and done in one month, the shortest month of the year, February. There is an esteemed member of our forum named “Hadriggl” who is a prolific songwriter, drummer, singer, knucklehead. He champions this project and basically abuses us all to get it done in time – yet at the end, we are always very grateful to him. As a matter of fact, I think this was the first year that I myself participated. Recording for this project was the first recording that I made since moving here to Nashington. You can easily find all the songs if you go here:
My particular contribution is here:
As a result of the success of this song, I now have a new persona named “Soup Dog” pictured at my New Year’s Eve gig.
This is just the first bit of recovering from my past and moving forward. I’m still not writing (except for you guys) and I’m still not heading to the gym everyday and at times I still feel desolate and lonely, but now I’m picking myself up a bit better and realizing how freaking lucky I have been and how lucky I am. I’m not even going to play the lottery here in America that, if there is a winner tonight, will pay out more than 600 MILLION dollars! Why? Because I am ALREADY lucky and I’ve already won!
Thank you, Mike, for asking me to do something I didn’t want to do. Writing this diary was good for me. I hope the readers don’t think I’m a self-indulgent dweeb after this. I long to get back to the UK and Europe for some playing and bits of sharing (teaching). If I am able to get there, I hope some of you are able to say hello to me and share your experiences with me. Now I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to play that freaking lottery after all!
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