Place of Birth: Brooklyn (East Flatbush, near Kings Hiway & Church Ave. to be precise) New York. Spent my NY summers in the Catskill mountains, playing in streams, picking blueberries, catching salamanders, and making bows and arrows out of birch saplings. Moved to Los Angeles at the ripe young age of 8 and took to being a California pseudo-surfer right away.
How did you get started playing/singing: Heard some Latin musicians literally "under the boardwalk" at Coney Island when I was 5 and got my first pair of bongo drums. This is my very first memory and it changed my life. A year later I had drum sticks and a practice pad, then moved to California when I was eight and had my first drum lesson for my 10th birthday. The rest, as they say, was history. I think that being a musician and a drummer pretty much shaped my life, from the musical and cultural subset that occurs with musicians, to the travels and friends I've experienced.
First band/music style: 3-piece surf band, called the Riptides. My first encounter playing with another musician was when Eric Sluyter brought his guitar over to my house and we set up on the back patio. We had played one tune (pathetically) when a couple of girls our age came through the back gate and asked if they could listen to us. Need I say more? Darrel Allen joined up and with just two guitars and NO BASS, we played for my 8th-grade after-school dance. The best part was watching our friends get up and dance. Pure magic!
Who were your musical influences that effected your development as a musician?: Having been raised playing many musical styles, my influences varied. I liked jazz and listened to Buddy Rich, Louis Belson, and Shelley Mann. Buddy was the apex of my drumming dreams for his style, flair, and manic sense of humor--but even six hours of practice a day wasn't going to get me there. Still, the techniques are still with me. For rock, my favorites included Ainsley Dunbar playing with the Frank Zappa, and Nigel Olsson playing with Elton John on Tumbleweek Connection, and Stewart Copeland with the Police.
Years in Santa Barbara/How did you get here (SB): I first moved to Santa Barbara in 1974 when I was looking to get out of Los Angeles and had quit music to enter the world of plants (first job was La Sumida Nursery on State St.). I had experienced what I hoped was my last 115-degree summer and had to cool off at the coast. I had quit playing music professionally a few years before to study horticulture. I left for San Luis Obispo in 1982 to pursue a degree in landscape architecture, moved to San Francisco, then returned to S.B. in 1987.
History of local bands: My first band in Santa Barbara ('76-'80) was a group called the Sleight of Hand Band, doing a very odd mix of original and eclectic tunes at a coffee house called the Deja Vu (now Downey's) and at the old Chili Factory on Hollister at Highway 154. Other bands include Hot Tip (new wave band in '81-'82); The Covers (more New Wave music at Hobey Baker's, '81-'82); Bluzilla ('87-'89); So What? Jazz Kombo ('01-present)
Greatest musical moment/brushes with fame: 1968, high school rock band opened for The Doors at Charger Stadium, San Diego after winning the Los Angeles Pepsi Boss Battle of the Bands; 1972 Little Richard sat in with band I was in at the Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas; 1973 toured with Motown act that opened for the Jackson Five; 1973, re-recorded two drum tracks on the original Commodores album on Motown Records (long story--catch me sometime on a break).
Favorite King Bee tune: "You Can Leave Your Hat On" because of the slow controlled pace and killer vocals. Also, "Feelin' Alright", because it lets me relive the funk feels I was raised on.
If you could play/sing like one musician, who would you be? Stewart Copeland on the Police's "Ghost In The Machine" album.
What you like to do in spare time/hobbies/passions: Mid-life crisis has brought on a new interest in health and fitness, so I've been enjoying working out, bicycling, and running. Did my first 5K run summer '03. I very much enjoy spending time in the kitchen, especially with my 13-year old son Ben, a budding chef. We love putting together improvisational Asian meals. Along with that comes watching the Food Channel with da kid. My wife, Lin, and Ben and I just took up golf (Doug is our teacher). We also crave any opportunity to get up to San Francisco (Lin and I lived there for a couple of years after college) to soak up the food, the cool temperatures, and the great cultural offerings. And although you wouldn't call it a hobby, my part-time landscape architectural consulting work is a passion that allows me to get my "creative rocks off" in ways that my full-time work for the City of Santa Barbara doesn't--so it's a passion that needs satisfying.
Favorite food: Anything Asian, but especially the Panang Curry fish at Your Choice on upper State Street. Also, my wife's chocolate chip/macadamia cookies (about 2,345,043 Weight Watcher points each).
What are you currently reading? Fluke, by Chistropher Moore--only the most wonderful fiction/comedy/mystery/supernatural writer going. I am also a huge fan of Carl Hiaasen--he writes some really funny, pro-ecology/anti-development mysteries that are set in Florida. I've yet to find anyone who creates such sinister, yet pathetic villians--all great candidates for the coveted Darwin Awards. Other books include anything about website design (I'm the one responsible for this web endeavor), and generally soak up lots of news and editorials from newspapers and magazines--that's my serious side.