Red Bull Music Academy Interviews
After years in the making, my radio show – Give the Drummer Some – on Red Bull Music Academy Radio is finally a reality! Here’s the teaser for season one, where my guests are Questlove (February 5), Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (February 12), Mike Clark (February 19) and Greg Errico (February 26th – my birthday!) Tune in to redbullradio.com on those Tuesdays at 6PM EST to catch the shows. Here’s a teaser video:
My Give the Drummer Some column returns with an interview with great studio drummer Leslie Ming, who joined BT Express as a teenager and went on to play with Kashif, Madonna, Evelyn Champagne King and more in the 80s. This one is one of my favorites just because of how I met Leslie. Long story but a crazy one.
The doctor who delivered me was the financial backer for funk bands Brass Construction and BT Express, so my parents had both bands’ albums in the crib just because. As a kid I would get into the albums and BT Express’ Energy To Burn album always stood out because of how good the drumming was (I was a bass player then) and how wild the outfits on the back of the cover were. Always wanted the outfit Leslie had on – it was straight out of the Willie Dynamite pimp meeting, man. 20+ years later, he was one of the drummers who inspired me to start playing. A few years later, I’m driving through my neighborhood and pass a brother in a Guitar Center drum-off t-shirt standing in front of his crib. I recognize him but don’t know from where. He looked like the same dude on the BT Express album cover but obviously a bit older and in normal clothes. At the risk of coming off as a psycho, I got out the car, approached him and asked him if he was who he was and it was a huge shock to us both! A story I can’t make up. Leslie became a friend and mentor over the years and has shared countless rhythms (I got a Du-Rites groove or two from him), crazy stories from the music business and life advice in general that has helped me get to where I’m trying to go. So it’s only right he’s among the greats I’ve interviewed thus far.
My Give The Drummer Some series has been dormant for about 7 months while I work on the production of the radio show. While the tedious editing process takes place, I figured I’d knock out some phone interviews to keep it going. It was a pleasure speaking drummer to drummer with Frankie “Kash” Waddy, who’s laid it down for James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Amazing stories about all three and the pitfalls of the music business.
(Photo credit: Maxwell Schiano)
The positive responses to my Q&As with some of the most important drummers in funk and soul has led to a live radio program with Red Bull Music Academy. The first round: Greg Errico (Sly & the Family Stone, Weather Report, Betty Davis), Leslie Ming (B.T. Express, Mtume, Kashif) and Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (everything…literally)! Stay tuned…
Interviewing my musical heroes has been amazing. It’s also been school for me in the process of learning my instrument. And after the flurry of musical losses 2016 threw at us, giving these amazing musicians the chance to tell their stories while they’re still with us (and in many cases still active) gives me some relief. It’s been great to let them know they’re appreciated. The latest installment in my Give The Drummer Some Series with Red Bull Music Academy is with Tower of Power’s David Garibaldi, a guru of Bay Area Funk.
Give The Drummer Some: J-Zone’s RBMA Interview with Dwight Burns of TSU Toronadoes & Archie Bell & The Drells
After a three month hiatus, I’m back to my Give The Drummer Some column at Red Bull Music Academy. For the current installment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dwight Burns, drummer for late ’60s funk band TSU Toronadoes, who happened to also be the band playing on Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Tighten Up.” Dwight is one of the founding fathers of the drum break and an important musician from an important band that never quite got its due. We talk about not getting credit/payment for the million selling (and game-changing) “Tighten Up” and the shadiness of the music business, but also about drumming and the TSU Toronadoes’ contributions to funk. Any collector knows this if you’ve tried to buy some of the band’s 45s and any drummer knows what Dwight brought to the set. I was honored to interview him, so check it out…
And go get some TSU Toronadoes in your library.
J-Zone Interviews Average White Band/Tom Petty/Session Drummer Steve Ferrone for Red Bull Music Academy
My latest Give The Drummer Some installment at RBMA is with the steady and prolific Steve Ferrone. From Average White Band; to Brian Auger; to Tom Petty; to Eric Clapton; to Roberta Flack – he talks drumming for them all. We also discuss his beginnings in England and avoiding some of the pitfalls of the music business. READ IT HERE! Enjoy.
My Red Bull Music Academy drummer interview series continues with Steve Arrington, the man who held it down behind the kit for three years for one of my favorite bands, Slave. The multi-talented Dayton native opens up about his tenure playing drums with the band, as well as his solo career and all other areas of a 40-year musical journey that has impacted everyone from OG Baby Boomers to neo-funk Millennials.
More interviews to come. Click here to read other RBMA drummer interviews I’ve done with Kool and the Gang’s “Funky” George Brown, jazz-funk legend Mike Clark and Ohio Players’ Greg Webster.