With that in mind, I got to thinking about how I got started doing my very first solo acoustic shows (after so many fun years of band shows).
Here's the story...
So, you ever notice that just when a need comes up something else comes up that fills that need?
Well, in late 2004 I had finished working with my previous band and thought it would be good for me to get out and play some intimate solo acoustic shows.
I had been singing and playing in bands since I was 14, but never had gone out and played my own songs with no other musicians on stage. So this was a big deal to me.
One day, I was talking with Ray Kennedy (a friend that I met at Track Record, the recording studio I managed in North Hollywood) and he told me about some of his upcoming concerts and mentioned that he was looking at potential opening acts. Well, that was all I needed to hear. I told him about what I was up to and he said I sounded perfect for these shows. Turns out my buddy, John Carter was going to be running sound all night so I would be in good hands.
The shows were a blast. Ray was quite the showman and took the audience through all stages of his career and his all-star band was such a treat.
What a great way to get started doing my solo acoustic shows.
RIP Ray Kennedy and THANK YOU!
Check out this article I found that told about these shows. I tried to find the original to link to, but couldn't find it online. So, I hope I'm not doing anything wrong printing it here in my blog. I did not write the article. It was written by Bill Locey for the Ventura Star newspaper. here it is:
Leader of the Jam
Music vet Ray Kennedy lords over a freewheeling, fun evening of classic rock in Agoura Hills
By Bill Locey / Ventura Star
January 13, 2005
With a lot of help from a ton of friends, Ray Kennedy is set to pack The Canyon in Agoura Hills on Monday night with fans who like classic rock and the classic rockers who play it.
Kennedy, a musician who has a history dating back to the early days of rock 'n' roll, ditched his Beverly Hills digs more than a year ago and moved to Oak Park. Since November, he's been inviting some of his high-powered musical pals over to The Canyon for biweekly Monday night jam sessions.
The shows are loose and informal, with the 58-year-old Kennedy serving as both performer and emcee, alternatively singing and chatting it up with fans in the audience. He's got stories to tell for sure, having toured with Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones and having been the lead singer in bands fronted by Jeff Beck and Michael Schenker.
He's fronted groups himself, too, including the '70s-era blues-rock group KGB (with Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Rick Gretch from Traffic on bass, Carmen Appice on drums and Barry Goldberg on keyboards).
An accomplished songwriter, Kennedy co-wrote the Beach Boys' "Sail On Sailor" with Brian Wilson, a pair of late '70s smashes for the Babys ("Isn't It Time" and "Everytime I Think of You") and album cuts for Fleetwood Mac and Dave Mason.
The Philadelphia native came out west in 1968 and has been making music in SoCal ever since.
Tell me about this gig at The Canyon. It's you and a bunch of friends, right?
On drums is Steve Feronne, the original drummer with the Average White Band, who's played with Clapton and Tom Petty. On bass is Dave Santos; he was with Billy Joel for over 10 years. On one keyboard is Jeff Paris; he was with Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor and Aretha Franklin. On the other keyboard is Steve Goomas; he played with Carole King for years. Miles Joseph is on guitar and he's my band leader; he's played with Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and lots more. On the other guitar is John Sterling; he produced all the Eric Burdon albums and he was the only other guitarist ever listed on a Jimi Hendrix album. He's a great, great guitar player.
I'd say these characters have had a few hits between them.
Oh God, yeah. Larry Meyers is on violin; he played with Dylan for years and years. Jimmy Z is on sax and harmonica; he played with Etta James, the Eurythmics and numerous others. Gia Ciambotti does background vocals; she was with Bruce Springsteen for over seven years. John Melon is another background singer; he sang with Phil Collins for 12 years. And Carol Kennedy, my wife, sings, too. She had her own punk band called CC Roller. That's the band.
Wow! This could be the Ray Kennedy Orchestra.
I bring them up in different stages. We do some rock, then I do some of the pretty stuff with violin and keyboard. It's a great night of music. The people I have picked are all real interesting characters. They're all personalities, and they're all band players. It's like we've been playing forever. It's a nice gathering; it's a beautiful night. It's a blessed night, and everyone has a good time. It's not open mike, but a couple of people I've known for years will pop in now and then.
How do you decide which songs to do?
We do mostly my songs, but my wife will do a song she wrote and then Gia will do one of her songs. At different times when we feel it, someone else will sing a song.
Everybody on their own writes, and everybody is really good. I'm lucky to have all these great people playing with me; they're all into it. It's all a lot of good feeling, like the old days in the '60s.
On that note, tell me a Brian Wilson story.
Danny Hutton, one of the original singers of Three Dog Night, called me in 1970 when I was singing with Jeff Beck and said, "Hey, we need a hit song." So I went over to his house, and Brian was there in a little room with a piano and they stuck me in that room with Brian. We were there for three days and ended up writing "Sail on Sailor," which was originally intended for Three Dog. We went in and cut the basic tracks with Three Dog Night; we hadn't slept in about a week. Then Brian got up with a razor blade and cut the tapes and said, "Only Ray Kennedy or Van Dyke Parks can do this song." And he left. We all stood there looking at each other going, "What?"
He called me every day after that, and I wouldn't talk to him. Three or four years later, I heard it on the radio and went, "Who's that?" It turns out the song came out on the Beach Boys' "Holland" album.
When did you know you were going to be a musician?
I bought a plastic sax when I was 8 years old and I learned to play that. Later, when I was 131/2, I was on "American Bandstand." I had to hitchhike from New Jersey and walk over the bridge. I stood out in the rain for four months and finally they picked me to go in, and I became a regular on "Bandstand." There were hundreds of people out there; I finally schmoozed my way in, and Dick Clark said, "Let him in." From then on I was a regular in the dance contests and all that. One day Dick said: "Hey Ray, bring your sax and I'll give you five bucks. Whenever the Platters, Little Richard or Bobby Freeman show up, I'll have you up there pantomiming, and I'll give you five bucks.
You saw a few cool acts, I would assume.
Yeah, I met Sly Stone on "Bandstand" when I was 14. I saw the Platters and the Four Seasons. Dion & the Belmonts were my buddies. I met everyone. One day, I was sitting in a diner with a girl, wearing my Ray Charles shades — I thought I was cool — when I overheard this guy say that his tenor sax player had OD'd, so I said, "I can play tenor sax." He asked, "Are you 16?" I said, "Of course I am," but I was only 14. I went and got my sax and never went home. After three months, I ended up with Dizzy Gillespie. Then from him I went to Buddy Rich and from him I went to Gene Krupa. We worked in these jazz clubs that were also strip clubs.
Sounds like a dream gig for a teenager.
Yeah, but I was only 15. There was too much heroin. There was no beginning and no ending. Next, a friend and I moved to Paducah, Ky., and ended up playing with Brenda Lee. Then we went to Macon, Ga., and played with Wilson Pickett. From Pickett, I went to Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Otis Redding. I ended up being one of the sax players on all the Sam & Dave records on Stax Records. Later Otis gave me 500 bucks and said, "Baby Ray — he always called me Baby Ray — go back to New York. I want you to sing."
How'd that work out?
Great. I was in a group called Jon & Ray and we were the first R&B group Ahmet Ertegun signed to Atlantic Records in the middle of '63. Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector produced our first album. We were like the New York Righteous Brothers. We were the first to record Neil Diamond songs before he made it big. Then Jon flipped out on LSD ... and has been in a mental institution ever since. In '65, I started a band called Group Therapy. We went to England and toured with the Stones .
What was it like playing with Otis Redding?
Otis was the dearest man, one of the sweetest men I've ever met. Him and his wife were just two of the greatest people I ever knew in my life. Uncle Otis, you know?
How has the biz side of things changed over the years?
People don't have to be good anymore. To me, people have forgotten the purpose and the artistic side and the soulful side. For myself, I just want to create great music.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about music as a job?
Don't do it as a job. Don't. If it's a passion and you feel a purpose, do it. It's not a business. It's definitely not a bankable business.