2012: Year in Review

This is a quick recap in pictures of the year in review. 2012 sucked ass for a number of reasons however when I put on the rose-colored glasses of hindsight, I see mostly the good.

Happy New Year to you and I hope that 2013 is a damn sight better than 2012.

(Audio is from a Gravity Mine show; a little bass and drum ditty that I manipulated a bit for audio effect).



Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,

I had a wonderful Christmas season this year and I am so glad that you were a part of the fun! A couple days before Christmas we make the trek from San Jose down to Glendora. The drive is usually six hours and fairly easy since we generally travel late at night. We stay at Adrienne’s mom and stepdad’s house whenever we visit and Maryjane does a great job of decorating the house and putting together a nice festive atmosphere for family and friends.

For the past several years, Adrienne and I have spent Christmas Eve with her dad and Uncle Fred; we get a pizza, open presents, chat, and have a fun time all day and into the early evening. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and quite the enjoyable time. Adrienne and I even spend some time doing grocery shopping for her dad on Christmas Eve so that he and Uncle Fred can have a wonderful Christmas dinner together. Adrienne and I also make time to visit the cemetery to say hi to her Uncle Mark along with Grandpa Tony and Grannie.

Christmas Day is always wonderful. Adrienne and her folks get up early and go to church. After church we have a little snack and then open our stockings. Take a short break and then open our presents. With dogs jumping all around and wrapping paper flying it can be a real crazy scene!

On Christmas afternoon we go to Adrienne’s Uncle Tony and Aunt Marice’s house where we visit with friends and family, open more presents, and then eat a smorgasbord of delicious food. We open our Christmas Crackers and stuff ourselves silly.

Depending on our plans and available vacation time, we either drive home really late on Christmas night or sometime the following day. Driving on Christmas Day is always nice because traffic is minimal and we can make great time as we head home.

Sometime between the time we get home and the new year starts we are able to finally get together with family here in the Bay Area. Specifics vary slightly year to year however usually include pizza, presents, and hanging out. It’s the icing on the cake of Christmas celebration.

This year I was also very happy to be a part of the local Toys for Tots program which partners with the  United States Marines to collect toys for underprivileged kids at Christmastime. My longtime friend, Dave Abbott, has been organizing live music events for the past 7 years to help collect toys for the program and this year the Dave Abbott Band had four Fridays in a row at different locations featuring dozens of musicians donating their time and talent to help raise awareness of the program. Our friends and fans donated hundreds of gifts over the course of the month to help make Christmas a brighter time of year for children in need. It warms my heart to be a part something so awesome!

I hope that Christmas was as much fun for you this year as it was for me!



Peeing Blood


It should be pretty obvious that peeing blood isn’t right. We are not supposed to pee blood. However that is one of the many health consequences of playing drums in marching band – at least it was for me. Here’s the scoop.

During my freshman and sophomore years of high school I played the tenor drums in the marching band. Our school had ‘trios’; basically three toms hung on a harness. The drums were made by Ludwig and apparently from the Heavy Lumber line. These ancient relics were ridiculously heavy. Basically picture carrying around three tree stumps and you get the idea of what these drums were to carry and march with. The shells were probably on the order of 30-ply and the hardware seemed to be cast from lead. Absolutely ridiculous. The brunt of the weight was carried by the lower back and shoulders but a lot of weight was resting against the abdomen area as well.

Marching band is the butt of many (often well-deserved) jokes but in truth it is lot of hard work. We would practice before school, during school, after school and of course on weekends! Dedicating your prime years of life to hustling around on a field or marching down a street in a band takes a good deal of dedication (or parental threatening (how can you get into Harvard without marching band on your resume?!?!?!)).

So there we were, out in the sun, rain, sun, more sun and blazing heat practicing music and motion. At any opportunity I took the drums off and set them (or dropped) on the ground. My back was always hurting during this time and I am sure that to this day I suffer unduly from being in band.

During one late afternoon or weekend rehearsal (I forget which it was), we took a break from practice on the field to hit the head, get some water, stretch – whatever. I went to the boys bathroom to take a piss and lo and behold I am peeing blood. Well, that isn’t right is it? I was otherwaise healthy so I assumed that this could only be caused serious, traumatic, internal injuries caused by carrying the Ludwig tree stumps around.

I chugged a bunch of water and reported the findings to the director and drumline folks and kept practicing however without the drums on. I just marched around and played ‘air drums’. I am sure I would have preferred to go to the doctor or at least go home but marching band is a bit like football in that you need to be tough and macho; so I endured.

Luckily this was an isolated case and an eye opener. I modified some things to be a bit more comfortable (add padding to harness; change height of drums) and was more conscientious about the drums and how they related to my health taking them off at EVERY single opportunity or relieving some of the weight whenever possible by placing them on a trash can, bench, flute player’s head or whatever was significantly solid and convenient.

If I had to do it all again I happily would with the following changes: I would take the drums apart and use any tool available, be it band saw, router, jig-saw, planer, sander, circular saw, drill – whatever, to remove some material from the drums. The drums were so damn thick for no reason at all. Removing wood from the drums would lighten the load tremendously. I would also replace all the steel bolts and hardware with aluminum or titanium. Every little ounce adds up. I know at one point I weighed those drums and I do not remember the figure but it was astronomical.

As a funny side note, a couple of times I somehow managed to ride my bike to and from school with those drums; I have no idea how the hell I managed that. Must have been the same adrenaline and “youth-stupidity” that had me back on the field  after peeing blood.

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I went back after graduating and helped out for  the next two years as a percussion instructor: