"The Hapa Haole Journal"
Thursday, January 25, 2007 1:25 AM
The HHJ: Running with the Big Dogs - Part 2
"Come, they told me.
A newborn King to see. Pah-rum-pum-pum-pum..."
It was beautiful. Rock or not, Bernard can sing.
After the set was over, the musicians got ready to leave and Robi pulled
me over to Bernard. "Bernard, you gotta hear this! She said the
energy level went up as soon as you stepped on the stage. You hadn't
even started singing yet!"
What I wanted to know was from where did that come? What was it? Was it
Bernard smiled and shook his head, "I don't want to know." His
gentle reply told me that he knew it was special and if he knew, the
knowledge might cause pride to rise up and overwhelm the gift.
I nodded. "Well, thank you anyway. I loved what you did with 'The
Little Drummer Boy.'"
He was so pleased, he beamed and pulled me in close for a hug, pressing
his cheek against mine.
I still wonder about it. It might be in him, or from him joining the
band, a synergy of the whole being more than the sum of the parts since
several of them are used to working together. Whatever it is, it's
At some point after the show, I got to talk with John Philbrick to
verify that Waddy had been passing him his guitars to be tuned and
exchanged for a different one after every song.
"Yes," John said. "I was tuning them, not really playing
even though it
looked like it." He identified the meter saying that not many used
Wow, tuning that often. It was easy to see that Waddy's particular and
exacting. From what I read online, he could be
demanding. Uncomfortable for others, of course, but band leaders and others at a high level of expertise don't get
there by slacking off or accepting less than the best from themselves or
others. I remember hearing something similar about Barbra Streisand and
Martha Stewart, that they're picky.
The question I have is: is it possible to demand the best without
hurting people's feelings? Of the people with whom I've worked, with
some people, yes, of course. Others, however, only get up to snuff when
yelled at. It's as though they don't take their jobs seriously until
they're yelled at or derided and they have to be reminded
The real problem is when the yeller gets
used to yelling at people and yells out of habit whether someone needs
it or not. Of course, there's also the type of personality who yells
because s/he's always yelled and derided people. That's plain
I also got to talk with Rasputin. "There are 50,000 bands in
L.A.," he said, "all looking for a gig. Some offer to play for
free just to get themselves out there. Not these guys, though. They get
paid and they've had this gig for six years. That's really something in
this town. That's how good they are."
The man who got ear plugs from me stopped by. "Thanks a lot. You
saved my life."
Sure, you're welcome, I nodded. Thanks to
Robi. (Kim later explained that Rick's bass wasn't as good as usual
because he was sitting in front of the amp and the sound man couldn't
control the feedback.)
Soon after, the club people started running
patrons out so they could close up. Somebody was asking me what brought
me to Los Angeles, giving me a blank look when I answered that I'm going down
the Pacific Coast Highway and diverted to see Kim.
"The Pacific Coast Highway?" he was puzzled. Maybe he's new to
the Left Coast.
"Highway 1," I tried to help out.
"Oh, yeah!" Aha, recognition. Wait. More puzzlement.
"What's on Highway 1?"
"The Pacific Ocean," I replied.
His face went blank.
"I'm from Hawaii," I
explained, "and sometimes I need a fix of a large body of
Face still blank, he turned away. He's gotta
be an inlander.
Another was talking to me about how Thomas Square was right behind Ala
Moana (nope, not the way I define "right behind") when we were
asked to leave.
"That doesn't apply to us," Kim whispered as the other man
Gradually, those of us allowed to stay migrated toward the back door to
give room to those cleaning up. A man came over and started pointing his
"You're okay. Okay, you can stay. Okay. Okay." He looked at
"She's with me," an okayed stranger said.
"Okay, the lady's okay." He went on to the rest and left. All
were okay to stay.
I looked at the stranger,
"Thanks," I said.
Only a few minutes later, the man returned to recheck our cluster.
"You can stay. You can stay....the lady..." Me, again, the
"Is with me," reminded the stranger.
Kim zipped past from outside and seeing the pointer said, "She's
with me," as he went by.
The pointer got it. "The lady's okay. The lady's okay. The lady's
I tried not to laugh because the poor guy was obviously frazzled.
When Kim said we're ready to go, Rasputin was riding with us. Walking
out to Kim's car, we came upon a safe. Yes, a safe. About three feet
high. Outside. Closed up tight. You think you see everything in a big
city, but this was a new one. Fascinating.
"I don't want my fingerprints on it," Kim advised.
"I have to take a picture. This is definitely unusual,"
Rasputin replied, aiming his camera phone.
Kim didn't hear him. He was already in the car with me shortly along.
Arriving back at the other studio, we saw several other cars parked.
Robi, Neal, Fuzzbee, Mike Stone, and a few others I don't know were
already inside. The gathering was for a jam session. It was like a private concert
for me and the two or three others who didn't play and I loved it.
Robi sat on the sofa nearest me playing
guitar with Kim on his other side. Fuzzbee was on the keyboards. Drums
weren't set up, but Rasputin kept the beat with smaller, handheld
I kicked off my flip-flops, propped my feet against the sofa's arm, and
leaned back to relax and enjoy.
The music kind of wandered a bit at first, each player feeling out where
the others were going, a few remarks passing back and forth. Then, Mike
started singing in a narrative, story-telling style, his deep voice
calming and restful. It all came together and was a beautiful weaving
together of music, song, and story. I heard about a Man who went to the
cross for the sins of all. It was special even for them who are used to
They went on to other songs, Rasputin lying down on the floor for a nap
somewhere along the way; Mike and one or two of the other non-players
leaving. As he was going out the door, I asked Mike for the name of the
first song I liked so much because I'd love to have a copy or at least
review the lyrics. "The Millennium Man," he said.
I think it was after Mike left, maybe before, that Robi started singing
a Bob Dylan song with Fuzzbee echoing the words imitating Dylan's style
of singing. It was a hilarious duet made funnier by the second Dylan
song they did with Fuzzbee singing solo, mimicking Dylan even more
strongly than before.
They and the others went on to do original
tunes plus those done by the Beatles, Dylan, and the
Beach Boys' "Sail On, Sailor" that Kim wanted me, the clueless
one, to hear.
It was 4 a.m. before the session broke up,
Rasputin awakening before that to participate again.
"You know, I recorded him once, shaking a tambourine while asleep
half-asleep on the floor," Robi said in an aside to me.
These music men are all multi- and very talented.
It was a great night and morning. I had a fantastic time.