with this badass…
Look for us.
with this badass…
Look for us.
When Charlie Hunter called to ask if I wanted to do a short, two-week tour with his trio, featuring saxophone badass, Michael Blake, I flipped! We’ve been friends for many years and I opened for him numerous times in the early 2000’s but we’ve never gotten into a car and toured as a band together, so I was totally psyched outta my mind. He’s such a great guy, tremendous musician and just the most wonderful player. I took my girlfriend to see him in Los Angeles last year and we had a great time that night. She knew as well as me what I was up against when I got the call but once he sent the music we’d be playing, I knew there was no need to worry about anything. The tunes from his latest record are superbad and right up my alley. I could not wait.
After some emails & texts to one another, the flight was booked and a few weeks later, I jumped on a plane and made my to his home in New Jersey. One day to rehearse then the three of us hit the road, headed for upstate New York. In all honesty, I was nervous at first but once we started playing, those feelings disappeared and there was nothing but the music. Needless to say, we have been having a blast. We’ve done six shows and the response has been tremendous.
I’m writing y’all from the road, currently sitting in the backseat of Charlie’s car, on our way to Columbus, Ohio with a day-off. Hopefully, we’ll find a laundromat today! There are four more shows left, then we will say goodbye until meeting up again in October and I can’t wait for that!
I arrived early to find a beautiful, completely original 70’s Rogers kit in lovely green sparkle, all set-up and ready to go…all I had to do was put up my cymbals and snare. There was a 24″ Slingy bass drum upstairs in their drum storage, which I placed in front of the 20″ Rogers and we picked up a good amount of low-end once we mic’d it up. The tones were amazing and tracking started within an hour of the first day. This studio and the folks who run it are some of the finest I’ve ever come across and I can’t wait to hear the results from this session. We laid down fourteen tunes in just two days. Not too shabby.
Before heading back home to Memphis, I took a day to go see some old friends and was really glad I did. It was nice to be back on the west coast for a minute.
Yes, it’s true…I moved back home to Memphis (just in time for Christmas!) and it’s been rather glorious so far, if I must say. Very good things ahead…
Sometimes you get called for a gig that sounds too good to be true and even after you’ve said Yes, you’re still not sure whether or not it’s going to happen. Recently, I received one of those calls and it took me a second to comprehend exactly what was being asked of me.
Wait, what…why aren’t you going?
“I’ve got another gig that’s conflicting, so I can’t go,” he said.
Holy crap, I thought and then told him I needed to make sure there was nothing on my schedule that would conflict and that I would get back to him asap. Luckily, there wasn’t and after weighing the pros & cons of such a long flight vs. getting to see some of the African continent, I called him back and accepted the gig. I knew it would be a lot of work but I’ve seen her band before and I know how great they are, plus her bass player is an old friend of mine whom I’ve wanted to play with for many years, so I had to say Yes.
Well, about six weeks later (which included many hours of shed-time, learning a lot of her material), I was boarding a red-eye flight from LA to New York, which only took five hours…then a six-hour layover at JFK airport then onto Johannesburg from there and that flight was fifteen solid hours. OUCH.
Now, that was a long trip!
We performed at the Delicious Food & Music Festival in Johannesburg, along with some major heavyweights…The Jackson’s, Roy Ayers, Louie Vega & the Elements of Life Band, Arrested Development, De La Soul and several others played. It was really great. Macy hadn’t been able to rehearse with me before the gig, so I was flying by the seat of my pants as far as knowing how she likes it to feel on stage but we held it together, even when it started pouring down rain. The crowd was at least fifteen thousand strong and everyone was dancing. I’ve played some big shows before but this one totally blew my mind. It was so much fun. During our last tune, we brought out a special treat, the Memeza African Choir, who performed one of the country’s most well-known folk songs, Shosholoza. We had rehearsed with them five hours earlier, so the music was fresh and they were amazing.
People were losing their minds and by the end of our set, they were chanting for an encore but we had to go because Arrested Development was up next…they were incredible.
You couldn’t have asked for a better line-up at a two-day festival…it was a once in a lifetime experience for me and I’m fortunate to have been given the opportunity. Macy took me aside at one point and let me know how happy she was with my performance and that made me feel relieved cause I had been so nervous about doing a good job. I sent a huge thank you to Tamir for recommending me. He’s been playing drums with her for more than three years and they’ve got a natural rapport with one another, so I had some big shoes to fill.
The following day, the entire band went on a trip out to the country to visit a lion rescue and an elephant sanctuary. Both were extraordinary and I would encourage anyone to visit there at least once, if you can. The people are extremely friendly.
I can now say that I’ve been to Africa.
Never in a million years did I think I’d be charged with the task of writing my own father’s obituary but that’s how it goes sometimes and when it was finally finished and sent off into the world, my only thought was that I hope my words honor him in the way he deserves cause I can tell y’all one thing is for sure…Big George LIVED his life!
Here it is.
June 7th, 1946 – August 26, 2016
George Thomas Scott Sluppick — June 7th, 1946 – August 26th, 2016
Rest in peace, Dad. You were simply the greatest!