Time to start breaking in my early Christmas present as my tenure with Funk Evolution begins… Now, on top of my expanded duties heading into my 10th year with the Greenwich School District Technology Department, I’m staring down over 100 FE shows (so far)…

Let’s get this party started as they say…

January 1 – An afternoon show as FE swings into Neptune’s in Lake George for their Frostbite Cruise After Party… the place was totally off the hook from 4:00-8:00!!

January 2 – We headed to Vapor for the public debut of FE’s new lineup with lead vocalist Tameka Amar, trumpet Mike Deitline and myself on drums along side regulars Tim Fiato on keyboards, Josh Herzog on bass, Jason Dambrose on guitar, Chris Mattice on trumpet and lead vocals, Justin Gadlewski on alto and baritone saxes and vocals, band leader Rocco Christmas on tenor sax and lead vocals plus the ‘irregular regulars’ – sound engineer Matt Olmstead and lighting specialist and DJ MyLow.

January 3 – FE finished off a 4 show week (plus a full run through the beginning of the week) by making the revised lineup’s Albany debut at the band’s Albany home – Stout. The weather was pretty bad but that didn’t keep the place from getting jammed!!

February 1 – Well I survived my first month of full time drumming at the helm of Funk Evolution and the calendar is going nuts – more requests for the band coming in daily since Tameka’s debut on New Year’s Eve!! But somewhere along the line I’ve twisted the knee on my bass drum leg and could barely walk the end of the night at a gig last month… I’m wrapping it and trying to walk it out – I can’t get comfortable to sleep and hope the adjustments I’m making to my alignment, the kick pedal and throne height when I’m playing will all help… it’s felt better the last few nights…

February 28 – AGAD made a special exhibition at the Mohonasen Indoor Guard Show where we were joined by three members of their drum staff bringing the line to 8 snares including recent Greenwich grad Zach Hewitt who recently made the snare line with the Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps in Milwaukee!!

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The line also made an appearance on the ice at an Adirondack Flames game as well as an exhibition at the Shenendehowa Guard show over the winter but I missed those due to Funk Evolution commitments…


March – was interesting to say the least with a couple ‘pre-season’ OUTDOOR shows with Funk Evolution – the first was St. Patrick’s Day weekend at Stout (actually, the first would have been at Dango’s the night before but it was 30 degrees and their deck still had 5 feet of snow on it)… Stout had a large ‘heated’ tent which was welcome on the cold, rainy day and night… It wasn’t terrible when they could keep the heat on but it kept tripping the breaker on the generator so it would get bearable, then you could see your breath again, then bearable once they noticed it was off… It made it interesting to play because once I was moving around it was warm enough that I would break a sweat in my knit hat… I was hot… cold… hot-cold-hot… it wasn’t a gig, it was MALARIA!! I switched over to a ball cap mid-set but the few seconds it took exposed my bald head to the cold air and by the end of the following week I had the worst head cold / sinus thing I’ve ever had… It made the gigs over the next few weeks more of a challenge than they needed to be…


The month went out with a bang… The Emerald Ball hosted by local TV personality Dan Bazil and a stop to JJ Rafferty’s…

April – Got through March and was finally starting to feel better when I tried to help out a Katie O’Byrne employee who was moving tables out to the patio to clear the stage… I opened the door and stepped out into another cold rain sans any hat and within a few days I was back to being clogged and hurting all over again… Spring is definitely late this year… 🙂

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Of course, about the time I’m finally starting to feel ‘normal’ again which means not constantly blowing my nose or fighting sinus headaches, Funk Evolution is outside again… for a beach party… at the base of Hunter Mountain Ski Resort!!! It was supposed to be 50’s and partly sunny… it WAS low 40’s and even snowed twice!! When the sun peaked through it was only for a few seconds but you could really feel the difference… Each set took me about 20 minutes before I could feel my fingers or the sticks… after that it really wasn’t bad. But don’t take my word for it… Josh (at right) resorted to the chicken head mask to keep warm!! 🙂

I forgot to mention that this gig was rescheduled from the week before when it was really cold and miserable… while we appreciated that, it made for an FE double and it would be close – finishing at 5:00pm, getting packed and loaded near 6:00 and hauling butt to make the hour and 20 minute trek back up to Schenectady for a 9:00pm start at Centre Street. I like to be there by 6:00 normally so the thought of arriving closer to 7:30 had me twitching… But it all worked out just fine… FE helped me get out of Hunter in a timely manner and, aside from parking, the Center Street setup couldn’t have gone smoother and we took the stage as scheduled.

Bottom line – the past several weeks had taught me a valuable lesson and I never removed my ski hat until I was back inside in Schenectady. The payoff?? No relapse of the nasty head cold I started with… maybe I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

Next outdoor show?? MID-MAY!! Let’s hope for 60’s at least… 🙂

It was about this time I started joining in the fun on Facebook with a number of drummers who would post pre-show shots of their kits on the various stages and venues. Here’s my first… I call them ‘My Office for the Evening’…


April 25 – AGAD was honored and excited to be invited to play at a very special event at RPI put on by their own percussion ensemble RPIgnite. They wanted us to talk about and demonstrate what we do so we did and what a blast it was!!

The high point of the afternoon for us was the debut of a piece called ‘T & P Combo’ in which the line was joined by electric bass and guitar!!

Here are a couple clips…

Clip #1          Clip #2


Of course the day presented a special challenge for me as Funk Evolution was booked for a wedding that evening in Saratoga but both the Casino and RPI couldn’t have been more accommodating… The Casino staff allowed me to setup at 11:00 which allowed me to catch the end of sound check at RPI and warm-up for the performance. And the folks at RPIgnite were willing to bump AGAD to the opening spot so I could make it back to Saratoga in time to sound check with the band. It all worked out to perfection and I can’t thank everyone at both venues and the drumline members for their understanding and cooperation.


May – A busy FE month kicked off with a unique Derby Day party at the National Museum of Horse Racing in Saratoga!! What better place to celebrate and watch the Kentucky Derby??


The museum is an amazing place… At left is the room we played in and where everyone watched American Pharoah take that first step towards the Triple Crown…


And I discovered a long lost relative apparently who was a trainer…

We followed that with our first appearance at the Rustic Barn in Troy then our first wedding of the month at the amazing Jimbo’s on Brant Lake. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and night – by far the warmest temps of the year which made things interesting since there is no AC but after the winter we had (and freezing our ‘nunies’ off at some pre-season outdoor shows recently), sweating in a suit was a nice change.

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Later in the evening we persuaded a special guest to join us… the father of the bride!!

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May 15 – FE’s first outdoor gig since playing in the snow at Hunter Mountain… what would the weather be tonight?? Hail?? Locust?? Giant frogs?!?

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I rolled into the Pig ‘N Whistle in Burnt Hills and had to be the nicest night of the year so far – so much so that I was inspired to take my first ever ‘selfie’!!

The place was hopping – lots of new faces – and then it happened…

About 20 minutes before we were scheduled to finish, out of nowhere and without warning, the skies opened up!! The lights, speakers, sound board, all our empty cases and more – totally drenched!! Our audience quickly ran for cover inside but like the legendary band that continued to play while the Titanic sank, we finished the song we were playing (after all, there was nothing we could do at that point… and there was no lightning).

We shook things out as best we could packed everything away and hoped for the best as we would head to Revolution Hall for a wedding the next day… turned out the rain actually fixed some electronics that had behaving rather erratically prior to their bath… where do I get me some of them ‘electric shorts’?!?  🙂

In a side note, this was my first trip back to Rev Hall since opening for a then up and coming Luke Bryan when I was with the Back40 Band back in 2007… 🙂

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Next up – my first FE road trip as we ventured to Long Island to play the wedding of former FE trumpeter Mike Finch!!

May 22 – A Friday night wedding at Timber Point Country Club on Long Island… I wanted to setup at 2:00pm but left early (8:00am) not sure what to expect for traffic and construction delays on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. I have a lot of family in Riverhead and Islip and their insight into what routes to avoid proved invaluable as I was refueling in West Islip 5 minutes from my destination a little after NOON!! The trip down couldn’t have gone smoother and the venue was positively beautiful…


Mike, Shaun, myself and Chris enjoying cocktail hour on the patio looking out on the ocean
and listening to the sounds of the bride’s Father’s band playing some amazing tunes.

FE took the stage at 7:00pm – joined by Shaun (above – from ‘Conehead Buddha’ and ‘Moe’) on trombone and the groom on trumpet rounding out a 6 piece horn section!! A little later the Father of the bride and his group joined FE for a couple tunes that were pure magic!!

The evening was such a wonderful party and I was feeling so good that I decided to head for home as soon as I loaded out rather than chance the traffic getting off the island the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend… On the road at midnight and was sleeping in my own bed at 4:30am… but I wouldn’t want to make a habit of that kind of ‘turn and burn’…

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May 25 – Had a couple days to rest up (by mowing the lawn and other chores) before taking to the streets of Lansingburgh with the alumni line for the Memorial Day Parade.

Unfortunately, this will be one of the last times we march the full bass line as Matt (#3) heads to Carolina for his college internship. We wish him the very best will miss his presence in the line…

Click here for some of the highlights…

May 28-30 – FE and life in general ended the month with another test of my stamina and endurance – 3 shows in 2 days but no sleep in 3 days!!

It all started innocently enough on Thursday evening the 28th… I was heading over to pick Mom up about 6:35 (Rookies – a favorite local ice cream stop – had her favorite, Tiramisu flavor that night)… I’m heading down Gurney Lane – almost to the light at Route 9 and the Warren County Municipal Center and this blue car goes flying through the intersection southbound and I thought ‘man that looked a little fast’… then right behind him was a Sherriff’s car… I got up to the light and waited as three more went through not too far behind… I get somewhere around The Great Escape and a white unmarked blows by me followed by a State Trooper… I get along by Sweet Basil’s and I see more lights coming behind me but they didn’t catch up to me before I turned down Mom’s road so I’m not sure where they went…


I got home around 7:30 and Julie said two more Sherriff’s cars blew by our house shortly after I left so that’s 9 cars that I know of that were involved… then we started hearing helicopters… they were right over head until about 11:00 or so… We weren’t sure if they’d caught the person or just given up for the evening so my wife, daughter and I all huddled in the king size bed but no one could sleep of course not knowing the situation. Turned out they had caught him… he’d hit a car in Fort Ann then took off… Maryland plates so who knows… drug dealer, drugs in the car, gun in the car, taking drugs to or from the prison at Comstock or just plain stupid…

It made it a challenge to stay awake Friday… then that night FE christened the huge beer garden at the Centre Street Pub in Schenectady for the season (and watched the Rangers get knocked out of the playoffs on the drive-in style screen)… I always like playing out there (when the weather cooperates) and still say it’s like playing in center field at Wrigley… Another pre-show shot of my ‘office’…


We finished up around 1:30am, I was packed and loaded out around 2:30am but it didn’t make much sense to me to make the hour drive home (arriving at 3:30am) when I had to be at the Capitol to setup for FE’s appearance at the 37th Annual Freihofer’s Run For Women at 6:00am (so I’d have to leave home at 5:00am) so I took a casual route from Schenectady to Albany, located the stage and parked on the adjacent road until daylight and security arrived.

About 5:30 (I’ve been awake for about 48 hours now other than a 10-15 minute power nap – my first sleep since Wednesday night), I ate breakfast that I had packed, changed clothes and spotted a couple of security members on golf carts so I walked over to introduce myself. They told me to drive right in on the sidewalk and unload and that the sound company people should be arriving at 6:00am. Then they asked if I was the van on the hill – told me that I had freaked them all out by parking, turning out my lights but not getting out… 🙂

For security reasons we were told, the event was moved to a new location this year… last year’s backdrop was the Capitol pool, the Egg, etc… This year I sat squarely under the iron ass of a horse!! This is the back end of the Sheridan statue in the park…


By the time I pulled into the club the sun was out but that was short-lived as there were a couple claps of thunder and the skies opened up again… I waited this one out in my car and it was over in minutes so I made my way to the tent where the stage was setup. Thankfully there was only one small leak at the far stage right end of the stage so I paced things off and determined we had plenty of room to play and enough room stage left to hide our empty cases while still keeping them off the wet ground. While I was measuring everything another storm blew through and rocked the tent but everything remained solid and once it had subsided I started dragging gear up the lawn and back to the tent…

I was about half moved in when yet another storm blew through – none of which dropped the temperature or took any humidity out of the air so by the time I got moved in and setup I was totally soaked… OK, I was downright squishy and I’m sure I didn’t smell like roses after having gone from day job Friday to night gig at Centre Street to Saturday morning gig in Albany then to here. The folks at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club were gracious enough to invite us to use their men’s locker room to freshen up and change for the evening gala (or maybe they just got a look at and got a whiff of me)… Regardless, that shower felt good as did fresh clothes even though a suit in the sweltering conditions wasn’t the most comfortable.

I had some time to relax and stopped to admire this amazing car… the couple was incredibly gracious – even telling me I should get in but I was too afraid of causing any damage to that beauty… 🙂


We’d heard the storms were finished and it would be cooling down… they were wrong… In about the middle of dinner yet another storm blew through… no lightening or thunder but the wind blew pretty good and it poured and poured for about 10-15 minutes.

After dinner and other festivities, FE hit the stage running and played two long, killer sets that had the place rocking harder than any storm could have!! So much so that no one noticed the clap of thunder that hit about 15 minutes before we finished… we never saw any lightning or heard any more thunder and were able to finish a fantastic party without incident.

June 5-6 – If the last few months are any indication, weather is going to make this an interesting summer!! June 5th we were scheduled to play the first in a series of ‘Deck Parties’ at the Rotterdam Elk’s Club but the forecast was questionable so they moved us into the ballroom. It was a great time and we really hope we can do it again!! As for the weather, you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night… even as we loaded out it was still in the 70’s and very comfortable… I can only imagine what we would have had if we’d attempted it outdoors though… 🙂  Here’s one of my better pre-show pictures… Can you tell that I had just cleaned the cymbals the night before??

block party

The next night was the huge block party at Pin Head Susan’s in Schenectady!!

I offered my kit up to Vinny Fazio from the incredible ‘Stockade Kids’ – who opened the show at 6:00 – in an effort to simplify the band transition later which worked out great as I was able to park right behind the stage but that would also make for a long day as I would arrive at 2:00 to load in and setup. But back to the weather…


It was positively gorgeous while I was setting up!! Blue skies… sunshine… comfortable temperatures and only a gusty occasional wind… But I had been keeping a close eye on the temperature predictions… the weathermen may not be able to tell you it’s raining or snowing until they step in it but they are usually pretty close with the temperatures so I was pretty sure I was in for a chilly evening.

Sure enough… the sun hadn’t even gone down – only behind the leaves on the trees on its way down – and you could already feel the difference. I layered up and donned my AGAD cap and remained comfortable for the most part throughout the evening even though by the time we packed it had to be in the low 50’s or maybe 40’s!! Hey – at least we were dry!! Of course I ended up with a sore throat again but the alternative was wearing a knit cap the end of May… 🙂

Next up – FE takes to the high seas (OK – the Hudson River) on the Captain JP and the alumni line gears up for a pair of Flag Day parades…

new head

June 12 – Talk about weather!! It was a little sticky as I loaded on to the Captain JP… as the other members began to arrive later I noticed it was getting dark and there was a lot of talk about a tornado warning so the cruise company moved all the entertainment inside… DJ Shaun Blaq shared the floor with us and killed it and the Jet Crash Boys rocked the house downstairs. This would prove to be a wise choice because before long there was lightening everywhere – every time you looked out… and it seemed like it wasn’t going to stop. Just before we left the dock the rain finally hit… with a vengeance… SIDEWAYS!!! It certainly made for an interesting trip and a captive audience but the 300+ didn’t seem to mind a bit.

But the bigger story (at least for me) was the debut of my custom drum head from DrumART – absolutely amazing work (see picture at right)!!! This picture doesn’t do it justice… I’ll get a better one ASAP.

June 13 – 14 –  A double dose of Avant Garde Alumni Drumline in two Flag Day Parades…


I’m sure today’s Flag Day Parade in Saratoga was a preview of what to expect tomorrow in Troy’s Flag Day Parade… sunny, hot, sticky, sweaty… I can’t wait to do it again (I think I pulled a ‘hammie’ though)… 🙂 Here are some highlights including a flyover (at 5:43) that made us and everyone one the street nearly fill their britches!! And for the third year in a row, the parade has produced a new member!! Two years ago Flip came to us on snare, last year Jason became our third quint and this year word is another snare has reached out to us… and he already has all his own equipment!!

AGAD at Saratoga Flag Day

I called it… I haven’t seen a thermometer but I’m sure it’s hotter today in Troy than yesterday (it is every year)… it’s dry and dusty and hot and sticky… and that’s just unpacking the equipment!! Wait until we warm-up, dress and make the 2.1 mile march from the Rensselaer County Jail to the Green Island Bridge!!

I was still fighting a head cold from the 40 degree block party from last week… all the coughing, blowing and sniffing had me once again light headed and struggling to breath and just feeling run down. I pounded down a light lunch about an hour before we stepped off and crossed my fingers that I’d make it to the end.

As luck would have it, there weren’t a lot of breaks (usually as groups in front stop to perform at the reviewing stand the parade stops and the groups behind get to take a break)… the group directly in front of us had fallen way behind the group in front of them and consequently never stopped so after about half a mile we started making our own stops just to give everyone a breather and a chance for some much needed water. Science fans will need to explain this one to me… our caps don’t breath a whole lot so in an attempt to stay cool I dropped a couple ice cubes in my hat right before we stepped off… at that half mile stop they were still in there!! But I digress… Even these breaks weren’t enough for some as we lost ‘Murph’ from the snare line about half way through the parade… he was overheated and a little dizzy but is doing fine now thankfully.

Here are some of the highlights from Troy… they do get into it… 🙂

AGAD at Troy Flag Day

As for me I came away with only a mild heat stroke… but I was lucky enough to have made it to the end.

Next up, something I’ve never had the pleasure of doing – perform at Freedom Park in Scotia!!

June 17 – It feels like I’ve waited forever for this – a gig at the amazing Freedom Park in Scotia (next to the legendary Jumping’ Jacks)!! Mom and my daughter Selena made the trip with me but I’m not sure if they were more excited about the band or the food… could be both I suppose…

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We setup and sound checked but for whatever reason I just could not get comfortable… none of my heights seemed right… I could feel a tightness in my right hamstring and later a major cramp in my right calf… and of course my sinuses were draining like someone opened a faucet all the way. It was a great crowd for the opening night of the concert series – I had one guy before we started playing ask me if I was the drummer from the group Chicago… now that would be something… but I came away feeling like I had easily played one of the worst shows I’ve had since joining the group. No one apparently noticed but it bothered me and I’m taking steps to correct it all… As I was walking through the crowd after the show that same guy caught up with me by calling, “Hey-Chicago… CHICAGO!!” He gave me a big hug and told me how much he’d enjoyed the concert… maybe I wasn’t all bad… 🙂

Selena didn’t seem to notice as evidenced by this picture where she posed with my new bass drum head from DrumArt while I was packing up.

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June 19 – FE has a wedding at the beautiful Crooked Lake House in Averill Park, NY…

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A special afternoon and evening made even more so by the presence of our good friends Dave and Renee Ahl from ‘Skeeter Creek’!! Renee is playing for the actual ceremony down by the lake and the two of them are playing for the cocktail hour in a side room… Of course we couldn’t let the opportunity go by without having them join the band for a few tunes… such a great time!!

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The Crooked Lake House was built in 1780 as a stagecoach stop and rebuilt following a fire in 1840, according to a history on its website. Famous visitors include Teddy Roosevelt during his time as governor of New York and the gangster Legs Diamond.

NBC used to broadcast live big-band concerts from The Crooked Lake House from 1941 to 1943. They say there’s even a ‘special’ room downstairs where the gangsters used to hang out…


A while back a bride and her Mom were brought through on a tour for a possible wedding venue and took some pictures for decorating ideas… When they later looked at the pictures they called the person who had given them the tour to ask who the gentleman was at the bar in the 70’s style shirt?? They were told there was no one else in the building other than the three of them so they sent them the picture (at right) and there appears to be someone at the bar!!

There are also stories of lots of creaking and doors opening or closing on their own…

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June 19 – I headed back to my hometown of Lake George for the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association carnival and awards presentation.

We were scheduled to play until 11:00 and heavy rain was predicted for 11:30… It was a great time made even better because my wife and daughter were able to stop by for a while – Julie’s first time out to see the band since her week long hospital stay for Diverticulitus. The firemen were off the wall and we had a great time with them but the park quickly emptied after the awards were presented… then it started to sprinkle around 9:00 – right before our third set and we soon got the word to ‘pack it up’… good thing because it was pouring before we finished packing and once again the weather people blew it – off by about 90 minutes!! We’re convinced that we’d be better off with a weather rock (Google it).

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Earlier in the day I decided to take advantage of a rare gig close to home and arrived to the firemen’s stage an hour earlier than I would normally (that made it 4 hours before start time if you’re curious) to use the open space to change all my tom heads – something that was a couple years over due… new super Aquarians on the resonant side and white stripe Aquarian Studios on top…WOW – what a difference fresh heads make!!

June 25 – I had an interesting double tonight… a few months ago George and Cherry and Darcy from ‘Aged In the Hills’ asked me if I’d play with them for a summer concert in their home town of Ballston Spa… FE was open but I checked with Rocco anyway – seeing as about the only place we play on a Thursday night would be Dango’s on Caroline Street and we were already booked there the next night… He said we’d never get anything for that night at that point so go ahead and I booked it.

A month goes by and FE books a corporate party for that night at Saratoga National Golf Club… I panic of course but Rocco says not to sweat it and we’ll get their former drummer Dave Teta to cover it. Sounds good so I told him the AITH concert runs 6:00-8:00 and I would be over as soon as I could and play the last set (for free) so FE could play all the new material that had been added since Dave left.

The “Aged In the Hills’ concert was a blast – very laid back… a great crowd that included my Mom, wife and daughter. I think I shattered all my previous tear down / pack up / load out records (with the help of my daughter)… even though I only ran 6 of 7 mics on my kit with my snake through my own sub-mixer I was still in the car headed for National in 45 minutes!!

I pull into the club, find a place to park (about a quarter mile away) and grab my clothes and head off to find a place to change into my suit… in the distance I can hear the band and recognize what is typically the last tune of the 2nd set so I’m right on schedule – even a little ahead… One of the National employees directs me to the men’s locker room where I proceeded to clean up and get dressed. I made my way to the stage only to find a rug where the drums should be… Dave had packed his kit and was just about ready to head home!! He said someone told him I wanted to use MY kit… FIRE DRILL!!!! 

I haul ass back to my vehicle, make my way down the cart path to the party location and everyone in the band starts grabbing cases… I shed my suit jacket and start setting up as fast as I can… Arron Forgette was on sound that night and I could tell this wasn’t his first rodeo as he started unpacking drums and laying them out… That allowed me to focus on the hardware… I started making adjustments and placing the toms and Arron unpacked my mics and cables and patched me into the board as I put the finishing touches on the cymbals… Rocco was at the board with him now and asked me, “What do you think?? 5?? 10 minutes??” I told him I was ready NOW – let’s do this!! Another record shattered!! Even with scrambling to get the van into the facility we were playing live in UNDER 30 MINUTES!!! I hope I never have to do a double like that again… 🙂

June 26 – I was exhausted from the previous night’s double but we have several huge projects going at school and even though I’m giving back more than a weeks vacation I felt I needed to be there so I was up and headed to school at my regular time.


FE had their first visit of the summer to Dango’s on Caroline Street that night so I stayed late to catch up some more school work after everyone had left rather than head all the way back home then back to Saratoga. Luck was on my side and I was able to find a parking place a reasonable proximity from the venue after only 10 minutes of ‘stalking’. I setup and tuned up – making some minor adjustments to the new top heads I had put on the week prior and I must say the kit sounded sweeeeeeet on this night!!

By the third set it was getting a little chilly so I had to break out the hat to keep my dome warm and hopefully avoid prolonging whatever cold and sinus ailment I’d been dealing with the past month… Jim C from the alumni line stopped in for a couple sets… maybe that influenced my choice of hats… 🙂


This was also Tameka’s debut on the Dango’s stage and she totally blew the roof off the place!!

Thus completed four shows in three days… NEXT!!

June 26 – FE performed at the Wynantskill Fire Departments 100th Anniversary Gala!! It was well attended but many older members left early leaving only a handful behind to party but they had a great time with us and us with them!!

July 3 – I made my first visit to an event I’ve been hearing about for years – Hedge’s LakeFest!! Retired radio personality Dave Covey hosts this annual private event as a way to meet and greet the various homeowners who live on the lake… he’s even built a stage beside his house facing the lake!! Shortly after we started playing the lawn filled up with dancers and several boats anchored just off shore to enjoy the show and such was this crazy party!!

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July 4 – Another FE double… we’re thrilled to have been asked to open the Price Chopper 4th of July festivities at the Empire State Plaza in Albany and they treated us like rock stars!! Well, that’s how I felt… The sound company provided the ‘backline’ (amps and drums) and our contact emailed me a couple weeks prior to ask if there was anything special I needed… I told him other than being right-handed anything they had would be fine and very much appreciated but I sent him my current stage plot anyway.

When I arrived at the stage (in the steady pissing rain) I was shocked to find a wonderful gold set of DW’s (at left) configured to match my kit right down to the location of the splash and China cymbals!!

Thank you very much!!

This made it a breeze to play our set from 3:45-4:45 and still get out of Albany in time to travel, setup and play Dango’s in Saratoga that night. But first, here are some more pictures from the plaza…

Our ‘Green Room’ (dressing / break room)…

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My view for the set…

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July 5 – FE made it’s only appearance at the Copake KOA… being a Sunday night we were told about 35 campers had checked out throughout the day but there were still over 800 waiting for FE and fireworks… And a great time was had by all!! One of the KOA employees was snapping pictures and began telling me about a set of Rogers drums she played many years ago… below is one of the pictures she got of me…


Later a guy came by who said he was the drum tech for Madison Square Garden and was telling me how much he loved my kit (me too)… I love the people you meet and the stories you hear at these performances!!

July 9 – a rare rainout at Dango’s but I had a feeling it was going to be this kind of summer… the weather’s been crazy around here!!

July 10 – here’s one I’ve been looking forward to since I saw it on the calendar… a return to my home town of Lake George, NY to play in Shepard Park for a new Friday night concert series called Brews and Bands. They had wine and beer vendors setup along the top of the park but nothing was allowed to leave the park. I was a little concerned knowing how crazy the nightlife can get but it was a good sized and well behaved crowd and we all had a great time in an amazing setting.

July 18 – ROADTRIP!! FE packed up and hit the road for a wedding in Clymer, NY – 80 minutes this side of Cleveland!! The trip took us past Buffalo and briefly into Pennsylvania before landing at the amazing Peak ‘N’ Peek resort and the condo they put us up in.


The summer continues with our usual stops… Nanola, our summer residency at Dango’s, etc. but an odd cancelation by Centre Street Pub due to a scheduling snafu… we later learned the place was jammed with people looking for us… hopefully we’ll make it up to them in the Fall…

And then there’s Mom’s 83rd Summer Tour where I take her to various summer concerts to see various bands (and FE of course) and sample the food offerings…  ‘Roadhouse’ in Fort Edward, Harold Ford in Granville that was rescheduled twice and we ended up seeing a ‘Big Smoothies’ reunion throw-together of sorts… poured for 10 minutes then got cold so we only stayed for the first set but they were pretty entertaining (though the extended arrangements hinted at their not having a lot of material)…

And the Avant Garde Alumni Drumline made its annual appearance at the Drums Along the Mohawk DCI show in Rome, NY…

Throw in 40-50 hours weeks at work and my wife’s surgery and July was a blur…

August – Another whirlwind of a month…


All the construction projects at school have limited our access so we’re falling further behind every week but we’re getting there…

FE continued their summer residency at Dango’s every week plus visits to the Lake George Club (at right is where they set us up for dinner – lake level no less and beautiful), Glen Sanders Mansion, the Altamont Fair, the Captain JP, Saratoga National, West Glens Falls Fire Department fundraiser, The Water’s Edge in Scotia, Uncle Marty’s in Averill Park and finally a return to the Mill.

Mom’s tour made more stops as well… ‘Vintage Country’ in South Glens Falls, ‘Big Sky Country’ in Clifton Park, ‘South Street Saints’ in South Glens Falls, FE at the Altamont Fair and of course the Mill (she’s been waiting for another one of their Reubens since last years visit)…

I have to back up to the ‘South Street Saint’s show… my wife was still in the hospital but we were told she might be released… by late afternoon the doctor still hadn’t been through so our daughter opted to stay with her at the hospital and I picked up my Mom and headed for the concert which was right over the bridge from the hospital in case there was a status change. The Saints include Mark Caruso and Matt Donnelly who I’d played with in ‘The Upstarts’ back in the 90’s, Pat Nolan on bass and Bruce Lant on drums who has a similarly warped sense of humor to my own and I’m convinced that we’d be in trouble if left together for too long so it’s probably a good thing no bands are interested in dual drummers…

Mom and I get to the show, setup our chairs and the guys come out to say hello and I warn them all that I may have to take off in the middle of it to pickup my wife… Bruce comes back with a set list – he plans to bring me up and play a couple tunes… In the meantime my wife calls – she’s getting discharged but they haven’t done the paperwork yet… I tell her to call me when they’re ready… The band starts, they bring me up and of course my phone’s going crazy… I finish the tunes, check my messages and head to the hospital. I was able to bring her and my daughter back to the park and we all enjoyed the last half of the concert!!

In August 2015 I discovered a crack in my 14″ accent cymbal… It doesn’t look like a ‘playing’ crack – more like it caught the bass player’s tuning peg… I juggled things around… moved my 16″ where the 14″ was and replaced that with a 17″ from my practice kit but the 17″ didn’t sound right…

After a few gigs someone else in the band remarked that it sounded dead and sure enough – closer examination revealed a 4 inch crack in the shoulder (probably why it was with my practice kit)… I knew a trip to Parkway Music was in order and fully expected to drop at least $200 on a suitable 14″ replacement…

While there, drum techs Chris Toma and Don Howland asked if I’d ever heard of Kasza cymbals… I had not… They brought me a stick and turned me loose in the store’s cymbal section to find what I was looking for. I’ve been a Zildian fan since I was a little paradiddler but I kept coming back to the Kaszas and the more I hit them the more I liked them and thought they would blend in well with my Zildians… I walked out of there with a used 14″, a new 18″ (I’ve always wanted an 18″ crash) and two bottles of cymbal cleaner for $200!!! So far they seem to be wearing well and sound great!!             Thank you Chris, Don and Parkway Music!!

The month ended on a personal sour note however… A follow-up revealed that my wife’s foot hadn’t healed at all in an air cast for most of the month so surgery was a definite need now… And after the surgery I mentioned earlier where they removed 10-12 inched of her colon and her Appendix, they discovered cancer cells on her colon and her cervix which we’re being told isn’t treatable until it becomes more aggressive. More tests next week and a radiation treatment then we find out if we need to head to Sloan-Kettering in NYC.

I took the girls with me to an FE show in Averill Park to get their minds of everything… we returned around midnight and had to rush one of our cats to the vet and sadly had to have her put down the next day.

We’re hoping things start to turn as the leaves turn…

September – Where did summer go?!? Between work, 40+ band shows and my wife in and out of the hospital it seems I barely blinked and it was over…

September 4th – We kicked off Labor Day Weekend with a return to Dango’s for the last couple weeks of our summer residency…

September 6th – FE had a wedding in Port Jefferson on Long Island… a number of members had decided to drive home immediately after the gig so Rocco was generous enough to allow me to bring the girls with me on a sort of mini vacation which I though they both desperately needed… The room at the Danford was beautiful not they we saw much of it between my working and the girls taking in all that the area had to offer including the nature park and the ocean of course… but it was just what they needed and gave their spirits a necessary boost. A couple weeks later I would drive in Manhattan for the first time for Julie’s Sloan Kettering appontment…

September 11th – FE’s last Dango’s appearance of the summer (whew – no October dates this year… tearing down in 40 degree / see your breath weather)

September 12 (19, 25, 26th) – more weddings!!

The trip to Manhattan was a piece of cake and the doctors at Sloan Kettering were two of the most amazing people I’ve ever met!! It was a tremendous relief for Julie to know that they were going to give her a proactive chemo treatment after the doctors up here told her there was nothing that could be done… In the meantime they discovered two perforations in her bowels which landed her in the ER and the hospital yet again… The Sloan Kettering doctors told us in no uncertain terms that these would have to be healed before the cancer treatment could begin or the toxic Chemo could kill her!!

October – We started the month with Julie having day surgery to have a port installed for the Chemo which is scheduled to start on October 19th and run for 18 weeks… Her Oncologist keeps scheduling a PET(?) scan but our insurance keeps refusing it saying she needs to have all these other tests done before they’ll consider it… nice. Apparently it’s the only way to tell if the Chemo is successful without surgery but I’m sure the insurance company has my wife’s health as their main priority (cough)…

October 2 (3, 4, 9, 15 and 17) – weddings, weddings and more weddings!! And a realtors gala with special guest Tony Gambaro from New York Players who came with his wife and jumped in for parts of the evening…

October 16 – FE returns to Nanola and with Julie’s Chemo starting in a few days I had the girls drive down for dinner and catch a set… I wasn’t sure how they’d take to the Creole / Cajun menu… I was wrong – my girls will eat just about anything!! My daughter started off with Mozzerella sticks which were more like giant batter dipped, deep fried wedges with Raspberry Melba sauce and Julie had to try the Gator Bites and Aioli Sauce… she loved them!! Then they moved to Gumbo and Jambalaya and still found room for dessert (Benniets?)… They had a blast!!

October 17 – back to Hunter Mountain for a wedding but (check this out)… they had the ceremony at the summit!! A 16 minute chair left ride to the top where they were married… in 18 degree temperatures… with 35 MPH winds… but look at this view!!!


October 19th (Monday) – Julie had he first Chemo today… treatment went great but a few days later she got very sick and spent the rest of the week trying to get comfortable and vomiting… barely eating… not sleeping… we think they finally have a bead on anti-nausea meds and by Saturday she was starting to feel much better and behaving more like herself (thankfully). She only has the double med Chemo once every 4 weeks so hopefully the next few weeks are better… more on that later…

October 23 – FE returns to Centre Street for the band’s 500th show!!!


This was a great night (back inside) at Centre Street Pub in Schenectady and the night was made even more special as the band was joined on stage by a number of FE alums including drummer Dave Teta and Shaun Bacilowicz!!


October 24 – Festival of the Dead – Carn-Evil!! And the return of the former face of Funk Evolution – drummer Groove Champion!!


Due to all the issues the Washington Avenue Armory has been having they’ve lost their liquor license and sent the Festival scrambling to find an alternate location. It’s a little disappointing what this party has become in the last couple years and we’re hearing rumors that this one (that had to be held at the Albany Elks Club) would be the last but it was still a great time and the whole band did the 70’s funk dress with the big hair!!

October 26 – I finally fulfilled a long overdue goal – to see Joe Jackson live!! I took my good friend Tom (former bassist with Rich Kelly & Friendship and Voyager) and the two of us enjoyed a fabulous evening at the Egg as Mr. Jackson mixed in just the right number of older tunes with a goodly number from his recent release (which I picked up that night and like it more every time I listen to it). I had considered taking my wife but I asked her to name three – make it two – Joe Jackson songs… she could not so she got to stay home. I learned that lesson a number of years ago when she surprised me with tickets to see Survivor, REO Speedwagon and Styx at our local arena… she was dancing and singing along with Survivor (and I was surprised and a little ashamed that I knew as many of their tunes as I did), same with REO Speedwagon though I thought they were a little less ‘bubble gummy’… Then Styx came on and I was the one bopping and singing along while she looked at me like the words were in a foreign language – though she did recognize ‘Come Sail Away’ but was surprised to learn that Styx was the group that recorded it…

October 29 – a little detour… an extended date from my Mom’s ‘summer ‘tour’ as I took her to see the Rambling Jug Stompers at the Folk Life Center of Crandall Library. The band has members from the legendary Star Spangled Washboard Band… they are supremely entertaining and the center is a cozy place to get up close to these wonderful performers and their special guest vocalist Jill Hughes.

October 31 – and finally a Halloween party on Halloween to round out the month as FE returns to Stout. Groove Champion made yet another guest appearance on drums but the evening would later turn sour as I posted on Facebook the next morning…

GC mug shot

It was an intense scene early Sunday morning outside Stout when police took drummer Groove Champion into custody for a parole violation stemming from Federal charges in the 70’s having to do with his stuffing an old lady in a mailbox WITHOUT ANY POSTAGE…

That means that beginning with a private event Tuesday night I’ll be back behind the drums with Funk Evolution!! It was my pleasure to get to spend some time with ‘Groove’ – he is truly a unique character and I hope he enjoyed my kit and can do this again (maybe in 3-5 years)…

I guess you just never know do you…

November 3 – FE kicks off November and the holiday party season with a rare Tuesday night performance for PoolCo…

November 7 and 13 – the long awaited return to Katie O’Byrne’s (and my friend Tito) and the Rustic Barn (and the super couple that own it who both happen to be drummers)!!

November 14 – FE headed back to Nanola in Malta, NY… free dinner if it’s your birthday!! The place was jammed…

November 15 – Mom and I attended what’s become a favorite performance of ours – the annual Veteran’s Day tribute concert by the Lake George Community Band!!


November 20 – FE played the most amazing room I think I’ve ever seen – the Empire State Plaza Convention Center – with it’s dance floor that can be lowered to the garage level below for loading equipment and such into the venue!! On this night the Alliance for Positive Health (formerly the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York) celebrated the 21st Annual Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Celebration… A Rat Pack-themed event that included wine tastings, amazing food from the area’s best restaurants, caterers and bakeries, live entertainment by Funk Evolution, dancing, a photo booth and shopping at their remarkable silent auction! There were VIP pre- and post-event festivities attended by more than 800 people!!—

There was a giant screen on the stage behind us and some of our horns made their way behind the screen
and someone caught this picture of them just as the slide promoting the band rotated through…

November 21 – We made our long awaited return to JJ Rafferty’s in Latham…

November 22 – I took to the streets of South Glens Falls with the Avant Garde Alumni Drumline in some slightly mild temperatures for the annual Post Star Holiday Parade!!

November 25 – FE returns to Centre Street Pub for a special Wednesday night Thanksgiving Eve performance… at the end of the night we had to wait about 30 minutes after we had finished packing for the place to empty to the point where we could load out – yes, it was THAT freakin’ packed!! But when it was all done we were able to look forward to our first weekend off in 2015…

December 2 – my daughter’s first concert with the Select Choir – fantastic job, ‘Peanut’!!

December 4, 5 and 11 – FE knocked out a couple more holiday parties (with a return to Stout in between)… Colonie PD at the Desmond for the second year in a row and Finger Paint at Saratoga National… great parties and got everyone in the spirit!! And I got to debut my Holiday tie – a gift from a friend of my Mom’s down in Carolina… thank you, Sandy!!

Then came a week we won’t forget right away…

Chez Josef1

December 16-19 – FE had been booked to play a Holiday party for Lia Cars on Thursday the 17th at 90 State Events in Albany… Then Lia called and asked if we’d be able to play another the night before (Wednesday the 16th) in Springfield, MA… CERTAINLY!! Chez Josef (picture at right – technically in Agawam, MA) was an absolutely beautiful room…

The next night (Lia II) at 90 State Events was well decorated though I have a hard time understanding why so many catering outfits are buying up abandoned banks and turning them into banquet houses… these all marble monstrosities are easily the worst acoustic facilities any band will ever play… And being on the State Street hill in Albany means there is zero parking… after 45 minutes and several laps I managed find an opening on the same block at least but I was soaked from a cold, pouring rain by the time I dragged all my gear across 5 lanes and into the building…

The parties were a great time though and FE capped off the week with our final visit of the year to Katie O’Byrne’s in Schenectady and a very special night for me personally at Nanola on the 19th…


There was a chance that a couple people from work (school) might stop by and that always makes for a fun evening but I was totally surprised to see several past and present co-workers and their families and kids and a few people from the alumni drumline and even the old corps from back in he 90’s!! What a great time – thank you all for stopping in!!


Of course there had to be the good with the bad – the yin for the yang… and this night came with another brand of excitement that presented a challenge for me…

I’ve had what I can best describe as a knot just under my right shoulder blade since back in September… it wasn’t a big deal – more annoying than anything and wasn’t affecting my playing, loading, sleeping, etc. so I just thought it might need some rest and let it go. About half way through setting up this night I went to adjust the position of something and felt a jolt or a pop from back there that resonated all the way around to my right chest!! Maybe it didn’t pop – maybe it’s better described as that feeling you get when you bang an elbow and there’s that quick jolt… At any rate, there was a quick shot of pain and I realized that I had better sit down (fortunately my thrown was in position)… I sat for a few minutes and tried to make sense of what had just occurred and what shape I was in… I was getting clammy and nauseous and felt like I was going to take a nap… I’m told I was going into shock from the pain which at the time I didn’t think was that bad – at least not after the initial jolt… After a few minutes I was able to resume setting up (carefully) but couldn’t shake that sick feeling…

As my friends and the band started to arrive I was trying to be a fun host while at the same time assess whether I’d be able to play or not but knew I was going to try… I couldn’t find a comfortable position standing or sitting but managed to get through both sets then slowly started packing. I started to feel like I was overheating again and that sick feeling got worse and I grabbed my hat and coat and went out the back door. After about 10 minutes of dry heaving but in the cooler air I was feeling a little better and went back in, finished tearing down and was even able to load everything on my own. A couple days later a PA in my doctor’s office determined that it was probably a nasty pull of one of the large muscles (Traverse?) in my back which will probably take months to heal and she recommended Icy Hot, massage and maybe Ibuprofen (I was surprised she didn’t prescribe a muscle relaxer) so that’s what I’ve been doing to get through Christmas…

My husband T (Small)

Speaking of Christmas… I had to get my wife a little self-promotion to wear…

FE’s off until New Year’s Eve so I’m trying to rest the back as much as possible…


December 31 – FE returns for their second New Year’s Eve (my first) at the beautiful Sagamore Resort in Bolton landing, NY!! And what an amazing job they did with the room – it really looked incredible!! What better night for new keyboardist Nick Marotta to make his debut!!

It was an fantastic evening and the audience was a wonderful mixture of kids and adults who all seemed to have a great time as did we!! A great way to cap off 2015!! The only thing that could have made it better was if my wife and daughter were able to attend… Unfortunately my wife is undergoing Chemo and the treatments make her very sick and have drastically reduced her immune system to where she has to wear a mask anytime she’s in public… It just wouldn’t have been a fun night for her – as much as they both wanted to go… Hopefully we’re invited back again next year!!

Here are some more pictures…

Sagamore4 (Small)

First my kit of course… I’m lovin’ the custom stealth racks but have a couple tweaks to try in the next few weeks…


Light trusses overhead (I have faith)…

Sagamore5 (Small)

I told you the room looked fabulous…

Sagamore8 (Small)
Sagamore7 (Small)


See you all next year!!

Click here to see if I continue to live the dream in 2016…