In June 2000 I went into the studio with a cappella legends The Persuasions
, to provide vocal percussion on two cuts of their upcoming Grateful Dead tribute album. Recording with these musical heroes was a mind-blowing and joyous experience, one which I will explore in a separate note.
Hanging out in the control room was this cool middle-aged guy with a beard. Actually, there were a bunch of cool middle-aged guys with beards -- this was a Grateful Dead-related project, after all -- but this particular one looked really familiar to me, like maybe I had seen him on TV. He turned out to be Jon Carroll, beloved columnist for the SF Chronicle.
Jon was a nice guy, smart and personable like his columns, and was genuinely just grooving on the fantastic interpretations of old Dead standards coming out of the Persuasions' mouths. He seemed to be impressed by my odd talents as well.
He ended up writing three Chronicle columns about the whole experience. Didn't mention me at all, but I didn't care. Just having been there was reward enough.
Well, imagine my surprise when I opened the Chron a week later to find a fourth column
-- this one devoted entirely to "Drum Guy." (That would be me.)
"I need to tell you about Drum Guy," he wrote. "Chaikin is muscular, bullet-headed, even fierce... From out of the west he came, a tall man with lips of pure gold." Et cetera, et cetera.
As an even odder epilogue, a week later he printed my Scrabble story!
Evidently it was passed on to him by Chron classical music critic Joshua Kosman, who had seen it a few weeks before on the email list of the National Puzzlers' League -- an organization with which I was to become intimately familiar just a few weeks later. But that's a tale for another day.
The two Jon Carroll columns mentioned above:
- Persuaded One More Time
- Following Up On the News
A Sonicnet article about the sessions:
- Persuasions Commune With The Dead
Buy the album from Amazon:
- The Persuasions: Might As Well