a personal account of the performance - ProgWest 2002

Well let’s see if I remember this correctly… I received a telephone call from Bryan Beller sometime in late September 2002. He wanted to know if I was interested in playing a gig that was to be a tribute performance of The Shaming of the True (TSOTT), a rock opera, composed by the late songwriter/musician Kevin Gilbert. Most of the musicians in the show would be from the Mike Keneally Band. Of course I agreed immediately – any chance to play alongside Bryan is always a welcome opportunity – the guy is a monster bassist! He explained the general concept, then handed the phone to someone he identified as “Nick”. I listened intently as Nick discussed the gig – but he also said that there were other drummers he had in mind to play the show. I was an unknown player to him, though Bryan and Mike were familiar with my playing and personality.

Though I didn’t realize it at that moment, Nick was Nick D’Virgilio – the fantastic drummer in Mike’s band and progressive rock messengers Spock’s Beard. Nick had worked extensively with Kevin on recordings and in live performances. In this tribute Nick would be singing lead vocals and playing guitar for much of the show, so another drummer was needed. After that initial correspondence, I was very excited about getting the gig. It wasn’t official until I could get Nick some samples of my playing. I sent him a copy of Yogi’s Any Raw Flesh CD, which I feel is a good representation of my technique in a hard rock format. Nick was totally trusting of Bryan and Mike’s opinions, but as a drummer himself, I’m sure he wanted to get a sense of my feel – which was completely understandable. Within the first few days of October, Nick and I finalized the plan.

I would play the show, and I would also learn some of Nick’s songs from his solo CD Karma and some classic Spock’s Beard selections. Three rehearsal nights were scheduled for the last week of October with some additional dress rehearsals a few days before the show on November 10th. What followed for me was an intensive three and a half weeks of writing charts, practicing patterns, and discovering a sincere appreciation for the music I was studying. Without question, Kevin Gilbert is one of the most creative and emotionally stirring writers I have ever heard. And Spock’s Beard is exactly like the bands with which I have always wanted to be involved. I love progressive rock! From a technical standpoint, learning Nick’s drum parts really had me concentrating on the executions. They definitely required a lot of practice. He’s awesome – completely inspiring!

I traveled to Los Angeles for the first group of rehearsals on October 28th – 30th. For these rehearsals, only a core band (most of it) would be involved. That included Mike, Bryan, Nick, and me. I had seen Bryan and Mike a couple weeks before at one of their Taylor guitar clinics in Seattle. We had talked about the upcoming rehearsals, which was helpful before playing together. We assembled at Bryan’s company, SWR, in the amplifier testing room. It had a nice Drum Workshop drumkit set up. This is where the Mike Keneally Band rehearsed for the 2001 Dancing tour. I auditioned for that tour April 2001, but the gig went to NDV... This whole production was starting to feel like one of those “full circle” things. I won’t deny that I was a little nervous, even though I was very prepared for the list of songs - my notebook of charts faithfully at my side.