Biography

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I studied with many famous teachers and am among the first generation of musicians born in Las Vegas. With teachers like Don Hannah, Leo Camera, Alex Acuna, Bill Rogers, and a father who was the first call and best all around percussionist in Vegas ( perhaps in the world ), it's hard to do anthing but excel as a musician.

Those who were part of the music scene in Las Vegas in the 70's knew what it was and what it wasn't. Many attempts are made to eminate "old Vegas" the way it used to be, but they are all lacking key ingredients. The main one lacking in todays musical world is MUSICIANSHIP. The high levels of musicianship that existed in the 70's and 80s no longer exist today. There is no call for Trumpeters who can play double C's and above all night EVERY night. And they wasn't a crowd cheering for them to do it. It was simply expected and if they couldn't cut it, another player was waiting to take a shot at their gig. Back then the shows had two or three "lead" players in the section in order to spell each other....

Also, these days, there's little or no call for percussionists to play 3 instruments at once while pre-tuning tympani and running over to play a Lou Singer type Xylophone part for 24 bars followed by a 6 note tympani part using two timpani due to a small work space, folowed by a siren whistle and cymbal crash when the acrobat jumps in the air ( visible only on the 5 inch B/W TV monitor that you can only see using a rear view mirror off of a 1962 ford F series pickup with an entender on it. If the cymbal crash wasn't there then neither was the player the next night.

The challenges of the music being used in the major venues today, is nowhere as difficult as they were back then. Shows used to travel around the country and almost all the acts would unamiously prefer working Vegas because the bands were far better here than anywhere else. The percussion books used to come back here from New York with half of the parts circled * that means leave it out) and comments scribbled on the pages like "THIS CAN'T BE DONE" or "IMPOSSIBLE TO PLAY" ... etc... We played all the parts here and the shows, the producers and the performers noticed it and appreciated it.

One player CAN do the work of 3 or four if he's really good at his craft. The arrangers used to ask questions about what can and can't be written for one percussionist. If there was a way to do it or if something needed to be invented in order to make the part happen we would do it. Whole Tone xylophone glisses? Yes. Restring a special instrument for that part. Can you play Castanets and bells at the same time?

This was when we invented the castinette machine and the finger cymbal machine. What about pretuning the Timpani? This was when my father invented the timpani tuning gauge. Which later prompted him to start a company called "Planet Percussion" where he manufactured and sold many of his inventions , like the square shaker and wind chimes with dampening bars and this was where we used the first mallet wrapping MACHINE.

Facing and seeking new challenges were all a part of old Vegas. We also gladly sharing the "secrets" of the percussion world with anyone who was interested. Everyone was welcome. Many top percussionst instructors from music colleges around the world tried to move here with hopes of being a Vegas percussionist but few of them would even try to tackle playing a show here once the sat in the pit and saw what it took to actually play these shows...

Also in old vegas, musicians would play their respective gigs and then jam all night until the sun came up. This was just about an "every night" event back then. Musicians today are driving back home to go to sleep within 2 minutes after yawning through their "factory" gig. In addition, todays musicians rarley talk about the actual music, but instead talk about WHO's Playing what gig for how much money etc...

These are the reason's musicianship isn't what it used to be. For me I shun and ignore those who are in music for all the wrong reasons. I play because it's enjoyable and continually challenging. To those who care about nothing but making money, do the world a favor and go do something else for a living. You're taking up space and giving producers the wrong impression about what they can expect from good musicians. Music is about being creative. In doing so one can go above and beyond what they or anyone else thought was ever possible.

This is where I started. At 16 years old I was playing in the Sammy Davis Jr. Orchestra, one night and playing for Tony Bennett the next. Compared to playing the Casino De Paris Show those shows were a piece of cake... By the time I was 22, the road sounded like a whole new set of challenges and I left for the pourpose of experiencing something different and had a lot of fun. Then I moved to Miami and had even more fun. Played a lot, recorded and had lots of girlfriends etc...

Then I moved back to Vegas and found a wife. The fun immediately stopped. Right then and there. :) Anyways, after a bad mnarriage ( not fun) and a day gig ( not fun either ) etc... I am now back into playing full time and having lots of fun again.... :) Life is good and music is the best part of life. Percussion, by the way, is the best part of music. ;)

So guess what I'm doing? If something is more enjoyable than music, please tell me. I'm all ears....