…I started off doing some jazz clubs out here in LA, and they went great. I did some in New York before The Cutting Room, like 54 Below and Iridium jazz club. From there it just started growing in other parts of the country as well.
I cut a CD called “D Most Mostly Swinging,” with this great 18-piece band of wonderful Los Angeles jazz and studio musicians, studio musicians, and our great producer and trumpet player, William Ario. And so that’s out. It’s been hard to grow because the live performance thing is almost impossible during COVID.
I’ve been dying to get back into doing live performance, more films and television. I just did a short film, which is called When George Got Murdered, and it’s a really interesting film about the George Floyd incident. I don’t know when that’s coming out, and I did some TV prior to that, a pilot called Puck Heads, where I play the owner of a minor league hockey team, so we’ll see what happens with that. Hopefully, that gets picked up. And I’m supposed to do a couple of other films that got put on hold.
…Shortly after touring with Cyndi, I was asked to do a record in Frankfurt Craaft, a German band. Subsequently after that record came out, they wanted me to do the tour. And in a similar situation, it was in an opening act. You know Cyndi Lauper explodes, we were were playing arenas several nights a week, the biggest thing on MTV, blah blah blah, and I’m asked to go to Germany. I got paid very little to do it, but as a favor to a friend of a friend, and I went ahead and did it. Because my theory is, it’s like, if somebody wants me to play, I’m flattered. If somebody wants my drumming on their record, or on their gig, or on their live date or whatever, I’m flattered. Man, they like me. All right, so anyway.
The highlight of my Craaft association was the tour, opening for Queen. So from Craaft, I did The Monkees tour. I was actually doing it, again, as a favor to a friend. I filled in for a drummer that bailed out on him, and about a year later he gets the Musical Director gig with The Monkees. Based on, “Hey, Sandy, you bailed me out that night. I want you to do The Monkees tour, they’re reuniting.” So I did not only that Monkees tour, but almost every reunion tour subsequently.
…Edwin: I’m really excited about sharing my music with everyone, and I appreciate the opportunity to have you and everyone allow me to borrow your ears with an open heart to give my music a try. I feel the adversity in music is very needed and if I could bridge our human connection through my music I’d feel like I’ve fulfilled a dream of mine. I believe everything we do is about communication and human connectivity. The goal is to for me is to create Ann effective way to bridge that connection in a healthy way that offers us a reflection of just how similar we all are. This type of openness connects us all, all different ethnicities, all different races. I want the branches of my music to offer a message about that love and unity. After all that’s what I’m about, that’s the philosophy I try to live by so While I’m here that’s what I’d like to achieve while I’m alive. It’s what I want to leave behind when I finish the book of my life. As each page turns I want to look back at the end of my days and know that I made some kind of an impact, I want to know I reached you all, and that maybe I made it a little bit possible to make you all see how beautiful life is. Life is an amazing gift, and as an artist I personally believe in everything that calls us to awaken to ourselves and to each other. If you really think about it, if we live in gratitude of this amazing gift called life we can actually learn to respect, empower and carry each other even through these trying times….
…In the early days of quarantine, Sandy embarked on a quest to make virtual drumming lessons a reality. He loves his tried-and true-method of playing with his students using the two drum sets in his studio but found that adjusting the sound and synchronization over zoom was too great of a challenge. Instead, he provides a demonstration and discussion, then asks the student to play. Sandy tweaks the speaker and microphone settings so both he and the student are satisfied with the sound. …
…“The results from the video classes are in some ways better than in person classes. (Simultaneous demonstration and working time) pushes the students to try new things and to work faster,” says Jan. “I will continue to use this method of instruction in my classes when we can meet again in person. While nothing replaces actual in person classes – and I want to resume them as soon as possible – this has been a saving grace, not just for me but for of my students as well. Some of them were alone and feeling overwhelmed. It gave us all a sense of purpose and belonging. And I am so excited with the results!” …
Long Island Portfolio magazine publishers Alex M. Wolff and John Joseph Dowling, Jr. are thrilled to be able to support and showcase such great artists and their art in our first issue, Fall 2020. Enjoy the art and stories of Steven Calapai, Billy Mira, Maya Frank, Jeffrey Steele, EDward Steven Katz, Mike Gomes, Tony DeCaprio, Lenny Stucker, and our cover artist Robyn Bellospirito.
Long Island Portfolio magazine is on a mission to help artists of every kind promote themselves and their work from Montauk to Manhattan. We create great content to build and amplify artists social media presence. Nominate your favorite artist to be a Featured Artist and help improve their recognition and reach in our region.
In this issue we have painters, photographers, a jazz musician, country and rock singer song writer, and even stories around food, fashion, cars, cosplay and fantasy, with to poets!
Yeah, that’s what I’m really proud of. It’s not a tribute band. I do a lot of cover music and I do it my way. I work a lot with Eric Schwartz and the people that have come on board with me, and help support the vision and really believe in what we’re doing. It’s something I’m very proud of, I’m sure in the history of entertainment there have been similar concepts, but as of right now there’s nothing like it, it is like a variety show. We come out, interact with the audience. One of the things I’m really proud of is it’s not a tribute show, it’s a tribute but in pieces, you know.
Alex: Well you play so many different genres and artists in a single show. You mentioned Eric Schwartz. He leads the horn section and horns really bring a lot of depth to any music and in some cases even leads in parts of the show.
Billy: Yeah, so, you know the greatest thing is that I can sit down for a couple minutes to do stand up. It’s not straight stand up. It’s not straight Impressions and all this and maybe some John Travolta and some David Lee Roth or an Ozzie Osbourne impression, but I can incorporate all of that stuff to introduce songs, and also with it telling the story of my life and what really turns me on as a performer, and I think it really comes out in the show.
It was pretty bizarre when I went back to Vegas, you know, because I started getting a name for myself, and then that’s when, not too long after that, I got the gig at the Hilton orchestra. I stayed there a good eight years and on the band was James Moody, tenor player, phenomenal player, became like a father image to me, also. Carl Fontana, the great trombone player one of the best in the world if not the best in the world, Sam Noto to a great trumpet player coming out of Stan Kenton, Alex Acuna was on the band for a little while. He later went with Weather Report. It was a phenomenal band, phenomenal, some other players perhaps you had never heard of. We did all the TV shows there because they did them at the Hilton. So I got experience with television work.
Alex: and relying on the ability to read and play nice with others.
Tony: You have to read, you know, because the pressure is on. I became a good reader on the gig and when I had some spots in my reading that I had to work on I would go into LA on my day off and study. I studied with Joe Valenti who was orchestra leader at the LA Philharmonic as he was teaching sight reading to old studio guys, whatever little glitches, and you know the things they had to like, brush up on. He really helped me a lot.
Alex: It sounds like you were constantly looking to improve and learn from everyone you were exposed to. It’s great that you share those lessons with your students. Were there any special techniques developed along the way?
Tony: I have a picking technique that comes from the violin.
I studied with this picking genius at right hand plectrum technique because he was initially a violinist. He went way back to working with the old Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy. He was a violinist before the guitar was popular, his name was Joe Sgro.