Recently I got the call to perform a concert with legendary Police drummer Stewart Copeland at the Savannah, GA Music Festival. As a Police fanatic and a S.C. fan, I was excited to get an opportunity to play and make music with one of my many musical heroes. It would be safe to say that as a young kid growing up in the 1980’s, The Police we’re “My Beatles.” After the Police broke up, I would continue to follow the careers of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.
After accepting the invitation, I received the music (printed/audio) on the road and while finishing a West coast tour with Austin based blues guitarist Chris Duarte. I practiced as much as time would allow in between soundchecks, concerts, car/plane rides and hotel changes. I completed the C.D. tour on March 23rd in Denver, Colorado; and quickly flew to Savannah, Georgia for a rehearsal with Stewart on the 25th and the preceding concert on the 26th. I had less than 5 days to go over the music before hitting it with Stewart, however I was pumped.
My firstencounter with Stewart: I found him to be a very polite, humorous, warm, well tempered and courteous man. He made an effort to reach out to everyone in the group and politely introduced himself. We chit chatted a bit and off we went, down that musical journey from the Rhythmatist. In the hours that followed, it would be an intense yet rewarding experience playing the music of and with this musical genius. I was mostly a silent observer and did my best to take it all in. In short, let me just say that Stewart wasn’t there to play checkers. His passion for his craft was nothing short of inspiring.
Halfway through the concert, Stewart brought out another amazing talent, Daniel Hope. Stewart wrote a trio composition for one of his daughters that featured drums, violin, piano. During this moment of the concert, I took a seat to bare witness of this premiere work. It was astonishing! Daniel Hope tore it up and his intonation and tone was impeccable. While I didn’t play with Daniel, we chatted a bit backstage. Daniel is also a very nice chap with an amazing aura around him. Daniel might be one of the best violinists I’ve ever heard, a true madman I say!
Not to go un-noticed, the musical ensemble for this event was an amazing group of musicians/artists.
The group consisted of:
Ted Nash -reeds
Victor Goines – reeds
Walter Blanding – reeds
Carl Maraghi – reeds
Marcus Printup – trumpet
David Elliot – trombone
Ricardo Ochoa – violin
Gretchen Frazier – viola
Annalise Nelson – cello
Hans Kristian Kjos Sorensen – percussion
Kirk Brundage – percussion
Stuart Gerber – percussion
Eric Jones – piano
Andy Ripley – ewi
Mike Daly – french horn
In addition to the genuinely warm spirit of Stewart and the musical ensemble, he had a wonderful crew of people that worked on his behalf. From his manager, tour manager, production team, festival organizers; it was a top shelf entourage. Stewart’s drum tech/engineer Jeff Seitz was also a great asset (and talented drummer). Jeff has been with Stewart for 25 + years which not only speaks volumes of his abilities and the people Stewart surrounds himself with, it also says everything about the true meaning of loyalty from Mr. Copeland. In fact, Jeff can be seen in the recently released S.C./Police documentary, Everyone Stares.
Conclusion: a high profile musical friend/artist once told me not to play with my musical heroes as they might end up disappointing me (he was speaking from experience). Well in my case, nothing could be further from the truth. Stewart is an amazing artist, a terrific human being and I was honored to be apart of this musical experience!
Until next post….peace