Wrapping Up 2023

Posted on December 31, 2023


Yeah, the end of the year means it’s that time of year again.

First things first: I have to apologize for the unannounced absence that has taken up most of December. I don’t really have an excuse, it was just a lot of of little things that kept me from posting anything, combined with some of the issues I’ve talked about in the past. It can still be difficult for me to find topics worth discussing, aside from my transcriptions, which take a lot of time and energy since I like to pick apart gnarly stuff. 

I also should explain the surprise and abrupt transition I made this fall to posting only twice a month. It’s not really something I wanted to do, but my being busy (on top of all that other stuff) meant that something had to give. I’ve thought about shedding my Sunday deadlines and just posting something when it gets finished, but I don’t want things to get away from me and have a blog that doesn’t get updated often. It’s always sad when you come across a blog that’s seemingly defunct. 

So, what has been going on? Well, I’ve been busy with my two bands, Rivermann and Intergalactic Peace Jelly. Rivermann has a website now courtesy of yours truly, although it’s somewhat of a work in progress. Rivermann remains in its early stages, and we don’t have any music out yet — hopefully, that’ll change in 2024. We have been making a lot of progress nonetheless, gigging quite a bit; Rivermann (improbably) headlined at a local theater this past August, which was a pretty big stepping stone for us. Not bad for a group with no albums!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: what the hell is an “Intergalactic Peace Jelly”? Don’t worry, I’ll explain. This is a band I was recruited into this past summer, fronted by two of my coworkers from one of the theaters I work at. They needed a drummer, and I obliged. 

Peace Jelly currently doesn’t have a website, and I’m working on basically relaunching the thing. In the meantime, you can listen to some tunes on Spotify (or Apple Music if you prefer). We’re working on releasing some new tracks right now, but otherwise, I’m not on any of the records aside from a rather rugged live album that was released a few months ago.

Alright, where’s the doleful part of this post? Well, I had to bail on a few things this year. I won’t get too specific other than saying that I had to leave a few engagements I got involved in. Part of it had to do with time, and money is always a problem, but most of all, I just did not enjoy myself. 

I’m reminded of the eulogy I wrote about a year ago for one of my old bands, where I said that you need to know when something is not gonna work out. It’s still hard to not feel disappointed and even a bit guilty. Being involved in the performing arts, I guess I wish I could be above it all when it comes to earthly issues like time and money, but drumming isn’t something I take lightly, and I’ll make painful decisions if I have to. 

Moving on, we lost several drummers in 2023, and I haven’t had the time to quickly whip up any obituaries, so let’s pay our respects.

One of the biggest stories came in October with the passing of Aaron Spears (47), who made a name for himself by playing with many big pop acts in the 21st century. Just a month beforehand we lost Dom Famularo (70), an educator and clinician whose exuberance led him to become known as an ambassador of the instrument.  

Other deaths include: Fred White (67), who played with Earth, Wind & Fire; jazz/fusion players Tony Oxley (85) and Ralph Humphrey (79); Colin Burgess (77), who played with The Masters Apprentices and had a brief stint with AC/DC in the band’s early days; Robbie Bachman (69) from Bachman–Turner Overdrive, who passed in January, just a few months before his brother and bandmate Tim also died; Steve Riley (67), who played with L.A. Guns; George “Funky” Brown of Kool and the Gang (74); and Teresa “Nervosa” Taylor of the Butthole Surfers (60). 

The tragic story of Jim Gordon (77) came to a merciful end this past March. Jim got big with Derek and the Dominos before becoming a sought–after session drummer throughout the 70s. He spent most of his life incarcerated after murdering his mother in 1983 during a fit of hitherto undiagnosed schizophrenia. 

While it hasn’t turned into much of a news story yet, I should lastly pay respect to drum tech guru Bob Gatzen, who worked with companies like Evans and was responsible for some of the earliest drum videos I ever watched on YouTube. He had been in ill health for some time and just recently passed on the 29th

One more thing to share: my 2023 Spotify Wrapped. I actually use Apple Music, which calls this year–end thing a “Replay”, but in any case, people seem to like sharing these lists. So if you were wondering what I was listening to in 2023, these are my top artists:

  1. The National
  2. Plini
  3. Father John Misty
  4. The Who
  5. Dave Brubeck
  6. The Aristocrats
  7. Fleet Foxes
  8. My Morning Jacket
  9. Vince Mendoza
  10. Donald Fagen

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