Notable Past Projects

Stuff I've Done

This is by no means a complete listing of all the things in my career; rather, some of the higher points and more fun bands that I can readily find video and content for.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this vignette from the Smithsonian Channel's "Sound Revolution" is about 14 minutes into the program.

Personnel: Ike Turner- Keys, Guitar, Vocals • Kevin Cooper- Bass, Vocals • Seth Blumberg- Guitar, Vocals • "Reverend" Paul Smith- Keys, clavinet • Ernest Lane- Piano, vocals • Jeorge Taylor- Bari Sax • MacKinley "Mack" Johnson- Trumpet • Mikiel Ruben- Sax • Bill Ray- Drums

smithsonian channel

One day I was just going about my business, doing those things that drummers tend to do when a phone call came in and it was a friend of mine who said "I'm watching the Smithsonian Channel and you're on here playing a drum solo". Were we in Europe this would not have fazed me much because I know that they are constantly running old concert footage of Ike shows and that's pretty cool in of itself.

risin with the blues north sea jazz montreux
ike turner and the grammy we won in 2007

In 2001 my longtime friend Kevin Cooper told me that Ike Turner was looking for a drummer, and I jumped on that prospect and went over an auditioned. Ike referred to me as "The Drummer of my Soul"; we were interconnected by that fine thread of unconsciousness that can't very easily be defined. When Ike was upset, I felt it like a hurricane.

We had a great run; I played on the Live At Montreux DVD and CD package, The Live At Northsea Jazz DVD/CD and also on the Grammy-Award winning album "Risin' With The Blues". What a gift it was to learn from the man.

The Project:

Recording original music in the Jazz Fusion vein, with a third album on the way. These start out as drum solos and become works of music.

The Odd Get Even

bill cornish

The Odd Get Even is a project with my friend Bill Cornish who lives in Chicago. The tunes start off as improvised drum "solos" which are actually my sketching out a drum part for something I'm just clicking along to in my head. There's an organic nature to all of this that lends itself to some pretty cool arrangements.

The general philosophy is to play the drum track like a hole of golf; "play it like it lays" with no nips/tucks but sometimes a small trim or loop is necessary for continuity. In any event, the inspiration is there. If ever there were truly an album "created from the drums up" it would be this collection.

The project picked up steam and Bill finished the album in 2009; Self-titled. In 2010 the next album was being written and it became "Objects in Motion".

We have a third album on the way with the title "Happy Critters". The tunes are as eclectic as you'd imagine and there is one that is a 10 minute epic titled "Stumbling Towards Nirvana" with a guest guitar player Mike James on two tracks.

The Project:

Melodic, aggressive guitar driven rock & roll with shades of Satriani and Vai

rdg

Sometime in the past 10 years I met Ray DiGiorgio on a gig; we were opening for Blue Oyster Cult and his band played alongside ours at the time. I remember being distinctly blown away by the tunes he performed, all of it being instrumental guitar rock. Really cool stuff!

Well this year I got a call from him asking me if I was interested in playing some shows with him and the answer was "Oh yeah..."

The Project:

Recording an album of songs that are extremely musically dense and challenging in the vein of The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Frank Zappa. Other offshoots of this are projected to be a drummer's minus-one track playalong + an instructional method book to accompany it.

Mike Watson and Bob

Mike Watson and I go way back. So far back that it predates a certain musical history. You see, there was a 1980's/90's San Diego band called Daddy Longleggs which was a sort of Mr. Bungle-ish affair. Mike Watson was playing guitar in that group and then eventually split off and formed a band called "Schmaltz" which is still in rotation today.

Schmaltz consisted of Robert Walter on Piano/Organ/Vocals, Mike Watson on Guitar, Chris Stillwell on Bass and a very young 15 year old Zak Najor on the drums. Zak was my student for a bit, and in some ways I was his student as well. We would set up two drum sets and play all afternoon at his house in Del Mar. It was about 1992.

Earl Thomas is an American blues singer whom I've known for a very long time. It's like we have known each other all our lives. He's like a sister to me. :D Anyhow, Earl can sing his ass off and is a huge Tina Turner fan. Back in 2009 He approached me about getting the Kings of Rhythm to play with him and we took up a residence at Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco, last Saturday of every Month. In 2010 we ended up going all over the UK and Italy together. These are some of my most cherished memories.

The Project:

To create the farthest out, strangest sounding music the world has never heard. If you can imagine a Blues band from another planet, you are in the right direction of thought.

Being that I'm in San Diego a lot of the time I get a lot of time to work with such creative minds as Marcelo Radulovich, James Call, Joyce Rooks, Henry Wessmann and many others in a project called "Nice World". Nice World is weird. It's all about freedom to go "blarch" if we want to. None of it rarely makes sense, but that's what it's supposed to not do anyway.

I first met Ernest Lane when I began playing with Ike in 2001. We had a lot of good times together. He and Mack Johnson (trumpet) were always full of great stories.

There's more about Ernest on the Born With The Blues page for his album. Go check it out.

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In 2010 I was approached by a singer/songwriter Rudy Jones about doing some work with him and his bassist compadre Jeff Stedman; We are just about to begin again and go record the album.

My friend Brian Walsh and his wife Janet are some of the coolest folks; Brian and I have played in bands for years and since we're all from the South (he from New Orleans) we decided it was high time to play some funk. SO, Janet's store called "Temptress" puts on a fashion show every so often and we perform there. It's a great time.

In 2007 I joined my friend David Ybarra in a band that goes way back in San Diego musical history; the Playground Slap. Marcelo Radulovich and Ray Dezonia rounded out Guitar and Keys respectively and it was a lot of fun to play with these guys. Guitar God Mike Keneally joined us for a few gigs and that was a lot of fun. Check out his guitar solo on "Automatico", down in the video list.

Marcelo and I currently are playing in Nice World together, an Avant Garde experimental band.

The Playground Slap Disco Nausea

Review of "Disco Nausea" in The San Diego Troubador

The Project:

To play fun music with local musical legends. Nothing pretentious, just good clean fun!

blitz bros
blitz brothers 2012

When in San Diego...why not play with legendary folks? Richard "Blitz" Livoni has been grinding out incredible kick-ass Rock -n- Roll since the 1970's. He's a hometown hero and I'm glad to be jammin' with him. Barney "Blitz" Roach is on bass and I'm Billy "Blitz" Ray! Betwixt the three of us, we make a mighty roar.

Skirt ^ Alert is actually a Duo consisting of Sean Martin (Guitar) and Jason Littlefield (Bass). These two guys moved out here from Indiana or some other midwestern town, and it's their loss because they are some of the most talented and gifted players anywhere. Jason is my favorite local bassist pretty much without a question and ranks in my top 3 overall.

Gerard Nolan is on Sax in this group as well; he adds a flavor and charisma that really takes the band into some great areas.

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I've played in quite a few tribute bands in the past but this one deserves a shake on the "coolness factor" side of things. I've been a huge Jeff Beck fan for as long as I can remember and getting to play the music was a real treat.

The band was fronted by Joe D'Amico on guitar, Mark Moorehead on keys, Phil Diiorio on guitar and vocals, Kevin Irwin on bass and me on drums.

Right about the time Bill Cornish was working on The Odd Get Even project's first release my friend Neil Macpherson up in San Francisco was also developing a great album of these tunes; it was an exciting time for me, as I never knew what was going to be in my email at any given moment. Conversely, I would not let either of them hear the other's work because I did not wish to influence then in any way.

The Journeymen actually convened for a couple of live gigs (Winston's and Kava Lounge) and both were captured. We had enlisted the services of Mike Clairmont for Bass and Sean Martin (Skirt ^ Alert) on Guitar for the Kava Lounge show and Matt Silvia from Sweettooth for the Winston's gig.

I've lived in California since 1989 and have played with thousands of others. Here's a collection of videos from bands past.

Ernest Lane Born With The Blues

Musicians

  • Ernest Lane - Piano, Vocals
  • ? - Bass
  • Seth Blumberg - Guitar
  • Leo Dombecki, Paulie Cerra - Sax
  • Mackinley "Mack" Johnson - Trumpet
  • Bill Ray - Drums

Released 2006

Note: Please let me know who played bass on this recording.

Ernest Lane was the pianist who played with Ike Turner and was his oldest childhood friend. They grew up together in Clarksdale, MS and maintained that friendship all the way to the very end.

The stories that they would tell were hilarious mostly, some dark and incredulous. It was always fun to sit around and listen to them argue too. Lane always kept $500 on him, as he would occasionally come out with "Ike Turner, here's your $500 from such & such"...some long ago debt that he wouldn't let go, and Ike would never thak the money. Or if he did take it would give it back a little while later. Those guys...

We recorded this album in about 2006 up in Los Angeles at Leon Heywood's place off Crenshaw. It was funky through & through. The room we tracked in was the scene of many great albums. One of my heroes James Gadson had tracked in that room so for me it was a spiritual experience.

On another note, I also did the album cover for this; it was my first attempt and I since learned a lot about design and layout. One has to start somewhere!

Ryan Montana Electric Picture Show

Musicians

  • Ryan Montana - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
  • Leo Dombecki - Piano, Keys
  • Kevin Cooper - Bass
  • Seth Blumberg - Guitar
  • Bill Ray - Drums, tape dispenser
  • Todd Gunnerson - Engineer

Released 2006

This album holds dear to my heart on a number of levels. For starters, the band consisted of the younger set of the Ike Turner group; The Kings of Rhythm. Also I was in the thick of my divorce and there were a ton of emotions floating around.

Every day I would go to the studio if not just for something to do. The "studio" was actually a palatial residence up in the hills of Del Mar, CA. We tracked everything live in the "Great Room" and even had one of those outdoor canopies that we draped with packing blankets and surrounded with plexiglass as a sort of makeshift iso booth (hey, it worked).

earl thomas and the kings of rhythm - live in san francisco

Musicians

  • Earl Thomas - Vocals
  • Ryan Montana, Leo Dombecki - Saxophone
  • Armando Marcos Cepeda - Bass
  • Seth Blumberg - Guitar
  • Paul Smith - Keys
  • Bill Ray - Drums

Released 2010

Ah, Earl Thomas & The Kings of Rhythm. The "band that is like a solar eclipse; rarely seen but when you do it's always interesting". We've had many good times together. In the Spring of 2010 we did a full tour of the UK with the legendary John Mostyn as our tour manager, then in the summer of that year made a full tour of Italy and Sardinia. What a total blast that was!

From about mid 2009 to the early part of 2010 we were doing every last Saturday of the moth at the great blues venue Biscuits & Blues located on Mason & Geary streets in the heart of The City by the Bay. So we decided to record an album.

This album taught me a lot. A lot about life, about people and also about business; As I mentioned "It's always interesting to see what happens. So as a result this is one of the more "Interesting" albums I've been involved with. I hope it somehow becomes a cult classic and sells a bajillion copies.

Wait until you hear the Ike & Tina "American Songbook" collection we recorded over the Fall of 2012. It's gonna be siiiiick!

Jamie Varley You Ride

Musicians

  • Jamie Varley - Vocals
  • Leo Dombecki and Jeremy Miller - Piano, Keys
  • Nick Melucci - Bass
  • Seth Blumberg - Guitar
  • Bill Ray - Drums
  • Todd Gunnerson - Engineer

Released 2006

There's some albums that never get heard by enough people, and I feel that this is definitely one of them. If I had to narrow down my favorite personal works, this would be in the top 3. It's a very accurate representation of not just my playing but also personality.

I knew Jamie through the connection we had at SOTA Music in Del Mar. Back in 2005 when we recorded the Ryan Montana CD Jamie heard it and asked me to play on his stuff. And that's how that got started.

I remember showing up the first morning we recorded and it was cold out; I was still half asleep because of the gig I did the night before but a little bit of coffee remedied that. The first thing I cut with him was the song "Flooded Heart". I gave it a cursory listen and then we were off and running!

I remember this music was so easy and intuitive to feel and to play. It was a completely natural process and were Jamie ever to call me for a gig I'm certain we would have a great sense of communion on stage.

The two songs I have chosen are significant; "Runaways" was the first song I heard when I received my copy of the CD and was completely floored. "Slow" is just epic all the way to the "sideways" drumfill at the end of the tune. I just love love LOVE the harmonies on the vocals. Jamie Varley is a talented cat. I'm proud to have played on this.

Organic Drum Tracks Vol. 1

OGE- Objects In Motion

The Odd Get Even

The Journeymen- Dog Days