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Rick Cutler: Journal

November 18, 2008

Transmitting From Woonsocket, R.I...
My head's spinning! Just arrived back from Europe this past Sat., dove into a 6 hr. session in the studio on Sun., had yesterday off for a slight breather & just arrived here a little while ago for a series of 4 shows beginning tomorrow.
The shows here will act as a kind of warm-up for the Broadway run that starts on Dec. 3. The studio session was for a CD that will be sold at those shows, produced by the legendary Phil Ramone. Though I'm not one to carry around a camera most of the time, looking back, I wish I could've taken a shot at my studio set-up. It pretty much consisted of 2 complete laptop-driven sets of string sounds....one that was used & one as a backup. I also had a very able assistant, Adam Schneider, co-piloting the entire rig. With both of the computers, all of the wiring & the keyboards themselves, it was definitely in the spaceship zone. Many thanks to Dave Rosenthal of Billy Joel's band for creating both the studio & road setups for me. Couldn't have done it without him.
The town here seems to be fairly far from any beaten path so I can't say that there'll be any news of note to report. Still, check back from time-to-time....you never know.

November 11, 2008

Transmitting From Milan, Italy...
A day off following a show last night in the town of Torino which was around a 2 hr. drive from here. As soon as we arrived we went quickly to soundcheck, followed by dinner & then the show. Afterwards, right back on the bus for the ride back. Too bad as Torino looked like a beautiful little town.
Today's highlight, thus far, was taking in the museum at the famous opera house La Scala. Some amazing stuff: A plaster-cast of Chopin's hand, a few locks of Mozart's hair, the death mask of Verdi & a piano that belonged to Liszt among other things. I was also able to peak into the hall itself which is beautiful & very well maintained.
Tomorrow we're off to Campione (which is actually in Switzerland, I just found out) & then the final show here on Friday. As I always do, after about the 2-week point on any tour, I look forward to returning home more & more. Into week #3 out here & NYC is pulling me back once again. Soon...

November 9, 2008

Transmitting From Milan, Italy...
Wow, what a beautiful city!! Thought I'd been here before during the Gloria Gaynor tour in the '70s but now I'm not so sure. If we passed through back then, we surely weren't in such a prime location. The amazing church known as the Duomo is practically in our backyard as well the the indoor/open-air shopping area known as the Galleria. Truly sights to behold!
We're now parked here for the remainder of the tour & will drive to the remaining cities. Today's a day off & I plan to do some walking. Milan looks like a great walking town which suits me just fine.
No other major news to report except to shout out a big Happy Birthday to my buddy Frank Perowsky, one of our senior band members. His talent & youthful spirit are an inspiration to us all. Here's to you, Frank!!

November 6, 2008

Transmitting From Bari, Italy...
We arrived here yesterday evening after a 10-hour bus ride. Our hotel is located in the middle of nowhere, sorry to say. It's gonna be challenging to find a way to pass this day off with nothing within walking distance & no real clues as to where else to explore. This is supposed to be a quaint ocean-side town but we may never see it, although we were riding parallel to the Adriatic Sea for a fair portion of the trip yesterday. Sorry that there isn't anything more interesting to report. Show tomorrow, then on to Milan on Saturday. We'll be parked at the Milan hotel for the rest of the tour & taking day trips to the remaining cities. Hope the hotel's a nice one as we'll be there for about a week. I'll keep you posted.

November 4, 2008

Transmitting From Bologna, Italy...
Remember those awnings I spoke about last time? Well, I just found out that they total an amazing 73 km over the entire city!! (By the way, the proper name for them is porticos). You'll never get wet while shopping in Bologna!
I'm here in my room waiting to go to soundcheck. Finding ways to pass the down time on the road can be a challenge. Especially on a rainy day like today with a few hours to kill. When in my room, I usually do some web surfing or read with TV watching coming in a distant 3rd. Overseas, for the most part, TV is very limited &, for some reason, the reception in this hotel,
or at least in my room, sucks. Not that I'm too bummed about not being able to watch CNN, which is the old standby for Americans as far as TV overseas. At least I can blog here & tell you of my plight...hey, it passes the time, right?
Tomorrow we have a 6-8 hr. bus ride to Bari. Sound like fun? Who knows, maybe there'll be some stories to tell. We'll see...

November 3, 2008

Transmitting From Bologna, Italy...
A city very interesting in its layout. Different than most European cities I've been in. We're right in the middle of town near a huge common area...like a town square. The architecture is typically old European but coupled with tons of modern shops embedded in all of the buildings. The main drag that features this (& where our hotel is) goes on forever. There are awnings that span the outsides of almost all of the buildings which basically means you could walk & shop for what seems like miles without any worry of being exposed to rain, sleet or snow.
Today is an off day where I took advantage of the seemingly endless walking streets (closed to all traffic) both large & small. I love walking in cities both known & new, one of the many reasons I love living in NYC. Our show here is tomorrow before we move on.
Oh, and one more thing....Go Barack! Keeping my fingers crossed about our elections tomorrow....the 1st one where I'll be on foreign soil to hear the results.

October 31, 2008

Transmitting From Florence, Italy...
Easily one of Europe's most beautiful cities. We did a lot of walking yesterday including a trip to see Michelangelo's David at the Gallerie d'Accademie...stunning! There's a show here today before departing for Bologna tomorrow. Before that, though, a quick trip to the Uffizi Gallery, probably the most famous in the city.
I must say how proud I am of my wife for doing a morning run before breakfast. I tend to get lazy on the road when it comes to working out but will try to hit it at least once or twice. When back home, though, my regimen is fairly religious & has been going on for over 22 years so I do have dedication going for me. Speak to you soon...

October 30, 2008

Transmitting From Rome, Italy...
Greetings, it's been awhile. Here we are in Rome where we arrived 2 days ago & are about to depart in about an hour.
I probably would've updated sooner except for the fact that my beautiful wife is accompanying me on the 1st week of this 3 week tour. It's been raining here quite a bit which limited our sightseeing opportunites. Still, yesterday, we made the best of it. Today we move on to Florence & a full day off tomorrow. If the weather cooperates, we might stand a better chance of seeing the sights.
The show last night went well, by the way...and, oh, we're gonna be on Broadway in Dec. for a couple of weeks. Yay! What Wayne Shorter once described to me as "that stay-at-home work." More soon...

September 16, 2008

Transmitting From NYC...
Well, the Chabad Telethon went very smoothly. Chabad is quite an organization & the help they provide to people dealing with the problems of addiction & homelessness is quite remarkable. The show this year also brought the star power up a notch or two. Actors Mimi Rodgers, Martin Landau, Tom Arnold, Jobeth Williams & Kathryn Manheim gave their time to support the cause. This, in addition to Jon Voight, who's been a friend of the orginization for many years. When I said hi to Jon, he said, "Hi kid, great to see ya." I felt as if I was in a scene in an old Hollywood film.
Don't think I've mentioned this before but, through a series of strange coincidneces that began almost 27 years ago in an off-Broadway show, I've played on over 200 albums of Jewish music. I've made many good friends & have had a lot of fun times in that world & continue to enjoy my experiences there.
Following up what I hinted at in my last entry, I just became associated with a music licensing comapny called Wacbiz who, hopefully, will be helping me place the pieces from my Sanctuaries CD into markets such as Film, TV & Radio. They have a great roster of artists, including names like Duncan Sheik, Joe Jackson & Sinead O'Connor, so I'm proud to be on-board. You can get to my page there on the Links page here.
And I think that'll do it for now. Enjoy these last few days of summer. I'll be reporting back with news from the road &, who knows, maybe news from home too.

September 13, 2008

Transmitting From Los Angeles, CA...
Sitting in my room (pardon me, my suite) at the Radisson near LAX. It's nice to get a suite every once in a long while. This one has a living room just as big, if not bigger, than the one in my NYC apartment! I wasn't marked for one originally. I was told I'd have a room with 2 double beds at check-in. Not cool....not for a 4-night stay. I asked for one with a king-sized bed (my usual preference) and...presto...was given the bed, and the suite...no questions asked. Nice.
I'm here for the 4th consecutive year to play drums in the house band for the Chabad Telethon, a Jewish orginization doing great things for people in need from many different directions. We rehearsed throughout the day today. It was fun to see actor Keith David (in many great films....my favorite being John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing" from the 1980s) dancing in the opening sequence, a take-off on "Fiddler On The Roof." Hope to get the chance to meet Elliot Gould this year, who I missed last year due to my commitments on-stage.
There'll be a nice long break from life on the road after this trip, if things remain as is. I'll be continuing on with my band project at home, inching slowly but steadily towards entering the studio to record some things soon. I really hope to have something to release next year. Also, a possible new outlet to get my music heard through more commercial channels such as film & TV. More on that soon if it happens.
If nothing else, I'll be sending out news from the Liza Italy tour beginning in late October. Happy Autumn & speak to you soon.

September 8, 2008

Transmitting From Louisville, KY...
Greetings...it's been awhile. Firstly, our 2 week drive up the west coast was phenomenal! Starting in Los Angeles in the midst of summery weather & gradually making our way up through Big Sur, San Francisco, Portland & finally ending in Seattle with a touch of fall in the air. Over 1,000 miles of driving courtesy of yours truly. Seeing everything from near desert conditions, amazing ocean views & finally those amazing northwest redwood trees in the process. We covered a lot of ground!
The last time I was part of a drive that long was touring with Gloria Gaynor in the mid '70s when the entire band drove cross-country in a van, from NYC to San Francisco. Both now & then, I had a ball.
We arrived home in the wee hours of last Thurs. morning & now I'm back on the road for 2 days here, a day & a half back home & then one more trip west to L.A. for 4 days on Thurs. to play drums on the Chabad Telethon which will be broadcast this coming Sunday from 4-10PM, PST. That'll make 3 cross-country round trips in less than a month. It'll be nice to be home for a bit starting next week.
I do try to post an update from just about every city so....next stop, L.A!

August 16, 2008

Transmitting From Primm, NV...
Ever hear of Primm? Me neither. It's a little town in the middle of the desert with 3 casinos about 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas towards the California border. Why anyone would chose to come here with Vegas being so close is beyond me. I asked this question last night & found out that, lo & behold, everything is cheaper here. I'm told the room rates average around $71 a night. Not the Ritz but much cheaper than Vegas for sure.
There's a giant roller coaster on the grounds of our hotel. Yes, on the grounds! My room looks out on it! (See the Photo Page). It routinely runs until midnight. The noise is not quite as bad as I would've thought being so close, though. Just sounds like, every so often, a huge truck is passing by. Maybe they did a little extra soundproofing to compensate.
Sorry to say that, at least thus far, the roller coaster is the biggest news I have to report on this trip.
We head home tomorrow & then I head back out to the west coast with my family for a 2 week drive up the pacific coast highway from Los Angeles to Seattle. It's a trip I've always wanted to make. Can't wait! Not sure if I'll update anything from the vacation as, hard as it is to believe, I'll be leaving my laptop at home (although I'll have access to my wife's). More likely that I'll be back next month with news from the road. Till then...

July 27, 2008

Transmitting From San Sebastian, Spain...
Well, we made it! It was quite a ride, though. Playing the last note of the show in Wolfsburg at around 10PM...rushing from the stage to a van which sped us to a local airport in a town called Brownsweig (I think) about 30 minutes away...onto our private plane...then taking off at about 11:30PM...having to stop to refuel in Bordeaux, France at around 1:30AM...and finally touching down in Spain a little after 3AM. (That's 3 countries in 3 hours, if you weren't counting). We didn't land in San Sebastian, though. I believe the town is called Victoria, about an hour's drive from San Sebastian. Bottom line, my head hit the pillow in my room at around 5AM. It's now around 12:45PM & I'm just getting up. I'll begin the search for a cup of coffee momentarily. When I 1st opened my eyes, I literally had a thought along the lines of "Where the (expletive deleted) am I?"
Last show tonight...home tomorrow....yay!!

July 26, 2008

Transmitting From Wolfsburg, Germany...
Yesterday was a day off, the highlight of which was seeing Herbie Hancock's show. I also said hi to him in the hotel lobby & reminded him of how we played together many years ago....& he remembered! Made my day!
His opening act was Solomon Burke, a great R&B singer. Very churchy vibe. He's a big man, was dressed in a silver suit (it looked like tin foil) & sits on a huge throne for his entire show. He travels in a wheel chair so he obviously has some health issues. Great singer, though.
We have a very busy weekend coming up. Leaving directly from the stage (not the hotel, the stage) after the show tonight to a small local airport to take a private plane to Spain for the show there tomorrow. If we don't take off by 11PM, the permit to take off will have expired so we have to really run. There's also a permit in Spain about our landing time having to be before a certain hour so there'll be some real James Bond maneuvering to pull it off. I'll try to drop a quick note from Spain with any interesting details.

July 24, 2008

Transmitting From Wolfsburg, Germany...
Last night we played in the town of Regensburg, in the courtyard of an amazing castle owned & lived in by the local royalty. I heard the titles Prince & Princess tossed around & that they were at the show, but didn't knowingly get a glimpse of them. Our dressing rooms were inside the castle & the entire vibe was right out of an old horror movie with beautifully ornate winding staircases, flags lining the hallways, old portraits of former residents everywhere, etc. Beautiful yet creepy as darkness fell.
We just arrived in Wolfsburg, the home of Volkswagen. We're staying in an area called the Autostadt which seems to be a huge industrial park that houses many auto plants along with dining areas & at least 1 museum. It's all very high tech but weird in a way in that, with all of the modernity, I'm still looking out of my window at an auto factory. (By the way, did you know that some of the car brands manufactured under the Volkswagen "group" include Bentley, Audi & Lamborghini?...I didn't!)
Our show here isn't until Saturday night so, hopefully, I'll have more to report soon.

July 22, 2008

Transmitting From Munich, Germany..
Our show on Sunday was held in the town of Yulm which is the home of the largest church steeple in the world. The outdoor stage was set up right next to the church.
The weather here has been fall-like over the past 2 days. A big change from the heat wave I left in NYC last week. Good thing I packed a light jacket.
Yesterday we had dinner at the Hofbrau House which is one of the biggest beer gardens in the world. I've added a photo of me resting on top of the 1-liter mug I'd just downed.
Today's sightseeing highlight was checking out the Pinakothek Der Moderne, Munich's answer to the Museum Of Modern Art in NYC. It was phenomenal!
Tomorrow we head out to a show in Regensburg before heading to Wolfsburg on Thursday for the final show in Germany. Word is that Herbie Hancock will be performing there the night before we do so, hopefully, we'll be able to catch some, if not all, of that. I'll keep you posted.

July 20, 2008

Transmitting From Munich, Germany...
We arrived yesterday & are here for a series of 4 shows (none of which are in Munich, by the way). We're being based in Munich for the 1st 2 & driving to the cities as opposed to switching hotels, much like we did in Birmingham for part of the UK tour a couple of months ago. The drives are longer but, ultimately, it's less stressful as we can stay in one hotel for a few days & settle in a bit.
We shared the plane over with the band Arrested Development, remember them? They had a couple of hits in the '90s that I kind of liked. (I think one was called "Tennessee"). I found out that they wound up suing the TV show of the same name & won! They're still hitting it after 18 years. Who knew?
One of our reed players, Frank Perowsky, has a son named Ben who's a phenomenal drummer. He was playing down the road yesterday with the great jazz vocalist, Bobby McFerrin & the Hamburg Radio Orchestra. We were able to attend the soundcheck which was very cool. The orchestra is funded by the government. Can you imagine a jazz orchestra in the US, where you're actually paid a yearly salary by the government? I can't. Europeans put way more emphasis on the importance of the arts & it's an amazing thing. I'd never seen Bobby live & was very impressed. Gotta catch him the next time he comes through town back home.
After our show today, we have a couple of days off so it'll be nice to be able to explore the town a bit. Luckily, our hotel is very centrally located which will make that easy. By the way, we arrived right in the middle of the festivities celebrating Munich's 850th birthday. There's a ton of performers (both stage & street) & food vendors all around. Thousands of people in the streets, which are mostly closed to traffic. I'm hoping it'll be a little less crazed after the weekend.
I'll be reporting any other news of note from this trip if it occurs. Till then...

June 23, 2008

Transmitting From NYC...
A couple of tributes:
First to George Carlin: A comedic genius, a man who'd I'd always do whatever I could to watch on the tube, especially his HBO specials. I'd always say to myself: "Gotta catch Carlin live, the next time he's in town." Sorry to say, it never happened. His amazing skills at wordplay were unsurpassed. As a lover of words & the games one can play with them, I was always in awe of his abilities. A true original.
Secondly, to Tim Russert: His appearences on the Today show were a fixture in our home. Even my daughter was a fan. His political insights & commentary always seemed to cut to the chase, putting a period on the overall climate of the American people at any given time. He never wasted words, no matter what the sentiment. Believe it or not, I really dug him! (I'm no stranger to being a fan of certain newscasters. In the '70s, when ABC local news anchor Roger Grimsby died, I wrote a letter of tribute that was published in the Village Voice).
Here's to George & Tim! They will be sorely missed.
I've been spending most of the last week or so in Fenwick Island, Delaware where my daughter is performing in an original play this week. My wife & I are tag-teaming the stage parent duties. I'll be heading back down there tomorrow.
When I get back & settled, I'll be setting up the new electronic drumset that I received for Father's Day. They're very cool! Small, good sounds, great sensitivity, perfect for a NYC apartment home studio!
More news to come in July. Till then...

June 5, 2008

Transmitting From Glasgow, Scotland...
It's a rainy night in Glasgow. We arrived late this afternoon & it promptly began to pour prohibiting any exploration of the city. (I'm not one who enjoys "Singing In The Rain" if you know what I mean).
We have a very limited amount of time here &, tomorrow, my mission is to find a jewelry store that can replace the battery on my watch which is running extremely low. Our hotel room in Birmingham, nice as it was, had no clock in the room so my watch kept me current. Thankfully it lasted to this point &, here, there is a clock so, as long as I'm in my room, I'll know what time it is. Unfortunately, having to do a show tomorrow will prohibit that access hence my search for a jeweler. All throughout my adult life, the only constant jewelry I've ever worn is a wrist-watch so I'll feel quite naked without it. Hope I can find that jeweler!
Not the most exciting news, I know, but, on a rainy night like this, it's the best I can come up with. Hopefully, in the coming weeks & months there'll be more interesting tales to tell.

June 2, 2008

Transmitting From Birmingham, England...
Witnessing a small slice of music history is always special beyond words. Seeing Paul McCartney perform in Liverpool last night was such an event for me. He sounded great, looked great & the show was one I'll never forget. Seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 was my entry point into rock n' roll...a life changing experience for me & millions of others. It made last night especially sweet. Again, words are hard to find here but, suffuce to say, it was surely one of the highlights of my concert-going experience. There's a snapshot on the photo page to give you a little taste of the evening.
Now, back to work! We travel today to Manchester for a show. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tour & am slowly getting very excited about returning to NYC. (Although, I must say, I'll miss my Birmingham hotel room just a drop, it's an especially good one!).

May 31, 2008

Transmitting From Birmingham, England...
We've been here for a couple of days & are using this city as a base from which to drive to the remaining ones on the tour. It makes the drives to & from the gigs a bit longer but saves a lot of packing & unpacking which we'd have to do if we were to move to new hotels in each town. Last night we did a show in Notingham which seemed to be a very cool place. Kind of a college town vibe. On Monday, we'll drive to Manchester for a show there & then, on Wed. there's one here. After that we'll fly to Scotland for the last show in Glasgow.
On my last night in London I went to the world famous Ronnie Scott's jazz club to hear some great musicians. For anyone reading this who hasn't heard of Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, George Cables or Cecil McBee, doing a search on Google or Amazon & checking out any of their CDs would be a very worthwhile investment. They're all jazz musicians of the highest order & have been dealing great music for decades.
Tomorrow is a day off & should be a special thrill as we've been able to get tickets to see Paul McCartney's show in Liverpool. I'm a huge Beatles fan & have never actually seen any live show by any of them so I'm especially excited...especially seeing him in his home town. (I have had, however, 2 Beatles sightings....once seeing John Lennon buying a newspaper in NYC & then having Ringo pull up next to me in his car at a stoplight in Los Angeles).
I'll surely update with news, especially of the McCartney show, soon.

May 27, 2008

Transmitting From London, England...
Well, after a frantic day of international diplomacy that, from what I've heard, may or may not have included Paul McCartney's lawyer & the U.S. ambassador, we're now in the UK legally & in possesion of our passports once again. Having just done 3 consecutive days of shows here, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's day off & hoping that the weather cooperates so that I get a chance to walk around this very cool area that we're parked in. (Covent Gardens). We move on to Birmingham Thurs. More soon...

May 24, 2008

Transmitting From London, England...
If you like road stories, this one's a beaut!!
I'm now sitting in my tiny London hotel room typing on what passes for a desk (it's little more than a slab of wood fitted between 2 walls...reminds me of when you visit some historic place like the room where Van Gogh painted Starry Night and you think "Wow, it's so bare bones & so small!"...that's what my room feels like...by the way, I never visited the Starry Night room, I imagined it as a possible example).
Anyway, after our 7 hour flight, we arrive at Immigration in the UK, tell them we're musicians working here with Liza, are asked for our work permits which, of course, we don't have, & are immedtiately detained & not allowed to enter the country! We then find out that work permits were never applied for!! It is illegal to work here without one so, in a nutshell (we were in immigration for almost 7 more hours!), our passports were taken, we were photographed & fingerprinted &, after much haggling between the local promoters & immigration, were granted entry until Wed!! If the promoter doesn't get the permits by then, we are booked on a flight home Wed. morning!
Of course, there are supposed to be 3 shows here starting tomorrow night &, everyone is clamoring around trying to figure out how this will be done when we have legal documents stating that we're not allowed to work here until the permits are secured. (Because of the holiday weekend, the earliest that they thought we'd be able to get them would be Tues!). If we go ahead & work, we stand the chance of being "detained."
As I write, our promoter is frantically trying to contact lawyers & there was also word that they were going to try & reach the U.S. ambassodor, who's supposed to be at the show tomorrow. My life is never dull!
If that weren't enough, after the 7 hour wait at immigration, our bus driver got in a minor accident on the way to the hotel! It looked like a very small fender bender but, from what I could see, the driver of the car he hit was pleading injury. Even though he looked fine he was rubbing his neck a lot but it definitely looked like an act. Still, the cops were called & we were detained even more. Bottom line, door-to-door from my apartment in NYC to the hotel here: 22 hours! What fun!
I can't imagine that this won't be worked out so that all of the shows will go on as planned. Too much time, money & effort have been spent to get to this point. You'll just have to wait until my next entry to hear the conclusion!

May 8, 2008

Transmitting From Biloxi, MS...
Well, we're back in a casino for a couple of days. This one, called Beau Rivage, was totally destroyed by Hurricane Katrina a few years ago. It's now back, fully functional & looks exactly the same, if my memory serves me correctly. (I've played here at least twice before).
I'll be playing some drums over the next couple of weeks before our trip to the U.K. at the end of the month. Some jamming with friends as well as continuing to explore my own project. (Think I need to get that more into 2nd or 3rd gear).
Don't think I mentioned that, after our last show in Ft. Worth, I was able to meet classical piano legend Van Cliburn backstage. He was extremely friendly & appreciative of our performance.
Well, that's about all I can think of for now. There'll be no record or book store sojourns here, unfortunately. Hope to catch up on that in London in a couple of weeks. Till then...

May 3, 2008

Transmitting From Fort Worth, TX...
It's such a refreshing change to be in a nice sized US city rather than a casino or a smaller town laden with strip malls. Someplace where you can take a walk & see shops, restaurants, clubs etc. without needing a car or someone to provide some kind of shuttle bus or van.
Last night we had a nice BBQ dinner & then walked around & checked out some of the local nightlife spots. And today, I just got back from the local Barnes & Noble which was paradise! I love book & record stores & will search them out whenever I can. (Here's a quote from Robert Fripp that I can totally relate to: "Me & a book is a party...me, a book & a cup of coffee is an orgy.")
So, in summing up, seeing that we're only here for barely 2 days, you've just read about the highlight of my trip & we haven't even had our soundcheck yet! If anything else of note happens, I'll let you know.
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