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Rick Cutler: Journal

April 29, 2008

Transmitting From Puebla, Mexico...
Here in my room after a long day of bus travel from Mexico City that included our bus driver getting hopelessly lost. It seems hard to believe that he was able drive 2 solid hours, get us from one town to the next & then promptly had no idea where our hotel was. We drove around endlessly, stopping to ask for directions a number of times, making u-turn after u-turn, until, finally, we stopped & hailed a local cab who then led us to the hotel. It easily added at least an hour to our trip. We then had about 30 minutes to check-in before heading directly to soundcheck. Luckily, that was done fairly quickly which gave me this little 2-hour buffer to chill out in my room. Another fun part of the afternoon was arriving at the hall to find that there was no piano provided! It took quite a bit of yelling & screaming to produce one which was being wheeled in as I left to come back here. All in all, it's been an eventful trip with more u-turns than I can ever remember in such a short period of time (& don't forget the earthquake)!

April 28, 2008

Transmitting From Mexico City, Mexico...
Here's a little bit of excitement for you: Last night I was sitting at the desk in my room catching up on some email when the building started to gently shake. Mind you, I'm on the 25th floor of this hotel that has a total of about 42 floors, I believe. An earthquake!! 5.8 magnitude with the epicenter about 100 miles south of here. It was pretty scary! Feeling the very floor under your feet starting to shift & being 25 floors above the ground, not a lot of fun. I looked out the window to see if there was any reaction on the street but there wasn't so I assumed that it wasn't anything, ulitmately, to be concerned about. Still, even though I'd once been through an earthquake in Los Angeles around 10 years ago, this one was way scarier. The L.A. one just sounded like a huge truck passing by my hotel window but here things were moving!! Buildings were moving!! BIG buidlings!! It was quite an experience. I felt an aftershock in the hotel restuarant about an hour or so later, also a bit jarring. Still, we all survived & the show tonight will go on!

April 26, 2008

Transmitting From Guadalajara, Mexico...
Greetings! It's been awhile!
I'm sitting in our hotel lobby because I can't get an internet connection in my room. We're in Mexico until next Wed., doing 3 shows in the next 4 days in 3 different cities. Sounds like a tour, although a very brief one. Then home for a day until we're off to Dallas for a 1-nighter. Then home for 3 days before heading out once again to Biloxi for another 1-nighter. On the road again!
Another dose of summer here with highs in the 90s. I hear the next 2 cities will be more spring-like.
I've been rehearsing my own project a bit & things are starting to get interesting. I just added a cellist to the mix &, for the 1st time, feel that this might be something worth releasing upon the world down the line. We'll see...
Saw an interesting TV show last night that had a band with a lead singer on crutches but totally holding his own. Don't remember ever having seen that before. My hat (or sombrero) goes off to him.
I'll update with any interesting news soon.

March 29, 2008

Transmitting From Melbourne, FL...
Another short dose of summery weather before heading back to NYC on Monday. We did a show yesterday in Fort Myers & will do one here tomorrow. In between, we drove almost 200 miles between the 2 cities today. I did all of the driving in our vehicle (the company members were split into 4 vans). It was quite nice, actually. A warm, sunny day & the roads taken were, for the most part, pretty mellow traffic-wise.
I've acheived laptop nirvana onstage with my new string samples being combined with my tried & true synth sound to produce a nice, new & improved richness. It was worth it!
After this, we'll be off for almost a month but I'll be doing some fun things at home, including rehearsing (on drums) with my old friend Russ Kassoff's big band, continuing my quartet project & 1 or 2 possible jams as well. All that & seeing my beloved Yankees in a week or so in their last year at the Stadium. The end of an era! Till next time...

March 15, 2008

Transmitting From Hollywood, FL...
Just did a show here at the Hard Rock Hotel last night. This is my 1st time staying at a Hard Rock &, let me tell you, rock rules at this place!
In my room I have beautifully framed photos of Tina Turner & Stevie Ray Vaughn. The spare roll of toilet paper is wrapped up with a sticker that says, "Roll With It!...Steve Winwood" &, when you check in, your room card is given to you in a CD case that includes an actual CD with a few tunes on it.
Today we have a long bus ride (7 hours, I've been told) to Jacksonville for a show there tomorrow, then home on Mon.
I've added a laptop to my normal road rig to trigger some new string samples recommended by producer Phil Ramone. 1st time I've used a computer live on-stage. Being a bit of a tech geek, it's fun to learn something new in that zone.
In other news, my daughter Charlotte has her 1st audition for an actual Hollywood film on Monday. Wishing her much luck. Also, my son Sean is tearing up the world of NYC real estate. Just inked his 3rd deal! Go Sean!!

March 4, 2008

Transmitting From NYC...
Here's a little something to make your 2008 election viewing a little more personal. I've been watching NBC's election coverage off & on for awhile. Whenever I'd watch it, the musical theme at the show's opening would drive me crazy! Damn!, I'd say to myself, that sounds really familiar! Well, I just confirmed that it was something that I'd played on a few years ago that's been revived for the 2008 election year. My official instrument list for the piece consisted of tympani, snare drum & suspended cymbal. (Yes, I can do the semi-classical thing a bit when I have to). So, the next time you're watching election coverage on the Today show, NBC Nightly News or an NBC election special, that's me (until sometime in November, I'd guess). Kinda cool.

February 21, 2008

Transmitting From Solvang, CA...
We're about 30 miles from Santa Barbara in a little town that, from what I've been told, was founded by a couple of Dutch educators in the early 1900s who wanted to re-create the feel of a Scandanavian village. Well, they totally succeeded as everything here covers the textbook definitions of "charming" & "quaint" to the max. Charming as it is, the feel is pretty monochromatic as most everything is drenched in a touristy feel.
Anyway, we're doing a show tonight at a casino a few miles away followed by one on Sat. in Palm Springs before heading home.
In other news of note, I recently gathered a few friends together to start rehearsing some music of mine (& maybe others, if it develops). So far, we've looked at a few tunes from my "Sanctuaries" CD. There are kernels of interesting things going on that, hopefully, will expand & develop into something that you'll get to hear. I'll surely keep you posted on that.
Till next time...

January 18, 2008

Transmitting From Lake Tahoe, NV...
What a beautiful little town...a veritable winter wonderland. A huge picturesque lake surrounded by mountains & those huge trees of the northwest (Douglas Firs?). Lots of people walking around with skis & snowboards. Too bad I'm not much of a winter sports guy. Today is a day off &, after an exploratory walk & breakfast, I had a good workout at the gym in the hotel. As pretty as it is here, I'm not sure if there are tons of things to do outside of the usual winter sports stuff. I did find a movie theatre nearby so I might check that out. Still, it's by far the prettiest casino town I've seen.

January 16, 2008

Transmitting From Fresno, CA...
Happy New Year! I've had an action packed few days since the slight lull of the holiday season. Here's a brief rundown of last weekend: Drove to Providence, RI on Sat. morning for an afternoon soundcheck & evening show with Liza (who's doing fine, by the way), then got right back in the car & drove home. Total mileage was around 366 for the day. Woke up Sunday morning to tend to what was left of my step-daughter's sleepover birthday party. 6 girls were there &, as my wife had to work, I was manning the ship solo. Then, heading over to Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center for a concert I do just about every year that benefits Jewish kids with special needs. Once again, it was an afternoon rehearsal & soundcheck followed by an evening show (which was recorded for both CD & DVD release, by the way). I've added a new photo from that show as well.
Now I'm here in Fresno for a show tonight before heading to Lake Tahoe tomorrow for a show on Sat. before heading home on Sun. A busy week!
I've never been to Lake Tahoe even though I've heard about it for many years. Hope I can stay warm as last night's low temperature was listed as 10 degrees! We'll see. If anything of note occurs, I'll keep you posted. Till then...

December 25, 2007

Transmitting From NYC...
Merry Xmas everyone!! Just wanted to tell you about a small Xmas gift I received last night. I found out that my CD, "Sanctuaries", made the top 25 list of 2007 for the radio show Secret Music on WVKR-FM in upstate NY. Thanks to host Scott Raymond for his constant support of independent music for many, many years. I look forward to visiting the station again when the next CD is released. I'm aiming for that to happen in 2009 so stay tuned.

December 6, 2007

Transmitting From NYC...
Just did our performance on Good Morning America this past Tuesday. I was on drums & it was a lot fun, even with the 6AM call for soundcheck! There was a YouTube link to it here but I removed it as its been removed from the site. If you're so inclined, keep checking & maybe it'll re-surface. If I find a new link, I'll post it here as well.

November 29, 2007

Transmitting From Palm Springs, CA...
Another new photo on the photo page!! This one is a very un-glamorous shot taken yesterday while waiting for our connecting flight in Dallas.
We're here for a show tonight, then home tomorrow. Unless something changes at the last minute, it'll be our last road trip of the year but that's ok. The Christmas season is just about my favorite time of the year & NYC is pretty much the best place on Earth to experience it.
We're supposed to be doing a song with Liza on the Dec. 4 "Good Morning, America" show on ABC-TV so, if you're up early enough, tune in. (I'll be on drums for that, by the way).
If I don't update this until 2008, I wish all of my blog fans the best of holiday seasons & a great new year!!

November 15, 2007

Transmitting From Vancouver, BC...
Miracle of miracles!!! There's a new photo on the photo page!! This one comes from the workshop of Ronn Dunnett who's a master drum maker. Mike Berkowitz, Liza's drummer/conductor, set up a little hang for us (us being he, myself & Bill Hayes, our percussionist) with Ronn so that we might sample his wares. We were all truly blown away by the consistency of sound, craftsmanship & aesthetics in his snare drums. I'd highly recommend for any drummer to go to his website,, & have a look but, most of all, to try & get your hands on one & play it. You'll see why both Mike & I snatched a couple up today to add to our arsenals. Thanks Mike for hooking this up & to Ronn for his graciousness, hospitality & amazing skills.

November 14, 2007

Transmitting From Vancouver, BC...
We're here in Canada for 3 shows before heading home on Friday. Wanted to mention & give a plug for the current adventures of my 2 kids.
My son, Sean, just became a realtor in NYC, working through CitiHabitats. So, if you or anyone you know is looking for an apartment, give him a call & he'll hook you up. Also, my step-daughter, Charlotte, will be performing in "A Christmas Carol" at the 13 St. Repertory Company in Greenwhich Village from early Dec. thru early Jan. She's 11 years old & a real bundle of talent!
As for me, I did a benefit concert this past Monday night at the Mariott Marquis Theatre on Broadway. With the current stagehands strike, it was the only Broadway theatre that was open! (The stagehands were not striking against the orginization I was working for so they had no problem doing the gig). Also, I'll be doing a holiday concert at Symphony Space in Manhattan towards the end of Dec. Don't think I've ever worked there. I've been lucky enough to work at just about every major concert hall & club in the city but that will be a new one. In fact, the only place I've never performed that I'd like to, that I can think of right now, is the Village Vanguard. So, any jazz guys who need a decent drummer, give me a call!!

October 28, 2007

Transmitting From NYC...
Just got back a couple of hours ago from my Baltimore/Boston weekend & am pretty wiped out. Woke up this morning in my Baltimore hotel an hour late thanks to my wake-up call never coming & never receiving a call when my cab arrived to take me to the airport. If I hadn't woken up on my own, I might still be sleeping there! As it turned out, I made my flight to Boston with a little time to spare. Did the choir show there this afternoon followed by a 4 hr. bus ride back to NYC. (Chartered, not public bus, by the way). It's now around 1AM & I'm slowly getting to, what I call, "the sigh", which is when, after arriving home from the road, unpacking & catching up on some computer stuff, I can finally really & truly relax for the 1st time, at which point I give out a really big sigh. (Hence "the sigh" as if you hadn't all ready figured that out). The shows went well & I'm looking forward to some sleep & a couple of non-travel weekends coming up. Here comes the sigh....good night.

October 21, 2007

Transmitting From NYC...
A couple of little thrills recently:
Just got back from Port St. Lucie, FL where I was able to play drums again with Liza...always a pleasure. Also, did another drum gig this past week at a very cool club in Harlem called The Shrine with a rock singer I work with from time-to-time named Tiyee. Very talented & rare in the fact that she's one of the few African-American female rock singers around these days. WIth a little luck, hopefully you'll be hearing more about her soon. The little thrill was meeting songwriter Jimmy Norman, who was in the audience. Jimmy composed the great rock hit, "Time Is On My Side", that was recorded, most notably, by The Rolling Stones in the '60s. A little slice of rock n' roll history!!
Next weekend I'll be in Baltimore with Liza (back on keyboards) to be followed by a show in Boston with the Miami Boys Choir (on drums). Then, a couple of weeks off from travelling. It'll be nice to be home for a little stretch of time!

October 8, 2007

Transmitting from NYC...
A little PS from my last entry. If you'd like to see a minute or so of me behind the drums with Ms. Minnelli, here's a link to a clip from YouTube, put up barely a day after the gig. The lighting on the band comes & goes but, if you look closely, I'm there, pretty much directly behind her...

October 7, 2007

Transmitting from Tampa, FL...
Just a quick note to mention that I had a little thrill last night as I got to move over from my regular keyboard chair & play drums & conduct for Liza, filling in for our regular drummer, Mike Berkowitz. It was much fun & I'm really glad to have had the opportunity. I spent a lot of time practicing conducting techniques as her show requires a bit more of that than I'm used to. (Coincidentally, I found a book called "Basic Conducting Techniques" sitting on a box in a men's room of a recording studio I worked in a week or so ago. The owner was nice enough to let me borrow it. I guess nature called at the right time)! Everyone seemed pleased with my work which made it all the more fun. Hope I get to do it again!

September 21, 2007

Transmitting From Naperville, IL...
We're in a suburb of Chicago for a show here tomorrow night. It's a college town & we had a really nice dinner in the downtown area which was alive with students. It's actually a pretty cool little town although our hotel is pretty far off the beaten path. A big change from last week in Hinckley, MN where we were in a casino that seemed to be plopped down in the middle of farm country. Pretty bleak as far as things to do or see. Our meal tonight was made a little bit more enjoyable by our waiter who spotted my Miles Davis t-shirt & declared himself a huge fan, naming some of my favorite albums of the late '60s & early '70s as proof. That was a 1st. As we headed for desert at a boutique-like chocolate shop, a student type yelled out, "Miles Davis...yeah!!" Guess I've found a little oasis of good musical taste in suburban Illinois!
Looking forward to the next 2 weeks which will be the longest stretch in almost 2 months without spending any time in airports. It'll be nice to have a weekend at home (even though I'll be working a lot of the time). More soon...

September 11, 2007

Transmitting From NYC...
A note of tribute to one of my all-time favorite musicians, Joe Zawinul, who passed away today. Joe was a pioneer, a true original, a master. He was one of the founding fathers of electric jazz & greatly influenced generations of musicians. He was also a big influence on the great Miles Davis. His music, especially the music he made in those formative years when jazz started to combine with elements of electric music, is some of my favorite music ever created anywhere, ever! I was able to see him perform many times, with different versions of the great band he co-led with Wayne Shorter, Weather Report, as well as with his last band, The Zawinul Syndicate. Although I never met him, I did get to shake his hand on his way off-stage after a burning set at the Blue Note here in NYC. It was a thrill. Here's to you, Joe. Your music & spirit will remain strong for many generations to come.

September 8, 2007

Transmitting from Los Angeles, CA...
I'm here for the taping of the annual Chabad Telethon that airs tomorrow from 4-10PM (West Coast time). I'll be playing drums in the house band for the 3rd year in a row. It's a fun but very demanding gig in certain ways. Fun in that I usually get to re-unite with some old friends out here...demanding in that the day of the show is very long, 1st with rehearsals & then the actual broadcast which is 6 hours long with not a lot of down time for us. It's especially long tomorrow as, after the show, I'm making a mad dash to the airport to take the red-eye home. The show ends at 10PM, the flight leaves at midnight...and I've heard that it's a 35 mile drive from the TV studio to the airport. With the L.A. freeways being infamous for traffic at all times of the day or night, it seems that just 1 delay could make for a very interesting adventure. Hope everything goes smoothly!

September 2, 2007

Transmitting From Seattle WA...
I'm here with my family for a few days of vacation & to check out the Bumbershoot festival that happens here every Labor Day weekend. It's an amazing event over 3 days & includes just about every form of music, art, film, spoken word, comedy, literature & just about any other art form you can think of. (I'd suggest adding more jazz & classical music but it's still a blast nontheless). We attended 2 years ago & fell in love with it. Hope to be back many more times.
I really love this city & could actually see myself living here if I weren't all ready in the best city on Earth, NYC. Don't think I could say that about anywhere else with the possible exception of San Francisco.
We get home on Tuesday & then, after a 2 day turn-around, I head back to the west coast for the telethon TV taping in Los Angeles. That will wrap up this latest chapter of A LOT of traveling which will have lasted for about 6 weeks. Looks like, for the remainder of the year, I'll just be going out for 1 or 2 nighters which is fine.
Anyway, if you can, come to Seattle & check out Bumbershoot next year!

August 23, 2007

Transmitting From NYC...
Just received an advance copy of Steve Lampert's new CD, "Music From There." Steve is an amazing trumpeter/keyboardist/composer whos work combines elements of jazz, classical & electronic music in an extremely original & adventurous way. (He's also been my best friend since the 4th grade!) I'm very proud to be playing drums on it. Its official release is to be sometime in September so keep on the lookout for it. It's on Bridge Records (
I've been feeling the urge to write a bit on the slow death of the record store. I was a big fan, in particular, of Tower Records whos doors closed for good earlier this year. When travelling, at the top of my list of things to do always is to scope out any cool record or book stores. There were many cities in the U.S. (especially San Francisco & Los Angeles) where I would plan any & all excursions during my trips around visiting the local Tower. Even though it was an international chain, Tower stores seemed to resonate with the pulse of the true music fan. The current & only remaining large chain left in NYC to my knowledge, Virgin Megastore, only smells of the coldness of hard cash & commerce. I took a last walk through the Tower that existed in Greenwhich Village here at the corner of West 4th St. & Broadway a few days before it closed. I actually got quite emotional with the knowledge that this was going to be the end of a major chapter in my record buying experience. Of course, there are still plenty of specialty & used CD stores around but none with the variety & that special funkiness of Tower. As you've probably read 100 times, the direction of buying music is now pointing straight at the internet & digital downloading which, for someone like me, is great in that it allows me to get my music all over the world while barely taking a step outside my apartment. Still, I will always long for those old days of making that pilgrimage to Tower. It was a world where I felt very much at home.

August 20, 2007

Transmitting From Taormina, Sicily...
Sitting here at an Internet Cafe in this remarkable city which seems to be built into the side of a mountain. Our show tonight is at an ancient ruin which has been transformed into a performance space, not unlike Herod Atticus in Athens. Should be quite a sight.
We've had some mishaps on this trip, mostly dealing with lost luggage. Our bags were lost once but some other members of our group have had theirs lost twice. (Most recently yesterday leaving a couple of guys without stage clothes for tonight. Hope it gets resolved in time).
Tomorrow we head home &, as usual, I'm greatly looking forward to that 1st sight of Manhattan. It's been mostly a fun tour & especially fun having my family with me out here for the 1st time.
Next for me is my true vacation to Seattle next week for the Bumbershoot festival to be almost immediately followed by a trip to Los Angeles for the Chabad Telethon TV show in Sept. I'll keep you posted with any news of note

August 18, 2007

Transmitting From Monte Carlo, Monaco...
Just a brief note to tell you that using these European computer keyboards in hotel business centers are enough to drive one mad!! Many letters are located in different parts of the keyboard than in the U.S....especially the "a" key. To get the "@" symbol, you have to press control & alt!! Hope it's a bit more manageable in Sicily!! That's about all I can tolerate for now. More soon...
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