Hello, Modern Drummer readers. This is Gregg Potter. I last spoke to you in January. At that time, I was just beginning this Buddy Rich odyssey, which to this day still feels like a dream. No, not a nightmare; a nightmare is watching Buddy playing through “Time Check” on your cell phone eight minutes before you hit the stage with the band, knowing that’s looming in the book. Or, standing in the wings of the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City with six-time Grammy Award winning jazz trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval, ready to walk on, and he turns to you and asks, “Do you have brushes”? Yeah—I had them in my stick bag, at the hotel. “I thought you were playing something out of Buddy’s book—there are no brushes in ‘Birdland’ or ‘Beulah Witch.’” Mercy! All of that and more has happened in just the last seven months.
Then there was England. We did the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert at the London Palladium this past April 2. That lineup consisted of me, Dave Weckl, Gavin Harrison, John Blackwell, Ian Paice, and Ginger Baker, among others. The rehearsals the day before the show were intense enough, with Gavin Harrison and Ian Paice in the room. It was the soundcheck the next day that got to me. I’m in the middle of going through “Nutville,” checking my drums, my monitors, etc., on the same stage Buddy had played for the Queen back in 1978—not to mention the Beatles and a few others whose drums have graced that venue. The band is peppered with Buddy Band alumni, and I see Dave Weckl walk around behind me—you know, the Buddy Band has only toured or been fronted by Weckl or Steve Smith since his passing in 1987—so not only do I have the nerve to take on this drumming task in front of Buddy’s daughter, Cathy Rich, but now I have Weckl making sure I’m playing the proper Latin figure throughout this “Roar Of 74” classic! To add to it, he’s going to join Gavin Harrison, who’s been standing behind me the whole time. It’s like a Modern Drummer Festival going on backstage! Yes, dream-like, to say the least. Nerves of steel are required at all times. I have it all on video, so I know it really happened.
All of these experiences were incredible. It’s so amazing to play this music with musicians of this caliber. We are now getting ready to do our first extended tour, starting in mid-August. Some highlights include the New Hazlett Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, on August 26; the New York State Fair, in Syracuse, NY, August 27; Nite Town in Cleveland on August 28; and the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis on August 29. We also have a festival date with James Darren on the bill. For you real drummer trivia buffs, he played Gene Krupa’s trumpet-playing friend in the classic 1959 Sal Mineo film The Gene Krupa Story. Now that’s going to be a ride in the time tunnel. I’ll keep you all updated.
I’d like to thank the drumming community for always being such a tight-knit, supportive group, continuing to give such a positive uplifting vibe to all of this that we are doing. And thank you, MD! See you on the road.