Drums and percussion have been a major part of my life ever since I picked up my first set of sticks. I was 12 years old and pretended to be the Eagle’s drummer in my elementary school Talent show. After losing, I decided to really learn how to play drums. So I took advantage of the school’s volunteer music teacher and bought a wooden practice block and a set of sticks. I immediately bought KISS’s album, Destroyer, and vowed to be a rock drummer like Peter Criss. Ya got to remember, this was 1977. I was fortunate that in my hometown the public school music programs were great.
This proved to be a positive experience. I was able to learn many styles of drumming as well as play other percussion instruments. I also was fortunate enough to be at Abraham Lincoln High school, SJ, in the early 80’s. The band instructor, Romero Barrera, took our marching and jazz bands all over the country. I mean, we played the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Fullerton Jazz Festival, and even the halftime show at a 49er game.
This experience just made my desire to create and perform original music stronger. Music friends and I formed and joined a variety of projects and gigged throughout the Bay Area. This is when I knew that I was addicted to performing in front of others. So when I moved to SLO town to go to Cuesta College I immediately began searching for musicians to play with. I joined the Cuesta College Jazz band to start. The Jazz band was directed by Warren Balfour,composer of The Flinstones Theme. He allowed me to play a variety of Jazz shows in small towns, parks and the Corbett Canyon Winery. I even got to jam with Ernie Ball’s mother! Soon I hooked up with The Guy Budd band that played a wild style of blues. We traveled to Madam Wongs in Santa Monica during the heyday of Glam Metal and we still rocked the hairspray off their spandex with our original blues. I also played with a jam band called Shakedown. Here I experienced the colorful Lord Buckeley Gathering in the Los Plumas national forest. …tye-dyes, vw vans, and social consciousness.
It soon came time to leave the Central Coast and head south. I ended up in Orange county attending UC Irvine. Again I started to search for musicians that shared the same passions. I soon met Greg Marx and we formed Gangwasi. We played clubs, college parties,Beach parties and drank lots of Whiskey. Unfortunately, our reality came to an end during a sell out show at Anaheim’s famous club, The Doll Hut. The drunken fuge made us realize that we need to go our separate ways for awhile.But we did release a stunning demo tape in 1990, that recieved critical acclaim. The bassist and I found a guitar player and formed Salamander. We played Orange County parties until John and I graduated. In 1991 we decided to make the move to the hoppin’ Bay Area. After settling in Oaktown and making many club appearances we began to create a buzz. Thanks to Martha Hughes of No Ties production, we were gigging every weekend in SF. This lead to local reviews and winning The Bay Guardians Battle of the Bay in 1994. We also were fortunate to play a Halloween Bash in Santa Barbara. We returned to Santa Barbara soon after to open up for No Doubt at The Anaconda. We also started to get on larger bills in the City. We played the Filmore several times, opening on different ocassions for the Flaming Lips, Santana, and The Funky Meters. We also opened for No Doubt at The Great American Music Hall in 1995. After being the house band for The Paradise lounge and Larry Blakes (East Bay) for about a year we started moving in different directions. I started playing in two other bands, Baby Snufkin and Puzzlefish. Salamander’s last big show was playing the SFNYE New Years Eve Bash in ’96 which included Santana, and The Gin Blossoms.
Salamander continued to exist as the members moved into other projects. In Puzzlefish, I began to play shows and promote the 4:20 family. We released a 14 track CD, Bouncenplod. With this cd we received radio play on Live 105, KALX (Berkeley), KROQ (LA)and KUSF. The bands personal interest and scene involvement led to performances in the SF Hempfest ’97, and ’98 with Long Beach Dub AllStars and Slightly Stoopid. Another Cannibis driven event we played was a Fundraiser for the Medicinal Marijuana Initiative in California opening for Jello Biafra. I also performed with one of 4:20’s siblings, BudderBall, a Frank Zappaish freak show. We played many shows in the California area,but because of personal differences we went our separate ways,I still love these guys… one of my favorite bands and a favorite of Mike Watts(Minutemen).
At the same time I was touring and recording with the hardest working band in the World,Baby Snufkin. We traveled to Europe in the spring of 1997 and 1998. The first time supporting No Doubt’s European Tragic Kingdom Tour. The next time we included the East Coast before and after Europe. We wondered throughout Europe playing a variety of clubs including punk squats and one of Monaco’s high class clubs on the French Rivera. We came back and finished off with a west coast tour from Seattle to San Diego.
After returning to a diminishing San Francisco music scene I made the decision to head north with Salamander’s guitar player Dave. We moved to Seattle, found a house on 2 acres of land, and set up shop. Soon we formed Boogiesquid with former front man of Gangwasi, Greg Marx. I also met up with a Seattle songwriter, Sean Bigler, that had a sleuth of material and the need for a drummer and bassist. In result Epigene evolved.
Boogiesquid started playing the clubs and recording their debut CD, Get Out Of The Water, in JB Productions studio under the talented Jim Bachman.
With Epigene, we finished our debut 8 track CD June of ’99 and began playing the Seattle Clubs. The band evolved into a 5 piece adding keyboards and sax. After playing clubs and festivals locally and traveling to LA for the MP3.com showcase, Sean Bigler, the brainpower behind Epigene began to write/arrange the next album One Bright Sign. We recorded most of the drums for this album at RainStorm Studios on Capitol Hill. This was a great experience for me and I really enjoyed working with Sean and Epigene. You can listen to full length tracks on epigenemusic.com.
I continued to perform and record with Boogiesquid until 2007. Concurrently, I also peformed live for the singer/songwriter Jane Collymore. She is an amazing songwriter. It really translated well in our live shows and performing with her greatly added to my experience as a live drummer.
In 2008 I moved to the Portland area and joined the Top 40/R&B cover band Stage Phryte. It wasn’t long before we started playing gigs at hotels, corporate parties and restaurants. Being a member of Stage Phryte has helped me gained an in-depth knowledge of pop music by playing songs from the 60’s to present day top 40.
At around this time I was struggling with where I wanted to take music. I had experimented with keyboards and was getting inspired by ambient soundscape music. I recorded some songs on keyboard at Squid Studios in Issaquah, WA. I received some good response from listeners and began to feel like I wanted to get more involved with the melodic side of music. I purchased a guitar and some tabla drums and started to teach myself guitar and tablas from books and videos. In the process of learning how to play new instruments I realized that I hadn’t really taken the drum set as far as I wanted to.
So, I decided to put more time and study into the drum set and was very fortunate to find Jungle Jim, an amazing drum teacher in the Portland area. Learning from Jim has taken my drumming so much further. I started to get that spark back into my playing. Around this time, I put up an ad as an available studio drummer and got a call from James Freimuth of The Shatterbrains.
Originally I was just interested in studio work, but James really wanted a drummer in the band. We connected and joined forces. It was a great experience to be apart of putting together the original songs for our first CD Window Shoppers. I felt good about getting back into the studio and then bringing this music into the clubs of Portland. I learned that Portland has a great music scene for all types of music. The Shatterbrains are building a fan base and getting some great gigs. Our CD was played on the Coast to Coast radio show’s Emerging Artists program and continues to be played on a variety of internet radio channels. Working with The Shatterbrains also connected me to another musician, Rick Freimuth, brother of James from The Shatterbrains.
Rick has a project called The Bittersoundfase where he did all the instrumentation and vocals on his CD’s Disappointed Audiofaze and Caught in a Cycle. At the time, he was planning on filming a live performance for a local tv program called the Metro Talent Show. He needed musicians and approached The Shatterbrains to help him with this. We learned the songs, recorded the show and started doing live shows in the Portland clubs. I eventually became the live drummer for The Bittersoundfase. I really enjoy being in The Bittersoundfase as well as The Shatterbrains. Although they are totally different styles they both are excellent bands and I know we will continue to do great shows and recordings.
My newest project I’m working with is a duo called Steel and Glass with Chapman stick player Steve Gajdos. I met Steve when playing in the Portland band Wundersound. He is an excellent bassist and Chapman Stick player. We started jamming together and came up with the idea of a two-piece band. Steve plays the Chapman Stick, which covers both guitar and bass at the same time. He also writes some amazing music. We are currently playing live shows in Portland and plan to record soon. More to come!!
I hope to continue recording with other musicians, playing live, and touring.
Thanks for visiting my site!
Dan Sabanovich, Joe Capola, Larry Narachi, Galen Lemmon, Forrest Elledge, Romero Barrera, Warren Balfour, Efrain Cantu, Eric Gross, Nikki Taylor and Jungle Jim.
Hoover Junior High Concert and Jazz, Abraham Lincoln High Marching, Concert, Theater Pit, and Jazz, Raiders Drum Corp., West Valley Jazz, San Jose State Band, San Jose City College, Cuesta Community College, and UC Irvine Jazz Band.
Individual Bands and Projects.
Ken’s Combo, Alarid Trio, Shakedown, Echo1, Gangwasi, Salamander, Guy Budd Band, The Stoney Improv, Puzzlefish, Baby Snufkin, BudderBall, , Epigene, BoogieSquid, Farchild, The Shatterbrains, The Bittersoundfase, Steel and Glass, and Stage Phryte
Awards and Recognition
Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, Bank of America Scholarship, Drum! New Blood Review