Message Number: 0001
Date: 11/19/1997; 12:56 PM
From: Casey Butler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, I figure this is a good place to report on what happens today - since people are coming in!
WCR is giving a show tonight at Balley's Hotel here in town, and Carmine invited me! I just got off the phone with him. I'm supposed to meet them at the Silver Room at 3:30 when they'll be doing the sound check, the show starts at 7:30 PST. What happens next I don't know but I'll report it here... the only thing is I've got this terrible head cold so I don't know if I'll have the energy to type anything sensible when I get home tonight.
However, I'm dying to see Carmine on the drums again! And this time it'll be closer than a half mile away - hopefully!
It was one of those nights that just goes so well you can't recall all the good stuff! Fortunately Pete sent me some questions I can answer:
HOW LONG WERE YOU THERE?
We (wife Elizabeth & daughter Laura ) got there around 3:15. For people unfamiliar with Vegas, Bally's is a huge hotel/casino/convention complex on the corner of the Strip and Flamingo Ave. We found a good parking place considering it's ComDex time (there are 225,000 computer type visitors here for it).
The show was sponsored by Sony, as a convention frill for people.
We found the huge ballroom where the show was to be after walking a LOT. There were sound people all over the place setting up the stage. The ballroom is a huge rectangular room and the stage was set up at one end. Tables were staggered around in the middle and a buffet was being set up at the end opposite the stage.
We sat at one of the tables and waited while people came and went - then Carmine came in! He came right over and greeted us. He gave me a bunch of Carmine photos to scan for the sites, a copy of Drum Wars, Guitar Zeus I and a GLASS MASTER of Guitar Zeus II for recording for the Web site.
From then on it's difficult to remember things sequentially, but I'll try!
So the sound check proceeded. Carmine introduced me to Kurt Griffey, Bobby Kimball (formerly of Toto) and Randy Meisner (Eagles and a super nice guy), then Nick St. Nicholas (Steppenwolf) and Rosalee.
Then Carmine got behind the drums...
STILL DOUBLE BASS DRUMS?
Not this time! They were ivory colored and other than that I'm not technical enough to tell much about 'em. The cymbol setup was familiar and a Shade cymbol was there, it makes an impressive sheeting sound, like a small gong. I took pictures while they were checking the mics. Carmine hit 'em a few times and that really was enough for me... I could have died happy right there.
So about a half hour passed while we were talking to and meeting people (Denny Laine [Wings], Michael Monarch [Steppenwolf], Jim Austin came in), then the Bally's people started setting up the tables so I moved all of our stuff (camera bag, briefcase Carmine said to bring for pictures, and Carmine's bag) to the backstage area. At this point the sound check started in earnest and I didn't want to walk back around front so I climbed on the stage from the back curtain. The only place to sit was on the drum platform so that's where I sat, my ear not 12 inches from Carmine's right hand Tom.
I sat there during the rest of the sound check!
HOW DID HE PLAY?
Better than any drummer that's ever played. It's just amazing. Words escape!
WHAT DID HE PLAY?
First thing he did was a riff and then he looked at me and said "What's that?". I didn't know! Things sound a LOT different when you're on top of the drums instead of in front of a speaker! It was the opening lick of The Break Song!
I've got a photo of WCR's set list. But for the sound check they did snippets of "Band On The Run", "Hotel California", and some others. About another half hour in Carmine says to everybody, "Give me the middle of..." and I didn't hear the rest.
But a second later there starts this tremendous "duh duh, duh duh, dut, duh duh, duh duh..." You know!
DID HE PLAY THE FUDGE TUNES?
And there I was sitting behind the drums with Carmine Appice as he played "You Keep Me Hangin' On" - Vocals by Carmine and perfect!! I really could have died at that point, even though it only lasted about 30 seconds, and slept peacefully in my grave... :-)
I wish you all had been there too. There's no way to really impart how perfect things were.
The sound check continued... it was kind of helter skelter since all of them are professionals and handled it in their own way. I've no idea how they really determined things but the sound became checked darn good as we were to find out during the show! Carmine has a set of speakers right by the drums so he can hear the whole thing. "Turn this up...", "turn that up...", "what's the humming..." etc.
There were some very efficient roadie personnel also, of course, going around making sure everything was just right.
The sound check broke up around 6:00. Carmine had to go get ready, but first he called a Bally's guy over and made sure that three tables for band guests had "reserved" signs put on them. The show was to start at 7:30.
The Bally's people set up a separate food buffet for the band, since they said Sony had overbooked the show and they were afraid there wouldn't be enough in the main buffet.
Carmine asked where he could meet people... the roadie (a cool guy but I can't remember his name!) went for a bit, then came back and said, "Carmine, THERE'S the dressing room..." and he pointed at the neighboring ballroom that was twice as big as the show room! But that's where they had things set up for the band.
During the space between the sound check and show we (me, wife, and daughter) had to attend to some off-Strip stuff, so we dashed out and made it back about 7:00.
The ballroom had been transformed! Now there were computer nerds (like me) milling all over the place, eating and speaking in acronymic tongues. Right up by the stage were these three empty tables with big "RESERVED" signs on them. We walked up and sat down at them - this was pretty cool. People were staring and probably wondering who we were!
The other guests arrived shortly. Carmine's beautiful wife, Sarah, came to our table and said hello!
Then the show started...
WERE THEY GOOD?
Since I've been in Vegas I've seen about 6 shows (I don't get out much), including the Monkees (obligatory) and Bob Dylan. They were pretty good...
WCR was fantastic! They started out with "Sookie Sookie", good, but just kind of standard, and when they finished it you could still hear the audience talking computereze.
The second or third song was YKMHO. Oh was it cool! I mean the room shook - but the sound was just perfect. Carmine's drumming was just awesome on that - of course. I wish I could convey...
So then it continued, I'll have that photo of the set list developed soon! Everything was great. They did several Toto songs inluding "Rosanna". They did Eagle's songs. They did a really cool version of Band On The Run, and Denny Laine did the early Moody Blues song I can't remember the title of!
The also did People Get Ready. Carmine's vocals sounded just like the first album. They couldn't match the Fudge harmonies, of course, and the version they did was sort of a cross between the Fudge and Rod Stewart's version - but it was great, nonetheless.
Rosalee did "Me and Bobby McGee" & "Piece Of My Heart". An awesome lady, really. Her voice and use of it are just terrific. Great, great, great...
The other two killer pieces were the two Steppenwolf numbers - ESPECIALLY "Magic Carpet Ride". They had smoke effects and strobes with the ballroom lights totally shut down. The fantastic middle instrumental with Carmine's drums (unreal, unbelievable on Steppenwolf stuff!), the bass, the two lead guitars going in unison... it was a terrific thing to see.
Even to a non-musician, Nick St. Nicholas is SOME bass player - he also did most of the announcing and was super friendly to us. From the beginning of the screeching on the beginning of Magic Carpet Ride he really performed, jumping offstage into the audience and the people who started dancing at the front - and he plays on a five string bass!
They are all some players - Michael Monarch & Kurt Griffey on dual lead guitars were great, the keyboards were great. On and on! I wonder if these people ever have a BAD night! :-)
At the end everybody left the stage... Carmine threw his drum sticks to the audience and these two Carmine freaks who sat up front got them! But people kept clapping, of course. The oncore started with Carmine coming onstage alone and doing a tremendous (but too short!) solo. Then everybody came on and they did "Hot Legs" and Rosalee pulled audience members up to back up sing. Super stuff.
Then it was over way too soon!
DOES HE PLAY LIKE THE SAME OLD CARMINE?
Yes he did! Better - more - really great!
DID YOU HANG OUT WITH THEM TOO?
Well, after the show we all went to the "Dressing Room" and there we talked with everyone for over an hour. Although asked, we couldn't go with them afterwards since we had Laura with us. Even if she hadn't been there my feet were about to fold, having traversed Bally's (a HUGE place) four times already!
I met Kelly Keeling... He's really cool! I had a long talk with Bobby Kimball. Most of all, of course, I talked to Carmine (after the visitors stopped swamping him!). It was pretty different hob-nobbing with Rock & Roll stars, I'll tell you!! It was just great. I actually got a Carmine hug after it all!
That's the story. I'm still recovering... I got photos if they came out. I'll post them.
What a blast a Fudge "convention" would be...! Maybe someday!
Like Stan, A Fudge Fan Forever Too!
Hey Casey, thanks for reliving the experience for us ..I was nearly sweating after your description...it sounds fabulous. Fudge with Steppenwolf...two of the original warhorse bands of the sixties...are they going to record?
Nick St. Nicholas mentioned something during the show about "the next time we record" but I didn't ask if there were plans!
There's a blurb on the WCR Website about a video being considered from a show, but I don't know if that particular show was taped before Carmine joined. I know it would be good!