The Bobby Rock Newsletter #103 (7-17-23) - Six Decades Down!
The Bobby Rock Newsletter #103 (7-17-23) - Six Decades Down!
Welcome back for another round. Man, it's been a hell of a week. Just celebrated the big 6-0 on the road, and yes... there has been lots of joy, reflection, and contemplation. At the risk of extreme self-indulgence, let me bring you guys up to speed and, hopefully, offer up a useful tidbit or two along the way. Thanks, as always, for being here...
In This Issue:
- New Decade Gigs: I've had memorable gigs on each of my last four decade-beginning birthdays... at 30, 40, 50, and now 60. Here's the quick overview of each... with a bit of reflection.
- 7-13-23: Birthday show.... and the craziest karmic collision of present and past bands you can imagine, all "coincidentally" aligned in a Columbus, OH suburb, on the same day. You couldn't make this shit up, folks!
- It's All About Mindset: Revisiting Carol Dweck's classic work on MIndset... and how it's never too late for an "old dog" to learn new tricks!
New Decade Gigs
I've always loved gigging on my birthday through the years. It's actually happened a number of times, most notably on each of my last four decade-beginning birthdays. I remember each one with vivid detail, so I thought a quick revisiting might be in order. Dig...
7-13-93: age 30 - with Bobby Rock and Friends, opening for Foghat.
At Sneakers, in San Antonio, TX
The summer of '93 tour was a solo excursion, with my full band, playing clinics and club shows. It was my usual power trio format featuring my favorite players—Brett Garsed on guitar and Carl "The Fox" Carter on bass—with the addition of guitar virtuoso, T. J. Helmerich. The band was exceptional.
This show was a tour highlight: a packed house at the iconic Sneakers in San Antonio... a sizeable club with lots of history. Of course, it was packed out mainly because of Foghat, but still: We earned $200 for that show (not per guy... all in!) and had some bottled water and a veggie tray to pick at in our broom closet dressing room. But we didn't give a fuck. Foghat's audience loved us (thankfully!), and I'm sure our version of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" must've helped.
Speaking of which, here's a clip of "Frankenstein" from that very night. Scope it!
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7-13-03: age 40 - with Slaughter, on the Rock Never Stops Tour featuring Whitesnake, Warrant, and Kip Winger.
At Sovereign Bank Arena, in Trenton, NJ.
This remains one of the most fun tours I've ever done, and it appeared from the ethers within a few weeks of the start date. Slaughter, of course, was the band started by my VVI partners, Dana Strum and Mark Slaughter, at the demise of VVI in '88. I was originally supposed to be in Slaughter, but for a variety of reasons, I opted to move on, and wound up in Nelson about six months later. Nonetheless, Mark, Dana, and I stayed in touch and on good terms in the years following. So, when original drummer Blas Elias wasn't able to make this tour, I somehow became top-of-mind to Mark and Dana to jump in and sub. That call from Strum was a welcomed one. I had been playing with guitarist Gary Hoey for about four years at that point, and doing the usual solo tours here and there, but it had been a minute since I had done a big arena tour on a tour bus. This run was everything I could've hoped for.
My birthday came early in the tour, and I remember thinking that there was nowhere else in the world I would rather be that night than playing that big ol' drafty arena in New Jersey with my old bandmates. This pic is actually from the night before in Hartford, but you get the idea...
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7-13-13: age 50 - with Lita Ford, opening for Ratt.
At the Depot, in Salt Lake City, UT.
I had just gotten the gig with Lita in January, about six months prior to this b-day show. And, as yet another full-circle moment, I credit Gunnar Nelson for me getting the gig. She needed to find a drummer fast for a gig that was just days away and reached out to Gunnar for a west coast recommendation. The Gun-Man was adamant that she hire me.... and she did. The gig went great that weekend and, well, here we are 10 1/2 years later. But back to this gig: We had a full house at The Depot, with us opening for Ratt. It was a fun show, with Lita stopping mid-set to have a couple Hooter's-looking girls walk on stage with a birthday cake. Band and crowd sang to me, then we carried on with the set. Good times!
But the most memorable part of the show, as retold in Lita's autobiography, happened at the top of the set. I was backstage, probably delayed by my traditional last-second piss before showtime, so the rest of the band had already headed for the stage. However, this club had some kind of cargo elevator that took you from the basement dressing rooms, right up to the stage. So, there I was, waiting for the cargo elevator to return, when I heard our intro music kick in. Oh shit! No elevator. Meanwhile, I don't think the band even knew that I wasn't in position to start the show... until the intro ended, and the drum chair was empty! Just then, I was able to get Lita's tech Dugie on his cell, and he sent security down to find me and bring me up some alternate stairs. The elevator was jammed-up! (Good thing I wasn't in that bitch...)
Fortunately, we all had a good laugh about it once I finally appeared, and the show went off without any further delays. And after, I was able to dig into my vegan chocolate cake with gluttonous abandon...
Which leads us to…
Birthday Bash Magic 2023!
(in Pics and Vids)
7-13-23: age 60 - with Lita Ford, (with Vixen opening).
At the Picktown Palooza festival in Pickering, OH.
This year, the proverbial stars aligned in a most extraordinary way. I was scheduled to hit with Lita Ford (with Vixen on the bill) on my b-day, at a festival near Columbus, OH. Crazy thing was, the next night was Slaughter, with Nelson opening (with Neil Zaza on guitar!). This pretty much covers most of the major players I’ve worked with through the years, all gathered in the same place, at around the same time… for my 60th. It was kind of unbelievable.
Once I heard about the bill—and found out my boy, Neil Zaza, was gonna be on the Nelson hit—I knew we had to try and see if, somehow, we could have a moment. And if travel schedules would prevent us all from getting together real quick somewhere, then I would at least try to see everyone individually. This was like a fucking eclipse!
But first things first. Of all the above-mentioned folks, it turns out that the person from this era whom I've known the longest is actually... Roxy Petrucci, drummer for Vixen. (More synchronicity!) Met her in Houston in ‘83 when she was touring with Madam X. And so, after soundcheck, I knew I had to connect with her for a birthday pic. She's always the coolest:
Once we got back to the hotel, it was time to train. So I tied in a there-and-back run to a gym visit in the area. Always an adventure running in cities where sidewalks are iffy:
Nice gym! (Shout out to Power Rack, which I believe is an Ohio franchise.)
Later in the afternoon, I had to connect with Zaza for a bit. It had been a minute since we hung in person, although we talk regularly and he remains one of my closest friends. (Note the kick-ass paint job on that guitar, courtesy of another great friend, John Douglas.. who painted the Sistine Chapel kit I played on my first major tour with Zaza back in '97. The circles continue to circle...):
As showtime approached, I had little expectation of seeing any of the Slaughter or Nelson guys beforehand. After all, it was a big travel day for both parties. I figured I would catch them at different times either later that night at the hotel (where all the bands were staying), or even the next morning. But then, as I was hanging outside our dressing room/trailer, all these motherfuckers showed up, in two separate vans, within 5 minutes of each other. It was really something!
Here's part of what I wrote about it on social:
Such a memorable b-day evening last night! The Slaughter and Nelson guys —who are both playing the same festival near Columbus tonight—all came out to hang before our set... even after a lengthy travel day. So great to see everyone, and such a trip to just marinate in the collective history I have with Dana, Mark, Matthew, Gunnar, Neil, and Blando, not to mention my current tribe of Lita, Patrick, and Marten. We are talking decades now! Also, great to see J. J. again (with Nelson), and to have a couple bad-ass young gunslinging drummers on hand: Jordon (Slaughter) and David (Nelson). Much love to all my brothers (and sister). I will never forget the big 6-0!
L to R: Mark Slaughter, Matthew Nelson, me, Gunnar Nelson, Lita Ford, Dana Strum, Patrick Kennison, Neil Zaza, Marten Andersson, J. J. Farris, David Keith, Jordon Cannata, Jeff Blando.
And, once again, Lita led the crowd in another b-day serenade during the set:
Afterward, the Lita gang surprised me with vegan cupcakes (which were incredible!) and a small notebook that everyone had secretly signed... and I mean everyone: all of our band and crew, plus the Nelson, Slaughter, and Vixen band members. Lita grabbed it at an airport gift shop when she realized a standard b-day card couldn't accommodate the high volume of signings we would have. This notebook was one of the most sacred parts of the trip for me... what my friends wrote... wow. I will value this forever.
Here I am a couple days later at the airport. with this notebook, and our most incredible crew. These "Powerhouse Five" keep things rockin' on the road, looking after every detail of road life for us. The best in the biz right here, friends:
L to R: Jarod Woznik, Debi Johnson, Jesse Davidson, me, Pilgrim (James O'Brien), and Paul Serio. Savages... one and all!!!
Oh, and you might notice that my partner Kari's name is also on the notebook. Why? Because we share a birthday!
Here's what I mentioned about that on social, as well:
Just wanted to extend a birthday wish to my most incredible partner, Kari Wahlgren… also born on July 13th!!! Trippy, right? To share a birthday with your sweetheart is, well… pretty fucking cool! I remember the first time we met, we talked for six hours straight. Along the way, we found out we had the same birthday and couldn’t believe it. We made each other pull out our driver's licenses to prove it!
I used a photo that you guys (here in Newsletter Land) had seen before... so here's one that very few have seen, taken when our kid was 10 days old. Our very first family photo shoot! (Photo by Laura Jane)
I went on to say...
PS. Our little man is almost 6 months old and doing great (and papa is missing him like crazy this week!).
The weekend rounded out with a couple more great shows: a return to JD Legends in Franklin, OH, and a most memorable show inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (where we wound up playing indoors—instead of on the outdoor stage—due to weather).
outside the venue...
inside the venue during soundcheck...
a quick break-down groove excerpt from the solo that night...
Hittin' at the HOF! No better way to complete a sensational weekend!
It's All About Mindset...
As we all know, there can be a lot of existential shit one might contemplate on such a landmark birthday. These past two months, in particular, have brought a lot of things to the front-of-mind, many of which I'm still sorting through. All good, though. I think it is to be expected, and there is an awful lot I could exorcise right here, right now. But I won't. Instead, I'll just bring it back to a concept I've known about for years, but that has resonated with me in a more meaningful way as of late.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
Thinking a lot about Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck's, concept lately, as articulated in her excellent book, Mindset. In brief, a Fixed Mindset says, This is the way things are, and/or this is how I am. It's always been—and will always be—this way. It is a "fixed" reality, with not much hope for change.
But a Growth Mindset says the opposite: Things can change, and/or I can change... no matter how long something has been going down a particular way. It is a "growth" reality, where there is always hope for doing things differently.
It seems painfully obvious to me that a Growth Mindset is not only True (with a capital T), but the only obvious choice to embrace. And yet... it has become increasingly clear to me that while I do, in reality, believe it to be true, I do not always practice it. And I can see a few areas in my life where I have rigid old ways of actually being in the world that are in contrast to what I believe, with regard to the Growth Mindset. So this is the "reality gap" that is most on my mind at the moment: matching my daily actions to what I know to be True... no matter how long I may have been stuck in a fixed way of perceiving something.
To me, this idea falls into the "teaching an old dog new tricks" category. And at 60, I feel inspired to transcend these "old dog" mentalities, knowing that my continued evolution will require it.
Onward and upward we go! Thanks for indulging me this week...
Thanks again, everybody. Connect soon!
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