Thunderhand Joe & the Medicine Show
THUNDERHAND JOE From an early age I knew what I wanted to do. Play Music. I always knew. I always knew I was going to be a musician. Growing up in the town of Orange, CA, I recall seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan when they came to the US in 1964. The band's effect on my older relatives gave me my first clue that the power of music was an awesome force. As children we all have the power to dream. The Beatles just directed that power for me. There was a music store in the circle of Orange. I have long forgotten the name. When I was just 9 years old I would go in and dream of being in a band one day. Just like the Beatles just like Ringo. Yea Ringo. My eye was on this used Gretsch snare drum. All the great music of the time was recorded on Ludwig or Gretch drums ask anyone. We didn't't have much money, dirt poor perhaps may have been a good expletive, but I believe even in those days even dirt had more money My parents had no money. I wouldn't' even think of asking for a new drum...well maybe but I knew if I asked for a new drum, I'd be out of luck. So with some begging and a few tears the wheels were set in motion. One year later in 1970 on my 10th Birthday my mother purchased with $20.00 my first drum and unleashed my future. If she new now what she didn't know then she probably would not have made that purchase. I started my first band at 10 years old with one snare drum and a single dream. I still have that drum and that same dream lives on to this day. I remember how frustrated I became at not having cymbals.. It's hard to keep a band going with just one snare drum. I remember trying to set up trash can lids. Some of those lids sounded pretty good at least that's what I told my self.Back then we had trash cans made from metal. Ah the good old days. I had been playing my snare for a year and was getting pretty good. The year was 1971 my cousin, Artie Perez,was a professional drummer having played for the Righteous Brothers and playing for the band called Redbone. I guess my dad had told Artie how interested I was in the drums My dad always had a way of building us up. He was proud of each one of us. He was one of those dads with his kids names on his belt.You know the one. One hot summer afternoon Artie paid us a visit, He brought with him some broken and very used cymbals. Art told me how he had used these cymbals All over the world Holland Spain Germany and even though they were cracked and beat to hell the still had some life in them. As Artie talked I listened intently mesmerized by all the possibilities. I remember thinking, I too could see those places if I got good enough. Oh boy and I was going to get good enough too. When your 11 years old the world is a magical place.Time has a way of tarnishing the magic but don't ever think it's not there because it is. Can I get an Amen ... now back to the story. Somewhere in the back of my mind my swagger "who was also in his early developmental stages" ...was telling me it was just a matter of time. Swagger had not yet fully developed however... in those earlier days of my development with each passing day as my dream grew stronger he grew stronger.It would be a few more years before we really shined. In the shade and underneath that huge walnut tree,I can still see Artie handing those cymbals to my father in the back yard of our old house on Center St. They were magnificently beautiful and so was Artie. So were the walnuts. He looked so cool. He had the longest hair you ever saw. He still does. Artie had left a lasting impression on me it's something I carry with me to this day. I guess I was not the only one as any Orange County musician of our generation would tell you he had that affect...The magic. Well I now had my cymbals and low and behold there was a little magic left in them. I was very great full, I still am. I now had in position of one busted up and beat to hell 22-inch Zildjain cymbal and one busted up and beat to hell 20-inch 2002 Pastie Cymbal. I was on my way to having a full on set I felt invincible,like nothing could stop me now.I did need cymbal stands however as any one knows Cymbals need stands and I had none. Well I had taken two steps forward and one back. As I introduced my Cymbals to my snare drum and while they were acquainting with them self's my mind pondered the possibilities. Pondering and possibilities is an empty bag unless you take action to move towards them. Some people say where there is a will there is a way. So I made my most significant a giant leap. Improvision is a wonderful thing. It is to creativity & improvising I credit myself with developing my skills as a drummer and .... inventing my next piece of equipment. Cymbal stands. I had to improvise. May be it was the Spanish rice .... Or maybe it was the Exposed water heater leaking and rusted, billowing carbon monoxide fumes into the kitchen. Maybe it was the lead paint on every wood surface in the house, but I had a moment of clarity. A brilliant Idea. Even as I think of it now it brings tears to my eyes, much like that water heated did. As I sat eating dinner.. I put my elbows on the table it rocked. I rolled my elbows back and forth it rocked as I rolled. Do you see where I am going with this. It was a sign sent from the rock gods them selves........ I peered underneath the table Bam.... there it was. Our kitchen table had legs that I could unscrew. I would unscrew of the legs and take off the plastic tip (it was just right for setting a cymbal on). I would take the leg, put it through the handles of a wooden coke case stood on end, and there-- instant cymbal stand. In those days a case of Coke came in a wooden box. I don't remember my parents ever buying a case of Coke. In all likelihood, I got the Coke case from the same place I got my first floor tom, the city dump. I could play for hours before my mom got home. She never knew. I still have those cymbals the stands are long gone. I remember going to the city dump a lot with my father in those days. I think it was because you could no longer burn trash in the city limits. One day we found in a pile of rubble a discarded Slingerland floor tom. Upon seeing it I pounced on it like a wild $ hungry animal.'well I guess I was a wild and hungry animal & if i'm guessing I guess I still am' In faction of a second I had that floor tom in the back of the truck. Like a jaguar pulling wildebeest up a tree. Every mussel in my body was on edge I waited and watched to see if any one would try to take it from me If the lions would come. As I licked it ... I' mean as I looked it over, I saw it was beat up pretty bad, but it was now mine and I could not wait to get home and eat it.... I mean set it up. It was beat up pretty bad, but it was now mine. Armed with these musical weapons, I unleashed my fury upon the 200 block of Center St. Orange. The world would never be the same. I now had the power to change it, redirect it, shape it, and move it. The world was mine. A glimpse into the eyes of fate. We lived in an old farmhouse and in those days a detached garage was the norm. This was probably the single most significant fact in my early career development although this point could be argued. I was soon giving concerts. All the little girls in the neighborhood came to our shows. Ahh! Little girls! The second most significant fact in my early career development. I had a friend who had a Silver Tone guitar form Sears, For those of you old enough to remember, you remember the one with the amp built in the case. How cool was that. We played Beatles songs & Herm's Hermits songs. Ok.... we played Help & Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter. Ok we couldn't play them al the way through but that did not stop us. Quite a lot happened to me in 1972. The events of that time would forever direct my life in way I sill have yet to comprehend. I mean that in a good way. My parents almost never went out together. I remember one nigh they did...My auntie was babysitting us. I could hear a band across the street, a real live band playing live music. All this great music so close and so good. It was the finest music I ever heard. Although my family is quite musical and we had live music in our homes and at parties, this was the first time I ever heard a real live band. I knew Artie lived across the street and the music was coming from his house. My father made it a point to tell me not to go across the street. My cousin Artie lived there and I was not to go after all it was the early 70's you figure it out. Just a year earlyer Artie gave my dad those cymbals. I diden't see why I could not go across the street. Artie and my father had a good relationship as I came to realize in time. Artie was my father's favorite nephew. So being a good son, I waited for my parents to leave before I disobeyed. I couldn't get over there fast enough. Artie was playing for Redbone at the time. The year was 1971 and this is where I first met the brothers. Ahh, the brothers... Pat & Lolly Vegas. It was on that day I knew I wanted to be a musician. I was then, as I am now, so deeply affected by their music. The music of Redbone. We would meet again but not for some time. Aspirations of intent I have been blessed to have a musical family. All of them, in their own way have contributed to my success, and right before our garage completely fell down, I moved my drums into the house. The year was 1973. That summer I earned fifty bucks working for my uncle on his ranch helping with the chores, cleaning out the chicken coops, cleaning out the dog kennels and the horse stables. By the end of that summer I had in my possession a brand new, sparkling, blue, used drum set. A classic 4 piece rock'n roll kit from Japan. It was Trump, I think, it had 4 aces as a logo.I purchased my drums from a kid in the neighborhood who lived 1mile from my home. Rick Valdievia. Rick had stored these drums in the rafters of his garage. "If you are looking for a drum set try the rafters" We pulled them down and dusted them off. I walked those drums home one buy one. First the base drum.... 2 mile round trip then the toms 2 mile round trip, then the floor tom 2 mile round trip. You might say I was driven. I may have been but, I walked those drums home one buy one in the hot summer sun. It was the happiest day of my life. "So far" Artie paid me another visit. I remember Artie telling me, ' it's not what the drums look like, but what they sound like'. He then showed me how to tune my set. Armed with this knowledge, and we all know knowledge is power, I swelled up with confidence and pride and I set out to be the best drummer in the world. Not just the city, county or state, the whole wide world. My drums were my ticket to ride. I was going to ride it all the way to the top just like the Beatles. I knew if I got good enough I could go anywhere in the world. I now had a swagger about me. I remember getting in trouble quite a bit for my swagger. I guess people thought I was smart-alecky. I wasn't, I just had a swagger. I still have it. From the confines of that old farmhouse and those thick lath & plaster walls. I unleashed my second attack. I was now bigger and stronger, and I could actually keep a steady beat. Every day after school I would, with reckless abandon and blind fury, practice until my mom came home. I guess we were latchkey kids but that word was not invented yet, so we didn't know. I am the oldest of my brothers & sisters and with no one in my immediate family big enough to keep my swagger in check, I honed my skills on one Credence Clearwater Album after another: Cosmos Factory, Green River and Willie and the Poor Boys. I got the albums from the library and would use my library card to get the albums. I was in that library every single day that summer when I was not sneaking into the Orange Theater. I don't remember checking out books, just albums. I don't remember returning the albums. They kept letting me check them out. Until one day they pulled the plug.I could no longer check out albums until I returned the ones I had. That was understandable assuming I still had them. I learned a long time ago never to assume anything. They would still let me in and while I could not check out an album. I could listen to albums on cassette, while in the library. They had a table with a cassette deck installed in the middle of the table. You could plug in up to 4 headphones. Day after day I would check out a Credence Clearwater cassette and make my way to that table. I studied I studied and studied every nuewans of those records. I used the cassettes as part of my practice. With head phones I could here every thing that Doug Clifford was doing. This was a significant part in my musical development it was pure ear training. Well.... It did not take long before my ear training moved from my ear to my hands and feet. I'd be tap'n out the beat and singing along. 'People ask me how I can play drums and sing at the same time ... it just came natural to me sitting around that table in that Library, I did not even know I was doing it, much to my ears chagrin. I didn't give it much thought then I don't give it much thought today it's something I just do' Cha'grin he grin anger at being let down. A feeling of vexation or humiliation due to disappointment about something. 'See now your learning' I guess at first it was cute. The librarian would come over to me and ask me to be quite. I would comply. I would comply several times a day. I complied everyday, day after day till one day she wasn't smiling and escorted me out by the ear. The next day I was back again and time after time day after day we danced the same dance. This went on for some time. On one occasion I was told never to return as I was once again shown the door. I was banished ... adding insult to injury they took my library car from me, "Mind you I did not hand it over they just refused to honor it" I got tiered of sneaking and hiding from the librarians as I would enter undetectedand and try to sneak my way over to the table for a quick song or two. I had enlisted the help of some kids in my hood to help you know run interference We all had been taking a lot of heat so I gave up. They may have won the battle but not the war. 'A librarian can be a vicious animal don't let the fool ya. Even to this day I am still attracted to them' By the end of that summer in 1973, I didn't need my library card to get albums. I got a job pulling weeds for the lady next door, the lady down the street, the lady around the corner, anyone I could find who had weeds and would pay me for my services, I purchased my own albums. Jimmy Hendricks, Cream, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Savoy Brown, Blues Image. I was getting real good. And I could spell most of my primary colors. My friends would bring me albums just to watch me play. I was developing a fan base. My swagger and I were on our way I felt impecable. All through out my life, intent always found ways to support my musical aspirations. It still does. Power in Dreaming vision In June of 1974, I was now a teenager. I remember hearing a song that summer, not just a song, but the song, 'Come And Get Your Love', Redbones big hit. It was so cool, from the 5-stroke drum roll intro to the thumping bass pattern and one of the most recognizable guitar lines in history of music. I was hooked. I wanted to be in Redbone so bad, just as my cousin had been. Artie cut an album with Redbone in 1971 called Already Here. It was released in 1972. Artie played with Redbone in 1971 & 1972. It was a great album. It still is. Redbone was the coolest band I had ever heard and they were Native American as I am. I am a part Mescalero Apache. It only seemed natural that one day I sit on my throne as the drummer for the greatest Native American rock band of all times. After all Artie did it, why couldn't I? I'll tell you why. I was only 13 years old, not quite old enough or even good enough. I did however have my dream and when your a kid that's all you need. I never told any one of my vision dream to play with Redbone, especially Artie. I remember thinking Redbone might not be around when I was of age. So I set my sights on starting my own band and becoming a super star just like Redbone. Artie was no longer with Redbone in 1974. I do believe it was sometime in 1972 when they parted ways. The Wavoka album was recorded in 73 & 74. It was released in 74. Come And Get Your Love was all over the radio the summer of 1974. You couldn't miss it. I don't know what it must have felt like, for Artie to have been in a band and part ways, then shortly thereafter the band has a mega hit. I think it drove him mad. I know it did. He started practicing like a crazed lunatic bent on revenge. He was the most spectacular & remarkable drummer I had ever seen. He was and to this day is one of the best I have ever seen. This was a good thing for me because I was the only one he would let in to his practice room, not even his own brother was allowed. I remember sitting there for hours. Once that door shut, there was no getting out until Artie was ready, and sometimes he was not ready for a long, long long time. I was just blessed to be there. I was like a sponge and the longer he played, the more I absorbed. Artie offered me no formal training, but just being a part of that lunatic's practices while he was sorting out his life was worth 1,000 lifetimes of formal training. Just as you cannot teach a running back open field moves, he must be born with them. Artie was brilliant in the open field of music. The spontaneous nature of his improvising was a wonderful thing to behold. It still is. He's is great. Osmosis Artie would take me to clubs when I was 13 & 14 years of age. You could never get away with that now but in the mid 70's you could, we did. For a time he was back with the Righteous Brothers and also playing for a man named Michael Patterson (Papa Bear). One day Bill Medley asked me to play his piano. I remember telling him I could not play. His reply was, 'Why don't you learn?' I never learned to play piano, but now play guitar and harmonica. I walked up to that piano tickled the keys until Bill got what he was after. This was a good day. I was always treated with respect and kindness while in the presents of greatness. I now know that respect and kindness are keys of greatness. One would do good to remember this' I guess I was a roadie at the time. I had no idea what that word meant, I was just happy to be there. Bill Medley still calls me the kid. Artie's protégé. I would help set up Art's drums, help with sound checks, and some times stay all night when ever possible. I have my father to thank for letting me go with Artie. I know he really trusted Art, at least I'd like to think so. Some nights I would sit in for a song or two. I had an air of confidence about me as a I would play. After all I had a good teacher. One night while playing at the Marine base in the city of Tustin, Artie got sick, he crawled in the backseat of his white '69 Impala and curled up in a ball. I did the last two sets. The band was surprised at how good I was, for a kid of course. I drove us home that night taking the back roads. The training and the confidence that I received that night would serve me well in days to come. Artie gave me something I can never repay him for. I do know I must pass it on. You don't get that kind of training in school or from a book. I have nothing but the utmost and sincere respect for my cousin. He is now and will always be the best. He is a continuing source of inspiration. I didn't know what the word protégé meant at the time, but I guess I was one. Ahh... to be born with it. Alterations of ego 1974. I was in my 1st year of Junior High School. I signed up for a music class. I was going to get a little formal training. I think I lasted one week. One day I got into a little fight with the boy sitting in front of me in class. I guess he had a swagger also. There went my formal training. I was banned from band for my Junior High School life. 3 years. This minor set back did not detour me however. When one door closes another one opens. Remembering the lessons of the library and in dealing with minor set backs, I was now more determined than ever. I now had an axe to grind. In 1974, my parent's marriage hit the rocks hard. We moved to my grandmother's. She had a place where I could practice. I was practicing for hours on end. I was also still working for my uncle and pulling weeds and by the summer of 1974, I purchased another 4-piece drum set. It was a brand new, used, sparkling red set from Japan. It went well with my blue set. I now had two of everything. A red, white & blue double bass drum monster set from Japan. I was ready for anything. At that time the double bass was in for a while. My musical influences and albums of choice were Led Zeppelin, Bad Co., Humble Pie, Pink Floyd, Arrowsmith, Santana, The Stones, Mountain, Buddy Miles, Foghat, ZZ Top, Leonard Skinnard, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Jim Morison, Traffic, Steely Dan. The Dan's influences on me were big. They used different drummers from album to album, sometimes from song to song. They were cool and they still are. Another big influence on me was the band Little Feat. I love Richie Hayward. He possesses all the qualities in a drummer that I am still after. I remember one of my cousins turning me on to Jethro Tull. That was cool. All the great rock bands of the time have a pertinent place in my repertoire. I became very good at the rock & roll stuff and now wanted to expand my musical abilities. A kid down the street gave me a Ludwig Speed King bass drum pedal, my first real professional bass drum pedal. I still have it. This was the kind of pedal Butch Rilera, Redbones drummer in 1973, '74 &'75, played on. He played it on Come and Get Your Love. I now had one. Can you imagine what I felt like? I was now poised for a full frontal attack on the unsuspecting public. It was a matter of time before I took my place with the rock legends of my time and became a Rock God. Sometimes I think I have to wait for my swagger catch up. Metamorphosis of intent I don't quite now how it happened, except the process seemed so natural. I was still very heavily influenced by my cousin Artie, mind you. I really listened to anything he had to say. During this time I remember Art telling me to learn one bass drum first. He said it had to groove. To groove, you had to play in the pocket. When you're in the pocket, it's hip. I asked what is hip. I guess at the time Tower of Power was asking the same question. I started to like Funk Music & Rhythm & Blues, and Jazz. I was now starting to change my musical influences. I started playing Tower Of Power, A.W.B., War, Commodores, Marvin Gay, BB King, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitte, Otis Redding, Jeff Beck, Sly Stone, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Jazz Crusaders and Chick Coera. These styles of music and their many forms, shapes and colors, were instrumental in my ability to pass all my auditions in my later years. The only audition I ever lost was because of my age and not my abilities. My world was changing and so was I. I was 15 years old. The boys in band class finally got a chance to hear me one afternoon when some kid had a backyard party. The drummer was very late and one of the boys knew I played drums. He asked if I would get my set and play, I said yes and fetched my drums. I had been sitting in with Art's bands for a year and playing with real professional musicians and I had been hanging around real professional musicians for years, Bill Medley and his band, Barry Rilera, Jose Silva, Michael Patterson, all the great Orange County musicians, but most of all Artie. I kicked that band hard like it had never been kick before. They never sounded better. People were tripping on my style. I recall having a conversation with some of the boys who played in school band. I spoke to them of the being in the pocket, the groove, the meter, being in front of or behind the count and the affect it has on the tune. Teacher never explained it to them in the vernacular of the pro's. My swagger was in full bloom. I blew their junior high minds. Hell I blew my mind. I still do. Their drummer showed up, and I left but now they knew. There was a new sheriff in town. My full frontal assault was about to begin and my career was at hand. Ahh...the junior high mind. Let me say that again in case you did not hear it. My full frontal assault was about to begin and my career was at hand. Ahh...the junior high mind. Accepting my fate. Upon entering High School, I tried once again to get into band class and get my formal training. I was turned down because my drum set was not good enough. You remember A classic 4 piece rock'n roll kit from Japan. It was Trump, I think, it had 4 aces as a logo. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I attribute this along with detached garages as being the most significant event in my early career development. I was pissed. All through my Elementary & Junior High years, I had lettered in football, basketball, and track. I was the fastest kid you ever saw. I spent hours practicing to be the best at what ever I did. I now felt the schools were against me. Quite often they are, even though they mean well. I no longer wanted to play sports. I did however take all my time, effort and devotion to sports and funnel it directly to my musical aspirations. In the summer of 1975. I purchased a three piece Ludwig set two toms & the bass drum from a pawnshop in the city of Orange, Orange Pawn & Loan on Tustin Ave. It was 1968 sparkling silver set. I later herd they only made that drum set 67' & 68'. I got my hands on a 5 X 14 Ludwig chrome snare drum. A year later a friend came back from the Midwest with the matching 16 X 16 floor tom. 'I guess it was meant to be' is a recurring theme that seems to resonate throughout my life. My set was now complete and so was I. I now had a professional drum kit. This made me a force to be reckoned with. I was real good and getting better. I was practicing 4 & 5 hours a day. I did this for three years. I was becoming a little monster player. I started playing with my friends' older brothers. They all encouraged me and asked me to play as much as possible. I was trying to play with as many people as I could find. I must have driven people crazy. Have driven people crazy. In the summer of 1976 my friend Randy Williams asked me to enter a drum contest. The contest was held at the Moe's Music store in down town Fullerton. I won. I also auditioned and was picked to play at the Chrystal Cathedral. How ever when a friend of mine dropped my 1970 5 X 14 chrome Ludwig snare drum I shouted out a few choice words in the church. I was dropped. Well I've always been a sinner. I guess they were looking for someone a little less color, with regards to there verbiage. I remember auditioning for a band in the circle of Orange I think it was near to where 6 years before my mom purchased my snare and unleashed my future remember. The band was auditioning drummers for upcoming gigs in night clubs in and around the OC area. In those days live music was in every night club you could make a living playing in a band. Boy how things have changed. I passed the audition. After a few gigs they found out how old I was and had to quit.I was 16 years old. I was becoming immaculate and beyond reproach. I still am. It's good to have a swagger. I still have that drum set. Induction to a Means I did well in high school. I had an easiness about me. I think it is because I knew what I was destined to do. I have always been a social person and I liked the girls. I was playing on the weekend at parties or at friends' houses jamming. For a while I was playing with one of my cousins in a friend's garage. We would play until the cops showed up and they always showed up. It was great. The day of my graduation from high school, I got a call for an audition with a band in Santa Ana. They knew I was Artie's cousin. I do believe that is how they got my number. Artie had played for this band just the year before and now not even out of high school yet, I would have my chance. I was following in Art's footsteps. This was a good thing for me, considering my musical aspirations. Santa Ana was several miles from my home. I loaded my drums into my '65 Ford Galaxie 500 that my father had given me earlier in the year. (Down the road I go.) I remember when it died. I left it at the crossroads of Katella & Main. Don't have that anymore. I remember my uncle saying an Apache would ride his horse tell it dropped cut it uo take the meat and the take of on foot. Basically that's what I did. I took my musical weapons, sticks & cymbals my 8 track tape player and tapes and took off on foot. Don't have the 8 track or the 8 track tapes anymore. I came to a small house and unloaded my kit. Inside were a bass player, a guitar player, a keyboard player and a female singer. The band was called Crescendo. We played one song after another. They liked the way I played. The audition soon turned into a rehearsal and five hours later I looked at the clock and knew I was late for my graduation. All the way home I felt good about myself. I had joined a real band, a professional band. The world was at my fingertips. My future was here at last. All the effort I had put in to my playing, all those years of practice would soon pay off. I still had to graduate though. By the time I got back to the house, my mother had already gone to the ceremony thinking I was trying pulling a fast one and graduating with out her. My father however was at waiting at home. I opened the door and with my usual swagger and said, 'Hey dad, I joined a band.' I thought I might be in a little trouble and I remember smiling half-heartedly at him. He smiled, then tossed me my cap and gown and said to get in the car. I don't remember what my father said in the car that day. I do remember not being in trouble. I guess he was proud. Both my parents put up with a lot from me in those days. In the following days they would come to my gigs. I made it to the ceremony just in time to receive my diploma on that day. That night I hit some grad parties. The next night I had a gig. For the next 19 months, I played with Crescendo 5 and 6 nights a week. My future looked good, and so did my swagger. At the age of 17, two weeks after my graduation, I moved out of the house . My Swagger and I had arrived. I lived with 3 other guys who loved music in a four-bedroom house. I was now practicing up to eight hours a day, and working four hours a night. Crescendo's music varied. The music of that day was disco. After all, it was 1978. We also played soft rock ballads and Latin music. I could play disco and the other stuff, but the Latin was something else entirely. For this, I sought Artie's help. He gave me one formal lesson in my life: how to play Latin jazz. I was now playing and making money. I eventually got very good at Latin music. A few of the drummers in town even wanted lessons. We played a lot of clubs but the nightclub I remember playing in for some time was Don Jose's in the city of Tustin. The band did very well and we had a big following. I heard the owner Don Frazier was going to open a club in Las Vegas. He wanted us for the house band. We were his favorite. I recall he had several established clubs. He later died in a plane crash. I don't know what happened to the Las Vegas idea; it to may have died in that plane crash. Crescendo made an EP in 1979. I had forgotten all about it until some 15 years later, I was approached by the lead singer Martha Bosco in Vons. The creator works in mysterious & illustrious ways. She latter mailed me a copy. I still have it. I credit Latin music as having affected my abilities to such a degree as to allow me to perform at a level not just anyone can perform at. It put me in a category as a percussionist. Mysterious & Illustrious Means. I eventually needed a break and took a week vacation. I remember going to a club in Garden Grove. The club is no longer there. They put up a big mall called the City Block of Orange. I looked for the prettiest girl and asked her to dance. She told me she was there with Dave Jenkins from Pablo Cruise. We were introduced. He was taking a break from his band also. He said he was tired of doing state fairs and such. I think they were not getting along. Seeing an opportunity, I asked him if he wanted to come and see me play. I told him I was playing Latin jazz and thought he'd have a good time. I went back to work the next week and guess who showed up. It was not long before we were jamming. Dave rented a rehearsal studio in Huntington Beach. I supplied the musicians, one of which was my cousin Ronnie. I ended up quitting Crescendo not long after my encounter with Dave, and went to work for him. I think it was in March of 1980. Dave paid the bills for a while. I thought we'd do something big. I have always had that dream you know. Looking back I don't think he ever meant for us to do anything more than just jam, but it sure was fun. The band tried to continue and for a while after Dave left. We came up with a plan. Parties at the house or the wolf pad as we called it. We'd charge to get in. What a great plan. One night we threw the biggest party Orange ever saw. It looked more like the State Fair. We were picking up beer bottles for days. One of the guys was dating this biker chick for a couple of weeks before the parties. She had this thing called scabies. We all got it. I think after that night the whole city had it. The people who make Kwell lotion made a lot of money that day. I had taken the first casualty to my swagger and with no permanent influx of cash, my swagger, the scabies, and I found ourselves living in my parent's garage. I would soon come to the realization that a swagger doesn't die easy. Payin' dues. By the spring of 1980 I moved around a lot. I found myself playing with rock bands, jazz bands, Top 40 bands even Country bands and living with some of them sometimes for weeks at a time. I moved in with my cousin Ronnie off of Batavia St. in Orange. With a dwindling bank account, I really needed something solid. My cousin Jack had a band. Jack is Artie's younger brother. He still is. The band was called Sweet Release. The rhythm section consisted of a guitar, a bass, drums and keys. We had two horns: a sax and a trumpet. I joined the band. In the late spring, we practiced and soon had work. I don't know how many places we played. I do however remember one: the Adriatic Inn. It was, to say the least, a dive, not the worst one I have ever played in, but a dive in every sense of the word. At first it was a biker bar. After a few weeks of brawling we took the shores of the Adriatic. The bikers moved next door. The parking lot was always fair game, there were so many fights there. It was a very dangerous place. God I loved it. The horn section from Johnny Guitar Watson would show up from time to time, Jean & Albert Wing, the Wing brothers. Jean Wing now plays for Diana Ross. Albert is a monster. He plays with whoever he wants. Brandon Fields used to come in. Brandon has a great solo jazz career. We were a great little rhythm section. I really had a chance to play some good music in that band and was introduced to some great players. The band featured four of my family members, Jack. Ronnie, Gloria, and myself. I told you we were a musical family. We used to drink a lot. Enough said. I left the band in the dead of winter. I would soon have to move again. I credit waitresses as being the single most significant development in housing during times like this. By November of 1980, just 20 years old, I was back at my mom's house, this time on the couch. My swagger and I were down, but not out. Sometimes swaggers can have a mind all their own. I was full of hope. It was not long before I found a three-piece band that featured a female singer. We played all the music of the day and classic rock, although it had not matured into classic rock, as we now know it today. I remember playing with that band for three months or so. I quickly secured housing during this time. I advise securing housing to any and all young players. It's funny how you know some people are just not cut out to be real musicians. These people were not. They all sounded real bad. I was not into playing with people like this. I'm still not. I felt like a musical whore. It was awful. I remember Artie saying when I was young 'Even if you don't like the music or the tune, never let it show. Smile. You're working and getting paid.' I took this lesson to heart and although it played havoc on my swagger, I knew he was right. I was a professional musician, just as I set out to be. I did it as long as I could. One day I had a disagreement with the leader of the band over some stupid band rule, and we soon parted ways. Looking back they were not the worst band I ever played with. They liked to have a good time, but just couldn't play. I know they all just wanted to get some, so did I, but I always put the music first. I still do. This situation prepared me for the absolute worst period in my musical career. Horace Wink. The proliferating abstract I soon found myself back at mom's. She had moved into a two-bedroom place. I took the garage and made camp. I got a job in a lumberyard for a month or so. That didn't work. I needed a gig real bad. My swagger was getting pissed and this also made it hard to live with me, I suspect. In Febuary of 1981, I took a gig with a keyboard player named Horace Wink. We worked Wednesdays through Saturdays. Horace played keys & key bass and we had a sax player. I don't remember the club, but it was in Buena Park, CA. It had no vacancies with regards to housing. Let's just say it was substandard housing. I soon moved in with some friends from the old wolf pack days and made camp. Horace played behind a piano bar. This was something I had not done up to this point in my career. The man had piles of sheet music surrounding him. We'd get a request; he'd look for the sheet music and count off the song. He couldn't play without that sheet music; he couldn't play with the sheet music. This was the most dreadfully awful band I had ever played with. I was at an all time low in my music career. Remembering what Artie had said years earlier, I smiled and made the best of it. I did this for months. It seemed like years. I'd take my share of the tips and get a burger next door. This was the highlight of my evening. I kept smiling. Even with my swagger's help, I knew I could not keep this up forever. One night a patron at the bar said that he noticed I played well on some of the songs and did not play well on others. He wondered if I was happy. He was right. I was slipping. My swagger had holes in it. I tried to play it off and masquerade the fact that he was right. I was no longer invincible, and I hated it. I recall feeling sick. I was at my musical crossroads. I was 20 years old, and I needed a miracle fast. Predestined Keys of Distinction. My miracle came in the form of a vision I had many years ago. When I was a child I had a dream to be a professional musician. I had been living my dream. My vision dream was to be the drummer for Redbone. I now had to prove myself worthy of such a vision dream. I was on my path right where I belonged. At the time I could not see it. Patience, persistence and perseverance were the keys I still had to obtain. The doors would reveal themselves once I had the keys. I could not rush the hand that gave me the keys or question it's design. I still cannot. At the time I didn't know I was being issued keys. Once I had them I didn't even know I had them. What I do know is they were not easily attained. I know if I had not gone through this process, I could not have endured the elaborate scheme of intent. Predation by design I have no recollection of ever being told by anyone of Tony & Butch's gig at Bill Medley's Nightclub in Fountain Valley, Ca. I was directed there by fate. I now know the hand that directs me in my life is not my own. At the time I did not question these things. I still don't. Tony Bellamy and Butch Rilera had a gig on Monday nights. They had a 13-piece band called Bim Bam. Tony had played on several Redbone albums. He is an original member. Tony is also responsible for a big part of the Redbone sound and much of their success. He was a great player and still is. Butch played drums on 'Come And Get Your Love' on the Wovoka album and on the Beaded Dreams and Message from a Drum albums. Butch is the younger brother of Barry Rilera, the guitarist for The Righteous Brothers. Love those guys. Still do. The fact that they were playing at Bill Medley's nightclub was a sign I could not ignore. Was this the miracle I had been waiting for? After all I was at my musical crossroads. At the very least I'd finally get a chance to talk with Tony T-bone Bellamy as a colleague. After all, I had been playing in bands for years. I had a gig. I was a professional musician. I was Artie's cousin and I was good. Although my swagger had taken some direct blows in recent days that left me feeling less than invincible, my swagger talked me into it. God, I love my swagger. The way I saw it, it was either go or have died there with Horace and this was not to be my fait. A door now reveled it self and I had a key. I had to go. I remember going out that cold and rainy night. I showed up at 9:00 p.m. The place was packed. I was not old enough yet to get in so I waited for Tony. I knew if they saw I was a friend, I'd be in for sure. It worked. I was in. The band was great that night. I would go back again and again. Monday nights you'd find me there. I was still working with Horace four nights a week but now I had hope. The reason I had hope was because I noticed Bim Bam was using different drummers from week to week. With my swagger now fully decalcified after months of abuse, I developed a plan of attack. I would tape the show, learn the tunes, and ask for a shot at playing for Bim Bam. I couldn't see approaching Butch even though he was the leader of the band. I felt better approaching Tony. Tony was a tyrant in those days. He still is. I just felt better about Tony. I now know it was by design. If I had approached Butch first this would have drastically altered my path. With my swagger in full gear, I proceeded with my plan. I recall Tony's face when I unveiled my intentions. Let's just say he was amused. He told me if I thought I was good enough to play with Bim Bam, I might like to audition for Redbone. Can you imagine what I felt at that moment hearing those words? Not to mention, the source of those words? At last. My thoughts of all the possibilities began to proliferate one after another: rock stardom, money, limos & ladies filled the vestiges of my young mind with the sweet anticipation of lust and money. They still do. Now only one small detail stood in my way to rock & roll immortality. I still had to pass the audition. My swagger was like a dog in heat and I was happier than a jack ass eat'n catass. It still is. I kissed Tony that day. My dream was becoming a reality. In times like this, one must remember to keep his cool and slowly approach his prey. I would later come to find I was hunting something that was hunting me all along. I'd do it again. Eurhythmic Eudaemonisum of Dreaming I recall Tony saying he was going to ask Lolly for the audition on my behalf. Lolly ah.... Lolly Vegas. The guy who wrote, sang & played 'Come And Get Your Love'. This was like music to my ears. He also told me Lolly was coming in next Monday night. This was to good to be true. Armed with this information, my plan seemed to be revealing itself, laid out there like some road map to follow. A door was opening. I knew what I had to do. I remember driving home that night in my '69 Ford Camper special. I recall being euphoric. Wednesday night I was back with Horace Wink. I was on top of the world and feeling good about my future. I now saw a way out. My destiny was calling and I heard it loud and clear. A door had reveled it self. I had to kept it to myself. I dared not let anyone know of my intention to leave Horace. It was still my gig and even though I hated it, it paid the bills. That week went fast. Monday night was upon me. I remember setting out for my rendezvous with fate. I was beaming. Soon I would get the chance to talk with Lolly Vegas, actually converse with the man, and unleash my intentions. I remember going over what I'd say what I would do. I would befriend him quickly and tell him who I am: Artie's cousin. Once I had his attention, we would have a few words, maybe a drink, then ask for the audition. Yep, a man with a plan. It was a good plan. It could work. Looking back I never doubted it would work, It had to work. I had no back up plan. I still don't. The place was packed. I had never seen it that full. There was something in the air that night. Maybe word had gotten out that Lolly Vegas was going to be there. Only one table was empty, a two-seat table with a reserved sign displayed proudly. I quickly took the table. I looked around assessing my surroundings, ever watchful for my prey. The band was getting ready. Excitement loomed in the air. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him: Lolly Vegas. A woman accompanied him. They were standing at the entrance to the club. I would later find out that woman was his wife, Risa a wonderfuly controling woman. One of the waitresses greeted them kindly. They walked straight to the only available table, the one I was sitting at. My prey was upon me. I did the only thing I could do; move as politely as I could, once I was asked. Before I did, I looked Lolly straight in the eyes and with all the confidence my swagger could muster up, I nodded my head affirmably and said nothing. I remember walking over to the bar, all the time keeping Lolly in the line of sight. All eyes soon turned to the band as they began their set. Mine however were still on Lolly. From time to time he'd glance over at me and find me staring at him. He must have thought I was fan. He was right. I still am. He looked at me as if he knew me, then turned away. At that time, I guess looked a lot like Artie when he was my age. After all, Artie was in his early twenties while with Redbone. Encountering inevitability. Sometime before the end of the show, seeing an opportunity, I made my move. With swagger in tow, I approached. Slowly at first, then picking up speed, I walked right into the table, spilling drinks on the both of them. With total disregard for what had just happened, I fell to my knees and said, 'you don't know me but I know you.' I proceeded to tell him my story, all the while begging for an audition. Looking back I don't remember my swagger being there. I began to speak in tongues for a while. Lolly also spoke in tongues. He still does. He understood everything I said. Having heard enough, he grabbed me by the face and said, 'Can you read music?' My reply was, 'No, I cannot.' Shaking my head no, with both hands still palming my face, he said, 'You better learn'. While still on my knees, he told me he was going to get Redbone back together. He had some great idea of a Broadway show or something like that. Tony had not played with them in some time. I now know in 1977 Redbone did an album called Cycles on RCA. Tony was not on that album. I believe Butch had not played with the band since 1975. It only dawned on me now that Lolly may have wanted Butch to get back with the band. What a night. I have no recollection of driving home that night. It would still be a few months after my encounter with Lolly before I was to have the first audition. I went back to play with Horace for another month or two. I had been hanging out with Tony during this period. Tony had secured housing but was without car. I used to drive him places. I remember seeing Tony walk through the doors of the club one night. I was behind the piano bar. Horace was belting out some show tune. I was ecstatic to see Tony. He started playing pool. He quickly took the table. In those days Tony was a good pool player. He still is. At break and over a game of pool Tony gave me the news. My audition was secured. Tony also wanted to use me for a little band he was putting together. That's all I needed to hear. I gave my weeks notice that night. The following week left Horace Wink. I have never seen or heard of him since. Remembering what Lolly said, I signed up for a music theory class at Orange Coast Collage that spring session, . I was now, after all these years, going to get my formal training. I also started working with Tony. Tony is one of the best Blues-based rock players on the planet. I was now playing with the best guitarist I had ever seen and was soon to have an audition with the greatest Native American Band in the history of music. Tony rode me a lot in those days. He was horrible to work for. He also taught me volumes on how to approach a song. His blues chops were impeccable. They still are. We had a trio and were working three nights a week. I was working and getting paid to learn (earn while you learn), going to school and had secured housing. Life was good. Tony was instrumental in getting me into Redbone. The first dance with fate. I was doing well in school. I had just completed my first quarter at Orange Cost College when I had my first audition with Redbone. I recall picking up Tony. He lived in the city of Tustin at the time. We drove into LA. We came to the house of Jimmie Stalins. Jimmie had a big hit with a band in the 60's I don't remember the name. Jimmie was a friend of Pat & Lolly's and this is where the first of two auditions took place. This was the first time I had seen Lolly since Medley's months earlier. We greeted each other I set up and we started. Lolly ran the show with Tony on guitar and Jimmie on bass. It sounded real good. We played for some time. I did well. The look on their faces said it all. I would later come to find out Jimmie was not the real bass player for the band. Pat Vegas did not show that night. I was not yet in and I was not yet out. Looking back, I know Lolly was impressed. We would have to do it again. The second dance with fate. A month went by before, once again, I was called to audition. I picked Tony up and we were off to Jimmie Stalin's once more. This time Pat was in attendance. We said our hellos and set up. When we started playing it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. Now with Pat Vegas on bass, it was a different ball game. The first time I auditioned, Jimmie Stalins was on bass and that sounded good. Pat, however, had a way of turning the music around by playing in front of or behind the count. He still does. Just like Artie had explained to me all those years ago, just as I had explained to the kids in Junior High all those years ago, I knew then that Pat was a big part of Artie's lesson to me. This revelation came to me as I was playing. I could hang with that. I started playing with the time also. Pat smiled. Lolly was playing this hypnotic rhythm and Tony was soloing like a monster in between. We were just getting warmed up. I was beside myself. From the first note we were cookin'. This blew my mind. I was in the company of greatness and I was doing more than just holding my own. Everyone was laughing. Lolly stood up and exclaimed, ' That's what Redbone should sound like!' t was a funkified hypnotic brew of toneified, tonalities, rhythmus and a plethora of melodic fever Looking back I had used an analogy to explain what I thought the music was doing. I said, 'The music is like a wagon wheel. The wagon is moving forward but the wagon wheel spokes are moving backward. The music was going forward while going backwards at the same time allowing it to cover a lot of space. Music inside the music.' I then gave them a visual by rotating my fingers in opposing directions. In later years I heard Pat & Lolly both use this analogy to explain the music. I credit this analogy as being one of the most significant factors in my being accepted into the band. Lolly knew I knew what was happening. Pat Knew and Tony knew. I was the one. The long road home. I remember driving home that night in my '69 Ford pick up with one headlight and expired tags. Tony christened the inside of the truck with a beverage while exclaiming, 'You're In Redbone now!' I think we got a few miles before he passed out. I looked at my gas gauge. I was on empty. I had no money. I didn't even know if I was on the right freeway. What I did know was that I had just become a part of something I had been working for all my life. I was now on my way to rock and roll immortality. We did make it home that night. I never question these things. In the following week we would rehearse at Pat's house for a show at the East LA City College. On Aug. 12th, 1981 the day of my 21st birthday, my dream became a reality. That day I played with all the confidence and swagger of a bone professional. 'Come And Get Your Love' was the last song in our set. The crowd went wild. I could have died that day and went to heaven right then and there. I think my swagger even shed a tear. I was on top of the world. I did it. I kept doing it for years. Looking back on my 16 years with Redbone, they were filled with some of the best and the worst times I have ever known. Such is life. It was an experience I will treasure the rest of my life. I am only now, some 6 years later, coming to grips with the amounts of treasures. Every valuable lesson I attained over the years through the band and each of it's players, Tony Bellamy, Pat Vegas and Lolly Vegas, has forever made me a better person and a better musician. It was this training that was to have a direct impact on my on my musical life after leaving the band. I credit this training for inspiring and directing me while preparing me for my final attack. I can never repay Pat, Lolly and Tony for their gifts. I do know, however, I must pass them on. Our last gig together was at the San Manuel Casino in Highland, Ca. in 1997. We left on not the best of terms. I quit. Time has long since tempered my feelings. I am blessed to have been a part of the greatest Native American Band in the history of music. Redbone. I am forever greatfull. I carry with me the very essence of what I attained in those years as I continue my dreem quest. Proliferating intention of the Woven. I have learned not to question the events of my life. I have made a life of music and now make music of my life. I make excuses and ask forgiveness of no one. I am beholden only to my family. I have felt the hand of fate in my life many times, whether I acknowledge it or not. It has always been there. It's presence is an awesome force. I have been on stage with the best players in popular music. My life has been both a nightmare and sweet dream. As I look back, I could have done nothing different. I have done as I have been directed to do, as I have wanted to do. I have lived my dream. I am still living that dream. I play music. I now have my own band, Thunderhand Joe and the Medicine Show, a new CD, radio airplay, and many, many friends. I now have a wife and three kids who are a source of daily inspiration. The support I now receive from them is a direct link to my success. I look to them as a continuing source of inspiration. Family has always played a big part in my life. My cousin, Jack Perez, Artie's brother, is playing bass for me. I also have two of the finest guitar players in the world, Dani Rock'n Robins & Willie Redcorn Chavez, who are now a part of my musical family. I still have my swagger and my new band is smoking. Our lives are but the threads of fabric, intricately woven together in a pattern that touches one another. Each pattern has it's own unique quality to be revealed by the hand of time, on it's time and not ours. The pattern is part of a bigger pattern that blankets us all. I acknowledge we are all are related. Thunderhand Joe.