Alex Alexander is a drummer and percussionist. He has recorded and performed around the world with numerous renowned artists including Eminem, Nile Rodgers, Chaka Kahn, Bernie Worell, Sinead O’Connor, Ornette Coleman, Toots and the Maytals, Youssou N’Dour and Sheryl Crowe.
Since I joined Willie Nile’s band 2 years ago, I have been fortunate to perform with Bruce Springsteen two years in a row at Light Of Day in Asbury Park. It’s an annual fundraiser to help fight Parkinson’s that is held at the Paramount Theater. Tickets sell out very quickly for this gala event which this year (2014) included Joe D’urso, Mike Peters (The Alarm), Jesse Malin, Garland Jeffreys, Willie Nile and “The Boss” himself, Bruce Springsteen.
I’ve been Willie’s drummer for over 2 years and in those 2 years we have never rehearsed! I repeat, WE HAVE NEVER REHEARSED! I have learned over 108 songs with Willie since then. Sometimes he will play them for me on an acoustic guitar backstage before the show, or, I will learn them as I’m playing them for the first time on stage during the show.
As Willie’s band was sitting in the dressing room waiting to soundcheck for Light Of Day in Asbury Park last month, Springsteen quietly appeared in our green room. He was dressed simply with workman’s boots, jeans, and a beautiful black and white hollow body guitar in his hands. He was there to go over Willie’s famous song, “One Guitar”, which we would be performing together on the Paramount stage that evening.
I was immediately struck by the ease of Bruce’s demeanor. He listened calmly and played along with a big smile on his face. I’m always amazed at the way Bruce is able to find the one thing that will make any performance better. Whether it be a guitar riff or a vocal line, he always manages to raise the level of excitement by finding just the right thing to play. In this instance he found a guitar riff that made everything in Willie’s great song even better. As Willie finished playing the song, Bruce smiled with satisfaction and proceeded to congratulate him on a great song. Afterward we all shook hands and talked about the coming performance that night.
That night, the show was spectacular. We already had everyone on their feet by the time Springsteen came out, and then as he walked on stage the energy level climbed even higher.
The room seemed to explode in a frenzy of flashbulbs, iPhones, and Rock ‘n Roll fists in the air. The band stormed through the music with Willie and Bruce at front of stage… This is why I play music. This is why I’ve devoted my life to playing the drums. This is why I love ROCK ‘N ROLL!…
A Big thank you to all the fans the came out that night and helped us support such a worthy cause.
I have been fortunate to have met a lot of my musical heroes lately –
I played on David Bowie’s newest album The Next Day Deluxe Edition, and I recorded a TV jingle with Jimmy Cliff for Volkswagen for last year’s Super Bowl. It’s been an unforgettable year. Looking forward to many more adventures in 2014. I’ll be posting some of the best ones on this Blog. Thanks to Terry Derkach for asking me to contribute.
More to come.
Alex AlexanderLink to video: http://youtu.be/VhGNBcxI40I
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