Day #3 of my Colorado career highlight reel.
Speaking of which, let’s reel in the years with Kid Charlemagne.
Of the innumerable amount of ensembles I’ve played with, one of the most unique was Kid Charlemagne.
Brainchild of Dave DeMichelis and Gary Bragg, this band’s mission was to perform the exquisite music of Steely Dan, and to do it just like the recordings. That’s a tall order, but we did it well. Steely Dan is one of those bands that people either really like or they can’t stand. The reason that some people don’t like ‘the Dan’ is that their musical acumen is underdeveloped. That’s a shame, but not everybody can appreciate sophisticated music. (More on that in Blake’s Blog)
A large band like Kid C simply had too many members in it for anyone to make any money. Money was not the mission, quality music was.
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are true Masters in my opinion, and their music ranks among some of my favorite go-to listening. “The Nightfly” is timeless, you can’t do better.
Kid Charlemagne’s lineup saw many personnel changes throughout the years, but the players were always top-notch. This included my own stints with the band, which were handled by other bassists when I took time off for various reasons. We mostly played bars like Herman’s Hideaway, Patrick’s and Garten’s in Vail. It was always fun to perform with this band because we completely entertained our audiences while having a blast with the repertoire. For me, it was a fun challenge to replicate Chuck Rainey’s bass parts to the best of my ability. I had a lot of complicated charts to read on this gig, but I memorized “Aja” which was far better than attempting to read that complex chart on the gig! One of my most cherished moments is when I met Chuck Rainey in 2017 and showed him my Kid Charlemagne bass book. We looked at the many charts I had transcribed where I had carefully written out his bass parts.
He loved that, and we had such a great conversation about it. He also autographed my Royal Scam and Aja discs. Amazing experience!!!
The moment’s of pure musical joy and rapture I experience onstage are elusive and quite rare.
It is so rare that when it happens I definitely notice it. This is the main reason I chose Kid C for one of my ’Top 10’ notable career highlights. I easily recognize that I had more of those elusive ‘magic moments’ in this band than in any other band I can recall playing in. Standing confidently alongside my brother, drummer Don Newby, while we locked with laser precision and ‘feel’ are some of my fondest memories. I still get choked-up when I listen to “Gaucho” from ‘Live@Garten’s’ when Newbs and I (and the rest of the band) absolutely crush the outro. Otherworldly. It is a magical moment and it makes me have happy tears. For the bass nerds, my favorite songs to play were “Peg” “Caves of Altamira” “Don’t Take me Alive”
and “Kid Charlemagne” (Chuck Rainey takes us all to school here.)
Blake’s Blog Bonus:
My Facebook post mentioned people’s “musical maturity” or their ability to appreciate sophisticated music. This is not just me being pompous, it’s the facts.
At every stadium in America, at every MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL game, they’ll play that tired “Cha Cha Slide” intro: “Everybody Clap Yo Hands” and thousands of people compliantly clap their hands. This is NOT musical sophistication, and it points out that we are still Neanderthals. Those people who love “Everybody Clap Yo Hands” probably wouldn’t care to hear the intro to Deacon Blues. Those of us who would prefer Steely Dan over the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ are blessed with above-average intelligence. That’s how I see it. Lol.
Musically speaking, there is such a wide range of human tastes and attitudes that you simply can’t please everyone. I know this through my work, and it can be frustrating at times.
I think it’s good that not everybody shares the exact same tastes in music, makes it more interesting! To my one of my best friends who doesn’t like Queen or Supertramp, I forgive you.
“Well I did not think the girl could be so cruel, and I’m never going back my my old school.”
I love my brothers and sisters from Kid C, and I am very grateful to have been a part of it all.
Thanks you dear readers. Get Along…