It is with profound sadness that we learned this weekend of the sudden passing of Jeff Mucciolo – known around these parts as a drummer and percussionist extraordinaire, veteran of countless superlative projects, multiple Jammy Award-winner. But putting all that (considerable) talent aside, he was and will forever remain in our our hearts, above all else: A Great Guy. Someone who led by quiet example, earning the respect and love of those fortunate to cross paths with him. A Giver. A man who could wax rhapsodic about musical arcana (or just listen to a pal vent) at length, in late-night calls or texts when his other duties were done. For although he was as passionate and dedicated a musician as any I’ve ever met, being a Husband and Father meant even more to him.
Like most superb musicians, Jeff was low-key – humble even. He let the music do the talking. He listened to what everyone played and said – even to far less accomplished musicians’ suggestions or corrections. And he made everyone he collaborated with sound better. The very definition of a professional. But more than all of these gifts, I will miss his grace. He smiled and softly laughed when things went sideways – even in the face of chaos and injustice. In all the years I knew Jeff, I never saw him angry, never heard him raise his voice. He had a generosity of spirit, doing what he could to put others at ease, to put smiles on their faces. He never hesitated to fill in for a missing drummer, regardless of the material, even on short notice. Often the most casual off-handed comment or question posed to Jeff would be returned days later with an exhaustive email – filled with insight, historical perspective, and wry humor. He once organized a group excursion to a drumming festival, and as we embarked, he passed around various percussion toys for the like-minded to jam with – making it a literal musical journey. That’s how he rolled – if you knew Jeff as a musician, you knew him as a person, and vice versa.
The world is diminished by Jeff Mucciolo’s passing, but so many of us have been enriched by knowing him. May we take what he taught us to heart, and pass it along – THAT is the finest tribute. Of course, we will do MUCH more to send off Brother Jeff in fitting style: with formal honors at this year’s Jammy Awards (9/21), and with a joyous, long-form JeffFest, celebrating his life with the music and bandmates he loved (in November or December). We hope you can join us, and feel the love too.
To the Mucciolo family: our deepest sympathies, our thoughts and prayers, and our promise to honor and never forget our beloved comrade. To Jeff: we love you, we miss you, we are grateful for the time we shared. You are still with us – in the music, in our hearts, forever.
This Thursday (9/6), the Jam presents another fun-filled evening at The Red Lion (at the corner of Bleecker and Thompson). This edition features (with lineups of new and altered bands spelled out) mildly-electric Combo PERISPHERE (Amy Griffin, Gregg Raybin, John Holland, maybe more?) at 7 pm, alt-rockstars FIRE SIGNS (Carlos Cabrales, Lenny Randazzo, Marc Steve, Michael Rome) at 8 pm, Eric Clapton tribute SLOWHAND (Ed Howe, Kaia Updike, Joe Fortine, John Holland, Amy Griffin, Gregg Raybin, Jimmy Fontanez) at 9 pm, ostensible Beatles tribute NO MERSEY a little after 10 pm, and Rolling Stones clones THE ROLLING BONES from 11:15 to 1:15 am.
As always, the show is FREE for Jam members, and a modest $10 for everyone else. Well-behaved, accompanied minors are welcome until 10 pm or so, the Kitchen’s open ’til Midnight, and the live music doesn’t stop until 4 am.
If you’re afraid of forgetting your parts or lines, there’s nothing wrong with using a “cheat sheet” – even some pros do so. The trick is not to use it so much that you’re reading the whole time (rather than connecting with your audience and bandmates) – and to keep it from being a visual distraction. Distill things down to the bare essentials, such that you can glance at it between songs and remind yourself of, say, that tricky bridge and that your capo goes on the third fret. Putting your cheat sheet on the floor or behind a speaker makes it unobtrusive (or my personal fave: an iPad with colors inverted which throws off very little light, and is therefore nearly invisible). Ironically, you may find that just HAVING a cheat sheet nearby gives you peace of mind, and by being relaxed, you end up not needing it at all.
No one likes the Stage Manager when their time on stage is up – but everyone else likes him when he makes the PREVIOUS band wrap it up.
Thursday (9/6): Showcase at Red Lion – see ENTERTAINMENT, above.
Saturday (9/8): Newbie Jam, under the inspirational guidance of Jimmy Fontanez, 3 to 5 pm at The Jam (541 Sixth Ave, inside The Collective). $15 for members, $25 for non-members. Designed for those who don’t have much experience playing with others, but open to all.
ALSO Saturday (9/8): The Playlist – a jam session with the Human Jukebox, Robert Brandow, from 3 to 6 pm at The Jam (541 Sixth Ave, inside The Collective). $20 for Jam members, and $35 for non-members.
“Music is a beautiful language, one that anyone with a beating heart can understand, no matter where they’re from. We need to share that, we need to honor that; it’s one of the only things that defies the boundaries humans love to erect. Music has seen me through everything – because when all else failed me it remained the one thing I could rely on. When I’ve felt lost in life, if I’ve lost myself in music, I’ve always found my way again.”