I will never be able to write enough about being part of Charlie Chesterman and the Legendary Motorbikes (Chaz & the Motorbikes). This band was a freaking dream!
So, I had moved to Boston with the Bachelors of Art (band not the degree) and as things and bands do… it all fell apart. I was working at Wurlitzer’s Music with Andy and we was playing guitar for Charlie’s first solo recording. Pete Weiss was playing bass on the record, but running Zippah Studios took up too much of his time to play bass full time. Andy knew that I was a Scruffy the Cat fan, so he suggested me to Charlie. One day Charlie came down the stairs of the store, fresh off his Vespa with a CD in his hand and said “take a listen brother and show up for rehearsal.” I did and continued playing with Charlie for 15 or so years. I have to admit I was a little star struck. I was a big fan of Scruff and of his other band the Harmony Rockets. And this new cd, From the Book of Flames was amazing.
I took the CD home, worked out all the parts of all the songs. Then I pulled out My Scruffy the Cat recording and started leaning those. I used to feel that it wasn’t “cool” to have notes, so I memorized everything. Additionally, I had just switched from being a very technical player with a rack of gear and round-wound strings, and a bad-ass funk slap style, to playing only Dan-electro/Silvertone basses thru old tube amps. Playing with my thumb and/or pick and palm-muting everything.
First day of rehearsal come and I show up to find that this is a GREAT group of guys. And this is something I’ve found throughout my career, the best players are usually the best people. So, to get to play with the best people… dont be an ass. The next thing I found as we started playing, they just wanted me to be solid. I could play all kinds of fancy stuff, but solid was job one. Sure, I quickly got comfortable with all the material, and learned how to follow and lead each musician down a rabbit whole of craziness. But it was all about supporting Charlie. Of course Charlie wanted a “band” not a back-up group, so what became the Motorbikes was uniquely an all for one kind of craziness and it was just what Charlie wanted.
As the years when by, I’ve played with many great musicians and I’ve tried to carry the lessons learned with this band forward to each gig. Before the Motorbikes, I was all about ego and proving myself. I wasted many years posing and posturing and fighting fights that were never needed. But I guess those are lessons that need to be learned too.