Chapter L: Groovin’ and Prayin’ Upstate
The name of this post has been changed to reflect the naming convention of this blog
Even though the Tri-Cities area is not as populated as Philadelphia or New York, there’s plenty to get into—good and bad—a realization that came with time. As can be determined from this chapter, during my carousing, I developed my skills as a musician, and unknowingly became involved with the mob. Later I flipped, and converted over to Christianity.
Note: In this chapter the names of the characters have been exceptionally changed, in order to avoid any vile consequences from those being portrayed.
Gettin’ in the Grove
Before I left Philly, I was trained by an old-school drumming instructor who did theatrical acts on stage during the ’40s. His performance was a carryover from the vaudeville era, and the act consisted of a trio: bass fiddle, congas, and timbales. He taught me the various Latin rhythms and techniques for playing timbales. While training me, he informed me that I should be prepared to fill in the conga beat on the timbales with my left hand, in case the conga player got juiced and didn’t show. This training paid off, and resulted in me gaining dexterity.
To pass the time during off work hours, I resumed my percussion addiction and began taking lessons with Donato, a local drumming instructor. Donato looked like a ’50s beatnik hepcat, with a Dobie Gillis goatee; however, he wasn’t hip to the Latin style.
After a couple of months, I received a phone call from Donato. He had me contact Jerry Valentine, an Italian crooner who was establishing a new musical group. On the day I met Jerry, he had already recruited two other members—a guitar player, and a regular drummer. One of them, Roberto the ax player, was skilled at playing both six string and twelve string electric guitars. Antonio, the drummer played the standard set of traps, while I played timbales and congas (Latin Percussion). Jerry was a talented singer who had already cut an album, plus he played electric bass and harmonica. Later I discovered that he was a real dope fiend with mob connections. His real name was Vito Bolino, not Jerry Valentine, which was an alias show name. With a name like that, I couldn’t blame him for going by his alias. I learned soon that Vito and Robert preferred getting high on marijuana before performing.