A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were lucky enough to visit Seattle and experience a couple of really cool things in the wonderful world of music pertaining to Michael Shrieve with his band Spellbinder.
We arrived at the little place they play at every Monday night called Tost and when the guy at the door asked for six bucks each for the cover charge, my response back was, “Is that all?”. We stepped into a small and darkly lit room that looked like something out of a movie. My brain had been buzzing all day about seeing Michael and when he walked by, reality finally kicked in, I was actually going to see him live!!!
(Little side bar: I knew of Michael from his Woodstock and Santana days but, became a major admirer of his after hearing him with Novo Combo and anything else he played on that I could find after that. These included all of his solo works, along with recordings done with Stomu Yamoshita, Klause Schultze, Steve Roach and David Beel, to name but a few. It was after hearing his playing on these and other projects I came to the realization of how good and important his time with Santana was and subsequently got all his work with Santana too.)
After his kit kit was finally set up, he set behind it playing warm up grooves I could only dream of doing, and that buzzed (non drugged or alcohol influenced) feeling I had got stepped up a notch or two more. They played the first set and the band sounded great despite not having a bass player. The Hammond B3’s low end made up for the difference. Michael has surrounded himself with some great players out there. After the band finished their first set Michael introduced his son Sam. Sam played solo for about 10 or 15 minutes, and sounded great. After Sam finished he mentioned that he was playing a couple of days later in another Seattle location. I then went up to Michael stating to him that he has every reason in the world to be very proud of his son, which opened up an avenue of discussion.
We chatted for a bit inside and he said, “Let’s talk outside while I have a cigarette”. When it was mentioned we came from Detroit to see him, his response was “You didn’t come all that way to just me, did you?”. Well yeah we did, kinda. We must have talked with him for about 20 minutes out there. The discussion covered a whole variety things during that time. (Luckily I’ve met met many other noted drummers over my lifetime from Barrett Deems, Jo Jones to Simon Phillips, so this wasn’t my first rodeo with a known musicians, but this was still pretty damn special.) He was very pleased to find out how much my wife likes his solo percussion work on his album “In Suspect Terrain”. Michael had one the band members retrieve a copy of the bands live CD and signed the liner notes for us, which was very nice. Even though I didn’t want it to end I knew he needed some down time, so we thanked him and went back inside to move our chairs even closer to the side of his kit. The band then went back and played the their second set which was incredible. We arrived there about 8:45 and didn’t leave till around 2 am. It was worth every minute, to say the least.
So a couple of nights later we went to see Sam perform. We had gotten seated and a minute or so later I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was Michael. He stopped by to thank us for coming out and supporting his son. Sam did a great job, singing, playing both guitar and keyboards. Later before the performance ended Michael had to leave, but still he stopped by once more and thanked us for coming to see both his and Sam’s shows. How damn cool was that?
Enough rambling, it was a very damn cool time to say the least.
J P Lapp