My friend and frequent collaborator Dom Hilton recently made a promo video for the InLiquid Art+Design non-profit as a submission to the PhillyDoGooder Awards. He needed a bit of music for the piece, so he came to me looking for “something jazzy.” I looked through some of my older recordings and sent him a few options. Dom ultimately decided on “My Punk Rock Song,” a tune recorded by my old jazz quartet, The Last Resort, a group I founded at the end of high school/beginning of college in Ocean City, MD. The name of the band was a dig at the severe lack of original, thought provoking music in the resort town where I grew up, aka Cover Bandland. The name of the tune was meant to convey a certain cleverness in composing a jazz tune with only three chords that clocked in at three minutes, both very punk rock elements, but juxtaposed with lots of tricky rhythms and meter changes (sooo not punk rock). At least, my 19 year-old self thought it was clever.
I was glad to revisit this track after several years. The playing still sounds very green since 3/4 of us had almost no real jazz training or experience, except for the great tenor sax of my old friend and (he didn’t know it at the time) source of much musical inspiration, Bill Stuart. Bill was in his late 50’s playing in a band with kids not even old enough to drink, yet the creative environment and excellent group chemistry kept him coming back. His desire to play was infectious, often citing that all he needed before hitting the road for a string of dates was his horn and a clean pair of underwear. His attitude of “anytime, anyplace,” in reference to taking a gig is the sort of positive motto that I have tried to maintain in this increasingly difficult business with which to make a living. Bill’s career credits (Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan, and many others) could have been intimidating, but his sweet nature overcame any of that. The Last Resort was one of the best musical upbringings I could ask for – getting to write and play exactly what we wanted with some great friends. We even made three records. And for one magical summer, we damned the conventional entertainment options in Ocean City and actually made enough dough from gigs to sustain ourselves. Look at me, getting all nostalgic. Here’s Dom’s video: