Saturday, June 19, 2010

Silecchio, Twice

Silecchio, Twice

Rick Silecchio plays guitar with the Jim Small Band. Maybe forever.

“As I sit here in Afghanistan and peruse the band website, I remember the most amazing experience of my life, not just with Jim Small, I mean ever, so here it is for you to read.

“For those of you who can’t put the names together, its not cosmic co-incidence that me and the bearded wonder of a guitarist have the same name, the one you all call ‘Slick.’

“I happen to call him, Dad.

“I’ve been playing drums since being influenced by listening to the old [Jim Small Band] tapes and hearing Phil Cimino and his younger and marginally insane brother, Vinny, play […drums for the Jim Small Band. One Cimino succeeded the other.].

“I’m 22, now, so it’s been about 15 years since the first time I picked up a pair of sticks and started hitting stuff in a concerted effort to make noise into music.

“After a while I started to get pretty good and would be treated to sitting in a rehearsals and being made an honorary part of the band for a little while.

“Over the years the band started to become family, and seeing the guys was like having a large number of Uncles come over on Saturday nights and play me a private concert in my basement.

“Life was the point where I would stay in on weekends just to sit and listen, which in time paid off, because Vinny became a huge influence on how I played.

“I watched his uncanny ability to stay in the pocket and adjust the dynamics, all the while still performing complex fills; or, on the other hand, leave larger than normal pauses in the rhythm, all the while keeping the time, and not overpowering the band, and becoming a showboater.

“Life was better.

“Then 3 weeks before I shipped out for basic training for the army, I got my chance. I was allowed to sit in with the band for half a set on stage at Mulcahy's in Wantaugh.

“For some kids this probably wouldn't sound appealing on a Saturday night, but for me, this was the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the World Cup all rolled into one.

“We started off easy with, ‘Mary Jane,’ and rolled into a song with a name I can’t remember but it was a blast to play. Then we hit up: ‘Your Baby Used To Be Me.’ And then I was loose, no longer trembling at the fact that I was 18 and on stage with guys who’d been playing together for longer than I was alive.

“That being said, Phil Reilly and Mike Guido were like second fathers to me. Vinny was like a wacky older brother, slippin’ me shots before the show, and sneaking me Marlboros to calm down.

“Bobby and [Jimmy Varelas, The] Greek were always there with quick, witty lines to make me laugh, and Jimmy was just Jimmy, always there with support.

“After that song Dad looked at me and said something that would stick with me for the rest of my life.

‘“I love you son, but don’t [Mess] this up.’

“I then began to count off, ‘Kill the Pain.’ The first part of the song, I’m a nervous wreck, but having listened to that song so much as a kid, I can pretty much play it in a coma.

“We hit John's solo [singer John Boyle plays the tenor saxophone, (…well, and the piccolo, and the harmonica)] and I loosened up and really started playing.

“Then it gets quiet, Dad walks out front a little to my right, the crowd goes nuts and he turns around and smiles at me a smile that loaded me with enough confidence to conquer a small country by myself, as if he was thinking to himself, ‘That’s my son, this is great.’

“I was happier than a kid on Christmas. We rolled into his solo slow, keeping it quiet, but playing to the crowd. He gets a little louder, and I answer with controlled rimshots on the snare, and louder hits on the bass drum. Then he went into a riff that was the signal to kick it into high gear and rip the stage up.

“And oh man did we do just that. I caught a roll and made that set sound like a machine gun. I’d never played like this in my life. He looked up at me and simply nodded, telling me it was time to blow the roof off the place.

“Now we were playing to each other. The crowd being there was just a bonus. We went into the big Freebird-esque breakdown, and it’s safe to say I’m concentrating like I’m taking the SATs for the second time.

“I count, and I count, and I get to the downbeat, where we come back in, and I nail it. I almost wanted to cry, I was so happy.

“We play through the rest of the cuts and riffs, and it comes time to end. He walks in front of the set and holds his guitar up while I’m playing the last bit of life I’ve got in me through these sticks.

“I end the song and walk out from behind the set.

“The only hug that can compare to this one is when he watched me step off the plane after my first tour to Afghanistan. He hugged me so hard I thought I was going to die, but I didn’t care because if I did, it would be happily.

“I had just received a standing ovation on stage with my father. What son can say that?

“Life was amazing.”

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