Friday, October 19, 2007
1994, taken from behind my kit during a Scientific recording session. There's Dave warming up before taping a song.
We really put our all into the recording of Scientific, our sophomore release...hence the title. It was literally a science, trying to piece together all the elements and compounds to create what we wanted. And it wasn't always an easy task. There was a song or two that we didn't hit on the first take, mostly due to me clamming up for some reason or another. It was frustrating, and Dave finally looked over and said "don't think too hard...just feel it." So I did, and everything went fine.
Dave embodied the same essence of many Jamaican heavyweights that I've met in our career—a completely laid-back attitude whose approach to the music was straight from the heart...not from the charts. I played with Derrick Morgan some time ago, and while practicing one particular song, we asked him how many times we had to repeat a certain riff before ending the song. He replied, "Why you countin? Reggae's not 'bout numbers man...s'about feelin. Just follow me man, you won't get lost." He said that with the biggest smile I'd ever seen. It totally reminded me of Dave.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
As I'd mentioned in the last post, touring with the Skatalites in 1993 was, in my opinion, the best thing to ever happen to the band, as we got to see and meet our greatest inspirations. This photo, taken backstage in Santa Cruz with Lloyd Knibb (Skatalites drummer), clearly shows the beaming smiles of elation from my face and Deston's. Dave, on the other hand, always kept cool and collected in photographs, although believe me, he was just as excited as the rest of us were, if not more.
Friday, October 5, 2007
It was way too early that morning to deal with the band, but I opened the door anyway when Greg rang the bell. I remember it being overcast and brisk; it was 6am and Greg Lee's happy, grinning face might as well have been the sunrise. They'd showed up with a van and trailer rented from the airport (which was right by my house), and we were about to embark on a 10-day West Coast tour with the legendary Skatalites. It was 1993, and our first stop was San Francisco.
Dave, on the other hand, was barely awake. I imagined that he must have been up much earlier if Greg picked him up all the way from Newhall. He muttered a "'morning" and sat on the living room carpet, eyelids heavy. Greg and I got my gear and bags and began loading them onto the trailer, careful not to slip on the dew-laden front lawn. After a couple trips back and forth, I came inside to see Dave fast asleep, his head on a makeshift pillow made from a jumbled jacket. My mom chuckled, a giddy, little-girl kind of chuckle that she stifled as she pointed at him—"Look! Look!" she whispered excitedly. "The kitten's sleeping on top of him!"
Greg and I looked closer, and sure enough, nestled in the perfectly comfy plateau of Dave's side was my grey kitten, whose belly rose and fell in unison with Dave's deep breath of sleep. I went and grabbed my camera, and hoped the flash wouldn't wake them. It didn't.
We left them like that until all my gear was packed. We said bye to my mom, and my skin prickled...not from the cold air, but more from the realization that we were heading out on what was to be, in my opinion, the best thing to ever happen to us—a tour with our biggest inspiration, The Skatalites.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
In 1992 Hepcat was just beginning to get our paws wet, playing more "official" shows than just dives and backyard parties. Despite the increased pressure on us to perform well, Dave always kept the calm, content and confident manner that shows through in nearly all the pictures I've found. The above was taken in February '92, as stamped on the back of the photo. Wish I could remember where it was.
I talked with David's mother-in-law, whom I met for the first time during his family's gathering the evening of that fateful Saturday. We were sharing our favorite memories of him, and she soon discovered that I was the drummer in his band. "¿Que recuerdas de el, como un músico?" (What do you remember of him, as a musician?) she asked.
I told her, "You know, one thing I can say about Dave—he never, ever lost his cool, no matter what crazy situation or event happened in our band. I've seen all of us lose it at least once, including myself. But I have never, ever seen Dave angry."
"Que memória tan bonita..." she responded, a hand on her heart and a tear glistening in her eye, "que puedes llevar en tu corazon, para siempre."
What a beautiful memory...that you can carry with you in your heart, forever.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I'm still searching through the archives to see what else I can come up with...but in the meantime here's a photo sent to me from Chris Murray long ago. It was taken in Berkeley, outside our hotel room before going to sound check. Chris said probably '93-'94 but I'm willing to bet '93, as Raul and I are wearing the infamous "Stoned Rat" Hepcat shirt which I made a limited edition of that year.
Dave's third from the left (next to Alex), wearing a Tantra Monsters shirt (a ska band from Hawai'i—are they still around?). How young and vibrant we all were...this was Hepcat at its prime.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I thought I had enough troubles that morning, while sweeping away the massive amount of water which had flooded my garage through its old, leaking roof. An unexpected thunderstorm had taken its toll earlier on. Then my wife yelled to me from our side door. "Greg! Get over here! Now!" She never calls like that unless it's something very urgent, like maybe our son taking a tumble onto the hardwood floor. He's just about ready to walk, so I've always been prepared for something like that.
But I wasn't prepared for the look she gave me when I ran over. Wide-eyed and desperate looking, she told me Deston had called...and that David, our bass player, had died.
It was remarkable how in an instant my heart just dropped to the pit of my stomach, and how nothing else, not even the arduous task I was taking on, mattered. I imagined my life as a big chalkboard with all this stuff written on it, and someone just coming along with a giant eraser and wiping away a big, gaping hole in one swift motion.
Needless to say, the days after were spent in some weird zone. I'd go about my daily routine and responsibilities, but every couple of hours something, anything would pop up that would conjure David's memory, and I would choke and stare blankly at the floor in thought, and my world would become some kind of melancholy soup for awhile.
I guess a typical thing for people to do is try to remember the last thing they said or did with the one who died. I remembered the last time I saw him was at our rehearsal in early June. He met our son for the first, and last, time. Then I tried to find the last picture I took of him. All I could find was some pictures I'd taken of a recording session we did in August of 2006 for some new songs. The one above was not exactly the last of him from the bunch, but it ironically personified Dave in all his mellow tranquility. For if there was one thing I remember about Dave, it was his ability to float, carefree, above any and all trouble and worries that the band went through. He never lost control...never lost his cool...and never cracked under pressure.
And now, there he is, with a smile and a peace sign, while the rest of us are going through hell on earth without him. That's Dave for you.
As I write this, I'm not sure what this blog will be, but it will definitely be in honor of David Fuentes—a friend, son, father, surfer—and one of the best freakin' reggae bass players that ever lived.