Naked Sunfish Interview
by Rick Brown
- Where are you from? Tell us a little about growing up.
Tommy D - I am from suburban Philadelphia...I grew up in a blue-collar
township built by the industrial age. Looking back it was a simple
life...in a simpler time.... I am the youngest of 4. I grew up in
a household of having mom and dad together....not the perfect "Cleaver"
scenario but it was nice having both parents. In school and in the
neighborhood I was never part of a "clique" since I went
to school with many races and cultures. I hung out with people from
all walks of life. Not totally fitting in I found true comfort in
Naked Sunfish – What were your early influences musically?
Tommy D - As far as my early influences, I was …
and am still, into Kiss, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and yes, a little
Pink Floyd. My true favorite iconic musicians are Paul McCartney
and Jose Feliciano... To be honest, the experimental age of The
Beatles was cool but I really like Wings…that’s just
N. S. - Tell us how you began playing music.
Tommy D - I always like the sound of the bass line
on “Silly Love Songs”. That inspired me to play the
bass, which was my first instrument. I was 12 then. At age 14 I
became very amazed with the Van Halen sound so one day on impulse
I traded my bass in for an electric guitar. I played in some bands
until I was about 17. I played with a lot of posers who wanted to
sound like this one or that one, but I always had this desire for
an original sound.
N.S. – I have definitely noticed the Feliciano influence in
your lead guitar playing. You do play covers live, yet you make
them your own interpretably. Can you tell us about your medleys,
especially the juxtaposing of say Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"
with Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall"?
Tommy D - After
graduating high school, I took on adult responsibilities so I simply
didn't play for about 4 years. During that time I came across a
Spanish language record by Jose Feliciano. The voice and guitar
gave me goose bumps...I’ve been a fan ever since. Years later,
I began to play again and when I finally purchased a classical guitar,
it was his music that influenced me to do things that isn't the
As far as the crazy medleys that I play...many happen by accident
and I build on them as I go. I will be playing a song and something
in it (be it a chord progression or sometimes just a certain note)
will remind me of another song and I will start playing it and they
just blend. My mind is a crazy musical place.
N.S. – So how did you end up in Florida?
Tommy D - When I was about 10 years old, my dad and I spent a month
in The Keys. After that I became fascinated with Island life. During
the 80s and early 90s my parents had a 2nd home in Fort Myers Beach.
After a few visits I decided this was the place!! I like the balmy
weather and being close to the water. So in 1993 The Heavy Chevy
headed south and I’ve been here ever since.
N.S. - The new CD. "From: Me To: You" is all originals.
Do you have a preference when playing out?
Tommy D - I
like to play “Dance In The Rain” out because I can really
get carried away with my loop pedal. I would prefer to play nothing
when playing out, but I know that in most venues, it's important
to play songs that people are familiar with. The creative side in
me ends up doing my own renditions a lot of times, but it is still
N.S. - How long did the CD take to record? How did the process unfold?
Tommy D - The CD was like giving birth to our baby.
It took exactly 9 months. Basically, due to being busy, I would
get up in the mornings and work on recording tracks. While I was
working, my wife (Joyce) would work on mixing, editing, etc.
N.S. - When did you quit your day job, so to speak?
How long have you been strictly playing music? Was it once you moved
Tommy D - I was laid off from a construction job
in 2006 during the crash. I picked up my guitar and got my first
gig and thanks to fans and word of mouth, I haven't stopped since.
So it has been almost 5 years since I have "worked a regular
job", and thankfully have been able to support my family doing
what I love. It humors me sometimes how people think music isn't
"work" when actually it is a 24-hour a day job! In 2004,
I performed at an open mic at a hippie vibe coffee house. I received
great reception and that's what really started the fire for me to
do what I'm doing today.
N.S. - Yeah I know from my own musical experience
that people think you just walk up on stage and play and it's fun
and easy. There's practice, equipment to carry, bar managers to
reckon with, etc. Even the audiences at times can be a challenge.
But do you think Florida audiences are more congenial, warmer because
of the beach culture? Do you enjoy a certain venue over others?
Tommy D - I am very grateful to the people who have
anything to do with helping me continue this journey. From the person
who gives me a little applause, to my wife Joyce who has been there
with me through the sun and the rain...It's always nice when people
come out to a venue for the purpose of seeing me play...you know
who you are... Thanks for keeping me working!! Special thanks to
you Rick for your time, interest and promotion of my music.
N.S. – My pleasure. Thanks for talking with
by Dennis Toth
And once a girl,
Innocence still made
Like a child,
Like an angel,
Like a fawn.
To see the clouds
And feel the rain.
Like a precious fragment
Of fallen, gilded gold.
You would spread them
As little tokens
Across a fanciful map.
Each marked a place
To dream of,
Each mark a wish,
Each spot a hope.
Young you were
And never young again.
A brief reveille
Before the autumn
Before the chill.
A brief repast
Before the grace.
Dennis' Blog at:
book, Best Bites is available at:
by Daniel Eley
with Infant - Columbus Ohio
by Amy McCrory
A crew neck
I call it
Hmmm # 27
In today’s discourse
inter – view
Hmmm # 28
Hmmm # 29
If 40 is the new 30
and 50 is the new 40
I’m guessing 60
is the new 58.
Naked Sunfish on Facebook
by Sue Olcott
by Rick Brown
Music was a big deal in my hometown’s school system. Besides
your usual music classes where we all sang songs from the traditional
America songbook, bands and choirs were prevalent beginning as
early as grade four. Moving from sitting at one’s desk singing
“Froggie Went a’ Courtin’ “ with the entire
class, to a “Song Flute” orchestra (or “Flutaphone”
as we kids preferred calling it) was dramatic. And looking back,
I now realize this was probably some sort of test. You know …
so the authorities could separate the wheat from the chaff. Education
was like this in the late 50’s, early 60’s.
Still, everyone was expected to have his or her parents purchase
a black, plastic “Flutophone”. Then, their fourth
graders could practice, and eventually play in the “orchestra”
at the grade school spring concert along with 5th and 6th grade
bands. Fourth Grade Flutophones performed (and I use the verb
loosely) first, followed by grade 5 then 6. This was so parents
could see the progression of improvement I suppose. I’m
guessing it also helped everyone finally get over … or forget
… the screeching sound of a plastic tube with holes in it
being played by some sixty-five 10 year olds.
One of the “pieces” we performed at my first Flutophone
foray into musical performance was called “The Safety Song”.
This should not be confused with the 80’s hit “The
Safety Dance” … although both are equally inane. I
still know how the tune goes. Hell, I can still PLAY “The
Safety Song”. I’m not certain that’s a good
My parents were very supportive of me (as well as my younger siblings)
joining the band if I wanted to. My father had played the trumpet
for a short time in his youth. And he was a little conflicted
when I … for reasons unknown to either he, my mother or
myself … chose to play the trombone. Had I realized just
how difficult this instrument is to play … as well as the
frustration of how trombones rarely get to play leads …
I might have joined the glory hound cornet/trumpet section instead.
But my parents bought me a used trombone, and it was WAY cool.
A big brass bell and a SILVER slide made it unique amongst the
… uh …me and two other trombone players. For grades
5 and 6 I played first chair, my buddy Doug second, and a guy
named Curtis third. In “junior high” a girl (yes …
a girl) named Debbie challenged me and took over first chair.
She practiced. I did not. And by then I had realized that …
despite the Freudian nature of the growing and shrinking trombone
slide … I was going to attract more girls with my guitar
than my trombone. And puberty had put the kibosh on my desire
to be a band geek.
Many people are unaware of the seminal aspects of brass band instruments.
Not only do you have to “lube” your tuning slide on
occasion, but also, in the case of the trombone, the slide has
to be “lubed” with regularity. And everybody eventually
forms an opinion on their favorite personal lube for
their … uh …slide. So … you know … a player
could smoothly glide their slide out to 7th position. And believe
me, when you are in 5th or 6th grade, accomplishing 7th position
takes stretching your right arm almost out of its’ socket
while turning you head to the side in hopes to get there. Consequently
this contorts your young embouchure.
I loved this
word then and I love it now. Embouchure! Derived from
the French “bouche” meaning “mouth”, it
refers to the way a brass player positions the muscles in the
face in order to get the correct tone and range out of the instrument.
Embouchure! Sexy… sensual even. I mean …
the sound of the word is wonderful. Of course in the years just
before, and during the awakening of one’s body, a word like
this is magic to a 12 year old boy. “Hey! Check out the
embouchure on that babe!” “That chick sure
knows how to use her embouchure!”
But what I really want to talk about is the spit valve.
Many band instruments
have what is called the “water key”. Thing is …
nobody calls it a WATER KEY! I mean … even band geeks
have their pride. Everyone who has one calls it his or her “spit
valve” … because … well … when an instrument
(a brass one in particular) is played, the player’s saliva
eventually builds up inside. It is eventually blown out of said
instrument … onto the band room floor … via the spit
valve! (This is why I used the word “seminal” earlier
instead of … say …”visceral”) So in a
band of 35 players you can imagine how much … well …
you can imagine. Doug, Curtis and I did our share of contributing
to the janitor’s misery.
I really did enjoy playing in the band. But as I wrote
earlier, trombones were mostly in the background. Oh to be the
STAR, just once maybe! In grade six … at the tender age
of 12 … Doug , Curtis and I got our shot.
After almost two years of backing up the cornet/trumpet glory
hounds (their saving grace was that they too had spit valves)
the three of us got our chance to shine. For that year’s
spring concert … after the squawking Flutophone band …
following the 5th grade bands' set … part of our program
was to include a tune called “Slide, Kelly, Slide”.
This was a song written specifically for the trombone section.
I had no idea back then it was written in the 19th Century or
that it was about King Kelly, one of America’s first baseball
players, or that a movie was made in the 1920’s. OR that
it was America’s very first “hit record” made
at Edison Studios. No, to Doug, Curtis and I it was simply SHOWTIME!!
The coolest thing about “Slide, Kelly, Slide” was
that it was dominated by “slides”. Beginning in the
stretched out to the max, distorted embouchure, 7th position,
we pulled our slides all the way up to position # 1. This made
a delightful, circus like BAAA RUUUMPH!!! And it was repeated
over and over. BAAA RUUMPH! The three of us were in BAAA RUUUMPH
heaven! And we were to STAND UP during our entire performance!
We were all so excited we even practiced.
On the night of the spring concert, Curtis and I sat through the
annual 4th graders Flutophone Symphony … complete with a
rendition of “The Safety Song”. Doug was not there.
Then we listened to the 5th grade band … a slight yet somewhat
insignificant improvement. Doug never showed. He later told me
he got sick. I think he was afraid. But so were Curtis and I.
Did the cornet/trumpet players get scared? Curtis and I tried
to suck it up and appear brave.
Sitting directly in front of me on the floor of the gym was the
oboe player … another Debbie … a different Debbie.
Oboe Debbie. She had on a white blouse and a full skirt. She was
a quiet, shy band geek in the genre’s most resplendent way.
And before “Slide, Kelly, Slide” the band was to play
a more classical piece. What it was escapes me. But what I do
remember is this. At the beginning of this serious piece
… as I pulled out of a note in the 7th position …
the hem of Debbie’s skirt got entangled in my spit valve.
I pulled my slide up to position # 1 … along with Debbie’s
skirt, which was now about as high as her elbows. I’m sure
this gave all the parents, teachers, friends, sisters and brothers,
an unobstructed view of the poor girl’s panties.
Debbie turned back and gave me a look that both said “I
hate you!” and “What can I do now?” while valiantly
trying to blow on the thin reed at the end of her delicate instrument.
Her embouchure was a mess. This went on for about 5 minutes …
it seemed like 5 years. Rick played in the 7th
position. Debbie’s dress modestly covered her. Rick pulled
back to 1st position. Debbie’s dress is up around her shoulders!
And I must admit that remembering this conjures up a very hilarious
image of Oboe Debbie frantically trying to pull her dress down,
give me a hateful look and play a genteel woodwind instrument
all at the same time … in front of what seemed to be the
Mercifully the piece finally came to its conclusion. Debbie violently
liberated her skirt from my spit valve and gave me a look that,
if looks could kill, would have immediately made “Slide,
Kelly, Slide” a solo gig for Curtis. I’m surprised
she didn’t hurl her oboe at me.
Curtis and I stood and valiantly plowed through “Slide,
Kelly, Slide”. But I could not keep my mind off of what
had just transpired with the oboe player. The crowd seemed to
enjoy it. Or they were being polite. It’s difficult to tell
the difference in such situations. All I know is that I don’t
remember much about Curtis and my time in the spotlight. All I
could think about was what a disaster “Slide, Kelly, Slide”
would have been if Debbie hadn’t freed
her skirt from my T-Bone’s spit valve … how her skirt
would have been up over her HEAD … perhaps even
ripped from her body! I remember nothing of the experience
of the trombone’s starring role. I was living in a “what
could have been” nightmare.
if that nightmare had actually occurred. If poor Debbie’s
skirt had been involved in “Slide, Kelly, Slide” …
well … I’d probably STILL be in detention. Oboe Debbie
might still be in therapy. Or maybe have moved to Paris,
France and become a Can-Can dancer.
guy in the audience might yell out “NICE EMBOUCHURE BABE!!”
Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane
by Dan Eley
a Southwest 737 flying from Tampa to Hartford … passengers
fidget waiting to take off. The flight has been delayed for an
hour, and they now sit somewhere in the middle of a long line
of planes waiting to take off. There has been no word from the
cockpit … and the passengers are getting restless.
(loud CLICK as he keys his mike) … Ahh, this is your Captain
in the front office and … ummm … ahh … I just
wanted to say how sorry we are for the delay. Currently we are
… ahhh … number six for departure, so we should have
you airborne in 10 minutes or so. Ahhh … once in the air
we will try to make up some time and get you up to … ahhh
… mmmm … (silence) … ummm … ahhh ... (loud
click as he un-keys the mike) … (long silence … followed
by the loud click of a mike being keyed) … ahhh, Hartford’s
Bradley Field ... so sit back and enjoy your flight. (loud click
as his mike is un-keyed.)
Flight Attendant: (loud click as she keys her
mike) … And that is why they use auto-pilots (loud click
as she un-keys her mike).
Restless Passengers - Themselves