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Sunday, February 25, 2007


I caught Billy Hector at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on Friday night. It was wild. The gig was billed as the "Billy Hector Big Band," and the extra personnel indeed lent a big sound to the proceedings. Billy had a bass player, two drummers (one of whom occasionally switched to timbalis), a saxophonist and a trombonist.

The horns really kicked in for "Soul Man"; those dudes were PUNCHING it up. The show was very jammy, but a musician's ears could identify the riffs that signaled the boys from part to part. Good music, and a good time.

I was there with my brother, sister-in-law and a friend. My sister-in-law is a Billy Hector freak. This guy has a devoted following here at the Shore and down in South Jersey, from whence I sprang. Billy is friendly with my sister-in-law, and my brother is friendly with his sometime drummer, Sim Cain, one of the two dudes pounding the skins on Friday. (I think my brother must know every musician who plays in South Jersey.)

Affable and amazingly talented, Sim is the longtime drummer for Rollins. My brother remembers watching Rollins play at Woodstock '94 live on pay-per-view. Brinie once said to Sim, "It doesn't get much more high-profile than Woodstock." Sim replied, "We played the Grammys that same year." It was amazing to think that a dude who played Woodstock and the Grammys was up on that cramped Wonder Bar stage having a ball (and wearing a Fantastic Four T-shirt).

I'm not a Shore native -- I moved here in '84 -- so I'm not the kind of dude who saw Bruce before he was Bruce and keeps a scorecard of all the hep Asbury cats and all of that. But this dude playing sax for Billy Hector just had a face that I seemed to recognize. Not like I ever saw him before; he just looked like one of those dudes you hear about from the old Asbury days. His worn saxophone had obviously logged many, many stage hours (as did Billy's SUPER-worn guitar).

Brinie and me rapped to the dude after the show, and sure enough, he WAS one of those dudes. Tommy (I didn't jot down his last name, but you Asbury freaks probably know who I'm talking about) played with Tim McLoone's Holiday Express for years (though not in recent incarnations); played gigs that Bruce jumped onstage at; and played with Bobby Bandiera at the Jersey Shore Rock 'N' Soul Revue's Phil Spector tribute, for example.

And the sax? "It's a '59; I've had it about 30 years," said Tommy. You could just tell.


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