These tomatoes are about to go salsa dancing!
For music, I was in a random mood, and I’d read an interview on Concert Scene which David Cook had named his dream band (living or dead). A professional musician’s notions of a “great” band line-up are usually interesting for insight into what he or she considers to be great music, so we’re going to dig a little here and see what we find.
Spoiler: well-rounded hard rockers with an eclectic edge.
What you’ve just heard (go click PLAY if you haven’t) is a super-short version of drummer John Bonham‘s famous Moby Dick solo. The long version runs 30 minutes and involves breaking Bonham’s super-heavy drum sticks. The other members of Led Zeppelin would play the intro and then wander off stage, leaving Bonham to it.
How does one make a prolonged drum solo interesting? This snippet hints that it involves varying the beat, as well as using the mix of drums and cymbals to create something that’s close to a melody line. That may be the wrong term… but for all I know, it’s the one Bonham would have used, as he was self-taught. He started drumming as a tot on an improvised drum kit of coffee cans and such, thus making himself the first known urchin to be bought a real drum kit because it was less noisy to listen to. He’s ranked by Rolling Stone as the #1 drummer ever, so the challenge with Bonham will be integrating him into a band so that he doesn’t stick out as the superstar.
But you want salsa! Most of my photos didn’t come out, but the recipe is simple, so we’ll forgo the pretty shades of red in favor of more videos.
Into the food processor, put:
–Chunks of onion
–Chunks of tomato
–Hunks of something green and leafy (it’s supposed to be cilantro, but I used Italian parsley)
–Dollops of canned, chopped jalapeño
Whirrrrrrrr!!!! If the result seems low on tomato, process some extra tomato. This all goes into a pot and simmers until it smells good.
Now you’re wondering how I’m going to extend a recipe over several more musicians. There’s a surprise coming.
Pay no mind to the vocals — we’re listening for the bass line of Pino Palladino. “Music for Chameleons” is from the first major album that includes his work: Palladino had kicked around with touring bands for a bit beforehand. He’s known for playing the fretless bass, though in the 1990s (after touring with a jaw-dropping array of major names), he started also playing a fretful one. He also wandered from rock ‘n’ roll to neo-soul.
Palladino’s career is kind of fun to track, as he essentially made a living as a session and touring musician. So his work shows up all over the place, in all sorts of unexpected contexts.
Speaking of unexpected… we’re making nachos!
Well, what else do you do with salsa?
The first vital step is to pull yet more chicken. I got lazy and tossed a couple boneless-skinless chicken strips in a pan with onions and jarlic. Getting a little brown on the chicken is cheery. Pour in low-salt chicken broth. Simmer. The strips take only about 10 minutes to reach fork-pulling consistency.
This time, do pay attention to the vocals. That’s Ian Thornley from Big Wreck. Legend is that he went to his first rock show — Bruce Springsteen — and knew exactly what he wanted to do. So he did.
Vocals are, to my mind, one of the toughest calls, as that’s what casual listeners immediately identify with a band’s style. It’s not necessarily about pretty or even about range. It’s about having the right tool to achieve the desired sound. Thornley’s voice is literally dreamy: not in the swooning sense, but in the ethereal, unearthly sense. And then he turns around in the next phrase and makes it harsh and muscular.
This calls for making our own tortilla chips. For flour tortillas, pre-heat the oven to 325. Slice the tortillas into eighths. Toss them in a bowl with a little olive oil. Arrange them on the pan, salt well, and pop in the oven for about 7 minutes, If they aren’t crisp yet, give ‘em a little longer.
There’s nothing to distract here from lead guitarist Joe Satriani, who put out a few instrumental albums and is now lead guitarist for Chickenfoot. He supposedly quit playing high school football in favor of playing guitar when Jimi Hendrix died.
Satriani is another one who’s toured with a number of famous acts, starting with Deep Purple, and whose work appears on multiple records for multiple groups. Most fun factoid? He taught guitar to David Bryson of Counting Crows. Or he has his own guitar series named after him. Or… he’s played on blues as well as rock ‘n’ roll records. Eh, just read his Wikipedia entry and weep.
Assemble chips, chicken, some black beans cooked with ancho pepper and lime, salsa, salad greens, and cheese, and lo! Nachos! With the illusion that it’s somehow magically more healthful than what’s served at restaurants.
The salsa has turned me off the jarred kind. Oh my! I ordinarily regard tomatoes with skepticism, but a fresh tomato is an entirely different critter.
Speaking of different critters… how on earth does one define a fine rhythm guitarist? Presumably it’s excellent guitar-playing with the ability to blend into somebody else’s jam. James Hetfield of Metallica does in fact seem to be mighty fine with a guitar, as we see here.