BOHP_2005-05-19_AVega Chapter 15
FB: What's the secret of your success and longevity? AV: Hanging around smoked filled clubs for sixty years. You couldn't see anything! FB: But I mean -- keeping fit, diet, exercise? You play tennis, don't you? AV: I used to play volleyball then I had a sports injury; I had to stop. Going out with young girls, my wife passed away in 2000. And I have a few drinks, well now they come out and say it's good to have a couple of drinks. I was trained to drink because when business is bad in the club you felt like, “Geez, I'll have a few drinks at least if the boss can't give me money to help pay for the band,” you know. So I still do, you know. A lot of guys, like the rest of the trio, they don't even drink, you know. They actually should have said art or something, you know do that. If you come in and I know you can't afford it, I'll say no forget it I'll, I can get a free Coke, I'd just assume have it you know. But somebody can afford it, it puts money in the tip for the band. Second hand smoke, you know you couldn't see ten feet in front of you. But maybe the next day going out with my baseball team, pitching, batting practice, hitting balls for a couple hours, the fresh air, maybe that's cleaned me up. So I'm in pretty good shape for being 84 next month. FB: God bless. AV: And I'm still coaching, I'm still thinking young. I don't think about age. I did feel old last week, my daughter called up and said dad it's my birthday, I said great, she's I'm going to be 60, I said wrong number. Diane's great she's been here lecturing, she's teaching music therapy and has her doctorate in NY. She graduated Emerson, went on the road with Burt Bacharach and sang around town performing professionally before that. Then went to New York, worked the Improv Club, got to know all those, J.J. Walker and Gabe Cavanaugh and they'd get her on Mike Douglas TV Show. She did the Playboy circuit. Then when her daughter started growing up, she settled down. She got her masters at NYU and her doctorate. Now she lectures all over the world on music therapy. FB: Wow, they should bring her here to Boston to Berklee. AV: Yeah she's been here. She lectures all over the world. She's going to Australia next month and been to Italy a few times. FB: Wow, that's a hot subject. AV: She's one of the pioneers, she's got a doctorate and books coming out. She bought a house in the Hamptons, so I guess they're doing alright. FB: That means they get up this way then. AV: Well I get up there in the summer. You go to restaurant there and you see Billy Joel or somebody coming out, Seinfeld. They just moved from Brooklyn to Central Park West. Her husbands an advertiser so between the two of them they're doing good. And my son's at Transnational. FB: Where is that? AV: TNT, right back of Fenway Park. If you want to go to Europe or you want to go to Aruba or Cancun and all that. FB: Oh he does all the bookings? AV: Yeah the wholesale house. So ask for Al Vega, he goes by that too. He calls me up, oh this is Al Vega, oh yeah, I used to hear you, that's my father. FB: So you got any advice for young musicians, the young people coming up? AV: Yeah well, try to play all styles, that still applies. FB: Don't paint yourself into a corner. AV: I know a lot of jazz guys who can't do gigs because they don't know the tunes or stuff for the other kind of job. There’s not that many societies out there, but you still will have to be able to play for singers, be able to play in different keys. I've seen some singers of mine, piano players sound like Oscar, but then she'd say I'm doing B flat, oh I can't play it in that key, I need the music. You're a musician so you know. But some guys sound phenomenal and then they... When I was going to different schools I went to, you'd hear a guy playing great, say wow that was Art Tatum. I'd say play another chorus, that's all they know that chorus, it's written out. You got to be able to do other styles and not just play somebody's chorus. You got to know tunes. During the days of the talent shows, people come in and the horn players had to play that Kenny Wenzel, Dick Johnson, they could play anything, even somebody singing an original, they could hear it. But then play an instrumental and have to hire some kid from one of the schools here and they'd say name ten tunes and they didn't know five. Finally they'd say pick a tune, what tune will you play and we'll play yours. They'd have to get the book out, but they didn't know it. FB: Yeah the fake books are probably extended a few people's careers. AV: Yeah well we didn't have fake books in the 40's and 50's so we spent time copying tunes from each other. Just learning them off the record without every seeing the music. FB: You have to have a good ear and good memory. AV: Yeah well like I said we take time copying songs from each other. But now you got all these books, you got choruses, you got everything you know. No excuse for not learning them when it comes down to it. FB: Well this has been a pretty upbeat session Al. It's nice to kick off this series with a live wire like yourself. AV: Live wire…!