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Ron Thompson – Still on the beat

I met Ron Thompson on my first gig ever in Syracuse when my good friend, Mic Brown (formerly of the Velkros where Ron was their drummer), corralled him and Mike Cappuccillii  (Back Alley Boys) on bass to round out the one-off gig. It was at the Palace Theater. I thought he was a great drummer! Just as cool, we hit it off, making friends, instantly. Over the next year, we managed to play another gig when I was in town visiting from my then home in San Diego. I had lunch with him at the NAMM show in Anaheim when he wandered west for the occasion.

Since that time, we’ve stayed in touch as I’ve moved back into this area. And, as I mingle with the Syracuse music scene, getting to know the musicians, music lovers and promoters, I note how much his name comes up, so often, and always in good light. Ron is obviously well-respected as a drummer’s drummer. Just as much he’s respected in general as a damn good dude. A great example of himself.

You might remember him with the aforementioned Velkros, or perhaps the Back Alley Boys – both groups,of which, enjoyed a pretty healthy success right here in the Central New York area… The Velkros, not surprisingly, being hooked into opening for Van Halen on a tour leg or two.

And by now, Ron has crept into the aspects of producing and promoting live music featuring Central New York talent with his self-produced Final Friday series t Theater Mack in Auburn. As the name gives there is music on the last Friday of any month in this cabaret style seating room complete with raised concert style stage with all the fixings. The site also features a historic significance adding to the cool factor of the performance environment.

We caught up, recently,  as we do. And I basically threw this interview at him.

CS: What’s goin’ on , man?april2015-sounds-old

RT: Hey Chuck, how’s it going?

CS: Good.

RT: Good.

CS: Hey, can I throw you under the bus for an interview for my column?

RT: Hahaha. Yeah, sure.

CS: Ok, here we go.

RT: hahaha…

CS: When did you get started in music? What made you become interested?

RT:I was always intrigued by the drums. I joined the school band in 6th grade and then got the usual drum set for Christmas the next year. I became totally in love with music when I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan (I had to have a set of Ludwigs)

CS: What inspires you to play?

RT: The interaction with other musicians.

CS: You have an impressive collection of gear, especially drums. Tell me about it.

RT: I guess just feel in love with drums and like to have a good selection to choose from. There is always a snare drum I just could not part with and Ludwigs were always my fave. So, I had to have a Ringo kit. Then, I was tempted to trade it, Then, I realized I had to keep it. And so it goes till I wound up with 30 snares of various favors, and 7 drum sets. I do trade out some and add others. It’s always in flux and I enjoy working on them and rebuilding them

CS: You’ve enjoyed a healthy music career, here, in Syracuse along with a healthy profile and reputation. How’s the ride so far?

RT: I’ve been fortunate enough to have played with quite a few talented musicians and a few great bands in my life as a musician. In the 1980s I did the 1984 Van Halen tour in the opening group and went on to work with a country rock band from the 90s thru 2004. Recorded some tunes on Dusty Pascals 2nd album that Loren Barrigar produced! I got introduced to Stevie Tombstone through an old contact from the country rock days and I did a few gigs and recorded the ‘Greenwood’ album with him a couple of years ago.

CS: Funny war story, please?april2015-sounds-group

RT: Oh, where to start?

CS: K. I get it. Who do you listen to?

RT: From the moment I heard the Beatles I’ve always been a big fan of that style of pop rock, along with roots blues music. So, I gravitate in that direction a lot. But I also have been listening more and more to acoustic folk styles. Thanks to all the pandora type stations, the world of music is an open book.

CS: You got into the promotions/production biz…How the heck did that happen?

RT: I was usually the guy booking the groups I played in. I realize that it goes against the grain as a musician but I forced myself to learn as much as I could and tried to stay out in front of what was happening in the particular music scene I was in. When I stopped playing full time I thought that I was out of it, but then a few years ago I had the opportunity to help put the Theater Mack together. And I fell in love with the place.

The idea came about to help support the place and I thought since I knew music, I could put something together once a month. Ad I do. The idea is to bring together people who would like to actually hear as well as see a group , in an environment that is custom made for it. To do what it takes to make it happen, I am the press agent, poster hanger, booking agent, sound tech and roadie for Final Friday at the Theater Mack music series. This was never in my mind when I played professionally, I only thought of playing my kit.

CS: Thoughts on the CNY music scene?

RT: I would have to say it looks to very healthy as far as great creative musicians and groups. Lots of new original music being released. The need is always there for people and venues to help support the original music scene . I’m seeing a lot of enthusiasm in the new groups

CS: Advice for budding musicians?

RT: To be a part of a band or have a solo career, I would have to say, you need to be true to yourself, follow your heart creatively and always strive to advance yourself musically. Get aware of how the business works and pay attention to the details.

CS: Advice for budding show promoters?

RT: What little I know about it I would say the only way to learn, is to do.

CS: Where can we find out more about you and your activities in music?

RT: The theater has a web site www.theatermack.org.

CS: Thanks, for taking the time to talk music with us, Ron! Keep on.

RT: Thanks, Chuck.

(Ron in second from the left in the group photo)



Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member of SaltCityChill.com  and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.

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