NAMM, MusiCares, and Tribal Healing

February 18, 2013

I recently returned from attending my second NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show.  This year, as in the past, I was working with MusiCares, the charitable health and human services arm of the Recording Academy (GRAMMYs).

MusiCares offers support for musicians in need.  Among other benefits, it helps them pay their rent, subsidizes the cost of medical services, and provides free support groups for musicians who are dealing with staying clean and sober.    Read the rest of this entry »


NAMM 2012: An Ergonomic Round-Up

January 30, 2012

Once a year, in the Anaheim Convention Center, the National Association of Music Manufacturers (NAMM) provides space for the creators of musical instruments, amplifiers, recording equipment and every imaginable music accessory to display and demonstrate their newest wares. As a long-time bass player and a bit of a gear head, I was excited to finally be attending this legendary trade show. Read the rest of this entry »


Integrative Care for Musicians: Upper Extremity Injuries

November 14, 2011

Rockers play hard.  Think of Pete Townsend and his windmill power chords, of Jerry Lee  Lewis frenetically pounding the keys.  We all love the sound and feel of that hard driving energy.  But the physical effects on players can be significant.  Repetitive stress injuries to shoulders, arms, and hands can stop a player in his or her tracks with debilitating pain and/or numbness. Read the rest of this entry »


Rock and Roll Ergonomics, Part Three: The Studio

July 10, 2011

It’s one AM. You’ve been in “Logic”, laying down beats, working the midi since 10, creating your latest masterpiece.   Lost in the music, the creeping pain in your neck reminds you that it’s time to stand up and move around. Read the rest of this entry »


The Sound of Healing

January 7, 2011

I relaxed at Philz, my local cafe, sinking into a soft leather couch, taking in a fine selection of indie rock, and enjoying some very strong coffee.  As I sipped on a tall Tesora, I daydreamed about the trip I’d soon be taking to Peru. I was excited, but at the same time troubled by a pain I was feeling. I knew its source.  A deep wound inflicted by someone whom I thought was a friend.  He had stolen something from me, something real and material, but also something more…vital.  It felt as if this “friend” had made off with a piece of my heart. But knowing this did nothing to relieve the ache. I wrote furiously in my journal about the injury of betrayal and about my need for some kind of healing and that maybe I’d find it in Peru. I didn’t really understand why I thought this might be so. Read the rest of this entry »


Rock and Roll Ergonomics, Part Two: Low Back Protection

August 2, 2010

It’s the second set of the night.  The Les Paul strung over your shoulders pours out hard and soulful sounds through the Mesa Boogie Mark IV (78 pound, 85 tube watt) combo amp. As you reach for that perfect note, bent over in trance, you feel a twinge in your lower back, then a sharp stab deep in your spine, and the life is suddenly sucked out of that singing lead.  Coming down from the clouds, mind and body are re-connected, your body telling your mind to stop doing what it is doing.  And you think about loading the amp into the car after the gig. Read the rest of this entry »


Rock and Roll Ergonomics, Part One: Bass, Guitar, and the Weight Problem

July 2, 2010

I remember my first bass rig. 1975. A sunburst Fender Precision copy and a small no-name transistor combo amp. Light weight, compact. I just threw it all into my Delta 88 Royale and drove. Easy. No muss, no fuss.  But as the years went by, and the bands got better, and I started to make a little money, my speaker cabinets got bigger and the amplifiers heavier, until I was finally hauling around an Aguilar DB750 head and a couple of “4 by 10” Eden cabinets.* (Did I forget to mention the compressor and rack?) The sound was awesome!  I could turn the master and gain knobs to 2 or 3 and push my band with clean tone and endless volume.  Yes, I was the “King of Bottom”.  But  my lower back started talking to me, and it was not with kindness. Rolling the cabinets to my car with a hand truck, I felt the pain as I anticipated the angled, awkward lift into the back seat. And then there was the head—750 watts and 43 pounds of compact tube power. I felt like one of those Olympic athletes doing the hammer throw just to get that thing into the car.  As part of a middle age rock band, something had to give. It was a stark, clear choice–my back or my equipment.

Read the rest of this entry »


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