Letters: What Do You Think?

Register Needs More Than Tech Skills

Would you vote for a presidential candidate because he had the office skills to effectively manage the White House staff? Or a congressional candidate who had the technical skills to modernize his office with the latest electronics?

These are elected positions for a reason: what is required of our elected officials is not specific job skills so much as the commitment and ability to represent and safeguard the interests of the voters.

Register of Deeds is such an office [“Recording Time,” August 2, 2012]. In a time when bankers and mortgagors are freely gaming the system, deliberately obfuscating property records to their advantage, the Register of Deeds is our final defense against those who would rob us, as the old song goes, “with a fountain pen.”

Bonnie MacCracken understands this. She is the only candidate who has demonstrated the commitment and ability to use her elected position to safeguard our rights and our property.

Please don’t stay home on Thursday, September 6; your vote is needed in this election! And please, before voting for one of the candidates who has promised to “bring the registry into the electronic age,” think carefully about what the computerization of voting has done to our confidence in the democratic process.

Christopher Stoney
via e-mail


Drum Roll for Percussionists

On the back cover of Martin Mull’s third album on Capricorn records, entitled Normal, there’s a line that states, “A drummer is a musician’s best friend.” What seems like a compliment at first glance is actually a jab, a subtle joke, the implication being that drummers are somehow less than musicians.

Considering that Martin’s producer and my former roommate, Keith Spring (also the former saxophonist in NRBQ’s Wholewheat Horns), chose the finest drummers in the business to play on Martin’s first and third albums (Levon Helm, Bernard Purdie, Frankie Dunlop, to name a few), this is a hilarious joke. Obviously, Martin and his producer were well aware that drummers are indeed musicians, often quite exquisite.

Drummers have historically been the brunt of jokes (“What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? Homeless!”).

Drummers are portrayed as dolts who only know how to hit things and have no musical sense whatsoever. It’s all in fun, as of course any real fan of modern music knows that you can’t have a great band without a great drummer.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rikki Bates. I’m a drummer. Actually I’m the drummer in the band The Catbirds, whose album was reviewed in the latest issue of the Valley Advocate by Patrick Kelley [CD Shorts, August 23, 2012], though you wouldn’t know that from the review. It’s a great review except for one thing—Patrick listed the names of the other three members of our quartet, but failed to mention me.

This is really too bad, since I’m the only member of the band to hail from the Pioneer Valley. And I have a rich history in the area. Born and raised in Springfield, I studied percussion with Warren Myers (Springfield Symphony, Boston Pops) for over eight years.

In 1968, when I was 12 years old, I first met Tom Ardolino (former drummer for NRBQ) at Van Sickle Junior High in Springfield, where we shared the same home room. We also shared a passion for the weird and whacky in music—the offbeat and obscure—and became best friends, collecting records, discovering new music and developing our own crazy musical theories, which would eventually develop into our own similar yet distinct and individual styles of playing. Tom remained my best friend right up until his unfortunate demise this past winter (I miss him terribly).

I’ve also played in many bands in the region over the years, including one of the Valley’s most popular bands in the ’70s, Clean Living. Oh, and I almost forgot: I’m going to have a sex change. But that’s a whole other story. Come to think of it, the Valley Advocate could do an entire feature article on me, which could be quite interesting. I’m not expecting that the Advocate would consider that, though. I’m just the drummer!

I’d be happy enough to make the point to Mr. Kelley that we drummers are worth mentioning. In the future, it would be nice if he didn’t leave the drummers out. After all, we are musicians, too!

Rikki Bates
via e-mail

Author: Our Readers

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