Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jay Rivers, American

(Jay's new web site.)

I met Jay Rivers in early 1993, shortly after he moved to Columbus from Charlottesville, Virginia. I'd been playing drums in a band called No No Man for a short time when No No Man's guitarist, Ray, told me about another guitarist he'd recently met (Jay). Ray gave me Jay's phone number, saying he thought Jay and I might hit it off. So I called Jay shortly thereafter, and we made plans to get together and play some music.

[Jay Rivers playing guitar with Jamie Graves looking on.]

It was apparent the first night Jay and I jammed together that we had instant chemistry. We didn't even need to discuss what we'd be playing; we just kind of played. Jay would start playing a riff he'd been working on, then I would join him, and we'd mess around with it for 15 or 20 minutes. Listening to the tapes afterward, we sounded like a band that had been together, refining our music, for months or years. Our jams sounded like songs. Jay and I were so in tune with each other that we could take a jam in a completely different direction in a split second.

One riff we worked on was a polymetric thing Jay had been constructing in his head and on his guitar for a while, hoping desperately for the chance to play it with a competent drummer. Jay's riff was in 5/4 (or 5/8), but he wanted the drum part to be a simple 4/4 (or 4/8) pattern--"Boom Tap Boom Tap"--with the two voices meeting on a down beat every 20 counts. After a couple times through this verse pattern, there'd be a refrain (or maybe it was a bridge) in which Jay would join me in 4/4 time. This song was fresh and inventive, like Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, but nothing like Kashmir. It was one of the signs that told both Jay and myself that we could go somewhere playing music together.

Jay is a phenomenal guitarist, and I have no doubt that we could have been "rock stars" if I had only been as passionate as Jay. And honestly, I have no idea why I didn't devote myself completely to playing music with him. I mean, I spent hours every day playing my drums in the early to mid 1990s, and I got really good initially by playing along with Pearl Jam's album "Ten." After Pearl Jam I started playing along with Smashing Pumpkins's "Gish," one of the most incredible albums ever made, with amazing drumming. In a short time I went from a pretty good drummer to a fucking bad-ass drummer, simply because I practiced so much and was so passionate about drumming. So where was my passion for paving the road to rock stardom? I wish I knew.

Anyway, I pretty much stopped drumming after I moved to Las Vegas in 1997 to attend UNLV. And as my passion for helping people blossomed, my passion for drumming waned. While I went through the motions of teacher training at UNLV (it's not education), Jay went through some heavy shit that most people never experience. But he got through it all, and now he's trying to find ways to use his immense talent and intelligence to go somewhere in life, just like I am.

Although I've been kind of pissed off with Jay for a while, Jay is still one of two people I consider a true friend. There have been times when our friendship was as good as could be, and there have been times when we didn't speak to each other for a year. But Jay is a true friend, and true friends are hard to find in this world.

If you live in or near Columbus, Ohio and would like guitar lessons from someone who knows the guitar inside and out, visit Jay's new web site. His site is not just for people interested in guitar lessons, though. He may offer something else you need.