Restarting the Blog, and a sad note about T Bone Wolk.
While I was working on my next book, about Todd Rundgren’s studio work (oh, there’ll be more about that in future posts), I found myself so busy that I was neglecting the blog. Sometimes I felt too tired of typing. Other times I was out learning and didn’t have anything to say yet. Still other times, I only had a paragraph on deck and thought it wasn’t “enough” to open a new entry. And frankly, Facebook has lately been robbing this page of the kinds of bloggish observations that should have been here.
Starting today, I plan to write something, anything, each day. Even if it’s dumb. Even if it’s mundane. Even if it’s sad.
On that note, this weekend the music world lost one of those musicians whom we often called a “journeyman.” The hard working musical genius types who rarely get the spotlight but if you look very hard, you can usually just make them out in the shadows, holding down the musical fort and making the front people shine.
Such a man was Tom “T-Bone” Wolk, who passed away this weekend at 58 from an unexpected heart attack.
Of late he was most well-known for playing with Daryl Hall & John Oates, and especially on Hall’s web program Live From Daryl’s House, where he was often the only other musician besides Daryl and his guest du jour. He was mainly known as a bass player, but his guitar and backing vocal skills came to the fore in Hall’s webshow, and I’ll never forget how important he was on the Nick Lowe episode. Or the Todd Rundgren episode. I didn’t know him, I can’t even recall if I even ever met him, although there is a remote chance of that because he was widely known as the bass player in G.E. Smith’s Saturday Night Live band, back in the 80’s when my brother Mike was in the cast. I went to a few of the broadcasts around this time, often sitting on the studio floor of 8H, directly in front of the band. Wolk was impressive. Tall and personable (it seemed) and while he was technically not the band leader, Wolk , in his trademark black hat, could head nod the drummer cues as well as anyone and really seemed to be sharing the gig with Smith (who had come with him from Hall & Oates touring band back in the day). He played on a lot of records, including Elvis Costello’s Spike, on the tracks “Satellite” and “Last Boat Leaving,” but I was in the house the night that Costello was on SNL for that album and Wolk covered the Paul McCartney bass lines for “Veronica” and “Let Him Dangle” as if he were Macca himself. He even toured with E.C. in the Confederates:
I didn’t realize, until I read it yesterday, that T-Bone played the bass on Kurtis Blow’s “These Are the Breaks” and apparently played on recordings by Carly Simon, Rosanne Cash, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Jewel and Shawn Colvin.
I know that Daryl Hall is devastated by the sudden loss of a great friend and colleague – “T-Bone was my musical brother and losing him is like losing my right hand. It’s not if I will go on, but how. T-Bone was one of the most sensitive and good human beings that I have ever known. And, I can truly say that I loved him” – but I imagine that anyone he played with, or players like me who just “got” what he was doing, took a moment this week to hear the echoes of his music in their minds.