Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By Fred Lanham
Contributing Writer, Upstate Musicians Group 

Drummer Mike Hudson

 

Last updated 3/14/2015 at 10:37am | View PDF

Mike Hudson

Mike started playing drums when he was 10 years old. He began taking drum lessons at school, in the fifth grade. One of his earliest influences was Jeff Porcaro. Mike remembers listening to "Toto" on the radio in his mother's car as a kid, and loving the groove in "Rosanna".

Through his teen years, in the 80s, Mike started getting into heavy metal, hair bands, all of the stuff that was cool back then. Van Halen, Dokken, Motley Crue, Guns and Roses, Def Leppard and so on...

When Mike graduated high school in '88, he stopped playing drums for a while, until 1992, when he bought his first real drum kit. He bought his black Ludwig rockers kit, (the Rocker line was still U.S. made then) from Martuzas Music on Factory Street, with the intent of starting a band. Carrie and Mike were dating at the time, and they went out and saw the local band Hevansent. He was watching Pat Griffin play drums, and looked at Carrie and said, "He's awesome! I am nowhere near good enough to play out yet, I need to practice!" When Mike first got the kit, he was playing, it set up right-handed (like he had played through his school years), and he had no real idea as to how to really play two bass drums. Mike had never played any music that used any kind of double kick rhythms, and never really noticed any double bass playing in any of the music he was listening to growing up. Double bass drum kits were used mostly for image by the bands he was listening to in the 80s. The hair metal bands and stuff.. It wasn't long after Mike had gotten the kit, when he had really noticed double bass playing in a song from Great White, called "Highway Nights". The song is on their album Twice Shy. That song got him started, and then Dream Theater broke out with their single, "Pull me Under". That song blew him away. He went out and bought the CD, to find that 'Pull me Under' was one of the most basic songs on their disc. That's when he switched the drums to left handed, and he learned all of their music all the way through, pretty much stick for stick, thinking that everybody played or could play like that. Mike says he was pretty ignorant on the local music scene, and music scenes in general..

Through playing Dream Theater's music, Mike learned odd time signatures, and mathematics in music. Mike Portnoy was a HUGE influence as Mike got started playing the kit again. Then Mike started getting into electric Jazz, and other styles of playing, looking up the more established real heroes in music, especially drummers, obviously. Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Neil Peart (obviously), Simon Phillips, Dave Weckl, Carter Beauford, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Billy Cobham, Omar Hakim, David Garibaldi, Thomas Lang, Benny Greb, Gavin Harison, plus many others that have been a huge influences after Dream Theater came along for him and still are. Dave Weckl is still his all-time hero though. Watching him play, really blows Mike away. Mike says that things that guy can do on a drum kit with such little effort, just amazes him.

After Mike got the hang of seriously playing drums, he started playing with the local musicians. Going to Jam Nights, trying to make friends, trying to fit in, with a new crowd where he really knew nobody, was a bit of an undertaking. The very first band Mike was ever in, was with a group of friends called "Witch's Kiss". He thinks they only played two or three shows, and that was the end of that. Mike said they sounded so bad at one bar in particular, that they were paid to leave. He can laugh about it now. In that case though, he says it really was the guitar players fault. Mikes not going to mention names but, the guitar player had a bad attitude, and really had far less talent than he thought he had, which made their band, a little less rehearsed then they should have been, sounding really bad. After that, Mike played for a few months with "The Shades", with Timmy Martuzas and Howard Brinson. That was his first real taste of playing with a band that booked jobs, and played regularly on weekends. From there, Mike joined Pat Haynes, and Barry Peterson, to form "The Edge". Pat was managing The Band, as he had a lot of connections with bars and such. Mike played with "The Edge" from 1993 through 1996 or 97, pretty much full-time. Mike then met Chris Smith, in 1996 who had his own band, "Chasers", and at the time they were looking to get a new drummer. Mike played with "Chasers" for a couple years, then eventually, in 2002, he met up with Jay Brown, who Mike had known through the music scene, and started playing with Jay's band" Edison". Mike says that "Edison" was a blast. Mike was playing with Jay Brown, Jeremy Clark, and a horn player named Bill Lovett, who was from Liverpool area. At the time Mike joined, Jay and Jeremy were in the process of recording their first CD. Mike was brought on board to lay drum tracks, which ended up in him joining The Band. They played all over New York State, and in areas of Pennsylvania. They would leave on Friday afternoons, and come home Sunday late morning, or early afternoon. Edison's demise came with the passing of Jay Brown on March 20, 2005. Mike loved Jay like a little brother, and many other people loved Jay. Mike remembers driving from his work at the time, in Fishkill, New York, to the hospital in Syracuse, where Jay was. Arriving that Sunday afternoon, in time to watch Jay's heart stop, while standing next to Jay's Dad and a crossed the bed from Jay's sister. Mike says he walked outside the room and literally cried on Steve Morley's shoulder like a baby.

After that happened, Mike had lost interest in playing. Their daughter was born the following December, and what better way to pay homage to your best friend, than to name your newborn baby after him? (Jayden, Mike's pretty little lady, will be ten years old in December 2015).

Mike did not play drums, for almost 3 years. It wasn't until February 2008 that he finally got the itch to play again. With Chris Smith, Bryan Cobb, and Mark Jennings, they put together The Band "Clinch". It was a bout a 180° polar opposite of what" Edison" was. While "Edison" was acoustic/folk music, playing a lot of stuff from the Grateful Dead, and Dave Matthews band, as well as our originals which sounded the like, "Clinch" was loud, heavy, aggressive rock. Playing stuff from Seether, System of a Down, Godsmack, and so on. "Clinch" lasted for almost 4 years, playing their last show at the John Hoover Inn, with another local band, "Dirty Frank", also playing their last show the same night. Mike says that night in particular, was probably the hardest, most crushing night of rock 'n roll in the history of local bands playing local bars. That was an incredible night, and Mike has never seen anything in any local bar compare to it, before or since. It was the only time in his years of playing music, where he was actually fearing the floor caving in. Carrie was in the crowd watching The Band, and heard another woman behind her, also in the crowd, say that she did not have room to put her arms down. Mike says it was an awesome ending to two kick ass rock bands. After his days with "Clinch" were over, Mike started playing with many different musicians playing many different kinds of music. Over the years, Mike has grown to love just about any kind of music, as long as it's played well. He has been so fortunate, in his years of playing, to say that he has played with some of the best talent Upstate New York has to offer. Mike says that this area is so rich with musical talent, with so many different people playing so many different styles of music, it's a really neat thing we have up here, this local music community.

Currently, Mike says he's still whoring himself out, playing with different bands that happen to need a drummer for a night or two, and keeping things fun. A few bands Mike has recently had the privilege to play with are Wagner's Agenda, R-19, Rack and Pignone, Paper Grape, KAB and friends, Phil and the Blanks, Moonshiner, Robin Davis Project, and Circus. Mike is also playing in The Band "Spur Crazy", with Ben Wisner, Phil DuMond, and Tim Robinson. They are playing country music, both old and new, and Mike says, it's a great time playing with those guys...

Mike said he's having more fun now, than he probably has ever had musically. With everything that is available locally to do, as far as musical genres, and people to play with, a person can almost always be as busy as they want to be. Mike now has two kids, and says trying to balance his musical passion, with his job, and with his family, as most musicians can attest to, is a challenge.

In closing, Mike says that the most important things he learned about being a busy musician, with a family, is to play what makes you happy, and balance your life. It's not always easy, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, as long as you don't lose focus as to what comes first.

 

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