Imagine you're a rock chick with a thing for drummers. Instead of becoming a Banger Sister, you become a rock photographer specializing in drummers. You become so good at capturing the personalities of rock's timekeepers behind their fortresses of cymbals and cans that you rise to the top of your field, becoming friends with every one of your idols in the process.
Then you get leukemia. The good news is that you begin to lick it -- after two bone-marrow transplants and a stack of medical bills. But here's the classic, rock-movie ending: All the favorite drummers you ever met end up throwing you a concert. And no one even has to ask them twice.
All-Star Jam for Lissa Wales
Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street
Saturday, September 10, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 to $30. Call 602-267-1600 or visit web link.
That's the story behind Saturday's at the Celebrity Theatre, which brings together classic skin-beaters ranging from Danny Seraphine (of the original Chicago) to Denny Seiwell (Paul McCartney & Wings) to Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart) to Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to *NSYNC's secret weapon, Billy Ashbaugh.
"Everybody knows Lissa," says Troy Luccketta, the drummer for Tesla and a relatively new Valley resident, who got the ball rolling on the event. "She's shot covers for Modern Drummer and Drum magazine over the past 25 years. She's at every event. If there's a show, Lissa's there."
Luccketta says he knew his idea for the concert was going to happen as soon as he enlisted the aid of Evening Star promoter Danny Zelisko, a prominent fixture on the Valley music scene for more than 30 years. "I'm talking to Danny on the phone, and I hear his fingers tapping away on a keyboard," Luccketta says, laughing. "And the next thing you know, he says, 'How's the Celebrity on the 10th?'"
With Zelisko in his corner, Luccketta says it was surprisingly easy to line up performers for the concert. A bigger challenge was figuring out how to use all of the drummers who signed on to play. The era of double-drummer bands went out with the Doobie Brothers, and a 12-drummer jam sounded, well, crazy.
Luccketta decided to have the drummers perform some of the tunes for which they were best known, either with the house band of top session players he was able to line up or, in Seiwell's case, to the original backing tracks.
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"Trust me, all of these drummers are capable of entertaining on their own," Luccketta says. "But wouldn't you rather watch Denny Seiwell perform 'Live and Let Die' instead of a drum solo?"
Other highlights will include Seraphine drumming to "25 or 6 to 4" and "Make Me Smile," and Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes teaming with the Chili Peppers' Smith to revive Purple's "Burn."
Luccketta guarantees that Wales, now in recovery, will be there, too -- probably surrounded by lots of aging guys with long hair and muscular forearms.
"When you get a lot of drummers together, it really is a family," Luccketta says. "I've never really felt that around guitarists."