The first band I was a part of, from 1990 - 1991. Though that seems like a short life for a band, the experience threw me head first into the many different aspects of playing in a working band. Things like learning how to play my guitar within a large group, stage presence & appearance, group dynamics (both musically & personally!), as well as blending in with a very diverse group of individuals. Playing in Blade was an extremely profound time for me.
I learned the most from the drummer, Dan, and the bass player, "Tooma". Both highly charged personalities, their combined musical experience was immense, so I gained a ton of knowledge from them. They had an intense, brotherly relationship that often clashed, but mostly had the rest of us in stitches.
The band played it's first gig at The Cantab Lounge in Central Square, Cambridge. This was were we basically had all met in the first place, and Little Joe (Cook) gave us a slot in the legendary bar. From that, after meeting up with a group of gospel singers from the Dorchester/Roxbury region, we backed them up at various churches and events. We later got into a trendy but failed nightclub in Allston called "The Barmuda Triangle", where we enjoyed star treatment and we even wrote a song about it ("Bermuda Triangle"). After that club nose-dived, we played on New Year's Eve at the Park Plaza Castle in Boston for a fancy, black-tail event (and where we later discovered that we had been scammed out of some dough), then we had a string of steady gigs at a major nightclub complex in Framingham, Ma.
(Back Row): Watermelon Slim - vocals/harmonica, Charlie Sarjeant (R.I.P.) - percussion, Eddie Toomer (R.I.P.) - bass, Masashi Jo - guitar, Dan Vigden - drums (Front Row): Tess - piano, Debra Sarjeant - steel drum/vocals/piano, "Bongo" Dave Ernest - percussion, Kate Seavey - guitar
Because the group was basically the vision of the drummer, who was a recording junkie, I got to experience my first taste of recording in a major studio with this group. We went into Newbury Sound in Boston and I tried my best to fit in and absorb as much as I could. We recorded some cool tracks that I still have rough mixes of and I still think sound great to this day.
The other neat thing was, I think because of the groups diversity, we were constantly being video-taped by videographers. Of course, I only have one or two copies of these tapes, but it's better than nothing! If anyone out there knows where I can get a copy of the night "Richie" shot Blade at that giant Music Complex in Framingham, Ma, let me know!
In the end, an intense tragedy shut the band down for good. One night after rehearsal, Tooma, Debra and her husband Charlie, drove back home to Dorchester and stopped in at the Tasty Chicken for some snacks. A notorious gang was on the prowl that night, and they randomly picked Charlie out, who was innocently standing in the store minding his own business waiting for his order, and stabbed him to death. There was nothing anybody could do to stop them, and they all just took off after they slayed him. It was random, it was barbaric, and it was complety insane. I'll never forget when Debra called me at 7:15 in the morning, completely traumatized, and told me what happened. It was simply awful. Over the next few weeks, the media grabbed onto the story and people started having benefits for Debra and her three children, but nothing could ease the loss and the pain. It was all too much. Those twisted freaks killed Charlie, they changed Debra and her children's lives forever, and needless to say, they killed that band. Some of the guys did get caught, but I never heard for sure how long they got put in prison and even if they all got busted.
I stayed in touch with Debra for a couple years after that, but soon enough, we all lost touch with each other. Tess moved down south. Tooma moved down south, too. Dan got into jazz and made his own record. I don't know where Sash is. Watermelon Slim is a touring fool and making it happen with his band, Watermelon Slim and The Workers. "Bongo" Dave is still in Massachusetts, raising a couple/few kids and, I'm sure, still playing drums and percussion as much as possible.
Update 4/12/2011: Eddie Toomer passed away recently.. don't know any other details. R.I.P. brother. I just found Debra on Facebook. She is still living in the Boston area and playing and recording with her reggae band "Dis-N-Dat." She is happily remarried and has had another two children.
Update 1/30/2012: Finally heard from Sash last month! He is living in The Netherlands with his wife and two daughters!
Samba rough studio mix 1-24-92
I Ain't Going Out Like That (lyrics, arrangement & vocals by Collaboration) Live NYE 1991
Sex You Up (Live in Boston Feb. 15, 1992)
Could You Be Loved