David Read RIP(1953-2017) The Ripcords were lucky to have met Dave in the winter of 2014. Our good friend and longtime musical compadre, Phil Regan, had decided to step away from the band and live performing and we were going through auditions for a new drummer. No one can say Syracuse lacks musical talent as we auditioned a whole bunch of very talented drummers (except for that one guy, holy moly). All of them fantastic musicians, but it is hard to define what is the right chemistry needed for a band. In fact, we had been a little discouraged because we knew it would be hard to replace Phil, who seemed to just know how to make things work in our quirky little outfit. Maureen Henesey messaged me one day and said she saw that this guy posted on Facebook that he was looking for a band and so I checked it out. I remembered him from a show we did with Reckless Driving upstairs at the Dino (Toys for Tots I think) and remembered I thought he was right up our alley. After seeing who he has played with it, especially The Works, it was a no brainer. It was an easy decision after meeting with him and playing some of our tunes that he had the chops to master all the different styles we play. On top of it he was enthusiastic and had some good road stories, a must for any band member! It is hard to replace a guy who you have been playing with for as many years as we played with Phil, having to listen to "well, Phil used to play it this way" or "didn't we play it faster/slower with Phil?" Or "Phil used to go to the ride there". Dave took it all in stride.
Dave got to work on the songs and quickly picked things up, playing his first gig with us out in Liverpool at that place that has had at least 6 different names in the last few years, a common theme here in the CNY music scene. The fact that Mark Doyle and a few other CNY musicians showed up for that gig made an impression, Dave's old friends and bandmates. He took the pressure of playing at the summer outdoor gigs, some on the bigger stages, in stride and rose to every challenge like a pro. He was a musical drummer, and he worked hard, forcing us to bring our game up a notch. When we started to incorporate the horn section, which places demands on the whole band for precision, Dave was clearly the man for the job. He told us early on that he had medical issues in the past, and even was hospitalized early on for an intestinal issue due to a previous surgery which forced him to miss a gig. But he refused to let anything stop him and was back in no time. He pushed himself, maybe too hard at times.
At the same time, we met Christine Hickey, Dave's future wife, and quickly all fell for her as well. Kind, generous, thoughtful, and a helluva woman, she was always a positive and smiling presence at gigs. She clearly loved Dave and we loved her for that.
By fall of 2015, we decided to go into the studio and record some of tunes we had been playing all summer and Dave's experience was critical in building the basic tracks we will release in 2017, all built on Dave's driving beat. We could not have done it without him.
In summer 2016, Dave let us know he was sick and would need chemotherapy. He had been complaining about not feeling well for a month or so. He was adamant he would continue playing but it quickly became apparent it was taking a lot out of him. Our old friend Phil Regan agreed to step in until Dave could get back to playing. We spent the summer with Phil holding down the spot until Dave felt better. He was able to rehearse a few times and after a few rounds of chemo he said he was ready and played a full night with us at the Green Gate on October 1st, 2016. You could not tell from his playing that he had lost significant weight and spent most of his time sick and in bed for the last 3 months. He picked right up where he left off. We did not know right away that he barely made it to the car after the gig. He would joke that he would like to die on stage. He pushed himself harder than anyone I have ever seen, and he was that kind of guy. We worried he was pushing himself too hard, but we all know how important playing music is to us musicians and we didn't want to take that away from him. Maybe the most courageous thing he did was decide to step away from the band.
We have been blessed to play with some great drummers, and frankly even better people, including our new drummer Steve Palumbo. Steve was willing to step in and learn the songs, step back when Dave was ready to return, split nights with Phil, do anything necessary to be helpful. We count ourselves lucky to have been blessed with all of these people in our lives and in the band.
Dave was a courageous and soulful person, a great drummer, a stand up guy, and we were blessed to have played with him, even for a short time. He was a tough motherfucker in dealing wth his illness with grace and humor. As we finish the cd we are working on, his playing will clearly live on and we hope to do his memory proud. We are proud to have been part of his last recorded work and part of his great legacy as a musician and as a person. We all should strive to live up to that standard. The music we leave behind is important, but the people we have loved, and who love us, are the real measure of a life well lived.
To see our full band schedule go to: CALENDAR