My NY friends: Jerry Marotta and Pete Levin

So, with one auction under our belts so to speak, we figured we could continue our project and do better with the next auction. We decided to meet for coffee once a month and compared notes. At this point in the project, we still were wanting to concentrate on actors and our own ‘Hollywood North’ seemed to be suddenly teeming with A-list stars. My partner had a few contacts in the ‘biz’ and got a few contact addresses, and we formulated a letter to send. Gary Fjellgaard and Valdy, Roger Hodgson and Alexander Siddig all gave us permission to use their names in those letters, which we hoped would convince participation.

We didn’t have any luck whatsoever with actors. Not one response back, not even a negative response. We were frustrated, so decided to try more musicians. A brand new band that had been on tour with U2 were coming to Vancouver to headline their own show and they supported Save the Children, so we sent off a request and received our first ‘no’ answer. We were crushed. Looking back on it, it makes sense though- their manager didn’t want the band to be affiliated with our charity, but affiliated with Save the Children. At the time it was a bitter one to accept though.

wanna-be drummer

Around this time, my friends all migrated from Livejournal to various other blogs including Facebook. I never could get the hang of Facebook, and ended up at Myspace. I didn’t know much about HTML but tried to put together a profile and all of a sudden I had bands ‘friend requesting’ me like crazy! At first, it was the unsigned bands who wanted me to ‘join their street teams’ or ‘vote for me in this crazy poll’, or ‘buy our merchandise’, and it was strange and a bit disconcerting until I began to find my way around and figure things out.

I started finding A-list bands but also realized: there were 10 ‘Bono’s’ and probably not one of them was the ‘real’ Bono. Same for many other bands – lots of Myspaces claiming to be the official band, but not really. I think it all started by me finding Tony Levin. He’s Peter Gabriel’s bass player when Pete goes on tour, and I’ve always thought he was an amazing musician. I ‘friended’ him when I realized the profile was indeed his, that he himself looked after it, and blogged about his touring (not blogged by an assistant.) I started looking at his friends list, and found his brother Pete Levin. Pete’s a jazz musician, not rock and roll, but he looked like a very nice man, and his profile had a really cool blurb on it:
It’s great making new friends here on MySpace and catching up with many old friends. Making the world smaller is what the Internet does best. But I’m not here to just “collect” friends. So here’s the deal:

I’m going to deny your add request if I don’t know you and …

your profile is blocked, or
you show only a screen name and hide your real name, or
there’s profanity on your page (posted by you or your Myspace ‘friends’), or
your page glorifies drugs, drinking, scantily clad babes, etc.

I’m not being judgmental about your page, but I need to be comfortable with it to post a comment there. If you need any of that qualified, we’re not going to be friends anyway, so save your energy. I’m just telling you.

Woodstock, NY January ’08
I love that blurb!  I thought ‘this man has a great sense of humor and I must know him’, so I sent him a friend request but forgot that I had written on my profile that I didn’t like jazz music at all. I got quite an interesting response back from Pete, but it was tongue in cheek and superbly funny, and he accepted, and I started listening to his jazz. (which I now absolutely love btw). From Tony and Pete, I found Jerry Marotta (drummer for Peter Gabriel as well as session drummer, producer, writer, and singer), and it just kept growing – but I’m getting ahead of myself 🙂

jerry-marotta comfort doll project

Jerry Marotta

I found that Jerry was coming to town to play with Todd Rundgren (along with Tony Levin) in August 2006, so I sent Jerry a message and he responded and said ‘yes, he’d love to do a photo.’ He was so unpretentious about the whole thing – told me what hotel he was at, gave me his cell phone number (I was shocked!), told me to call him when he got to town and we’d set up the meeting at the venue, etc… and it helped tremendously to have someone so down to earth and approachable for my first Myspace request/encounter.

The day I did the photo, I was able to watch him tune his drum kit and do a sound check, and I was like a kid in a candy store – I’m a closet wannabe drummer 😉

After his sound check, he posed with the doll in various locations in the club to ensure I had enough light to get the shot (I still didn’t know how to use the camera on anything but ‘Auto’ and I was still using a film camera). I took a few shots; by the tables, by the windows, sitting at his drum kit etc, and it was unhurried and un-stressful and I really appreciated it, and still do.

Working with Jerry enabled me to have hope this project could work and that most musicians were going to be very much just regular real people.

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One Response to My NY friends: Jerry Marotta and Pete Levin

  1. Margaret says:

    I’m enjoying this blog very much! Even though I’m familiar with the tale, it’s great to read it again and have it all refreshed in my mind — and with new details, I’m certain of it!

    I haven’t been able to get the hang of Facebook either, what is it about that place that makes it so indecipherable! 🙂

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