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Legend to Legend

Your favorite artists get the inside beat on some of their favorite artists!

... with Rod Bland
drummer Rod Bland

Rod Bland w/ Al Jarreau

Sailing the seas with Rod Bland and some friends

This past May, I was a part of the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise 2001 as part of the Bobby Blue Bland Orchestra. The cruise itself was short for us, as we did only three days as well as Al Jarreau, whom we shared a stage with, and Isaac Hayes and Boyz II Men. So after a lot of hateful IM's from Pam, I decided to finally sit down and try to recall the events of the cruise. So here we go, and keep in mind, I haven't kept a journal whatsoever since I have been blessed to be able to play drums. So let's see what the Rodd can come up with, shall we??

After leaving my home and kissing my daughter Kala good-bye, with a tear in my eye 'cause I'll be missing three to four days of her everchanging childhood, I was off to grab C.J., my guitarist, and then to the Memphis International Airport. So with Pearl Jam's Binaural cd blasting, I sped down to his house, and later to the final destination of the morning. Yes, I was running a touch behind, and it didn't help that it was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend either. So, after a long check in, we were blessed to have a short flight into Miami, FL, and no I did not go in search of the Rock from the WWF for those of you who know me and know of my fondness of stealing his haircut's, catch phrases, and etc.!! It was a rather tense time as one of the new trumpet players was without passport and was frantically trying to get it rerouted on four separate occasions so he could board the ship. He finally got it the morning we got ready to begin boarding, oh Saturday, Saturday. After several attempts at getting my gear on to the ship as well as Isaac Hayes percussionist Jason, we successfully got on and got to our rooms. We made a lot of cruise goers upset, as we were rushed through because of our being performers, and unlike everyone else, I headed straight for the stage site to start setting up my Pearl drum kit that was brought out. Kinda tough to get the kit, as Jose "Jota" Morelli wanted Sonor, considering his endorsement status. However, a compromise was made, on more than one occasion, such as me not going with my normal 10, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 22" set up, instead doing Jota's 10, 12, 14, & 20". But, you know me, I got a 16 thrown in there as well. And unlike every drummer on the cruise, I actually brought gear in a flight case!! As my brother Tony Coleman always asserts, "better to bring too much than not enough". For those gear gurus who really care, I have attached the items I brought along for the sail.

After, setting up and tuning, or should I say, watching Gregory Tupper from Al Jarreau's band tune, I bolted for food and sleep. We alternated show times. Saturday night's performance line up was as follows: Al Jarreau 8 p.m., Bobby Blue Bland 11:45 p.m. Rather odd time for my dad but he is a man and a half when it comes to performing under strenuous conditions, especially for a man of 71 years of age!!!!! So Sunday and Monday nights it would flip flop, meaning we played at 11 on Saturday and Monday night. As I mentioned earlier, Isaac Hayes, and Boyz II Men were across the ship at the Rome Lounge, which is really a theater. For Isaac on drums was James Robertson, who has recorded almost all of my dad's studio catalog at Malaco Records. For Boyz, "Golden Stix", Freddie Holiday was flying their rhythm plane. Only got to see snippets of both bands, but what little I saw, outstanding. Rumor has it, Isaac did perform Shaft songs, as well as Southpark's "Chocolate Salty Balls"!! With all the great playing from the featured artists, and even day time support like the Phat Cat Players, nothing compared to witnessing Al Jarreau's brilliant performance of the jazz tune "Spain", was there any limit to what that man could do?? Powered by Jota's jazzy/latin grooves, and colored by Arno Lucas's percussion, I stood up and screamed like I was at a WWF live event or even a Pearl Jam concert!!

Let's take a short break from music on the cruise, and talk about other activities on board the ship. For one there was an internet cafe, which cost an arm and a leg per minute, unless it was from 4 to 6, then you only got maybe 7 minutes anyway. Next, jazzercise and aerobics for the ladies who were looking to man steal, or just someone to serve "pie" to. Also, let us not forget the nightly pajama parties, for anyone from the cruise who may be reading this I must ask a question. Where on earth did you get these so called "pajamas"?? It was more or less, dental floss covered by a thin bed sheet if not a wet one!! Lots' of eating going on as you would guess. I even had the pleasure of dining with D.L. Hughley of UPN's the Hughley's and also from the King's of Comedy. His body guard was cool too, he was on the now defunct American Gladiators as Sabre, and also starred in Mortal Kombat II. I also had the pleasure of meeting and chatting up quite a bit with comedian Sinbad. He spent more time asking my dad if was too late in life for him to pick up an instrument such as guitar and what to concentrate on. Now, keep in mind my dad is a vocalist and is not your typical blues artist who is aided by a guitar, however, he simply encouraged him and said to start off learning jazz and blues style guitar playing. "Do that and everything else will come into its own, young man," said the boss.

Back to the music aspect, I got a lot of compliments on my cymbal selection, which of course is Sabian. The most innovative cymbal company, who I admire, respect, and continuously play on an exclusive basis. I do have this question for them, when will I be added to your web-site?? I mean the Rodd's on Pearl, Pro-Mark, and even Remo's web site. Show the people that, I along with guys like Tony Coleman, Tony Braunagel, Dave Abbruzzese, Steve Ferrone, and so many others have made the right choice in cymbals. Oh by the way, you too DW!! You know I wouldn't rib you if I didn't love you, and your products. For a "blues drummer" as I am labeled, you would wonder why I have so many endorsements, and why most of you who are reading this haven't even heard of me?? Good question, and for that I have no answer, other than to say why is my teacher John "Jabo" Starks just now getting his long overdue press. Same thing I guess. Do yourself a favor and listen to Jabo, on my dad's tune "Turn On Your Love Light", and be amazed by his playing. Just ask Zoro, he'll tell you about that tune. Excuse me, I just now noticed that I rambled on about something not at all related to the topic whatsoever, basically sounding astonishingly like a drum version of Little Richard!! No offense, but he has complained some now hasn't he, but he is still as talented as the day is long. There he went again, ramblin', ramblin' on and on.

Maybe now, the Rodd can successfully end his story with some thank you's. Thanks to Mike and Derek at Pearl, Garrison at DW, Bobby, Laura, and Ann at Sabian, Gavin at Remo, Pat, Jeff, and Kevin at Pro-Mark, for assistance with the cruise, and everything else that you do for me and for my dad, as well as for the rest of the Bland family. The many bands on the cruise, Tom Joyner and staff for a more than excellently ran cruise, and to Matt Cameron who gave me new things to work on from the various bootlegs I bought with him and Pearl Jam, as well as Dave Abbruzzese, Coleman, Jabo, Peanie, all great drummers with the Bobby Blue Bland Orchestra, as well with B.B. King, for continued inspiration. To my mom, who had surgery 3 weeks prior to the cruise and still accompanied her husband and her son on the cruise, even though she knew she needed rest still, thanks. What you actually thought she would let her only 24 year old grown, "baby" be at sea without her supervision?? What were you thinking?!? To Pam who made me write this, she knew I needed to do it!! To my dad who continues to push me and push me so I can push him, go 'head!! My critter, Kala who keeps me going, daddy loves you and strives for your happiness and approval in what I do. I love you. Finally, to my grandmother whom I lost this past January, because of you I play drums, and because of you I will never stop. Thank you for always encouraging me, and loving me. May you rest in peace, knowing I won't stop until I see you again. Again with the rambling, right??

See you and thanks for reading, and hope to see you around the bend. If ya smell what the Rodd is cookin'

Check out the photos from Rod's voyage....


Pearl Drums (old BLX) yeah, i know i be a master series player
10x10 tom
10x12 tom
12x14 tom-mounted as a floor
16x16 floor tom
16x20 kick drum
5 1/2x14 Bronze Sensitone classic snare with tube lugs


Delta II Double Pedal
Delta II Turbo Hat


14" AA El Sabor Hats
18" AA El Sabor
19"HH Thin Crash
11" Max Splash
21" Ed Shaugnessy Ride
16" Virgil Donati Saturation Crash
17" AAXtreme Chinese
18" Virgil Donati Saturation Crash


Coated Ambassadors for the Sensitone, Clear Ambassador snare side
Clear Emperors on all tom batters
Clear Ambassadors on bottoms
Powerstroke 3 with Falam Slam pad batterside(until Jota got there and peeled it off)
Pearl Ebony Logo head with 6"hole


2B Hickory Wood Tip
Hot Rods