I'm a rock-n-roll thing


I think some of us are born with a rock ‘n’ roll gene. I discovered it in myself as a child. It first bloomed for me at eight years old, when I discovered the Beatles. I would lie on the floor and listen to all my parents’ Beatles records over and over. I memorized every song, and eventually bought every album I could. At 13 I wrote my term paper about their lyrics. At 15, I started learning electric guitar. It blossomed for me again in a new way when I first heard the Velvet Underground. When I was 16, I flew to Nairobi, Kenya to visit my brother who was there visiting his Kenyan girlfriend. He picked me up from the airport and had The Velvet Underground album playing in the tape deck. I had never heard anything like it. It opened up a whole aesthetic world for me that I could never have imagined. It was my introduction to art rock, and the first seed of being a future songwriter was planted. The Velvet Underground continues to be one of my greatest inspirations in all areas of art. I named my second film after a song of theirs, and the title of my first full length screenplay also came from a VU song.

I am excited that Emilio also has also been given the rock-n-roll gene. It bloomed in him quite early, before he was even two years old. He discovered the drums through a 10 year old boy.

We are very close to a family from Michigan who has six boys. The two youngest ones (Georgie, 4, and Vinnie, 6) are Emilio’s best friends. The older four boys and their father have a band that plays a mix of blues, rock, jazz and funk. The dad, Ben, plays guitar, Benjy(who will be 18 next month) plays bass, Obë (now 16) plays keyboards, Ricky (now 14) plays congas, and Marty (now 12) plays drums. Their debut in Baja as a musical group was when they performed at our wedding a year and a half ago. We hadn’t even heard them play ahead of time, but we had a feeling they were going to be good. They turned out to be a great band, and got the dancing started at our wedding. We invited them to come back the next Sunday, and we had hosted a jam session with leftovers from the wedding. We continued to host a casual afternoon party with food and music every Sunday for the rest of the season. Every week different musical people showed up with instruments to plug in and large bowls of food. There were times the Sunday jam sessions became so big, we had no idea who was going to show up. Lucas told me that our Sunday jam sessions gave him warm memories of his own childhood, as his father is a professional musician, and he spent much of his childhood among large groups of people hanging out and playing music.

Our friends, who are now called The Groovetrotters have since become professional musicians playing all over Baja. They are plotting their way into global success, with plans for a tour in Europe. They are working on a logo, and have asked me to go take a photo of them tomorrow to use for it. We are also in the process of helping them make a music video.

Rock-N-Roll & Emilio

When Emilio was two, we began finding child drums at segundas. Lucas strapped them around a bucket, and Emilio had a drum set. Emilio played them with great skill and energy.


One time we spontaneously made a song together. No drums in this one. But we made this when Emilio was a the height of his interest in drums.

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Emilio: “I’m a rock-n-roll thing. I’m a rock-n-roll guy.”

When I’m introducing a new song to him, he asks: “Who’s the drummer?”

During one long car trip, I spent the entire time searching for songs on my ipod based on his specific request to hear “rock and roll drums.”

While we were listening to a Ratatat song (electronic music):

Emilio: “I have a question for you. What kinds of drums are those?”

Me: “They’re electronic.”

Emilio: “Oh, are they rock n roll drums?”

Me: “No not really.” “I want to hear Joan Jett. I want to hear rock n roll drums.” So then I played him I love rock-n-roll. And he was happy. It brings back a memory. I was about eight when that song was popular. I remember my best friend Nicole and I jumping up and down on a bed in a bungalow in Woodstock, NY that her family had rented for the summer, singing I LOVE ROCK AND ROLL as loud as we could.

Rock-n-roll is about rebellion, enthusiasm, and not giving a shit what people think. For me it also has to be a little raw. It makes sense that a toddler would love it. Maybe Emilio will join Garafön when he is older and then Lucas won’t have to play both keyboards and drums, each with one hand.