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MONKEE PAW PART II
Written By: RandyJamz
*Click images below to view larger versions.
MONKEE PAW PART II
Monkee Paw, Mike, Rick & Adam, performing at the Rio Grande Tiki Bar, 2012.
MONKEE PAW PART II
Mike Givens, Adam Ask & Rick Smith, Monkee Paw at BJ's, 2011.

    Does anyone else feel as blessed as I do to get to live at the beach, with the weather we’ve been having? Add to that, the music and the artists that we all get to see night after night, as well as day after day. Mix in all of the friendly people you run into everywhere you go, and one has a real sense of “this is it.”
    This week is Part Two of Monkee Paw. If you missed Part One last week, just go to www.coconuttimes.com and click on Meet The Band for all past interviews. While you are online, jump on Facebook and search Monkee Paw Nation to get their schedule. Be sure to like their page while you are there; it’s good for a band to get a slew of Likes. Let’s get started.
RandyJamz: Rick, your band mates, Adam and Mike, speak very highly of your bass guitar skills and how you decided to learn piano just a year or so ago. How are you able to combine the two?
Rick Smith: I’ve been playing bass guitar so long that it is always a no brainer for me. Actually, I consider myself more of a guitar player. So, a year ago I decided to learn how to play keyboard. Now I play bass and keyboard at the same time. Remember the big ole church organ and the lady sitting up there playing several rows of keys and she is working a bunch of foot pedals at the same time? Well that’s pretty much what I do. I have my electronic keyboard, and under it, sitting on the floor below me, is a very similar foot pedal setup. I’m playing the keyboard part with both hands and I’m playing bass guitar on the pedals with both feet. The pedal setup is a Roland PK6 and plugs directly into my keyboard. It doesn’t depress the keys but, I get any and all of the bass notes that I want.
RJ: I’ve never seen anyone do that in a rock n roll setting before.
RS: A big influence for me growing up was John Paul Jones, bass player for Led Zeppelin. He’s one of the most versatile musicians ever. He plays organ, guitar, lap steel guitars, mandolin, autoharp, violin, ukulele, sitar, cello, etc. Geddy Lee, the bass player for Rush, would have an elaborate set up of what I do. If anyone wants to see it, they can just do a search online for Geddy Lee and you’ll see it. Better yet, they can come out to one of our shows and see it live. I guess my favorite song to play is Tom Sawyer, by Rush. Some people are not wild about Rush because of the vocals but, I see them as the musician’s musicians.
RJ: What’s the craziest story you’ve encountered?
RS: My friend, Marco, and I were hanging out with all these girls years ago. Along comes this guy and asks the girls if anyone was around that he could jam with. The girls said, “Sure, those guys, right there.” The guy asking was Dave Grohl. It was years later when Marco asked me if I remembered that guy, Dave Grohl. And he said, “Check it out. He is now the drummer for Nirvana, Curt Cobain’s band.” We laughed about that and, of course, everyone knows that Dave went on to form The Foo Fighters. I remember the time that Eddie Money opened up for my band at the time, The Trend, at the old Scandals here in OC.
    Another one was when I got to play on stage with Tom Curren, who was the number one surfer in the world at the time, around 1992, or so. He was also a great drummer. He came through town and was performing at Scandals and my friend, B Rad, told me they needed a bass player. Here I am, a surfer, playing on stage with the greatest surfer in the world. It’s fun just hanging out with these guys. They are all just regular people, like all of us.
Mike Givens: One night during a Flyers game, an argument breaks out and some guy at the bar grabs the other guy, picks him up and throws him right through our speakers. Crazy. We just kept on playing.
Adam Ask: We were playing a local gig one night and everyone was having a great time. People started out dancing and it soon evolved into a serious break dancing contest. It was like everyone in the place was in on it. We couldn’t believe our eyes when the next phase morphed into lap dancing. We were laughing so hard, and playing the best possible music to support the effort. The whole place was lap dancing. You never know what people are gonna do when they are on vacation. As have all musicians, we’ve seen a lot.
RJ: Rick, I was finally able to catch up with you and Mike when you guys were on your way home from the race up in Dover the other day. Is racing another interest of yours?
RS: I started racing BMX bikes at 8 and have been into racing ever since. I have a bunch of the old Ocean City papers that have pictures of me in there quite a bit for my BMX days. I went semi pro from 13  to 17 and raced Moto-Cross in my early 30s. By my the time I’m in my mid 30s, I was racing late model stock cars. So yeah, I love it.
RJ: Mike, are you as into racing as Rick is?
MG: Yes sir! I love NASCAR. Nothing too awful exciting this go around. I hate to say it but, oftentimes the big accidents add to the adrenaline rush of it all, as long as no one gets hurt. What I really love about it is the social aspect. Nothing like getting together with a bunch of like minded people and just have an all out great time.
    I also love surf fishing. Photography has become a big part of my life recently. I also make all of our flyers for our shows. The whole band is into sports. I love the Redskins. However, my number one interest outside of band is my 3 year old son. I love to take him out on the beach fishing with me.
RJ: What makes you guys gel so well together?
MG: We all just get along so well and that makes it that much more fun, and motivating. It makes us want to play and get better all the time. Also, we had a common interest in building slowly and doing some fund raisers so that people would get to know us. We’d practice a lot. I think another thing is that nobody has to be the big show all by themselves. We take turns singing lead vocals, which saves on our voices, especially when we’re playing 7 and 8 shows a week.
RJ: Do you guys use a lot of effects and harmonizers?
MG: I like to keep it as organic as possible. No vocal harmonizers. The usual pedals and amps. I like to get the best sound as possible, as simply as possible.
RJ: Parting words, anyone?
MG: I’m grateful that I get to do this full time. We love going out and adding to other people’s happiness.  When it slows up in the off season, I spend more time in my computer graphics business. I’m living my dream. We try to help new bands that are coming along. We’ve had a lot of people reach out and help us. The camaraderie in this area among musicians is second to none. I believe there are any number of bands that could be signed at any time.
AA: I love this town. I love what I do and I would just love to keep doing what I’m doing, playing at the choice venues we’ve been able to play. A lot of musicians say they are waiting for their music to blow up and then they will be really happy. I feel like I’m fortunate to be just where I am right now. A lot of people pay tons of money to visit and vacation here. We live here.
RJ Wrap up: I can’t emphasize enough how great all three of these gentlemen are to talk with. I highly encourage everyone to get to to their shows and get to know them. They are very approachable and would love to get to know everyone.
RandyJamz is the frontman for The RandyJamz Band and half of the duo with, The Baltimore Boyz, featuring Jay Vizzini. Available for gigs of all types as a solo, duo, and full band act. If you would like to be interviewed for a Meet The Band article, contact him at: randy@randyjamz.com.
 
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