Stephen 'Doc' Kupka

ASK DOC - December, 2006

The Funky Doctor answers YOUR questions

Editors note: This month we had a lot of great questions, so Doc elected to answer six instead of the usual four. Thanks for responding and keep sending in those quesions! - Steve Finch

From Randy Clipson:

My biggest musical fear is that the style of music that Tower of Power composes and plays will be lost to subsequent generations. Is TOP/Strokeland involved in any endeavors to help keep the music alive for younger generations?

Hi, Randy.  Music that is good and has substance will last on its own. It's interesting to note that when a major player passes away, as in art, there is renewed interest. The best way for us to keep the music alive is to keep the live shows great and keep putting out fabulous CDs. Tower of Power also does clinics and participates in educational events, so watch Tower of Power's website to see where and when we'll be doing that.


From Marc van der Voort:

The obvious question for any bari player who's into the "Power thing"; What's your setup, live and studio if this differs?

Marc, I use a Berg Larsen 130/1 SMS mouthpiece with a Rico plastic-cover 1-1/2 reed and an Audix mic live. In the studio, my favorite mics are Neumann models. What makes my sound is a wide lay mouthpiece and a thin reed with lots of flexibility. I play a Yamaha YBS low A baritone sax, which I love.


From Patrick W. Ryan:

Hi Doc. Out of all the gold to be mined from the TOP treasure trove, I've always been particularly taken with the session the horn section did with Stan Getz for Huey's "Small World" album. Sounds like it was a lot of fun, and Getz' playing is wonderfully complimentary. Any recollections you'd like to share, and anything "in the vaults" from this session? Thanks, and keep up the soul!

I was in awe of Stan Getz. I was particularly impressed that he had two young babes sitting adoringly at his feet. Playing-wise, it was fun, but nothing of note. My recollection is much more of being in the room with Stan Getz. Thanks for writing, Patrick.


From Michael Parisi:

This question is offbeat, but I hope you'll indulge me. You and TOP have coined terms like "Oakland Stroke" and "East Bay Grease" to describe your particular form of expression. I'm curious what those terms mean to you as an artist. I'm not expecting literal definitions--being a funkster from the 510 myself, I certainly have my own interpretations - but what sounds, ideas, images, and/or attitudes do they conjure up in your mind?

Hi, Michael. The Oakland Stroke represents hard-driving snap funk music. I liked the way it rhymed when I coined the phrase and I also had a vision of Cliff Branch running down the sidelines for a touchdown for the Oakland Raiders when I wrote it. East Bay Grease describes the type of music that was played on that CD. Funky, uninhibited, greasy and soulful. Also, at the time we used to get a lot of barbeque. Still do. but these days just not quite so much. Both of these phrases bring me back to another time and place when we were coming up and life was very exciting.


From Jeffrey Beresford:

Hi Doc, just a quick question. Do you enjoy playing abroad and how do you find the audiences in the different countries? I'm in the UK and was put onto you by my brother that has travelled from Manchester to London to see you twice with TOP.

Hi, Jeffrey. We do enjoy playing abroad. We find the audiences tend to be younger outside of the United States. We would really like to play other cities in the British Isles, as well as London. If they book us, we will come!


From Mike S.:

Hi Doc! Would you consider doing a Strokeland Christmas cd? I think it would be a kick, and your fans would eat it up! Since Tower Of Power has never done one and probably never will, why don't you? How cool would that be to hear some original Kupka Christmas tunes mixed in with some classic Christmas tunes kicked up Strokeland style?! Thanks Doc.

I would love to do a Strokeland Christmas cd. It seems that the time we start thinking about it is always too late in the year. Thank you for reminding me because that would be an excellent thing to do. Incidentally, I have three original Christmas songs that I can include in this package. If Tower of Power decided to do one, that would come first, but if not, Strokeland will move ahead.


See you next month. Send in those questions. In the meantime, I'll be checking the new Strokeland Community message board.


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