Stephen 'Doc' Kupka

ASK DOC - June, 2007

The Funky Doctor answers YOUR questions


From John Otten:


A lot of folks probably don't know that you have a real passion for the Oakland Raiders and player personnel in general. If you had it to do over again, would you have become a general manager in the NFL? (Not that we could have done without the great music that TOP and Strokeland have put out.)

I believe that you have as much, if not more, passion for player personnel as you do for music. Thanks for being such a good friend and I'm looking forward to "Doc Goes Hollywood" and "Bumped Up To First Class".

Johnny "O"

Hi, John. I always liked the Raiders, but I did not develop an interest in player personnel until I started watching the NFL draft on ESPN. If I had known early in my career that I had a flair for that, I might have pursued it, however I'm glad that I got into music. It's been a great career. I will be satisfied to be a knowledgeable fan and if the Raiders need my advice, they know where they can reach me.

[Ed. John Otten is a dear friend of Doc's and co-writer of "A Soulful Kinda Love", which is featured on the soon-to-be-released "Bumped Up to First Class".]


From Tom Proud:

Hi Doc,

Can you tell us fans how far along Tower is on their new cover album and also what songs might be on it? Can not wait for your next 2 projects!

Take care, Tom Proud

Hi, Tom. TOP has recorded rhythm tracks for eight or nine songs. What songs actually make the album is yet to be determined. As the project develops there will be more info. It should be out before the end of the year.


From Steve Gonzales:

Hi Doc,

As a follower of Tower of Power since the early '70's and a Bay Area resident, I see that the band is doing an upcoming show with Lenny Williams at the Stone Soul Picnic on Memorial Day. Is there a possibility of more shows with Lenny? I think all fans would love to see a reunion with him. Larry is wonderful and every bit of talented as a singer, but for memories a tour with Lenny Williams on some dates would be a dream come true!

Steve Gonzales

The Memorial Day show with Lenny Williams was a lot of fun and the fans seemed to enjoy it. If a buyer or promoter put that show together, I'm sure the fans would enjoy it a lot. Thanks, Steve.


From Jon Miller:


I'm a high school student from just north of Pittsburgh, PA. I'm a saxophonist, and am primarily working on the baritone sax. I'm in the the jazz band and I love it. Right now I'm using a Selmer S80 C*, on a Mark VI bari, but I feel like I can't get my sound out there. What mouthpiece do you suggest trying and what other advice can you give to a young bari sax player?

Thanks So Much, Jon Miller

Hi, Jon.  I started my bari sax career with a Brillhart metal mouthpiece. I quickly moved on to a Berg Larsen 110/1 with a 2-1/2 reed. Someone suggested to me to make the reed strength lower and the lay of the mouthpiece wider, so I progressed to a 120/1 with a 2 reed and finally moved up to a 130/1 Berg mouthpiece with a 1-1/2 reed. It's the flexibility and the wide lay mouthpiece that works for me.

The metal mouthpiece works very well for R&B but a plastic mouthpiece might be better for jazz. You'll just have to try a bunch out and see what works for you. An excellent mouthpiece that's reasonably priced is the Rico Royal. Their 11* corresponds to the 130/1 Berg. For the last 25 years, I've been playing Rico Plasti-Cover reeds.


From Rob Yarmo:

I've just seen the band play in my 209th TOP concert in Buffalo, NY, dating back to 1971!! I forgot to ask you then, so I'll do so now... Do you write on the piano or guitar? What about Mimi? As well, what percentage of your songs are a true collaboration where you both contribute equally to a song? Many thanks and we'll see you again soon!

Rob Yarmo

Hi, Rob. Probably very few songs are 50/50 collaborations, but these days I tend to write more words than music. Even if one person doesn't do 50% of the work, something that he does might be of vital importance to the song, so it doesn't matter what the percentages are. "So Very Hard to Go" from the Tower of Power album is an example of a song that was exactly a 50/50 collaboration.


From Joseph Dorsch:

Good day to you,

I apologize if this sounds too corny, but I am a big fan, and I find you to be an inspiration. I have an office where I teach/compose/practice, and I was wondering if there was a way I obtain a photo (signed?) with you and the big axe.

Joseph Dorsch

Hi, Joseph. Right now, we don't have any publicity photos to send out, but we plan on rectifying that very soon. Thanks for asking and please check back soon. You can watch the Strokeland website for news.


From Jeff Estes:


I play bari and alto in 'Hip Pocket', a Central Illinois R&B band ( Our rehearsal room is littered with photos of guitar legends and we horn guys would like to represent ourselves a little better with a photo of you! I think it's time the horn side of the room got even. If you want to autograph it for the section, that'd be awesome.

Jeff Estes

Jeff, as mentioned in the previous letter, please check back soon for photos and thanks for writing.


As always, thanks taking the time to write and please keep the questions coming. July 5 and the release of "Bumped Up to First Class" is fast approaching.

Until next month,


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