Being the musical director of rock legend Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band must be a musician’s dream come true.
Not only does instrumentalist Mark Rivera get to perform some of the most-loved songs of our time (“Yellow Submarine,” “With a Little Help From My Friends”) but he shares the stage with some of rock-n-roll’s greatest performers night after night.
Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band are set to perform locally at 8 p.m. on July 19 at Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Just check out who is taking part in this year’s All-Starr Band: Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (Santana), Steve Lukather (Toto), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), and Gregg Bissonette (Don Henley).
Past alumni includes Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, and Billy Preston, just to name a few.
“The tour is kicking butt,” Rivera said. “Even though everyone comes from a different musical background, we sound like a real band. This is not only my favorite All-Starr band, but it’s the best one I’ve been a part of.”
But, besides finishing up yet another tour with Ringo, Rivera is also in the process of recording his very first solo album “Common Bond” after 40 years performing and recording with some of the biggest names in the music world.
So, the easy question is “Why now?”
“It’s just the right time because I finally have the time to make it. Just doing it has been the tough part — physically finding the time in between gigs to write and record. But mostly, it’s been like eating a piece of chocolate cake.”
Rivera’s recording band includes drummer Charlie Drayton (Keith Richards), guitarist Steve Conte (New York Dolls), and Jeff Kazee (Bon Jovi) on keys, but it’s his guest musicians that are turning heads: Billy Joel and, of course, Ringo.
“He’s so musical,” Rivera said about his current “boss” and former Beatles drummer. “He’s a song-based drummer — he drums to the song, not just to the beat. His musical sensibility is amazing.”
In turn, Rivera has received the utmost support from Ringo on this tour, with Starr quipping more than once: “I’m only here to promote Mark Rivera. His album will be out for Christmas!”
While not quite completed, Rivera still has a few more tracks to finish after he gets off the road this summer . So far “Common Ground” is shaping up to a rockin’ record.
Besides offering a rolicking and true-to-form cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic” (with Billy Joel on Hammond B organ), Rivera’s first single “Turn Me Loose” (available now via iTunes) is Joel’s new favorite tune.
“I freakin’ love that track – it really rocks in a good old way — like we did back in the day,” Joel offered. “(Mark’s) voice sounds great and the band kicks ass!”
It’s never a bad thing when two Rock & Roll Hall of Famers love your very first solo record.
Look for Mark Rivera’s “Common Bond” to be released in November of this year.
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.