Mike Caruso has got to be one of the coolest people on the planet, hands down! Certainly one of the nicest. Mike also carries a lot of musical lore and history with him wherever he goes. From stories of his days with his historic band The Doughboys (Check out The Doughboys wiki page here), to rubbing shoulders with Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, The Yardbirds..... even Billy Joel (quite possibly my favorite story). What I really know is this- I've never met someone who makes it so easy to believe the lore, yet so hard to believe it at the same time. I mean, you just look at Mike and watch him play and no doubt in your mind he's a giant among legends. But then afterwards when you talk to him, he makes you feel like his entire day was made just by seeing you. He is extremely humble.
My story with Mike Caruso begins in roughly 2016 in a town called Pattenburg, NJ at a famed place called The Pattenburg House. "The Patt" is a small, unassuming bar in the middle of seemingly nowhere that has seen it's share of amazing musicians. My old band, IDB, was the honored guest of a Bones Weedsley monthly invitational Sunday jam. As is tradition Bones opened up the show with a ripping 4-5 song medley to set the tone, followed by IDB, followed by other bands and musical sit ins with different arrangements, and that was where I first saw Mike. We met for a bit, and true to who he is he introduced himself in a manner that felt like he'd been waiting all his life to meet me. We went on our separate ways after that but his impression on me musically and as a person would last.
It wasn't until about a year later that I became aware of the famed Sandy Mack Sunday Wonder Jam at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, and though I had yet to attend one in person I watched videos from these jams religiously. I will go into more detail about Sandy and these jams in his blog, but succinctly put Sandy gets the best musicians in the area across many genres together every Sunday and puts on an amazing open jam show. And who's his go to bassist? Mike Caruso. That alone should tell you all you need to know about how cool Mike is, and how good he is at his craft. I finally got to play with Mike when I was so honored to be a featured musician in my first "Sandy Mack Jam", which also happened to be my last show under the freedoms of the pre-covid world. I was positioned onstage right in front of Mike and his amp so I got to experience firsthand how meticulous and powerful Mike's playing was, but even more so how playful it was. I honestly don't know how better to put it, but his style reminds me of a roller coaster. I'm sure there's a musical term for it, but the only way I can describe it is in the moment of a jam when things are really building up he will hold a note or a short riff that creates this feeling that is musically comparable to the weightlessness of zero gravity on a ride. You know we're gonna come flying down into the most amazing jam, and he's there smiling ear to ear getting ready to push the button to drop the floor below. It's fucking magnificent, and worthy of the expletive. To me it's a signature of his style, and as I've gotten to know him personally it's definitely a signature of who he is. Mike just wants to have fun, so he creates it wherever he goes.
In my life over this last year I have pledged to let God lead my path and follow the signs. This entire album really came to fruition on that premise. One day I received a random private message on Facebook from Mike. He shared a video of his daughter, Kelly Caruso, singing with the Eddie Testa Band. I must digress for one moment, Kelly has an amazing voice! Absolutely stunning, and Mike adoringly beams with pride anytime he mentions her. When I received the message the timing of it just seemed perfect. I was looking for a sign of who else could help fill in some bass tracks for me and boom, here it is. So in my true self-conscious, self-doubting manner I didn't ask him in my response. And each day that went by made me feel even more stupid that I didn't, to the point that I even spent an entire evening moaning and lamenting my self-doubt about it to my wife, Lynn. She of course gave me the look she gives and said just pick up a phone and call him. She knew who Mike was, but had yet to meet him in person which brings us to when sometimes God just needs to be really blunt and just hit me over the head with these signs. One day in Asbury Park Lynn was driving and pulling into a parking spot. In the spot next to the open one she was pulling into the person was sitting in the car with the door open, and true to form Lynn blurts out "is this guy gonna close his door or what?!?". I look up to see none other than Mike Caruso getting out of the car. I rolled my window down laughing and after a quick hello I blurted out asking Mike if he'd like to record some music with me. He was so eager I swear he was ready to jump in our backseat and start recording right there. After cursory introductions Mike walked off and I looked at Lynn and laughed "you see the signs now!?" Whether you call it God, the universe, spirit, energy... Something is there, and I fully believe if you have a passion for something God will light the way for you. None of it will be easy, but if you follow the signs and believe in them great things will happen. God lit my way to Mike Caruso, and I am so humbly blessed.
Mike not only learned the songs he was recording on the Send The Flowers album (4 total), he also asked me to send him demos of any song I wrote... and he learned them all in about 2 days. To put that in context I sent him about 40 demos. Mike loves to play music. He's not in it for the money or fame, he just loves to play music and he's one of the best at it. Playing music with Mike is an incredible honor and calling him my friend means the world to me. I look forward to so many more jams with Mike in the future, especially as things open up more. You can catch Mike at most Sandy Mack Jams every Sunday at Delvetto's Pizza and Pub in Neptune, and hopefully when life returns to normal we'll see another Doughboy's reunion show!
The Doughboys: https://www.facebook.com/The-Doughboys-111017547197