By Michael Yanko, Rina Marie Braley-Yanko and Isaac Rodriguez
Rock Legends Photographers
As a company we have been blessed to capture images of three performances by progressive rock band Ambrosia this year. Our south Florida photographer Isaac Rodriguez captured two of them and we were able to capture the third show on October 13th at the Largo Cultural Center.
Meeting the band was like meeting a bunch of new friends! There were all very nice, easy to talk to, and seemed like regular guys that you might find in your local bowling league.
Once they changed clothes and hit the stage it was immediately obvious why this band still has a strong following. Boasting three original members including Burleigh Drummond (drums, vocals), Joe Puerta (bass, vocals) and Christopher North (keyboards, vocals), Ambrosia was also joined by brilliant lead vocalist Ken Stacey, Burliegh’s wife Mary Harris (keyboards, vocals), Doug Jackson (guitar, vocals) and Alan Tilles (saxophone). Ambrosia continues to put out the spectacular harmonies that they have been famous for since 1974.
Although the entire band performed with outstanding cohesion, I left the show stunned by the vocal abilities of Ken Stacey. The man can hit some high notes and hold them – notes that I couldn’t hit even if I was wearing a pair of the tightest pants ever made.
The band’s set list consisted of all of their biggest hits including their Beatles’ cover of “Magical Mystery Tour”, a few lesser hits, and some very interesting African rhythm based songs that really got the crowd rockin’. For their encore they brought out lead singer Twinkle from the opening band to join them and had the crowd standing with a thunderous applause as they left the stage!
Thanks to Kim at Seaside Music Management, Isaac Rodgriguez got a chance to interview Burleigh Drummond at their show at the Miramar Cultural Center on October 12th:
Q – What music or musician did you listen to that inspired you as an artist?
A – Of course the Beatles were a huge influence to me and the entire band. Me personally, my father was a full Colonel in the army, so I was picked up by a driver to go visit him. The guy played nothing but B bop jazz. That’s when I was in the 5th and 6th grade, so after a year of listening to that music every time I visited my father it was a huge influence on me. So, jazz became an obsession of mine because of that. Then personally I got into world music of the drumming of Africa and Ghana. I studied that in college, but I mean from a band’s perspective, we were very influenced by the early baroque music of England which would be Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, and people like that. But at the same time huge Beatles fans, so it was a mix of all that; everything.
Q – Do you have a favorite city or venue to play in?
A – Southern Florida is one of my favorite places to come. Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami. I love it down here and Ambrosia seems to be popular down here so it’s working out well for me.
Q – Do you have a favorite song that you just love to play?
A – Yeah, I mean Ambrosia songs, I can’t say there is one I don’t love. Even after 42 years they are still challenging to me. I still have to work at it so it’s not like you can sleep through the gig – you have to be there.
Q – When did you started playing the drums?
A – I started about the 5th grade. Those drives to see my father were a huge inspiration for me to start because hearing that music everyday got me going.
Q – What is your most funny or embarrassing moment on stage?
A – Well embarrassing yes. We were in front of 10,000 people in Pittsburgh, and I said, “It’s great to be here in Philadelphia.” Have you ever heard 10,000 people BOO?
Q – Have you guys ever done or would you like to do a world tour?
A – We have done pockets of the world like Asia, Japan and the Philippines. there are many places we have yet to go. In fact we were just talking about going to Israel – we would love to do that. I also have a chance with another artist to go down to South Africa and I am looking forward to that. There are many places yet we have not played and we are dying to go play.
Q – When did Ambrossia originate?
A – 1970 we started, of course we were only three years old at the time (laughter). We started in 1970, we did our first album in 1974, and it came out in 1975.
Q – What is the difference between the Ambrosia of the beginning and now?
A – In the beginning we were very idealistic, and we still are. We had a lot of dreams and were very influenced by these amazing musicians that we were hearing and we had no fear about going there. Whether we could play it or not we just threw ourselves into it. I think the only difference now is that we can actually play it.
Q – Is there any group or musician other than your current band members that you would love to get on stage and jam with?
A – Well its funny that you said that because we just did a show in Virginia Beach, and a band mate of ours who was in the band for about six months was Bruce Hornsby and we are talking about playing together with him again. We very much respect him as a musician.
Q – Other than the band members, how many individuals travel with you as part of the road crew?
A – We are pretty broken down. We travel with just the band and an occasional mixer. Even so, sometimes we don’t travel with a mixer because everywhere you go there’s so many amazing sound technicians. I mean the whole level is very high now. It all depends on the show and what we have to do. Sometimes we bring a crew, sometimes we don’t.
Q – Is there any member of the current road crew that has been the since the beginning?
A – Oh yeah, when we use people it’s usually people that has been around for a long time. We are pretty loyal people.
It was a privilege today to be able to meet the members of the band Ambrosia and to obtain a personal interview with Mr. Burleigh Drummond, one of the
founding members of the band. The band played at the Miramar center for the performing arts in Miramar, Florida. Their performance was outstanding to the enjoyment of the audience.
I highly recommend that anyone go see this band perform if they come to a venue near you. I would also like to take this opportunity to give a special thank you to Kim from Seaside Music Management for making this all possible, and to the staff of the Miramar center of the performing arts for their cooperation.
For band info and tour dates: