Rick Stevens and Tower of Power Reunite at Yoshi’s Oakland, Thursday, January 31, 2013
The older I am getting, the more certain I am that music brings me back to my younger days: who I was, who I was in love with, where I was living, and especially, the good times that I experienced. I’m sure that there are so many memories flooding back not only for fans, but for Rick Stevens and for Tower of Power.
The Tower of Power personnel on Thursday night included Emilio Castillo, Stephen (“Doc”) Kupka, Francis Rocco Prestia, David Garibaldi, Larry Braggs, Roger Smith, Tom E. Politzer, Adolfo Acosta, Jerry Cortez, Sal Cracchiolo and Jeff Tamelier, with guest soloist Rick Stevens.
Again, the response from the audience is heartwarming. We should all get such a chance to lead or in this case, to recover our lives to great affection and applause.
He recently had a sentimental reunion in Sacramento with Tower of Power bandleader Emilio Castillo and sat in with a band featuring some of the other Tower alumni in Antioch. He also joined Pete and Sheila Escovedo onstage at Yoshi’s last month, and the Escovedos prayed over him.
“I always kept close to my Psalm 51,” he says, “and remembered that Moses committed murder and he rose above. Paul used to love to kill people, and he saw the light in prison. I made these people my role models. I patterned my life after them – not that alien lifestyle I was living – and everything changed.”
His return has been welcomed by his old friends.
Some of his oldest friends held a celebratory dinner during the holidays, including Michael Carabello, founding member of Santana and the only conga player in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose first professional experience was at a long-gone dive out in the Excelsior called the Rock Garden with a group that featured Stevens called the Four of Us.
In between all this, Stevens lives with his eldest son in Antioch and commutes into San Francisco each morning to care for his 96-year-old aunt. It’s a slow but steady routine that seems to keep him grounded and engaged. He is getting to know his other children and now, grandchildren. It is all quite wonderful and sometimes, overwhelming for him.
All I can say is that Stevens be allowed to continue to do well and to continue to bring joy to others. He can record for a little label separately and with ToP, and perform here and there, whether in the Bay Area, California, or elsewhere. As you can see, the music hasn’t died within him.
- Chester Thompson returns to jazz roots (sfgate.com)
- Prison behind him, former Tower of Power singer set to perform Thursday (mercurynews.com)