Friday, December 12, 2008

Fantasy supergroup draft recap

By Rick Morris

To mark the first edition of THE FDH LOUNGE on Wednesday nights on (7-10 PM EST, following a run of 39 shows previously on Sunday nights), The Dignitaries of The FDH Lounge convened to hold our "fantasy supergroup" draft this past Wednesday, December 10 (archives of FDH programming available here). Having previously dabbled in the application of fantasy sports competition outside the realm of sports (i.e. competing to draft the most attractive team of female celebrities and also drafting presidential candidates in our 2008 political league), we celebrated the occasion by competing to see who could compile the strongest rock band by utilizing a standard serpentine draft.

The ground rules were simple: all eight of the participants had to draft a guitarist, a drummer, a bass player and a front man -- with two additional "wild cards" that could fill any role. The only proviso would be that nobody could draft two musicians who had ever been in the same band together, since reuniting existing bands would be against the point and would basically constitute cheating -- since the challenge was to put together a cohesive band with talented strangers. Also, we limited this to rockers who are still alive.

We were fortunate to have some excellent judges for our event. For the first two rounds, we heard some commentary on our picks from Boston drummer Jeff Neal -- who also works in education and sports extensively and thus has other frames of reference in terms of the cohesiveness necessary for forming a unit such as this one. He had some great insights and we thank him for his contribution to the program.

We were also really lucky to have with us for the entire draft our official scoring judge and one heck of a fine musician and humanitarian, Pat Gesualdo. An outstanding drummer who has worked with a host of diverse musicians (how's this for a wide range: rockers from Deep Purple, Kiss and Quiet Riot and also the Metropolitan Opera!), he is also the force behind Drums and Disabilities -- a groundbreaking dedicated to helping young people fight learning disabilities through musical therapy. Pat's talent and dedication revealed him as the perfect person to score our event and slot our participants one through eight.

Before we get to the official participants in the event, we must first mention the fact that STN President Paul Belfi was disqualified on a technicality (which was gleefully unearthed by a close friend of his -- more on that later). Pat proclaimed that Paul's team actually would have won the event had he not been DQ'd, because he was super-enthused about the rhythm section of Joe Satriani on guitar and Billy Sheehan on bass. However, Paul's drummer, Carmine Appice and one of his wild cards, Jon Lord, played in the Ashton & Lord group back in 1974 (ah, the wonders of Google!). Paul was unaware of this, but the information was sprung on us after Paul had left for the evening (having left his final-round pick behind before he did so) and we were unable to reach him to get a replacement pick for either spot. Knowing Paul Belfi, he's already proclaiming his team the "uncrowned champion," and in fairness, that's pretty much what our scoring judge said.

8th PLACE, PAUL BELFI (picking 5th in the 1st round) : Joe Satriani (guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass), Ronnie James Dio (front man), Carmine Appice (drums), John Lord (wild card), Sammy Hagar (wild card)

On a personal level, I felt horrible for our lowest non-disqualified finisher. Matt Petrone, co-host of The On Tour Music Show on STN (Sundays, 6-8 PM EST) with his brother Anthony and also with Tony Mazur, wanted so badly to do well. He spent countless hours jotting down a vast multitude of band combinations (I know this because my jaw dropped when he showed me his stack of papers) and arguably prepped harder than anyone except Anthony. Matt is easily one of the nicest guys at the station and seeing his disappointment at the outcome was tough for me. But events of this nature are subjective indeed and he ended up on the wrong side of our judge with the combo he put together.

7th PLACE: MATT PETRONE (picking 3rd in the 1st round): Michael Anthony (bass), Brian May (guitar), Joe Perry (wild card), Michael Cartellone (drums), Dennis DeYoung (wild card), Joe Elliott (front man)

Our sixth-place finisher suffered for picking a team in the wrong genre for this judge! During the program, we learned that Pat was not very high on a lot of the transformational rock music of the early '90s, and the fact that I nicknamed On Tour co-host Tony Mazur's band "Team Flannel" should tell you all you need to know about his odds of success! That was a tough break as I personally liked the band and thought it would be one of the more cohesive ones since most if not all participants would be on the same stylistic page.

6th PLACE, TONY MAZUR (picking 8th in the 1st round): Chris Cornell (front man), Jerry Cantrell (guitar), Taylor Hawkins (drums), Robert DeLeo (bass), Kevin Martin (wild card), Joey Santiago (wild card)

We announced the results on the program just as we're doing here, from last to first. When we got to this spot and learned who was in fifth place, I observed that Pat must have had everyone pretty jammed up on his scorecard at this point, because we knew from previous comments how much respect Pat had for this band as it was coming together. The co-host of Pro Wrestling Insider on STN, Buck Woodward, put together a group with several highly respected individual pieces. Also, Buck was the one to drop a dime on Paul (his PWI co-host) for the rules violation. That was priceless!

5th PLACE, BUCK WOODWARD (picking 1st in the 1st round): Les Claypool (bass), Kirk Hammett (guitar), Dave Grohl (wild card), Chad Smith (drums), Trent Rezner (wild card), Rob Halford (front man)

The fourth-place finisher, FDH Senior Editor Jason Jones, took a lot of ribbing throughout the draft for taking Bootsy Collins on bass. Many of us wondered how he was supposed to fit together with the rest of his rock band (including shredding guitar player Herman Lee, guitar ace Zakk Wylde and earnest front man Chester Bennington). My favorite question that anyone posed to him was how Lee was going to do on a speed-metal cover of "Groove is in the Heart." Nevertheless, Jason earned a lot of respect from our judge for the talent level of the band, even if questions about cohesion might have kept it from coming in higher.

4th PLACE, JASON JONES (picking 7th in the 1st round): Zakk Wylde (wild card), Bootsy Collins (bass), Herman Lee (guitar), Chester Bennington (front man), Joey Jordison (drums), Scruffy Wallace (wild card)

The only member of the On Tour triad yet to be mentioned, Anthony Petrone, finished third. It's worth noting that the initial idea for the draft belonged to Anthony and he was instrumental in booking the judges and helping to publicize the show, so we thank him for that. He might have had the most versatile band, but at the end of the day it had a strong classic rock vibe to it and that might have limited him a bit on the judge's scorecard.

3rd PLACE, ANTHONY PETRONE (picking 2nd in the 1st round): Tom Scholz (wild card), Jack Blades (bass), Peter Frampton (guitar), Roger Taylor (drums), Joe Walsh (wild card), Steve Perry (front man)

Whenever we do a fantasy draft outside the realm of sports, it's always interesting to see how the FDH management duo of Jason Jones and myself will fare. We have the skill set and organizational wherewithal that we bring from our fantasy sports background, but not the level of knowledge about the individual field necessarily. I'm pleased that Jason finished respectably and that I came in second ahead of so many people so deeply immersed in music. My strategy was the exact opposite of Matt's: where he certainly risked overthinking with his insane preparation, I entered with a rough list of "players" at each position and figured I'd compose the team on the fly as we went along by trying to match up musicians based on the evolving "feel" of the band. I aimed for the "pro's pro" type of musician above the merely famous and that strategy worked very well. This is also the kind of band I could "mark out for," inasmuch as one of my musical heroes (Geddy Lee, bassist from my favorite band Rush) is in it, as is a member of one of my co-second favorite band (Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots). If I'd managed to get anyone from Linkin Park, my whole top three would have been represented! I likened my Weiland pick to Plex Burress in fantasy football: high risk, high reward. My final round wild card pick of Donald Fagen was prefaced by a note that he might not be used on every song with this band, but that he'd be able to come in and really add to some tunes or maybe even be the centerpiece of some instrumentals. Because I'm really intrigued by thought processes, I questioned Pat after he announced his picks about several key selections that those of us made; I asked if this one in particular helped or hurt me. Pat said that it helped me, so I ended up rallying to finish as high as I did in what was clearly a close field at the top.

2nd PLACE, RICK MORRIS (picking 4th in the 1st round): Geddy Lee (bass), Steve Smith (drums), Steve Vai (guitar), Eric Johnson (wild card), Scott Weiland (front man), Donald Fagen (wild card)

Going into the draft, I proclaimed FDH Entertainment Editor Samantha Jones the favorite (Anthony saw my constant refrain that Samm was the person to beat as "working the ref" and planting in Pat's head that she was the best. If it worked out that way, it worked out that way, although it was just my honest opinion and one that was proven true by how she scored. From a personal ego standpoint, I'd have rather have won. To be perfectly honest, from my FDH Managing Partner "bidness" standpoint, I'm glad for the credibility boost of our Entertainment Editor winning!). Anyone who knows her or has heard her on The Lounge is aware of her deep knowledge of, and deep affection for, good rock music. It was a source of humor for all of us that husband Jason generally has the upper hand on her in fantasy sports drafts -- because he is the super-obsessed and super-prepared one -- but that we were clearly battling on HER turf this time. Her final margin of victory over me came in the last round, with a move I clearly anticipated -- pulling something obscure and impressive out of her tucchus, in this case violin ace Lucia Micarelli. Some participants, such as Anthony, questioned the cohesiveness of her band, especially with a front man with a cut-and-dried identity such as Steven Tyler. But in the end, she impressed the judge with her team and she took advantage of Paul's faux pas to emerge as our first champion.

1st PLACE, SAMANTHA JONES (picking 6th in the 1st round): Flea (bass), Neil Peart (drums), Tom Morello (guitar), Mike Shinoda (wild card), Steven Tyler (front man), Lucia Micarelli (wild card)

We're planning, tentatively for April, an alternate version of this draft -- devoted entirely to musicians who have passed on to that great mosh pit in the sky. The off-air buzz on Wednesday night centered around Randy Rhodes as the first overall pick. We shall see. But what is known for sure after this event is that the wonderful idea that Anthony Petrone hatched worked even better than we thought it would. Keep looking for more creative ideas of this sort from your content producers at The FDH Lounge.

No comments: