Lee Bittner: Former Joplin drummer plays in SM
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...Lee Bittner: Former Joplin drummer plays in SM - 7/25/01 - NCTimes.net
...Lee Bittner: Former Joplin drummer plays in SM
...So has drummer-turned-restaurant supply company owner Lee Bittner ---- to a degree.
A former drummer with Janis Joplin's Big Brother
& the Holding Company
, 54, has toned down his
personal act somewhat these days.But he
maintains a lot of the core values of that youthful age which he
combines with modern-day business acumen and a still-youthful approach to life.
Waldo Nilo / Staff Photographer Lee Bittner
talks at the Power Surge cafe in San Marcos about the years he
played drums with Janis Joplin's Big Brother
& the Holding Company
continues to play locally at venues such as the Power Surge. Bittner
has returned to his
first love ---- music-making ---- and plays gigs at places such as the new Pala Casino with an ad hoc blues band, as a regular at the San Marcos Power Surge Cafe Thursday Open Mike and on the open mike circuit.
A colorful and amiable guy, Bittner
is loving it ---- every second of it.
"I've been working with a group called Blues Denial," Bittner
said during a recent interview at the Power Surge."Joe Walsh came and sat in with us.Tonight I'll be out with a band ---- I don't even know its name ---- but we're playing at the new Pala Casino.It's pretty cool.The energy is amazing out there.I think life is great."
An El Cajon native, Bittner
played drums at military bases in and around San Diego starting at age 15.Then he
got bit by a certain bug.A place natives call simply "The City."You know: San Francisco.
"I played all over North Beach, all the clubs," Bittner
said."Carol Doda's club
.The strip joints.Lived in Sausalito, Tam Valley, and Marin (County) for seven years."
It was the Summer of Love.Haight and Ashbury streets: 1967-68.Hippies, acid, free love and good times rolling all around the San Francisco Bay.
"I got a gig with a band called Morning Glory," Bittner
continued, a far-away gaze in his
eyes."We did some gigs with Big Brother & the Holding Company
.They introduced me to Janis.She
was a great girl.They were so great they blew me away.
"The next decent gig I got was with Norman Greenbaum.
But Big Brother remembered a certain drummer with a big beat and asked Bittner
to join the band on its last wild ride through America.Bill Graham got them gigs with groups such as The Allman Brothers Band
, The James Gang, REO Speedwagon and Journey.And of course, Big Brother had a following all its own.
"Sam Andrew, Peter Albin, Kathy McDonald singing with us," Bittner
said."That was the early '70s.Really the best times.Of course, Janis was gone and I couldn't work with her
, which was a real bummer."
Big Brother broke up in 1972 and Bittner
continued playing Bay area gigs through the mid-1970s.But life in The City had changed and that proverbial rock 'n' roll lifestyle "was killing me," he
"I needed a lifestyle change," Bittner
said."I had been caught up with it all since the early '60s.It was great being a kid from the country in the scene.I was like a kid in a candy store.But it was killing me.I had to move back home."
"Personally I believe in a healthy and clean lifestyle," Bittner
said."I gave all that other stuff up years ago. ...I love to see all the guys coming up around here now, really into music.It takes a lot of energy, time and desire.I would suggest they really strive to be successful in music but also go to school, get some real substance under your belt." Bittner
has become a popular mentor for members of the North County music scene.Fellow percussionist Rob Belgard called Bittner
"an awesome guy.One of the greatest drummers there is ..."
is one of my favorite people to jam with," Belgard continued."One of the fun people.I got to sit in with him and this group Jody and Company
from Escondido and it was a great jam session."
...Mark DuBois, owner of Power Surge, has seen the Thursday Open Mike at his cafe become one of the most popular events in hip North County music circles and Bittner become an integral part of the scene.
is a great guy," DuBois said."He's
a great player.We've got people from 16 to 60 years old playing here now and he
gets along with everybody."
Contact staff writer Dan Weisman at (760) 761-4414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.