Hittin’: Dan Wojciechowski @ The Greek


An email from Dan Wojciechowski tends to have lots of CAPS and exclamation points in it!!! Much like his drumming.

I tend to not be a fan of lots of caps and exclamation points in emails—stylistic affectations that give a sense of manic energy or someone trying too hard. I know Dan (Danski, Wojo, Woj) and, in his case, either attribute is way off. His use of emphasis—both literary and musical—conveys pure and genuine enthusiasm, positivity, generous spirit, good humor, commitment and an energy that is far more accurately described as inspired than manic. Indeed, his personality simply seems too big for conventional letter-case and punctuation. It’s fitting. I read his emails with the same joy they’re written. We recently exchanged a few, leading up to last Saturday’s Peter Frampton (his current boss) concert at the Greek Theatre.

Far Away Land
Wojo graduated from the University of North Texas the year I arrived as a freshman. That was a little bit ago, friends. Among drummers there, his legend was already secured. Two years in the prestigious One O’Clock Lab Band; a stint on snare in the elite, ass-kicking NT drumline; and the throne in some the best local bands of the time. From day one—really until the day I split town years later—I made a point, a cheerfully-kept point, of going to hear him play at every chance.

Some of my earliest recollections of a young Wojo playing are with a homegrown original pop/ska outfit called The Plunge. They played regularly in our funky little college town and the gigs became a ritual. This guy was exciting to watch. A wide, toothy smile belied, or perhaps perfectly complimented, a fierce inner focus and discipline. He sat low behind big drums and high cymbals, and moved fluidly with absolute confidence and deliberation. His playing was consistent, precise, smart, structured, and always deep in the pocket. Everything in its place. Controlled, yes. Soulful, always.

Special Place
To be sure there were a handful of other great drummers around at the time whose playing I love to this day, a few of whom have achieved drum-celebrity status. But I’ve always held a special place for Dan. For me as a college freshman, he was the first drummer near my age and within my musical circle who I could point a finger to and say, “That guy is a pro.” Those other drummers around were great even then, and Dan, certainly, remains a constant student; but he was the first guy to blur the transitional line between working musician and honest-to-goodness pro for me. I knew it was time to step up and I held Dan as an early model for my own transition.

Not surprisingly, Wojo ruined every band he ever quit. Starting with The Plunge. It was a firsthand reminder of the critical, existential even, importance of the drummer in a band. It’s one thing to listen to The Who post-Moon; it’s another to have your favorite night-out ruined. Thanks, Dan.

Hopefully he won’t be ruining Frampton’s outstanding band anytime soon. I suspect not.


A Discovery. A Reunion.
The Greek Theatre is always a joy. Most all outdoor concert venues, as the summer heat of the day relaxes into dusk and the cool of night, are a joy; each with its own unique charms. The Greek’s charm is its particular location, tucked into the lush, secluded Griffith Park hills. Adding to the joy this night was the open-air ride up Vermont Avenue and discovery of free venue-adjacent motorcycle parking. A good start.

There’s a long list of reasons we play drums. Some are uniquely personal; some more generic. Here’s but one reason it’s good to be “the drummer”: You get to play with the rock star and not have to be the rock star. Immediately, as I entered the theatre, I see Woj huddled with John Good and Scott Garrison of Drum Workshop. I’d like to see Frampton try and casually hang out in the lobby before the show. There’s a virtue to that kind of anonymity I think. Anyhow, I hadn’t seen Dan in years. Big hug. Some hanging, some laughs, some catching up, some thanks to John for the beer, and it’s nearing showtime.


There would be no support band. For good reason. Frampton played nearly two hours before intermission, and a near hour and a half after. The tour is billed as Frampton Comes Alive! 35, and the complete 1976 chart-busting double-live record comprised most of the first set. Voice box and all. The second set was largely instrumental blues material off his more current releases. It is definitely a compartmentalized structure for a live show, but ya’ know what? Totally worked for me. The old. The new. Deal with it. That the show flowed and ebbed so tidily was a fortunate consequence.

LED screens behind the band projected mostly sentimental images highlighting Frampton’s tenure as rock’s flaxen mane-ed, flared collar-ed poster boy. Otherwise, the stage basically consisted of Frampton’s three Marshall cabs and Fender amp; bass and rhythm rigs; Hammond organ and Rhodes enclosure; and drums. That’s it. Rock and Roll.

Frampton brings great energy, humor, and humanity to the stage. He also brings serious guitar chops. His singing is strong, if a bit weathered. His guitar playing has aged to perfection. Better than ever, I’d venture. In fact, crack journalist that I am, lacking pen and paper I would occasionally text myself a note for later reference; somewhere during the extended solos of the second set I typed: “frmptn a mf’r!!”

2nd Set

Rear Stage
Speaking of…there’s Danski rear stage. Everything I related above, every descriptor and contemplation of the early Dan Wojciechowski may rightfully be copied here, in increased font size, bold, italics, and underlined. Maybe even a fancy font color. His playing elevated an already high-flying band with Rob Arthur on keys, Adam Lester on guitar, and Comes Alive-era bassist, Stanley Sheldon. Dan brings everything to the Frampton band. His big-band conception of composition and voicing; stylistic diversity and authenticity spanning years of studio work, and journeyman gigs ranging from LeAnn Rimes to Olivia Newton-John; smooth brush chops and rudimental acuity; and, notably, a mean blues/rock sensibility honed over a long association with guitar hero Andy Timmons. Dynamic. Musical. Supportive.

One quick additional note. Dan has this thing that I know well, and recognize as pure Dan just as clearly as the features of his face. He has made an art and a signature of the double crash. He’ll intently look up and eyeball a pair of large diameter, high-hanging crash cymbals the split second before sending them exploding, ringing and wobbling in unison. It’s a thing. Makes me smile every time.

This is the perfect band for him; and he the perfect drummer for this band. It was exciting as ever to listen to him play live again these many years later; and personally satisfying to see him getting the reward and recognition he so deserves. Now if Frampton could just get his last name right on stage.

Krugman, Woj, & Garrison

Krugman, Woj & Garrison

So Fine
A little post-show hang, satisfied goodbyes, a quick walk to the moto, and whee!, whee!, whee!, all the way home. A good night. But why is “Black Hole Sun” in my head? It was a Peter Frampton concert, right?! He would have to play that last.

Clearly, this is not a show or drummer review. It is more of a Valentine. An homage to my old friend and one of my still favorite drummers. Great show, Dan. Or better yet: GREAT SHOW, DAN!!!

Steve Krugman

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