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In the Mix with Dan Hertlein

Oct 04, 2017 10:25AM ● By Paul Cotruvo

By Paul Cotruvo

Many years ago, I was getting ready to bike 540 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles as a part of AIDS/LifeCycle #1. I was prepared for everything but didn’t have a partner to share a tent with. None of my friends were doing the ride, so I had to seek out someone who, hopefully, would be nice and not snore (well, one out of two is not bad). I was told about a drummer named Dan Hertlein. At the time, he was in the hugely popular Mixed Nuts band. So, being a musician, I figured this could be perfect. I found him at a gig and introduced myself, and he could not have been nicer. Unfortunately, he already had a tent mate but went out of his way to help me find one. He did not know me from Adam but extended a helping hand, and we have been close friends ever since. As a matter of fact, we both started playing music together in the bands Cover2Cover, Queens & Thieves, and The Big Jangle. He has now ridden the AIDS/LifeCycle for over 20 years! He is a true humanitarian (and maybe a bit masochistic). Dan is not only a great human being but also a phenomenal drummer. I usually refer to him as “The Captain of the Ship.” Many fellow musicians know of his talents, and now it’s time for you to meet Dan Hertlein.

PC: How old were you when you first started playing drums? Were they your first instrument of choice?

DH: 12 years old. Yes, Ringo had me when I saw him on Ed Sullivan. My best friend was already playing guitar, so drums was the obvious choice.

PC: Who were some of your inspirations and influences?

DH: Ringo, so obviously the Beatles. Any of the English bands (not so much the Stones, though). Rascals, Vanilla Fudge, Three Dog Night were huge to me. I was a rock band lover and not so much R&B and jazz, but that changed the older I got. In the ‘70s, I got into fusion heavily and progressive rock. Bands like Yes and King Crimson, Frank Zappa also.

PC: What is the name of your first band and what kind of music did they play?

DH: World of Matter, and we played rock, R&B, soul, and later on, Santana. The band formed in ‘67 and went until ‘75. My dad was its manager, and we became one of the most popular bands in South Florida (I was born and raised in Miami). We even auditioned Harry Casey, later to be known as KC from KC and the Sunshine Band. He didn't get the job! My father was a huge inspiration to all the members of the band (16 in total over the 8 years), and to this day, we still get together every few years for reunion concerts. 400-500 people usually show up. My dad was so proud of us, and he was able to see us at a concert in 2011, four months before he passed. That concert will always be such a sweet moment for me.

PC: Who would you name as the top three drummers of all time and why?

DH: Very hard question to answer. There are so many. Here goes: Ringo Starr, for his unique feel and groove; Simon Phillips, from Toto/Jeff Beck/The Who for his incredible technical abilities combined with groove; and Billy Cobham, from Mahivishnu Orchestra and as a solo artist. Billy’s a true visionary.

PC: What have been some of your favorite musical highlights of your career so far?

DH: Playing with my current two bands, The Big Jangle and drD. I also was in a band in the late ‘70s in Florida called Lips. We had incredible musicians in that band. Also, playing in a band called Hemlock that scored a movie and had minor disco hits. Yes, I said disco, but it was fun!

PC: If you were a song, what song would you be and why?

DH: “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes. I really connected with that band, and I heard a lot of positivity from their lyrics.

PC: Thanks Dan!

There are a couple of special events coming up that I highly recommend. The weekend of October 6 and 7 is the 15th annual Pleasant Hill Art, Wine and Music Festival. Always a great time, filled with some fantastic music. Check out for more information.

Second, WiseGirl in Pleasant Hill will be hosting a very special evening. Cover2Cover will be reuniting for a special performance on New Year’s Eve, 2017 (see page 36 for details). Tickets will go fast for this one, so get them early. For more details, visit Get out there and support local music and venues. You’ll be glad you did.

Paul’s Picks for October:

October 6: 925 Band, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm

October 6: Dave Land & Sin Silver, Roxx on Main, 627 Main St., Martinez, 6:30pm

October 7: Stung, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 10pm

October 12: Chris Cain Band, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm

October 14: Billy Schaub, Rocco’s Pizzeria, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, 8pm

October 14: Dream Posse, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm

October 19: Lost Weekend, Rocco’s Pizzeria: 2909 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, 8pm

October 21: Belleville & Tender Mercies, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm

October 28: Lumberyard, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm

October 29: Sunday Paper, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 4pm


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