I was born in 1983 and grew up in Camarillo, California. Growing up it was a lot of doowop and Motown, from my dad’s side. And my mom was born in Mexico so it was a lot of Latin Cumbia/Norteno style of music, a nice healthy mix of that.

My very first instrument was a trumpet in the third grade band. My dad had a friend who had a trumpet. So he let me borrow it, so that’s my first instrument. I didn’t start playing drums until probably like 14. My dad is a guitar player, so he kind of showed me a little bit of guitar and probably when I was about 13, so that’s kind of where that led, the love sparked there. 

Then my buddy had a drum kit and that’s where it took off from. After a while, I realized that I was doing pretty well. And once I really learned, oh, I can actually hold down the beat, throw in a couple little things here and there, I am like well, okay. Maybe I got something here. 

My first drum hero was definitely Mitch Mitchell, amazing. Definitely also a lot of doowop drummers. I couldn’t give you a certain name, but just I’m sure there was a certain group of the same individuals who were doing that, but a lot of that doowop style of drumming. Their names were never in the front.  I got decent enough to start playing with friends, it’s like the band just kind of formed itself you know. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you the name of the first band, it’s been so long ago. Yeah, it’s just been so long ago since then.

I only really started studying Grateful Dead music when I joined Shaky. I was always the punk rock guy. Loved the metal, loved the hip hop, the reggae style of music. Got to be honest, when I first heard the Dead I thought they were kind of sloppy. Maybe just because that was the jam form, and I wasn’t really into that. 

I guess my first experience with jam form would be playing in a blues band with my dad. And it would get to this certain part of the song, he would be like, all right, let’s jam. And I would be like, what? And, basically, he said keep the beat, what we are going to do some fun stuff over here, if you want to change the beat or throw in a fill, that is the jam part, I guess. So that is my first experience with jam. The older I’m getting, the more and more I’m appreciating the Grateful Dead, like, they are just incredible. 

Mark (Masson, Shaky Feelin’s lead guitarist) was actually in a group called The Situation. And then I kind of came on board, and we just started playing together, writing songs here and there. Then we had Cameron jump on board so the first form of Shaky Feeling was two drummers, bass and guitar, no keys or nothing like that in the mix, actually for probably a good two or three years. 

I really love playing for Dead Heads. I love the love. I’ve got to say every gig we’ve done, like, especially since we this is our 11th year, maybe going on twelve. I lost count. I just love seeing those familiar faces, as well as a lot of new ones. But just those diehard fans that come out to love and support the music. That is definitely the number one for me.  

The music itself is a whole universe, the variety of styles they can perform, you know. The older I’m getting the more I see that they are not just a jam band, they are bluegrass. They are rock and roll. They are like kind of a blend of all genres, you know. I’m actually really a little bit more into Jerry’s banjo playing in Old and in the Way, that’s kind of— I love that style of music. I actually play the banjo a little bit myself. Not any crazy picking wise but a couple chords here and there, you know.  Shaky has evolved in these years, no surprise of course. We know more of what the other person is going to do, kind of like trusting where they are going to go with their music. That has definitely been a growing, learning experience.  

See Paul Menchaca with Shaky Feelin at Skull & Roses Festival