It’s been quite a while since my last blog as the summer has caught up with me a bit and I have been training for a half marathon. Having said that I am still drumming every day and my weekly lessons have been going really well. I have replaced all my drum heads and have been working hard to get the snare sounding the way I want and I think I am finally there.
Today I just wanted to get back into blogging so without any further delay I would like to talk about Carter Beauford. Carter is the drummer for the Dave Matthews Band and he in 2010 was ranked 10th on Rolling Stone Magazine readers poll of greatest drummers. Carter was born November 2, 1957 (57 years old) in Charlottesville, Virginia and the story goes that when he was 3 his father took him to a Buddy Rich show because he couldn’t find a babysitter and Carter started playing drums the next day. His completely ambidextrous style came about from years of practice in front of a mirror trying to emulate his favorite drummers. Insane!
He started his professional career at age 9 and later joined Secrets a Richmond based Jazz Fusion Band and later Blue Indigo before joining up with Dave Matthews Band. At the time Dave Matthew was a bartender at a bar that Carter would perform at regularly. In his career Carter has also collaborated with numerous artists including Carlos Santana and John Popper.
Carter in 2003 won Modern Drummer readers poll for both Best Pop Drummer as well as Best Recorded Performance for “Dave Matthews Band: Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado.
I have two videos for today: The first is him performing Tripping Billies from 2012 and the second is a crazy video he did with GoPro performing a solo.
I have been doing micro adjustments on my drums since the day I got them and to be completely honest I was really happy with them and had basically left them alone for a few weeks with and when I got the two new toms I basically just added them in and again I was really happy and comfortable. That is until a good friend of mine who has been drumming for I believe around 30 years asked to see a pic of my drums as he hasn’t been able to come over yet. The first thing he called out after telling me how awesome the drums look and how happy he is that I am finally playing was that the drums looked a little stretched out. Again I was very comfortable with my drums and just thought it was because I am mostly upper-body with shorter legs. Then came Wednesday night, when I went to his house and he asked me to sit behind his kit and get some ideas about placement for myself. WOW! What a difference and I was way more comfortable. It was like being laid out on a couch vs being in an airplane seat. Since sitting behind his drum set and taking some pictures for reference I overhauled my kit yesterday and I can’t believe the difference it has already made. Not only am I more comfortable but it is already noticeable that I am faster and cleaner.
I know many of you have been drumming for a long time and know exactly how you like things but for me this was almost mind blowing. I basically set up my kit on four criteria when I started – What kits are set up like in store, basics for setting kit properly found online and in drum books, advice from my teacher based on what we did on the lesson kit, and finally just little things that made me comfortable. Again I will say that I was happy with my set up and thought I was comfortable.
Since Wednesday I raised by seat and my snare quite a bit, lowered all of my tack toms and even moved them off the bass drum (all of my toms can mount to bass or to stands including the 14″) which was because I was able to move them closer together as well as lower them and allowed me to but the ride exactly where I wanted it, lowered and tightened my ride cymbal and bring my double bass pedal and high hat in close to three inches . The final result allowed me to move around the kit more freely even though from an overall floor print I had actually brought the drums in a lot closer. The convenient coincidence is that with the drums lower and everything closer together my girlfriend can enjoy them a lot more without having to make as many adjustments.
One of the final pieces of advice my friend had for me which I would like to share with you is to video yourself playing. If you film yourself from a couple of angles just playing anything you will have the opportunity to see where you might be able to improve your set up. He suggested having someone who is knowledgeable observe you play and help out but some of us are stubborn or they may have biases to how they set up so it may be better to just observe yourself. My teacher was already doing this with the practice kit and while it felt good it is no where near my home set up now.
It has now been just over three months since I bought my kit and just over two months since I started lessons and I have to say that I am really happy and proud of my progress. I am starting to be able to play what I want to hear out of the drums and I am confident playing basic rock beats and quite a few songs.
Well I am on to number 48 of Modern Drummer “The 50 Greatest Drummers Of All Time” and I have to say Steve Jordan has a ridiculously amazing resume. Some of the highlights include: As a teenager he played with Stevie Wonder’s band and later played for the Saturday Night Live band. While drumming for SNL band he joined with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd and went on tour with The Blues Brothers in the 80’s – (did not appear in the movie). He returned to late night in 1982 alongside Paul Shaffer’s World’s Most Dangerous Band on Late Night with David Letterman… Wow! Born in the Bronx, New York on January 14, 1957 and he later graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. As soon as the snare drum was bestowed upon him, Steve Jordan was issued a challenge by his father: learn to play Art Blakey‘s “Blues March.” To further motivate him to accept the challenge, Steve Jordan’s father told him that learning that song would enable him to play anything on the drums. Steve Jordan took on the challenge, and the “Blues March” became the first song he ever learned to play. Steve’s next big influence was jazz drummer Freddie Waits. They met at an after-school music program, when Steve was 16 years old. Steve Jordan was so eager to learn, that he and Freddie Waits struck up a relationship and began working together. Freddie Waits taught Steve Jordan privately for a while, showing him what he needed to do to become a professional musician. Soon enough the lessons turned into counseling: Steve Jordan played while Freddie listened and watched carefully so he could guide him.
His most recent work includes being a part of the John Mayer Trio, Grammy Award Winner for his Producing efforts, touring with Eric Clapton’s band in 2007, and starting The Verbs with his wife. He has worked with countless artists over the years and I suggest you take a look at his videos online. He also released an instructional video and book called The Groove is Here.
“Simplicity is not stupidity. Just because something sounds simple or is easy to play, in your mind, doesn’t mean it is dumb.” – Steve Jordan in the DVD The Groove Is Here, 2002.
I am going to start today’s blog by once again thanking Stuart at Paradiddles Drum Shop. While I am sure a lot of you have had similar positive experiences from your own local shop various shops online and to be completely honest I absolutely loved my old shop (unfortunately closed at the beginning of the year) I was really struggling to get the Taye toms I wanted. As I already have posted on some of the troubles I went through I am pleased to say that yesterday I received my Toms – not even six days after I ordered them from Stuart. As I said to him – “Thanks for doing what others couldn’t do in a month” and in the end was the cheapest price of all including shipping and all other costs – almost as cheap as the first quote with out any shipping costs.
Now I am sure a lot of you play or have played on all sizes of drums but I have to say I was a little shocked when I opened the box containing the 18″ Floor Tom – It looked massive and for a moment I thought to myself “did they mess up and ship me a bass drum?” Of course they didn’t and once I found the legs I set it up and started to get use to it. For the drums themselves I am done for quite a while with now having a seven piece kit – 20″ Bass, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18″ Toms, and 14″ Snare. Of course with the drums now set up, I laugh to myself as I see how bare it looks without all the cymbals I have also been looking to buy (not anytime soon).
I still have some work to do to get them sounding the way I want and I will use the factory skins for now as I’m going to replace all the Toms at once. I am on my way to be the “World’s Okayest Drummer”
Okay so tonight I am looking into the life of Tony Allen, number 49 on “Modern Drummer” The 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time. Tony Allen was born in Lagos, Nigeria and is 75 currently living and working in Paris. He has an autobiography Tony Allen: Master Drummer of Afrobeat co-written with author/musician Micheal E Veal which I will be adding to my reading list for the summer.
Allen is credited with co-founding Afrobeat music and was a part of the Africa 70 from 1968 to 1979. Tony has since started his own bands as well as releasing a number of albums and played in Rocket Juice & The Moon and The Good, The Bad, and The Queen. One thing I found interesting was that he did not start playing until he was 18 years old – still a kid but makes me feel a bit better about starting now.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Tony (as I wasn’t) but are familiar with a little Brit Pop band “Blur” Damon pays homage to Tony on the song “Music Is My Radar” makes mention of Tony Allen dancing and ends the song repeating “You really get me dancing” referring to Tony Allen.
I am looking forward to learning more about Tony and will post more once I complete his book sometime this summer. I will leave you with two video’s today – the first is Tony performing a solo in Boston,” Second is Blur – Music Is My Radar.
Today I wanted to spend some time explaining something that has been happening in the background. As you know I love my drums and love drumming and while I am new, I am picking things up fairly quickly and decided that I was going to add to my set. I decided I would like to add the 16″ and 18″ floor toms and to match my current set if at all possible as I am really happy with my drums (Taye Studio Maple in Green Black Burst) As there are no longer any Taye dealers in my area I contacted Taye directly and got set up with dealers both in Canada and the US which I then contacted to try and special order. What blew my mind was that I was getting a variety of pricing from all the Canadian dealers ranging from $449 Canadian ($356 USD) up to $735 Canadian ($599 USD) for one of the Toms and even more for the other. In the end I found a place relatively close (will remain unnamed for now) that said they could order them at a reasonable price – They asked me for my credit card to put a hold on the card and would charge once confirmed that drums were on route. I then saw that my card had been charged and when I talked to them they not only told me that they were not ordered but that in order to get them I would have to get them from Taye directly in Japan and that it would be $600 in shipping. Obviously bothered by the fact that I had already been charged and had nothing for it I asked for a refund and that I would make other arrangements. It is now five days later and the refund has yet to show up in my account. If I do not get the refund soon than this will turn into a rant post rather than just being a post about my experience.
Now the good side of the story – I then contacted Taye again and once again Katy at Taye was amazing in taking care of me. They set me up with Stuart of Paradiddles Drum Shop who contacted me right away and within a day was able to do what other stores couldn’t get organized in nearly a month. He was open and direct about the upcoming holidays and how that will affect my order and said he would contact me as soon as he had tracking information. All together, I will now have the drums delivered directly to my house instead of the shop an hour away and the total cost is only $50 more than the original quote before I was told of the $600 in shipping. I know you all have your stores that you are happy with but if there is anything they cannot help you with I encourage you to give Stuart a try at Parradiddles Drum Shop. I am not sure if he is international but he is for sure in the US and Canada.
Once I get the Toms I will most likely add a China, a Splash and another Crash to my kit at some point and hopefully leave it at that for a while. I am already having a bit of a laugh that I will be at a seven piece kit when I thought a five piece would be more than enough for me and when most of my friends that are drummers are using four piece kits.
To end this post, which again I really didn’t want to be a rant, I will say that yesterday I had one of my best lessons and oddly enough it was not from my regular teacher. A regular teacher was away at a show he was performing in and had his original instructor come in to cover the classes. I was a little apprehensive as I am enjoying working with my teacher and thought I would spend more time explaining were I am at than actually playing and learning. That was not at all the case – he was well prepared and new approximately were I was at and new that I really enjoy the reading music and understanding side of things so he had music written out that was increasingly challenging as well as written in different ways for the same beats so that I expanded by reading and understanding of music. I honestly walked out of the room smiling from ear to ear. It was also awesome to work with the guy who was my teachers teacher twenty or so years ago.
Tonight I have decided to expand my drumming knowledge. Partly because I am genuinely interested and partly because my girlfriend has taken over the drum set. That’s right! My girlfriend recently decided she wanted to join in on the fun of playing drums and already discovered that she did not like my sticks so we visited the local shop and got her a set of her own. She has been practicing for a couple of days and getting pretty good but this means that my practice time has been cut a little so I decided that I would spend it in musical education.
After looking up a couple of top drumming lists I have decided on “Modern Drummer” The 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time. So as a part of my Blog I will share some basics on each of the top 50 starting with number 50. Please understand that I do not wish to get into a debate on whether or not this list is the ultimate list or that I agree with the views of this list, it is simply a guide for me to use in order to gain some knowledge about some of the greats that have come and gone and some of the living greats who I may or may not know.
This brings us to Carlton Barrett – I admit I did not know the name and after looking him up I am a little embarrassed as I know his drumming well. Carlton was most well know as the drummer of Bob Marley & The Wailers. According to Wikipedia he is credited with popularizing the one drop rhythm, a percussive drumming style created by Winston Grennan. He started by playing guitar and discovered that it wasn’t for him and moved to drums – while his was a much shorter transition, it pleased me all the same to learn that, as I still love my bass but I am going increasingly happier behind the drums. I am now 36 starting my dream of playing drums while Carlton, I was most shocked to discover, that like so many others, he died young and in this case was murdered out front of his house at the age of 36. I am going to spend some more time learning about Carlton but in the meantime I will simply leave you with a little song her wrote “War”