So first off I have to acknowledge the loss of a legend (BB King) and for me at my age he seemed to be the most accessible and inspiring legend. I say this because he performed a number of times in Toronto and while his playing was super human he still seemed so down to earth and humble. With that being said, last night I had an amazing and inspiring night and I know BB King had a big part in it. Last night was my first drum clinic and it was held by Will Kennedy of the Yellowjackets. It was an incredible experience and a very small but huge moment was seeing my instructor being pulled up on stage and asked to play something for him on Will’s kit. I don’t know what I really expected but I did not expect at all to have Will ask for four people from the audience including a small boy who was most likely around 10 years old to come up and play on his kit. He played some amazing stuff and what I found most interesting was when he tried to explain some of his music, inspiration, and finding the pulse of the music or the song. Wow! During his discussion he really hit home with three things he said – not to discount all that he had to say but three things I really identified with. First was you are never to old or young to start playing drums – obviously being 36 and starting to play now was a nice thing to hear. Secondly, he was talking about being well rounded and listening and learning to play a lot of different styles and thinking of them as tools you bring with you to the kit, jam session, show, song, etc as you can pull them out at any time to make the song and as you do this those styles/beats become part of you and you make them your own – The result for me with what he was saying would allow me to reach my goal and what I believe should be the goal for all and that is to play the music you want to hear. It’s in you and you have the power to create something from within you that is pleasing to you. The third thing he said that just made me smile from ear to ear is to learn to create space. I find myself wanting to play as fast as I can and hit as many drums as I can but he played the same section of a song with space ie. rests and more of groove beats and the other with crazy drum fills and really when it came down to it the one with space almost knocked me off my chair. It was exactly like the Joe Walsh solo on the Foo Fighters song “Outside” on the Sonic Highways album, where Joe doesn’t play anything for the first eight bars of the solo. That’s what I want to do – create space… create moments. With all this being said I am looking forward to playing drums today and I have decided to leave you with a few video’s. One of Will Kennedy performing a solo, one of Tony Williams who was Will Kennedy’s first influence, one of Joe Walsh performing with the Foo Fighters and his amazing solo (couldn’t get the one from the show so please watch the HBO special if you are interested, and the final one of BB King playing with his larger than life smile. Stay Tuned!
I have the passion but I do not have the resources nor the talent to make it happen but I believe it is time for Music to return to television. Pardon my ignorance if you live in a place where music in on TV regular and is supported by your community / Country but it seems that where I live it is all but dead. For a while here in Canada Much Music and MTV stopped caring about music and really only care about so called Reality TV.
I have a vision for a show that would be similar to a talk show format in ways but solely focused on music and the music community. I believe as most do, that we need to support our musicians and have a community that fosters their development and I believe that history repeats itself and it is time for the mass media (TV) to get back on board with supporting music. I am tampering with the idea of starting something online similar to some out there but I still don’t believe I have the resources to do so, so I continue to dream. A show that would have two live acts each show – one of a small local band trying to break through and one established artist in which before and after the show acts as a mini mentoring session. The rest of the show would be talking with Musicians, Writers, Producers, Promoters, etc and have feature segments on different studios, venues, and communities.
I think that Sonic Highways was a very important step for music and musicians but it is just that, a step. I do not want to get into a big debate on “real” music or criticize others for their taste in music although I do get overly opinionated from time to time, I simply think that music is far more important than we ever give it credit for. I from time to time get to hear Ongoing History of New Music with Alan Cross on my local radio station and I can’t help but get sucked in. Again this show and others that may be like it, I believe are another important step. There is always more to know behind the curtain and I find myself wanting to know more about the others struggling to get their music heard, or the bar owner that opens his/her doors to young kids playing their first show and making it all ages, the parents that inspired their kids and drove them to lessons and shows rather than just sit with them in front of the TV watching whatever “reality show” is on at the time. What about all those music teachers at all grades that helped inspire and continue to inspire more and more musicians? What about the City Counselors out there fighting to get funds and helping to raise money to keep the arts going? I can’t believe that I am the only one asking these questions and that they are important in understanding music today and getting a better insight to those songs that have so much power over us.
Hopefully someone out there is thinking as I do and is getting started on building the future. If you are that someone and need a passionate person to help out, let me know.
So in 1998 Refused came out with “A Shape of Punk to Come” in my opinion one of the greatest albums and a one of the most important albums of my youth. Then, they broke up! Now 17 years later, they are back and this summer I will finally see them when they open for Faith No More. In 53 days, according to the countdown on their page, their new album Freedom will launch and while I am excited for what is to come I don’t know if I will be able to handle it, if by chance it blows my mind the way “A Shape of Punk to Come” did. I don’t know if the youth of today could even prepare for it. If it falls short then I am still thankful that they are sharing their gift with the world once again and that I finally get to see them live. After listening to the first single, “Elektra” I am looking forward to the album and as I have shifted from playing bass to playing drums I am immediately drawn to the piercing snare drum. I feel that when they perform live this snare drum should drop from the heavens and settle on its stand ready to knock people on their asses.
After a great week and a great lesson on Saturday I had to take some time off from my drums and now I am aching to get back. On Sunday I ran a half marathon with rundmach and my brother which was my third half but both of their first and we all made it to the finish in one piece. While I did not push myself to hard as my goal was to pace my brother I was still sore and did not have time to practice on Sunday and decided to take yesterday off. Now it’s Tuesday morning and I am ready to play. Need to get back on track with my playing (practice) plan!
On Saturday I also purchased tickets for my first drum clinic. Will Kennedy of the Yellow Jackets will be holding a drum clinic in Burlington Ontario for only $5! Hopefully this will inspire me even more in my drumming and although I love my roots in Punk Rock, Hardcore and Emo I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and influence in other genres.
I have now had my drum kit for over two months and taking lessons for a month and I am feeling great – I am developing an ear for beats and songs, keeping time and working my way around the kit. A small victory but I believe an important one happened last week and that is when I did make mistakes I was able to keep time and the root beat going while I collected myself and got back in.
Well this was just a quick post to get my day started and now it’s time to practice. I will look to update my Blog soon with more photos and info.
Well I have being toying with the idea of starting another blog and figured it was time. Unlike my other blog which I started for some accountability as well as to be an outlet for my running this blog with be about my passion for drumming, music and just a editorial of my journey.
As you may or may not have read on my about page, I have started playing drums this year as a fulfillment of a life long desire to play. I gave up some of our gym space in the basement and with the help of a good friend built a drum room with sound insulation to allow me to play without disturbing the neighbors (live in a town house). Now even when I play hard the neighbors hear only the faint sound of the bass drum which they say isn’t as loud as my TV surround sound and are completely okay with it. When I put on drum mutes I can actually play at all hours of the night with my better half sleeping soundly upstairs.
I started lessons at the beginning of April and get along really well with my instructor. Now a month into lessons I am a lot better than when I started and things are starting to come together with developing an ear to play what I like to hear. In addition to my weekly half hour lesson I am committed to playing every day with a routine that I have come up with based on how I feel I learn best and with the books suggested by my instructor. I say playing rather than practice because I am trying to remember that drums and music are about having fun and playing. Right now I am doing hand work for an hour and a half, foot work for an hour, lesson practice for half hour and just play for twenty to thirty minutes for a total of three hours a day.
Hand work consists of working through “Stick Control for the Snare Drummer” by George Lawrence Stone on a practice pad. Foot work consists of working through the same book using only my feet while alternating my left foot between high hats and double bass pedal. As I get more comfortable with my lesson homework I also move into a second book “Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer” by Ted Reed. In the last four weeks I have become so accustomed to playing with a metronome that I discovered I have become a bit dependent on it to count for me so I have also devoted more time to just counting out loud.
Well that is enough about me for today. I will be sure to update daily so that there is more to this blog in hopes that it may end up being of interest to someone other than me.