Does it get cooler than this?

"Seriously though, the turtleneck is working for me?"

“Seriously though, the turtleneck is working for me?”

HT: Dave Stanoch

Me, when I was younger... trying to be a professional musician.

Me, when I was younger… trying to be a professional musician.

I posted a link to Danny Barnes’ wisdom once already this year, and if he keeps writing articles with such compelling and spot-on content then I’ll probably link to him again.

Do you want to make a living in music? Yes? Then read “How To Make A Living In Music.”

If you’ve ever said that then you need to listen to this track, and then note that the light drum machine in the background means that the song was recorded to a click. Mayer and company are dripping with groove, and it’s all within the “confines” of the “perfect” time feel that comes along with playing to a metronome or loop.

I was curious about this when I first heard it, because the performance feels so “loose” and “greasy”… things usually obtained by playing without a grid. I was so curious, in fact,  that I messaged Aaron Sterling earlier tonight about it. He vouched as to how the song was recorded…

Twitter is awesome.

Twitter is awesome.

Listen, here’s the deal (according to me): Playing to a click makes the music feel cold and rigid… IF… the musicians don’t know how to play to a click. That’s the end of it. Guys like Sterling can make a pocket like the one on Call Me the Breeze feel as loose and greasy as they want to, and it’s got nothing to do with using a click vs not using one. Rather, it’s an issue of musicianship, understanding of groove, and competency on the instrument.


Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 12.16.25 AM

I just uploaded another Sara B drumcam video on my Youtube page. That’s not really the point of this post, but I’m mentioning it because at 2:20 in the video you can see my tech Kris Mazzarisi in all his glory. Kris rules. I think I’ve mentioned him before on this blog. He’s the one that set up the GoPro for the drumcam footage in the first place.


Kris and me on the fall tour, complete with matching haircuts.

Ok… now to the real point of this post: anybody remember The Pancake? It’s my cut-out drumhead snare muffle. I also use one with the middle cut out, which I call “The Donut.” I’ve been using muffles like that for years and so have a lot of other drummers, so it’s not really a “new” thing. But then Kris Mazzarisi comes along and, with his trademark attention to detail and overall awesomeness, completes the design with a durable rubber outer right and a notch for easy placement/removal.

And now Kris has started a company called Big Fat Snare Drum to market and sell his patented designs, even naming the version with the hole in the center “Steve’s Donut.” He came up to my hotel room at our last gig to show me the “Steve’s Donut” prototype and tell me he was calling it that. I totally teared up and I feel honored to even know such a cool and selfless dude.

My personal "Steve's Donut" prototype...

My personal “Steve’s Donut” prototype…

The moral of the story is: you need to go buy the BFSD “combo pack” immediately. DO IT NOW. You can also keep up with BFSD on Twitter or Facebook.

If you need more convincing, please see the photos below…

Sara giving a BSFD prototype to Questlove when she performed on Fallon a few months ago.

Sara giving a BSFD prototype to Questlove when she performed on Fallon a few months ago.

Questlove's Instagram post after using his BFSD prototype.

Questlove’s Instagram post after using his BFSD prototype.

This post from years ago is a bigger and more important thing than a simple From The Archives link, so I’m reposting it entirely. I’ve also updated a lot of the records – deleting a few and adding a bunch more.

Listening is so important! That’s what this list is about. The bullet points in italics below are from my original post.

- I am listing albums that have been influential to me personally, so much so that I think they will be equally influential to other players as well.
- This obviously means that I won’t necessarily include all of the great records on YOUR list of big influences.  If you think there’s a record that I need to add then let me know about it and I will check it out.
- I’ve left a ton of history’s great “drum” albums off of the list intentionally.  The main reason is that I’m trying to not repeat styles and concepts too much (i.e. there’s only one Zeppelin record on the list, but they are ALL worth listening to).  But, I also might be missing a great record simply because I forgot about it or don’t even know about it.  Don’t yell at me for not including your favorite record.  Again, just let me know about it, and I’ll either include it or explain why not.
- I’m trying to cover all the bases here… rock, pop, jazz… good pocket, unique fills, well-executed-but-straight-ahead fills… etc.  However, I’ve excluded a few categories altogether.  Hardcore would be a great example.  I am painfully unfamiliar with hardcore bands/drummers, but I also feel like hardcore is a VERY niched style… too niched, in fact.  I would submit that the big hardcore records, although great in their own right, have had very little impact on the rest of the drumming world.  The point of AEDSK is to list albums that “every” drummer should know about, but I admit that I don’t really mean EVERY drummer – just MOST drummers.

The list is alphabetical by artist first name, with the album title in italics, and the drummers in parentheses…

12Rods, Lost Time (Dave King)  A great Minneapolis rock record.  King brilliantly combines smart/progressive ideas with appropriate and sensible rock playing.  Some wicked chops on this album… pretty complex stuff.

Allison Krauss / Robert Plant, Raising Sand (Jay Bellarose)  Grammy-winning folk/country collaboration.  I learned a lot about expanding and contracting the groove from this album, as well as marveling at the tones that Jay Bellarose and producer T-Bune Burnett created.

Aretha Franklin, Live at the Fillmore West (Bernard Purdie)  The great Aretha Franklin accompanied by the great Bernard Purdie. Funk, pocket, groove, band-leading… how to be a drummer 101.

The Bad Plus, These Are The Vistas (Dave King)  The poster-children for current prog-jazz, The Bad Plus combine crazy chops and odd time signatures with artful and sensitive playing.  This album is a great lesson on thinking outside the box in playing the drumset.

Bethany Dillon, Imagination (Josh Robinson, Dan Needham)  CCM singer/songwriter pop from an incredible female vocalist.  The grooves are dripping with great feel, and the fills are really creative.

Bill Frisell, Live (Joey Baron)  Early 90′s avante-garde jazz guitar trio.  Joey Baron’s approach is like none other.  Very tasteful and amazingly creative.  You will be constantly asking yourself, “how is this weird weird playing working so well?”

Bob Marley, Babylon By Bus (Carlton Barrett) Reggae uses a unique and somewhat mysterious feel/groove, and Marley’s rhythm section (Carlton and his brother “Family Man”) was the definition of the reggae sound. This live album context gives a focused and clear example of the legendary Barrett brothers.

Bruce Hornsby, Hot House (John Molo)  John Molo is solid and inventive, but the really great part about these cross-between-jam-band-and-pop tracks is the diversity of feels.  Shuffle, latin, blue grass, improvisation, odd-time signatures… this record has it all.

Counting Crows, August And Everything After (Steve Bowman)  A really unique sounding record for having enjoyed so much pop success.  Bowman plays very unorthodox stuff in these songs, but it all fits very well.

Critters Buggin, Guest (Matt Chamberlain)  The studio great Matt Chamberlain stretching out in a jam-jazz context.  Lots of layers.  Dense and complex grooves, all with Matt’s signature feel.

D’Angelo, Voodoo (Amir Thompson)  This record BLEW MY MIND when I first heard it.  Live neo-soul r&b… with Pino Palladino on bass.  Questlove’s grooves are so deep, and the whole record has this crazy lilt that just shouldn’t be possible.

David Sanborn, Up Front (Steve Jordan)  Steve Jordan lays down 9 incredible grooves on this album (one per track).  He is patient and consistent, and the patterns are SUPER grooving and very creative.

Dogs Of Peace, Speak (John Hammond)  Nashville session greats playing 90′s pop/rock.  The sound is somewhat dated, but the playing is SO solid.  John Hammond has a couple earth-shattering grooves on this record, and a few fills that took me a WHILE to figure out.

Donald Fagen, The Nightfly (James Gadson, Ed Green, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Jordan)  Holy cow… a lot of big names all on one record.  Vintage tones with interesting yet somehow obvious parts, all with incredible precision.  It’s as good as you think.

Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin (Steven Drozd)  An album that affected me in a lot of ways.  The main thing to listen for is Drozd’s role in the band: tons of backdoor parts and interesting twists and turns.  He lays down huge pockets, but he’s definitely not a “stock option” kind of player.

Frank Sinatra / Count Basie, It Might As Well Be Swing  (Sonny Payne)  This album would be my first suggestion to anyone wanting to learn the art of “big band” jazz drumming. Every single note Sonny Payne plays has clear purpose and intention in driving and supporting the band.

Happy Apple, Please Refrain From Fronting (Dave King)  Prog-metal-avantgarde-jazz.  Saxophones / electric bass / drums.  Incredible compositions… incredible musicians.  Face-melters and sensitive ballads… and seriously, NOBODY plays drums like Dave King.  This is very similar to the Bad Plus recording listed above, but it’s still worth having in the collection.

Hank Mobley, Soul Station (Art Blakey)  This record is quintessential “jazz” in a small band setting. Blakey delivers unbelievably solid time and a deep swing, all within the parameters of classic jazz vocabulary.

The Honeydogs, Here’s Luck (Noah Levy)  This Minneapolis rock band has enjoyed far less commercial success than they deserve.  Great songs, and Noah Levy has a feel that heavy-weight LA producer John Fields told me he has never heard anyone replicate.

Israel Houghton, Live From Another Level (Michael Clemens)  Smoking gospel.  Horn section, percussionist, 7 vocalists, and chops for days from “Big Mike” Clemens.  Some of the fills on this album just aren’t possible.

Jeff Buckley, Grace (Matt Johnson)  This album taught me a lot about transmitting emotion through the drumset in a rock context.  Emotion, not just energy.

Jellyfish, Spilt Milk (Andy Sturmer)  Andy Sturmer rules so hard.  A lead singer while playing a hybrid cocktail kit standing up.  LOTS of interesting ideas amidst dense production.  A careful listen will reveal a lot of wisdom toward playing great parts in a thick and busy soundscape.

Jimi Hendrix, Band Of Gypsies (Buddy Miles)  An incredible demontration of how a good drummer should play behind long and drawn-out jam solos.  Hendrix is Hendrix on this recording, and Buddy Miles supports him without being a distraction.

John Hiatt, Bring The Family (Jim Keltner)  The great Jim Keltner with an incredible performanceThe tones are somewhat dated but the pocket is exactly what you’d expect. Living, breathing, GROOVING.

John Mayer, Continuum (Steve Jordan)  Perfect parts and perfect feel on a perfect pop/rock record.  Every drummer should listen to this album once a week.  I am not kidding.

Jonatha Brooke, 10 Cent Wings (Abe Laboriel Jr.)  Female singer/songwriter pop with some HUGE grooves from Abe Laboriel.  Great tones on this record.

Jonny Lang, Turn Around (Michael Bland)  Bluesy soul with incredibly tight playing from Michael Bland.  Bland drops deceivingly difficult chops like he doesn’t even care, and his four on the floor rivals any other that I’ve heard.

Keith Jarrett, Standards Live (Jack DeJohnette)  Classic piano trio jazz.  Jack DeJohnette is such an inspiring musician.  His comping and dialogue with Jarrett always surprises me, mostly because his vocabulary is endless but never inappropriate.

Keith Urban, Love, Pain, And The Whole Crazy Thing (Chris McHugh)  Nashville pop/country with huge grooves, solid fills, and tons of band leadership from behind the drumset.

Led Zeppelin, Zeppelin II (John Bonham)  The man, the legend.  John Bonham… and this is just my favorite Zeppelin record.  Physical Graffiti would be in a close second…

Living Colour, Time’s Up (Will Calhoun)  This is a crazy album… metal, prog, rock, punk, funk… all in one record.  Will Calhoun plays really interesting parts and his presence is very unique.

Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose (Patrick Keeler)  Great “roots” country, played by a drummer who is obviously more familiar with indie rock than country.  The result is wonderful, and the tones are super cool.  Great use of snare ring.

Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Friday Afternoon In The Universe (Billy Martin)  Billy Martin threads the needle between jazz and fusion in MMW.  This record shows a side of him that I find to be his best: adventurous and creative, while never leaving his cool “James Brown meets jazz” pocket.

Michael Olson, Long Arm Of Love (Steve Brewster)  This album is what made me fall in love with Steve Brewster’s playing.  If you listen closely you’ll hear that he’s actually playing a LOT of notes… really busy stuff… but it works so well that you’d never know it.  I think the record successfully defies (somewhat) the “less is more” principle.

Michelle Branch, The Spirit Room (Vinnie Colaiuta, Kenny Aronoff)  Female mainstream pop/rock.  Vinnie and Kenny play super solid (of course), but what’s really interesting to me about this recording is the way they so seamlessly wed their grooves with the heavy sequencing and programming on the record. Also interesting: I don’t know for certain which drummer plays on which track. I have my guesses, but if you have the cd sleeve at your house then help me out!

Miles Davis, Miles Smiles (Tony Williams)  Tony Williams is such a force.  He was 21 years old when this album was recorded, and his maturity and innovation is MIND BLOWING for such a young player.  His passion for MUSIC (not just drumming) comes through so clearly.

Missing Persons, Spring Session M (Terry Bozzio)  The famous Terry Bozzio playing 80′s prog-pop. The playing on this record is NOT easy to replicate, but it’s still somehow working in a pop environment.

Mother’s Finest, Another Mother Further (Barry Borden)  70′s funk meets southern classic rock. And pocket for DAYS. Sheesh does this record feel good… but it doesn’t stop there. Cool, interesting, complicated fills abound.

Mutemath, Mutemath (Darren King)  Darren King deftly rides the amazingly narrow line between tons of energy and going too far.  His ideas and parts are crazy and intense, his performances are crazy and intense, the music is crazy and intsense, and yet you always trust him.

Nirvana, Nevermind (Dave Grohl)  This album personifies what it meant to be a drummer in a 90′s rock band. When I was young I liked Nirvana, but now that I’m older I freaking LOVE this band. I always new that Dave Grohl’s powerful presence on the drums was a subconscious influence on my formation as a player, but the more I study records like this one the more thankful I am for having been exposed to this music so early in my musical history.

Owsley, Owsley (Chris McHugh)  McHugh in a pop/rock context.  Tons of hooky but simple fills, and the signature solid McHugh feel.

Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, *no title* (Paul Motian)  Paul Motian is a jazz legend, and his 60′s recordings with Bill Evans are more widely influential than this 2006 release. However, this album taught me a ton about patience and restraint in jazz, more so than any other Paul Motian performance I’ve heard.

Pedro The Lion, Control (David Bazan)  Textbook indie rock.  The really amazing part about this record is how the drumming (and instrumentation in general) fit the lyrical concept of the record so well… which is not surprising, since David Bazaan is both the drummer and the singer/songwriter on Control.

Peter Gabriel, Secret World Live (Manu Katche)  This is a live album where Manu Katche gets to stretch out a little, and it’s really amazing to hear how he stays so tightly locked with the sequencing.  A great snapshot of Manu’s unique style, and a good example of how a live drummer should engage programmed loops in a strategic and effective way.

The Police, Synchronicity (Stewart Copeland)  Stewart Copeland brings more sheer energy to a rock band than any other drummer I can think of.  This record is a great blend of his energy and his creativity, not to mention his legendary rock/pop-meets-reggae blending.

The Posies, Frosting On The Beater (Mike Musburger)  “Indie power-pop” at it’s finest.  Mike Musburger plays FEROCIOUS fills with tons of drive/ambition.  This is a good record for studying examples of longer and busier fills in a rock context.

Sara Bareilles, Little Voice (Matt Chamberlain, Brian MacLeod)  Some SICK pocket drumming in a pop/rock context.  Great feel, great parts, great tones… just GREAT. And, for the record, I put this album on the list long before I met Sara.

Shawn Colvin, Whole New You (Shawn Pelton)  This recording has lots of VIBE… in fact, this is the first record I would point to in learning how to play that vibey, singer-songwrite style.

Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream (Jimmy Chamberlain)  A 90′s “alternative” band with surprisingly clean playing from drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, who repeatedly demonstrates the valuable asset of the hihat foot.

Soul Coughing, Ruby Vroom (Yuval Gabay)  A very patient, groove-oriented drummer.  A great record to focus on for backbeat shuffles and borderline-hiphop funk.

Spin Doctors, Pocket Full Of Kryptonite (Aaron Comess) A 90′s jam/funk/rock album with adventurous and creative playing from NYC’s Aaron Comess. Listen to this album if you’re a rock drummer who wants to learn more about being funky.

Steely Dan, Aja (Steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie, Jim Keltner, Rick Marotta, Ed Green, Paul Humphries)  Just look at the list of players on this record.  Hands’ down one of history’s greatest drum albums.

Story Of The Sea, Enjoying Fire (Ian Prince)  Ian is a Minneapolis drummer who masterfully combines energy and feel.  His parts support the songs really well, and you will want to copy his ideas as soon as you hear them.

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator (Tyler Greenwell + JJ Johnson) Double drumming at its finest. In fact, I listened to this record for months without even realizing that there were two drummers playing simultaneously.

Tom Petty, Wildflowers (Steve Ferrone)  This is my favorite Petty record, and Steve Ferrone has a very cool “classic rock” approach to the drums.  His parts and simple and rocking, yet not over the top or sloppy.  Very cool.

Tommy Sims, Peace And Love (Dan Needham)  Dan Needham’s pocket is SO huge. This is a perfect album to soak up and just try to capture some of Needham’s groove through osmosis.

Toto, Toto IV (Jeff Porcaro)  Another classic drum performance. The backbeat shuffle on the first track is as legendary as Porcaro himself.

The Wallflowers, Bringing Down The Horse (Matt Chamberlain)  This is another display of a well-rounded approach to styles from a studio player. Chamberlain gracefully weaves 11 different vibes for 11 different tracks. Lots of subtle nuggets for the close listener.

Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil (Elvin Jones)  Elvin’s voice in jazz was as great a contribution to the evolution of jazz drums as any other drummer that I know of.  This record is a perfect example of his “elastic” time feel.

Weather Report, I Sing The Body Electric (Eric Gravatt)  A true pioneer for the sound of the drumset in music.  The approach of Weather Report at the time of this recording was more “Fusion” than traditional jazz, and for this reason Gravatt has probably influenced as many rock drummers as jazz drummers.


Hey guys!

Wow… I am so stoked for The Drumset and the Kingdom this year. We are neck-deep in promo stuff… getting the webpage all set up, discussing topics and themes for all the speakers, getting an updated promo video together, etc. Registration is now open, and keep checking for updates on everything.

In the meantime I want to share a little about where the event came from and why we’re doing it. A few years back I did a clinic at my church – kinda out of the blue – on a Saturday morning. It was two hours of me talking and playing and doing Q&A about my experiences during 20 years of playing drums in church. About 50 dudes came and the morning felt like a big success. I did it again the following year and around 70 people came. In 2012 I had the idea to expand the day and include some voices besides my own, and Keith Anderson at Risen Drums caught the vision and offered to sponsor the event. More than 250 drummers and worship leaders from across the country came to Bethel University for a full day of really wise and experienced drummers giving master classes on what it means to love Jesus and play drums at the same timeThe Drumset and the Kingdom was born.

Then, in 2013, both myself and Risen Drums were too busy to host another event. Dang.

But now it’s 2014 and we are more excited than ever to gather as many drummers as we can and try to better ourselves in the role of playing drums in our churches. I’m convinced that the drumset is a powerful tool – one that can contribute to corporate worship in incredible ways. I want to grow in my knowledge of how to use this instrument and I want to grow in my knowledge of God’s Word and his creation of music. I selected this year’s 5 guest speakers not only for their incredible and inspiring musicianship but also because of their love for Jesus and commitment to the Gospel. I can’t wait to learn from them!

TDATK2014 will take place on May 10 at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, MN and will run from 10am until around 8pm. Each of the speakers will give a full session of their own and I’ll also facilitate a panel discussion with them for Q&A. We also added an exclusive first-come-registration open house at the new Risen Drums shop in Minneapolis for the night prior to the full on event… May 9. That night be mainly just a hang and an opportunity to see the new RD shop, which is awesome. I’ll also give a session on some material that I won’t be addressing on Saturday’s main event.

I’m really pumped about what TDATK has become and where it can still go. Please join us!

My new friend Jared Falk runs a great drum lesson website called Drumeo, which has won Drum! Magazine’s award for “best educational website” two years in a row.

Jared lives in Vancouver, BC… and I happen to be in Canada right now… and the artist I’m with will be performing a couple gigs in Vancouver this weekend… and Jared invited me to do a live webcast lesson with him!

It’ll be this Monday morning, and it’s free if you sign up as a guest. DO IT NOW OK THANKS BYE.

Here’s another tune from the SB gig at The Pageant…


- I’ve gotten a lot of grief from the other SB band members about how loud I have the click track. It doesn’t seem that loud to me, but I guess I’m used to it. My mix in a live setting like this is always primarily FUNCTIONAL. Of course I’d rather not have the click this loud, but this kind of mix makes it much easier for me to keep my pocket/click relationship where I want it. I also have the tracks pretty loud.

- The snare is 7×14 walnut stave shell. I sometimes use this drum with a donut muffler on it, but for this tune there are just a few moongels. it’s tuned pretty low and has more ring than I want it to but with that ring comes the right amount of life.

The SPD has 4 samples that I’m using (the 4 squares toward the rack tom). Clockwise starting top-left they are: verse snare, chorus clap, kick, hats. Interestingly, the chorus clap samples are also programmed, so I’m often hitting the pad sample at the same time that the sample fires in the track. There isn’t a track sample that matches EVERY pad clap that I play, but many of them. This is because my original plan was to use only organic drums during the choruses and bridge, but then as we got into the tour I figured out how to hit the pad as well. At that point I should have muted the snare sample in the track but I never got around to it. An obvious track snare sample (without me doubling on the pad) happens at 4:07 during my fill back into the final chorus. The tones are also slightly different… the track programming is sharper and the pad sample is almost a clap/snare blend, so I like how they stack together.

- Also in the track are some synth pulses (including some busy 32nd notes on the 2nd and final choruses) and some 808 hihat stuff. The hat stuff happens during the choruses and the bridge. I’m doubling a lot of it, but a few hits can be heard by themselves during the bridge. I like the tone of the synthetic hihat but, like the snare samples, I always try to double the rhythms in the track with some sort of visual “real drum set” element. I really like the way my actual hihat and the synthetic hihats blend together during the bridge… the two rhythms aren’t identical and circle around each other in a cool way.

- Check out Chris Morrissey delivering some dope sub bass (2:56 – 3:20). Whew.


Above: A rad pre-show pic from the glory days.

Below: A recent Twitter quote from Aaron Sterling.

Bonham is like Miles. So beyond revered that sometimes you even wonder if he’s overrated. Then you listen again and say, “Nope. Incredible.”

1) Joey Baron – Down Home… I love Joey Baron. He’s one of my favorite drummers. And then put Bill Frisell and Ron Carter in the mix with him and I’m gonna dig it.

2) Bob Marley – Natty Dread… I’ve owned a handful of Marley records for years but have been revisiting them a lot lately. The rhythm section (brothers Aston and Carlton Barrett) is so sick on this album, and I really like the dry drum tones. I feel like there’s reggae, and then there’s Bob Marley…

3) John Hiatt – Bring The Family… JIM KELTNER, PEOPLE. JIM KELTNER.

4) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories… 2014 Grammy-winner for Album of the Year. JR Robinson and Omar Hakim split the drum duties and combine organic drumset sounds with the signature DP synths. Incredible feel on track after track.

5) Mehliana – misc Youtube clips… Is everybody aware of this Brad Mehldau + Mark Guiliana duo project? Holy cow. Their record is due out in a month, and the live footage from the recording session is incredible.

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