On March 14 I received an invitation to play in Ben Rector‘s band for his slot on leg one of NeedtoBreathe’s Tour De Compadres, which ran from April 16 – May 16. I had never heard Ben’s music or even met any of the guys in his band or the other bands (NTB, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Colony House), but the experience proved again why the music world is so rad: I really loved playing music with Ben and his band (Cody Fry on guitar, Kevin MacIntire on bass). They are all great players/vocalists, and Ben is a masterful songwriter and front man. On top of that, the hang was incredible… not just with Ben but with all 4 of the bands. I got home from the tour a week ago and I’m bummed it’s over!

But this post is about gear, because I love giving credit where it’s due. Risen Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Remo drumheads… theses companies all make fantastic stuff that makes playing music so gratifying. I remember when I had to always fight my gear in order to get it to sound good, and those days are over now.

IMG_3742

For Ben’s music I decided to use the same physical setup that I’ve had on recent Sara B tours: kick/snare/rack/floor, SPD in a second rack tom position, and hats/crash/ride. My laptop provided Ableton goodness but only for click purposes, and I kept a swap option snare off to the right.

IMG_3746

The drums were the Risen “vintage mahogany” shells with triple flange hoops (8×12, 14×16, and 14×22). The finish is a paint (not a wrap) and has been dubbed “Steve Gold Sparkle.”

I used my workhorse 6.5×14 black brass tube lug snare (tuned mid-low-ish) on most of the set, supplemented by my 5.5×15 Canopus Ash snare as the tight and high alternative. The BFSD muffles (Donut and Original) showed up as well a few times throughout the set.

IMG_3750

I brought two cymbal rigs on the tour, one for large outdoor spaces and one for theaters or enclosed bandshells. The outdoor rig is pictured above, L to R (all Paiste): 602 Modern Essential 16″ crash hats, 20″ Masters Dark crash, 22″ 602 Modern Essential 22″ ride. They’re full and rich, with some brightness and presence, but not overbearing.

IMG_3748

The indoor rig had the same 20″ Masters Dark crash, but the 16″ crash hats and 22″ ride were Masters Dark as well. That series is somewhat new to the Paiste world, and I got a set back in February. Wow. I love them. The tone is dark and the pitch is deep, but there’s no trashy or flimsy presence. The ride really surprised me – unique, full of character, and different than I expected – but I love it. I’ve used it on jazz gigs, in sessions, and now out on tour with Ben.

Below is a drumcam video I made at one of our Florida gigs, and it features the Masters Dark rig. It also features the always-boss stage moves of Kevin MacIntire, who I played disc golf with literally every day of the entire tour. #winning

As always, comment here or message me if you have any questions!

I was having a coffee discussion today with my friend (and fantastic bassist) Kevin MacIntire about what drives musical/artistic progress in individuals. We spoke and thought about the various forms of work ethic in young musicians, and also our own journeys as instrumentalists.

As a somewhat regular private lesson instructor, I can speak from experience in saying that there is a noticeable difference between students who desire accomplishment/status in the music industry vs a skillful relationship to their drum kit. It’s like the love of money vs the love of the game. Which makes someone work harder? We all know that “hard work” is necessary in achieving any form of progress, but what is the end goal of the work? Where does the desire to work hard at something originate? Does financial gain produce the same work ethic as inspiration?

I have my own thoughts and life experiences that relate to these questions, but I’m writing this post because just now I came across a Kierkegaard quote which seems to intersect the topic nicely:

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”  – Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

*Soren drops mic and walks offstage*

10620374_10204908405726812_4273418399282876480_o

A few months ago Twin Cities local CBS news channel WCCO ran this story (video) on my friend Jason Gerling. He’s an inspiring and contagiously encouraging guy with an amazing story and a deep passion for music and drums. He’s also a great player with a rad vision for a kick drum shell sub woofer.

Jason’s kit features a 22″ bass drum that is actually an 18″ speaker cabinet, with the speaker facing the drummer and the ports facing the reso head. A handful of misc triggers are placed around the rest of the kit so the kick samples can be fired from different locations, with some of them even placed on the underside of cymbals. Jason is able to recreate full kick/snare patterns, complete with fills, using only his arms.

The rig includes a DM5 brain and a bass amp, which can run DI to the house while also sending signal to the kick drum speaker. Jason even put a mesh head with a trigger on the batter side of the kick, allowing a non-wheelchair player to attach a pedal and play the kit that way.

10462424_10204573219027354_1455267636859284617_o

I had a chance to play Jason’s sub-kick while he was testing it out at the Risen Drums shop… it’s legit. The advantage in Jason’s concept is for the drummer and the other performers on stage to feel the air movement of the kick, something that has long been missing from electronic kits. At one point we set up an acoustic kick with a pedal next to Jason’s sub-kick with a trigger. I played the same groove and switched kicks every two bars. We leveled the bass amp volume and EQ’d the tone until the two kicks were almost indistinguishable. Of course there was slight a tonal difference, but at that point Jason’s concept provides the amazing option of cycling through his hundreds of kick samples to find the appropriate tone for the room or the song.

Check out the linked video above and give Jason a shout on Facebook!

Hey there, faithful blog readers. Every time I post anything here I am hit with two realizations, simultaneously:
1) A drum blog is an unbelievably geeky thing to have
2) I wish I had time to post stuff EVERY DAY.

I love blogging. I guess that makes me a geek.

If you’re interested in my geek perspective on in-ear monitors and how I go about dialing in a mix on a gig, then head over to the Alclair blog and check out my recent guest post. That crew builds some incredible monitors and partnering with them has been a really great thing for me.

Also, if you live in the Twin Cities then you should make some time on a Thursday night and come visit me at my weekly Jazz Is Stupid gig (facetiously titled after this moment from The Office). Bauhaus Brew Labs makes delicious beer, then they serve it at good prices in their wonderful (and HUGE) Northeast Minneapolis taproom, and then they let my friends and me play jazz music from 8pm-11pm every Thursday. No cover + no age restrictions for hanging out and listening to the music + good food trucks = WINNING.

Peace.

Jake

Jacob Slichter, well-known music writer and drummer for Semisonic, has written a brilliant 5-part series called Hearing Musical Time. The articles capture and comment on elements of groove, tone, Drummer Disease, listening perspective, playing to a click, and a boat load of other important concepts. All five parts are worth reading if you’re the kind of person who likes getting wiser.

Part One is linked above, others below…

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

If you know anything about Dave King then you’re not at all surprised at the nature of Rational Funk, his new series of drum instructional videos. Deep musical truths couched almost unidentifiably in humor. Funk lives, and is rational.

Ants on a log. I like it.

I haven’t done a “recent listening” post in a while, so here’s a long-ish (but not comprehensive) list of of what I’ve been listening to lately.

1) Aphex Twin – Syro… It took me a while, but I eventually stopped caring about the technique or technical difficulty of a drummer’s ideas. Instead I’m almost exclusively focused on the ideas themselves. That’s why I love programming and samplers and geniuses like Richard D James. He thinks like a drummer but isn’t limited by physical ability. His latest record is perhaps my favorite of his entire discography.

2) Blake Mills – Break Mirrors… Another thing that took me a while was the development of my appreciation for songwriting in it’s purest form. Lyrics married to melodies and chord progressions in a storytelling effort. Understatement alert: Blake Mills is a good songwriter. The drums on this record (played at least in part by Stuart Johnson) are also pretty interesting, and after a little digging I discovered that they were recorded LAST… meaning, without click and without influencing the rest of the instruments and their respective performances. Listening to this record with that in mind has taught me a lot.

3) Dawes – North Hills… More great songwriting from Taylor Goldsmith, a former bandmate of Blake Mills. His brother Griffin plays drums… AND SINGS. Dang it. I hate it when drummers play and sing and do both really musically. I mean, I love it, I just wish I could sing too.

4) Ryan Adams – Self-titled… This is my second favorite record from 2014. I love everything about this album, especially Jeremy Stacey’s hihat sound.

5) Christina Courtin – Self-titled… I had the pleasure and privilege of spending my summer touring and performing with Christina in the Sara Bareilles band. She plays violin like an angel and sings like a badass (visible in my latest DrumCam vid), and she also writes songs and fronts her own band in NYC. Oh and no big deal but Jim Keltner plays drums on her record.

6) Dexter Gordon – Go!… I’m rekindling my love for jazz in 2015. It’s fascinating to go back through records that I’ve listened to a ton but not for a long time. Billy Higgins on this particular record is taking me to SCHOOL, not to mention Dexter Gordon’s incredible tone on the tenor.

7) Civil Wars – Self-titled… Aaron Sterling does a masterful job of putting groove behind a categorical acoustic singer-songwriter duo, and producer Charlie Peacock does a masterful job of settling Sterling’s parts and sounds into the mix. Also noteworthy on this record: A beautifully creative reworking of Billy Corgan’s ballad “Disarm,” complete with a very effective time signature shift from 4/4 to 6/8.

8) D’Angelo – Black Messiah… My entire face blew up when this album dropped out of nowhere a few weeks ago. I listened to it 5 times every day for a week straight, not because I thought such saturated listening was a good idea but because I just couldn’t help it. My absolute favorite record of 2014, a total masterpiece, and a DEEP lesson in groove.

9) Emily King – Seven EP… Emily was the opening artist on the Blessed Unrest Tour, and hearing her every night was one of my favorite parts about the tour. This EP is inspiring and grooving and subtle and sexy and a perfect bull’s eye for her sound. Her live drummer James Williams is a BOSS, but interestingly enough, all the drums on this EP are programmed… and the tones are incredible.

10) Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian… This trio album featuring three of my favorite musicians reveals something new every time I listen to it. Paul Motian plays brilliantly on these tracks, and all three of these guys are such amazing listeners. They improvise with the same attention to detail that I hear in carefully produced electronica (like the above-mentioned Aphex record).

11) Dave Barnes – Golden Days… Paul Mabury on drums. Man, I mean I’ll listen to ANYTHING that he plays on and end up really enjoying it. Not that Barnes’ latest record is a disappointment on some level outside of the drums, but the thing I keep coming back to on this album is Paul’s pocket and ideas. Noteworthy: Really creative use of subtle but effective “organic” drumkit loop overdubbing.

12) U2 – Songs Of Innocence… The backlash that U2 received for giving away their record still blows my mind. Haha. I loved it! I loved seeing that they had a new record and then realizing that it was already in my iTunes. I also enjoy all these tunes, Bono’s voice, and Edge’s guitar parts. I usually don’t relate super closely with Larry Mullen’s drumming, and this album is no exception, but I do really like the minimal sonic role that the drums play in the mix. These days it’s almost fatiguing how often I hear mixes with drums compressed and boosted to the point of drowning out the vocalist. Larry’s playing works directly alongside the way it sits in the whole mix in a way that really helps the song and I can’t argue with that.

Happy New Year, blog readers!

A few months ago I had the privilege and pleasure of joining my new friend Billy McLaughlin and a pile of other great Twin Cities musicians in recording Reinhold Niebuhr’s powerful Serenity Prayer. What an important message.

Be blessed in 2015!

This is some pretty inside humor, but I loved every second.

HT: Robert Christenson

According to Tony…

10381980_10152660278027638_8100391208885982552_n

HT: Cindy Blackman

Blog Stats

  • 426,685 hits

Topics

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 100 other followers