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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.

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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…

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HT: Cindy Blackman

Do you want to watch any more of my miscellaneous drumcam footage? If not, don’t watch the video below.

That tune was one of my favorites to play from this past summer’s LBD tour. The arrangement leans a little more funk than the studio recording, and the pocket between me, Chris (bass), and Misty (keys) was always fun to sit in. A full gear breakdown can be found here, but specifics for this tune include 16″ hats (Paiste 602 ME crash top and Twenty Series med light bottom) and a 5.5×14 Canopus ash snare.

Also, a significant difference between this footage and my previous drumcam vids is the audio source… I didn’t record my in-ear mix this time and instead synced the FOH recording to the GoPro footage. So what you’re hearing is a direct feed of the board mix, which is might sound strange because nobody ever actually hears that. Consider this: the FOH engineer uses the board to send audio signal to the speakers, which then cranks through the room and is accompanied by stage volume, crowd noise, and natural room reverb. The pro in a board mix is the clean and clear sound – the con is the somewhat unnatural presence of the tones compared to the actual live environment. But I’m not complaining. It’s cool to have the board mixes to listen back to and learn from.

And, of course, all hail Bryan Mir, our fearless tour photographer/videographer. He put the GoPro on my rack tom, and captured a ton of other great footage from various shows. Check out his tour documentary montages if you haven’t seen those yet.

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Today’s installment of my “From The Archives” series is a list of exercises based on the legendary 3-limb pattern made famous by John Bonham. In short, “Bonham Triplets” are a constant circle between single strokes on the hands and a kick drum added as a sort of third hand. The order of the strokes can vary, as well as the rhythm application (i.e., actual “triplets” aren’t the only place to use this idea).

While you’re at it you should rewatch this Jojo Mayer solo if you haven’t seen it already. His rhythmic and accenting prowess within a BT context is incredible.

Lastly, I want to take a sec and unpack this statement from my original BT post: “These patterns sound pretty cool, but aren’t necessarily very useful outside of a soloing context (in my opinion). I’ve found them more helpful as an exercise/rudiment than as a staple ingredient in my playing.” 

My point is that I have gained a TON of helpful and useful feet-to-hands coordination through BT exercises, but I end up utilizing that coordination mostly in non-soloing contexts. I suppose this is partially because I rarely do drum solos of any kind at all, but what I want to communicate is that the Bonham Triplet integration of hands and feet is a profoundly useful thing in general. It was maybe misleading for me to say that I only use BT patterns as exercises. In actuality I use small moments of BT patterns almost constantly in my day-to-day freelance sideman playing. Linear grooves, fills, ghost note ideas… all of these benefit tremendously from a good grasp of the BT idea.

Jojo’s playing above is in a solo setting, but don’t let that make you think that a solo is the only place for Bonham Triplets.

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