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“The power of a rock band is determined by the quality of the bass guitar overdrive. Example: compare Rage Against The Machine’s first and second records.”Evan Olcott

And with that, I bid farewell to 2009… which was, I think, the best year of my life thus far.  Watch for lots of super cool stuff coming on the blog in 2010, including a new batch of interviews and video lessons.

Happy New Year everyone.  Woot.

PS. For the record, I’m going with “twenty-ten” as the verbage for the upcoming year.  We need to drop this “two-thousand” talk, if for no other reason than to be consistent.  Nobody EVER said “one-thousand-nine-hundred.”

My friend Ryan Paul from Ryan Paul and the Ardent fame just sent me a link to this video of The Walkmen playing live at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom. Now, I don’t normally like to use this blog to poke fun at people, but I just can’t resist with this drummer.  I like The Walkmen’s music, but I had never actually seen Matt Barrick play up until I saw this video just now, so I compiled a short list of what I imagine he’s probably thinking as he plays…

“You know, a lot of people have spent a lot of time studying how to make this instrument sound good.  I don’t care about any of that… I just want to do it differently for the sake of being different, regardless of how bad I might sound.”

“How can I possibly get to my rack tom mid-groove while my right hand is glued to the hihat?  Oh… maybe this way…”

“My wrist hurts.”

“I have no idea why sound engineers always complain about my snare hits being too weak and inconsistent.”

“It sure is fun using this big bouncy exercise ball as a drum throne.”

Disclaimer: If anybody knows what Barrick’s left-over-right technique is all about, feel free to comment on this post with some insight on why anybody would ever play that way.  Also, to be fair, here’s a video of me playing with RP&TA playing at the Turf last month, so you can make fun of that if you want to.

My Christmas tree of choice…

HT: David Rollins

Just read this SUPER interesting article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on the intersection of art and American culture.  Pretty much says what we’re all thinking.

This blog exists because I’m the kind of guy who thinks a lot about stuff – perhaps even overthinks about stuff – and my friends and family will attest to this.  Putting my thoughts into typed words helps me to organize them and better articulate them to myself, and so the blog serves that purpose well.

While my instrument (and music generally) is my professional and artistic passion, it’s not the only thing I think about. I often spend time thinking on politics, pragmatic philosophy, and theology – with the majority of the pondering revolving around the latter.  In fact, my undergrad degree from Bethel University wasn’t in music, but in Biblical & Theological Studies.  I chose to pursue music as a career, but I still do quite a bit of reading in the theology arena, and maybe someday I’ll start a different blog on that topic.

Anyway, this is where my buddy Bryan McWhite comes in (my pen pal from the How To Listen To Jazz series).  Bryan is a pastor in the Twin Cities area, and a deep thinker.  His blog, The Weight Of Glory, is a usual stop for me in reading and thinking about theology.  He’s thoughtful, clear, concise, and quite knowledgeable.  His posts always challenge my thinking and prompt me to wrestle with issues and factors that I had not previously considered.  Anyone who is at all interested in Christian Theology will enjoy reading TWOG.

Disclaimer: The somewhat random nature of this shout-out for Bryan is due to the contest that TWOG is currently having.  If I send an email to a friend about Bryan’s blog, then I get myself an entry in a book give-away that he’s doing.  Hey Bryan, I’ve been averaging about 900 hits a day lately – this has to count for something, right?

You want a good book on the history of Jazz? Read Miles Davis’ autobiography, titled simply Miles.

The language is perhaps a little colorful at times, but Miles’ life and experiences basically cover everything you need to know about the evolution of Jazz music.  He’s got tons of cool stories and perspectives, and he constantly drops these little one-liners that put an extremely complex musical idea into a very manageable box, shedding light the elusive definition of what Jazz really is.

I read this book in one day and I rarely do that kind of thing.  That was 7 or 8 years ago, and I noticed it sitting on my shelf the other day and inadvertently burned 45 minutes just looking at the pictures.

Put it on your Christmas list and you won’t be sorry.

The time has come for me to part with the amazing amber acrylic kit. I lovelovelove these drums, but we hatched a plan for an incredible new RD kit for my arsenal, and I don’t want to be a drum hog.

This kit began as a custom drumset specifically for the Bill Mike Band.  I also used them for all the video lessons, in quite a few sessions, and live with BMB for a few years now.  Last year I added some additional toms to the kit, and the sizes are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  14×24 kick, 11×15 rack, 16×18 floor, and 16×20 floor.  The 9×14 snare will be sold separately.

Seriously, this kit is crazy awesome.  I hate to part with it, but such is life.

Contact for info on grabbing these drums…

This article in yesterday’s Star Tribune points out the cardiovascular advantages of being the drummer, even going so far as to claim that the exertion rate of a 1.5 hour rock performance equals “that of a 10k runner or soccer player.” 
HT: Joe Larson

In other news, I’m officially dropping Tiger Woods as my spokesperson.

I’m having my first experience with union crew workers at the Pantages Theater this weekend.  I’ve heard about this.  There’s a crew of 5 or 6 guys (doing a job that two guys have handled at every other venue on the tour), and our entire situation at these gigs is at the mercy of the union schedule for breaks and other nonsense, and meanwhile they spend the whole night reading romance novels when they aren’t dozing off.

Honestly, I just don’t get it.  Can anybody enlighten me on the point of unions, beyond allowing guys who are past their prime to get paid handsomely for doing NOTHING while inconveniencing everyone in the process?  I’m serious here.  The unions have such a huge foothold on so many aspects of the American workforce – they must be doing something to contribute to society, right?  Anything?  Bueller…

workin’ hard

you betcha

My cousin and dear friend Paul Stewart is a good dude.  I enjoy reading his blog, and the other day he had this to say about leadership and momentum…

“Momentum is created. It does not randomly occur. A leader’s number one job is to build, harness, maintain and restore momentum.”

Insert “band” or “artist” in place of “leader” and you’ve got the business side of being a musician pretty well figured out.  I suppose you’d need to fit “networking” in there somewhere too…

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