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I spent the weekend playing out at Higher Ground Festival again this year, with Jeremy Sanoski and Elizabeth Hunnicutt. Both shows were super cool, and the festival as a whole is always a good time.  My friend Matt best runs the event, and he’s a solid dude.

Noteworthy moments from the weeknd:

1)  Jeremy getting heat exhaustion after our set on Friday and spending an hour and a half in the EMT trailer.

2)  Liz boldy declaring from stage that her record is “an album full of journey songs,” which is very funny if you imagine that she meant Journey, and not journey.

And… I’ve got some footage from the weekend, shot with that awesome Flip camcorder that I bought before the UK Harms tour.  Here’s an exceprt from a track on the Sanoski Band’s forthcoming record, and my daughter Betty singing along with Hunnicutt…

A few things…

1) I put some new tracks on my Myspace player the other day, including the title track from the forthcoming and now complete Look Alive record.  As I’ve mentioned before, this record has been in the works for FIVE YEARS, and it’s finally done.  Don’t ask me what’s going to happen with it.  The fact that the completed record exists at all is enough for me right now.  I imagine we’ll do a release show for it sometime soon.  There are a few additional tracks from the record on the official Look Alive page.

2) There’s another Bill Mike show tonight. We’re playing at the Cabooze, opening for Greg Ginn (guitarist from Black Flag). Like last week’s gig, the explosive Mark L. Johnson will be rocking with us because Chris is still out with Ben Kweller.  Speaking of Chris…

3) Do you want to get smarter? Go listen to some Chris Morrissey Quartet tracks, soon to be released on a record under his own name. He’s got some heavy-hitter jazz labels in New York lined up to release the project, and for good reason. I was listening to it again last night, and it just completely rules.

I’m playing a couple cool gigs next week that I want to make sure everybody knows about…

1) 18+ Bill Mike Band show on Thursday (3/26) at The Whole in Coffman Student Union. This is the first local BMB show since the Truce release last November, and this show is FREE.

2) Friday (3/27) is the release show for Elizabeth Hunnicutt’s new record, On The Way. The show will be at Church Of The Open Door in Maple Grove. Tickets are $8 in advance, and $10 the night of. You can hear some of the tracks from this record on Liz’s myspace page and on her new website.

I’ve been told that the new Elizabeth Hunnicutt record is now complete, and the release show is tentatively scheduled for late March. Stay tuned on that one.

Also, the new Jeremy Sanoski Band record is coming along nicely, although that album won’t be complete until early Fall.

I’ll be playing a cool gig next Thursday (2/19) at the Varsity Theater.  It’s a new improv hip-hop project featuring MC Carnage, Mike Michels (Bill Mike) on guitar, Yohhanes Tona on bass, and myself on drums/loops.

I started giving Betty some piano lessons. She seems to enjoy the theory side of things more than most 3-year-olds…

My good buddy Matt Patrick has been busy producing Elizabeth Hunnicutt’s new record, which should be out in the next few months. He’s neck-deep in the mixing stage of the project, and he posted some interesting stuff about that on his blog. It’s some great insight into the often long but deeply artistic process of producing a record.

Matt also plays bass in a pretty rad local band called Greycoats.  You should check them out.

Hunnicutt tour is going well. My friend Christian Ankrum is playing bass, who I also play with in Joel Hanson’s band. Christian’s brother Aaron is Liz’s normal guitarist, but he couldn’t come this time, so Jeremy Sanoski came out for the tour. He’s another solo artist who’s band I’m in, so the lineup turned out to be a cool clustering of guys I play with all the time. It’s a lot of fun.

We’re in Spokane, WA right now playing for a women’s conference. The conference put the whole band up in the luxurious Double Tree Hotel attached to the convention center. Last night Christian and I made a video to showcase how nice the place is, and it’s pretty funny. Check it out.

So I mentioned in the previous post that I’m in the midst of a short tour with Elizabeth Hunnicutt right now. Most of the gigs that we’re doing are in small venues, where the natural drum volume is too loud. Dowel sticks (I use the brand ProMark “Hot Rods”) make this problem easy to get around. But… rods have quite a different timbre and sound from normal sticks – they aren’t just a softer volume. Here’s a few things that I’ve learned when using rods:

1) Buzz rolls, although possible with rods, don’t sound very good.

2) Toms also sound bad, but using rimshots on the toms can make them sound more like normal.

3) Non-rimshot snare hits have a unique tone to them, but they are not just a little quieter than sticks, they are A LOT quieter. If you’re going to use that sound, you have to back way off the cymbals to get a correct blend.

4) Along with the point just mentioned, be careful to note that “crash” hits (cymbals hits with the “edge” of the stick and not the tip) are really the same volume with rods as they are with sticks. So, be extra careful to back off on the velocity of those hits so as to gain a good drum/cymbal blend.

My friend Matt Patrick has a very cool studio in South Minneapolis called Two Pillars, and I’m there today doing a session for the new Elizabeth Hunnicutt record. Tyler Burkum on guitar and Aaron Fabrinni on bass are also playing, which is cool because most of the sessions I do are drums only (recording by myself along with scratch tracks). There’s obviously more fertile ground for creativity when musicians are playing live along with each other. I think the stuff we’ve come up with so far is pretty cool.

For those of you paying attention, that snare in the pic is the same WFL snare from the Pachyderm pics a few months ago. Man, these days I am really liking that thing. In other gear geekness, I’ve been using this 20″ K Custom Dry Light ride as a crash. It has a really fat but short sound, and the compressed room mics make it sound very cool.

This weekend I’m playing a few times out at Higher Ground Music Festival in Winsted, MN. I’ll be performing with Elizabeth Hunnicutt tomorrow and the Jeremy Sanoski Band on Saturday. The lineup for the festival looks pretty cool this year.

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