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A few months ago, a good friend of mine showed me an app at lunch that I didn’t quite know what to make of. Periscope is sweeping the world, literally, letting you broadcast live and pick up followers for your broadcasts. I could see the immediate potential and applications… but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

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I have used it on my iphone (6S) and my ipad (2 Air) with mixed results. The speed of both devices and their processors certainly makes a difference, as does the camera quality. The sound still leaves a lot to be desired, so you do have to take that into account when you broadcast.

 

There’s a Help manual you can download, and within a few minutes reading, you’re up and running. For those of you who have not yet seen or heard of Periscope, here’s some thoughts on how it works, and some pros and cons I’ve discovered after about 2 weeks of playing with it.

me scope

When you download the app, you can use your Twitter account to log on with it. The set-up is pretty quick, just a few steps and questions. If you have multiple Twitter accounts, you can use those as well. Once you have the basic Periscope account established, you are ready to see and share with the world…

 


 

There are FOUR icons on the bottom of the home screen that make Periscope work. The first is the small TV. It displays who is live that you are following, along with random Periscope broadcasts that its algorhythm cranks out. If you see numbers to the right of the broadcasts, that’s how many people are watching it. If you see minutes or hours, that’s a broadcast that has ended and how long ago.

 


 

The second icon is a Globe, with two options: Map and List. Map lets you expand and see live and expired broadcasts from all over the world. The red dots mean live or just recently ended. The blue dots mean the transmission has ended a while ago.

 

List shows you live transmissions, selected I guess at random by Periscope. It’s cool for just browsing to see what’s out there with no particular search agenda. For either, once you select a broadcast, you may notice little hearts bubbling up from the lower right hand corner. These are generated when people tap the screen, and you can do so as well when you hear or see something you like in a broadcast.

 


 

The third icon is a Camera Lens, with a red dot. This is how you go live and broadcast. You click on it, and then you can type in a short description of what your ‘scope is going to be about.

 

There are four small icons on the screen above the keyboard that give you additional options. The Pointing Arrow gives precise location to your viewers on the Map display. The Lock enables private broadcasting, nothing global, and lets you select who the potential viewer(s) will be for this broadcast. Mutuals is another option, meaning people you follow who also follow you back.

 

The Chat icon, when not enabled, allows everyone who is viewing to add comments. When it’s enabled, it only allows people to add comments who are already following you.

 

Once you have these four options configured, you select Broadcast Now, and you are live! However, to get the camera to show your face, you have to double-click the screen to reverse the image. Very important to remember…

 

To stop the broadcast, you tap and drag the screen down, and select End Broadcast.

 

Oh, and one important note: broadcasts do not remain on your profile indefinitely, nor do they remain on your Twitter feed. You have the option though of saving them to your camera roll for future viewing.

 


 

Finally, we come to the People icon. This one lets you edit your profile by clicking the Cog icon, upper right corner. It also lets you search for people, see your followers, and also delete followers. This item is important, because yes, the porn world has indeed discovered Periscope. Select the Cog icon on the profile and click “Block Viewer.”

 

If you encounter annoying viewers posting rude comments during a live broadcast, you can block them as well. Select their profile, find the Cog icon (upper left hand corner, click and select “Block Viewer.”

 

The rest you’ll figure out pretty quickly, as it’s not that complicated.

 


 

Sooooo… with all this said, is it worth time investing it getting it up and running? I think so, yes, because you can demo stuff on the spot that comes to you, plan something ahead and announce it on Twitter and Facebook, create a live feed to your Twitter account for people who do not yet have Periscope, and it’s a cool way to build your presence around the world.

 

I’m on there as David Aldridge, using my Twitter account (@daldridgedrums) as the link. Mind you, the sound quality for both iphones and ipads is limited, but if you don’t play too loud, it’s comes across okay.

 

But do remember this: it’ll cream your cellular usage like a thirsty camel after a 30-day trek across the Sahara. Watch out for that and battery use (which you can monitor for this and other apps on an iPhone 6S, I have discovered).

 

It’s a brave new world out there, and Periscope lets you partake of it in a very interesting way. I think it’s got a lot of potential, and who knows, maybe it can help you get your particular drumming message out there in a way that transforms other players. We truly do live in most amazing times…

 

 

“Watching the waves from a ship to and from Japan and looking out of the car window on multiple trips across the USA in my childhood, gave me the space to study time itself, and the complexity and harmonics of rhythm, order and chaos.  

Subdividing and predicting the instant objects would pass, or their relationship to others in time, consumed the hours of my youth. It all comes down to time. 

That is why I chose drumming, Jazz, Indian classical and African. All the great rhythm traditions. When I drum, I sing the melody of the arrow of time. “

 


About a year ago in Los Angeles, I met the author of this quote, at a gig led by my bass player friend, David Hilton. Leonice Shinneman had a very interesting set-up, a small jazz kit with some tablas. His playing was very light and elegant, sophisticated, without question. He played the tablas briefly, and I thought, kinda cool to see that…

 

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I had no idea I was in the presence of a recognized world tabla master, a former faculty member at Cal Institute of the Arts, an innovative inventor and patent holder, and an artist whose drumming and percussion credits included work with Frank Zappa, along with contributions to soundtracks for “Drugstore Cowboy” and “Aliens 3.”

 

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I just knew the guy could play.

 

Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be six months to a year before Leonice can resume his art, because he was recently in a very serious car accident. Broken neck, broken back.

 

Yeah… that kind of serious.

 

His sister, Joy, created a Gofundme account to help get through what is obviously going to be a rough road, so if you have a minute, please visit the site. You may not have heard of Leonice or know of his work, or perhaps you have and already heard about his accident. No matter. He’s a drummer, he’s one of us.

 

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Here’s the gofundme link: https://www.gofundme.com/u5jxgb2c

 

For more information about Leonice, here’s the link to his website: http://www.leoniceshinnemandrums.weebly.com

 

During a break at the gig where I met him, Leonice and I had a great conversation about his ride cymbal and how he played it. I asked about his tablas and said I was interested in learning a little more about them. He offered to share information, and he said I was welcome to sit in during the next set. I had to leave, but I appreciated the offer.

 

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Leonice, when you get back to bandstand, I’d like to take you up on that offer. Meanwhile, you take it easy. The universe has got this.

 

 

Somewhere around 2007, I discovered a MySpace profile of a drummer with a song running on the home page. It was “Our Truth,” by Lacuna Coil. I was unfamiliar with the group or their music, but this song immediately resonated right to my core, and it remains one of my favorites.

 

 

As we enter 2016, about 90% of what I hope to accomplish nine years ago has been fulfilled. But as a successful software developer someone once told me, it’s the last 10% that’s the hardest. He was 100% correct, and I think I have finally figured out how to best make that last push.

We need to return to the origins of our intent and grab them with both hands. The title of this amazing song really begs an important question: What is “our truth?” I mean, what really drives us to make art and be drummers? If we lose sight of it and drown in the overwhelming information overload of today’s world, we are screwed.

 

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I recently returned to the freelance drum magazine world, with works in DRUMHEAD, DRUMscene, and a very cool article in DRUM! that’ll definitely have people talking about the May issue. I’ve got a huge re-publishing effort underway with the definitive Don Ellis biography (two volumes, plus a third with just photos), and if I can do what I think I can do shortly, a huge change in direction regarding getting the word out about my binary rhythm pattern theory books (The Elements of Rhythm, Vols. I & II).

But as far as my real drumming truth… I guess it’s finally time to ditch the rev limiter and just play what I love the most. For too many reasons to go into here, I’ve not ever really done that. What it comes down to is this: being bravely fearful. These are not my words, they were given to me, and they hold great power, as I am discovering more and more every day. Because the truth is, none of us truly knows where our steps will lead, and if you debate it for too long, you’ll never cross anything except a return to your doubts.

 

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NAMM 2016 is gonna be interesting, and I created a Periscope account to document some of it in real time (David Aldridge, linked through @DAldridgeDrums on Twitter). I hope you’ll check it out, and as always, thanks for reading my little blog. The interest and support over the last nine years has helped make 90% of my ambitions come to life. If stick around for the last 10%, I promise it’ll be the best part of the ride.

And thank you, Lacuna Coil, for a most awesomely inspiring anthem!

 

The other night, I drove down to the arts district of Los Angeles to check out a project I saw posted on Facebook. It described an event called “VISIBLE SOUND,” featuring Vinnie Colaiuta and some well-known session players from L.A., who would be performing as artist Tom Reyes, aka The SUSH., created an on-the-spot piece of art.

visible sound

The idea sounded awesome. A real-time collaboration, no second takes, no cleanups on the canvas. It would be what it would be, and the audience would experience it first hand. Like live theater, with a tangible finished product.

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Reyes has been exploring this process since 1991, collaborating with jazz musicians all over the world. His nickname is an acronym for Subjective Understanding Subconscious Heterodox. You’re gonna have to hit Google for that last word, which I did, and got this:

 

“…not conforming with accepted or orthodox standards or beliefs…”

 

I’d call that fuel for just about any artist. When you dissect the four words in SUSH, you really do find ground zero for Reyes and what he wants to explore. If there was ever a perfect music style for offering him a ride, jazz would be it. And if there was ever a perfect drummer for steering that bus, it would be Vinnie Colaiuta.

 

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I’ve known Vinnie since 1980, although our paths do not often cross. Like so many, I’ve followed his artistic journey and have worked to emulate his own explorations, particularly with polyrhythms and odd meters. He has always been – irrefutably – light years ahead of the pack when it comes to bending time. You stare, shake your head, and wonder how anyone’s neural pathways could even begin to hope to fire in such an extraordinary manner…

And then you contrast that with Vinnie playing a backbeat with Sting and realize there’s also a timekeeping human, sitting right there in front of you… dialing it down a bit, but being ever-present with every single rest and note.

This was gonna be good…

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The evening’s event was held in Art Share L.A., a 28,800-squarefoot downtown gallery on 4th Street, surrounded by various arts-related projects and activities. The small theater within the gallery was basically a large room with seating for about twenty or so people, and plenty of standing room.

I found a seat near the front row to get a good view of Vinnie and SUSH. They were joined by bassist Doug Lunn, who often works with Terry Bozzio in his Out trio, and keyboardist Jeff Babko, who currently plays on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

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babko

 There’s nothing like an intimate setting to bring you inches away from artistic truth. It’s also a nice cocoon from the ever-swirling madness of Los Angeles (something I could use a great deal more respite from, actually). I was already grateful for having seen the Facebook post, and I was truly looking forward to seeing and hearing where Vinnie would take things…

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I took a few pics and quickly posted them on Facebook but didn’t want to be too nose-down once the show began…

The band came out to warm applause, and Vinnie started playing first. There was no downbeat; there was just “go.” SUSH entered after a minute, applied a healthy glob of blue paint to his hands, and began arcing them across the canvas as the guys played. There was no hurry. It was a roughly forty minute conversation of styles that merged elements of jazz, Latin, funk and tribal into a sonic and tactile event.

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The description I could try to provide would pale compared to the actual moments, but I can tell that you Lunn and Babko were a perfect fit to Vinnie in this context and that his improv chops were as on their game as ever – particular his subtle snare drum shadings and brushwork. The complex interplay of tastefully placed polyrhythms was equally rewarding, because the more you hear them used in a musical context, the better you understand how to do so.

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We spoke briefly after the show, but I did not really interview him about all of this, because I didn’t want to make it a work night. I was most grateful for the opportunity to simply meet again and say hello after many years, and I thanked him for his performance and for displaying such vibrant and honest energy with his fellow musicians. It was incredibly refreshing to hear Vinnie speak with such passion about a project that he was clearly very proud to be a part of.

me and vinnie

I believe now more than ever that jazz drumming needs Vinnie Colaiuta and his take on this sort of improv. I see so many young drummers just cranking out videos, seeking to become YouTube stars with chops, and following a non-threatening video performance path.

Far better that you should strip yourself bare and lay it all out on the stage. Far, far better that you leap, dance, spin, and balance it all out. If you do, you’ll find yourself in the truly live moments. You’ll step out of your comfort zone and explore. In doing so, you’ll keep the process of exploration alive, which is ultimately the goal for any art.

It’s awesome that Vinnie is doing this, reminding the drumming world of his jazz roots and the value of revisiting them. I definitely think we need art like this, moments in real time, to renew and refresh our view of the world and how to live in it.

Playing is about living, something our cell phones and social media bombardment often makes us forget how to do. If you explore a little of that every day and step into the mix rather than just watching it, you’ll feel yourself breathe.


 

SUSH will be releasing a documentary soon on the VISIBLE SOUND project (www.visiblesound.org), and I encourage you to check it out. I also encourage you to consider the following notion…

 

megatrends  book_hightech

 

In his classic 1982 book, Megatrends, author John Naisbitt used the expression, “high tech, high touch,” predicting that the more technologically advanced we became, the more we would need organic contact with humans to balance things out. In 1999, Naisbitt  wrote an entire book about the subject (and you gotta love the German version book cover).

Couple the notion with this classic Bruce Lee quote, and hopefully you too will honestly and fearlessly explore what your art is really about and not run into a light pole while checking emails…

 

“Let the spirit out — Discard all thoughts of reward, all hopes of praise and fears of blame, all awareness of one’s bodily self. And, finally closing the avenues of sense perception, let the spirit out, as it will.”

– Bruce Lee

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When I got my first drum set at 13, it was a standard four piece with one cheesy little sorta crash-ride cymbal. It was a gateway to the most amazing universe I would ever know. I had no idea how drummers were able to do the things they could do, and as my listening expanded to the heavy metal and prog drummers of the day in the 70’s, I was amazed at what guys like Carl Palmer, Ian Paice, and Bill Ward could do with their jazz chops.

Around that time, I also discovered Billy Cobham and his bombastic Fibes kit. His display of musicality and technical prowess were beyond belief, and I worked as hard as I could to figure out what he was doing. As time passed, I eventually did figure a lot of it out, and I could actually play it. At 16, this was quite a ride. I had also added pieces and parts to my small kit and expanded to a pretty big 10-piece, loving every bit of it.

metama

Fast forward to 2015. I have a three piece be-bop kit to keep my jazz chops in tune and refined, but when it comes time to let it all out, there’s only one way to go…

Last year, I made a decision to focus on Tama, for several reasons. Mind you, I’m not an endorsed pro, not a touring or recording guy. I write a blog and hit things. But I do have plans and ambitions, which are slowly moving forward, and to accomplish them, I decided to go with something I could find anywhere in the world and that had hardware I could do handstands on.

I picked up a cool little five piece with a 20” kick from Guitar Center, Lawndale California. Chris Chiles sold it to me, a very good guy. He told me a girl sold the kit to him but really didn’t want to get rid of it. Hard times, the reality of our day. I immediately felt soul from this little kit, gave the kick a stomp, and bought it.

Mostly, I loved the color. It made me feel a certain way, which brought out certain things in my playing. I know, that sound ridiculous, but I feel colors, literally. Like touch sensations sometimes almost.

So, I bring the little kit home, and I soon wanted more. I went over to Jammin’ Jersey’s, Northridge, California, and picked up three more Rockstar drums (two rack toms, one floor tom). I brought them home, hooked them up, and I felt my childhood coming back. I bought a 22” kick and another rack tom off of eBay, and then things really started to feel familiar.

I’ve always loved cymbals, so over the next several months, I started adding to my Zidljian A’s, including a 23” Sweet Ride, a 22” A Custom Ping ride, a 22” medium thin crash, 16” medium thin crash, and a really cool sounding pair of 15” vintage New Beat hi hats. All in all, 11 cymbals, 10 drums, and a few more Tama snares, including the massive 8×14” Big Black snare.

And when I was done, My Blue Dream was born.

Hell yeah!

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The logistics of setting up such a kit required a lot of boom cymbal stands, although a rack is probably what a reasonable person would use. I’m thinking about it. In the meantime, I have the size kit I want, could use another kick drum and some Octobans (of course), but for now, what I really have… is a percussion ensemble.

When I hear the expression, “Less is more,” I usually cringe. I know, I know, play for the music, and all the other classic phrases… but what if you are capable of unleashing in a way that far transcends what a four piece, single cheesy crash/ride can do? What if you are able to soar, blaze, let er’ rip like a big dog?

Why should drummers in any way feel like they have to apologize for going big?

As far as I’m concerned, More is More. By expanding your tonal palette, you can paint some pretty amazing pictures. On the other side of things, I most often use only the 23” Sweet Ride with my bop kit. I don’t need anything else for that music. But for what I hear in my head, feel in my heart, more lets me do more.

Now if I can just find that 22” Zildjian Pang somewhere…

If the previous two videos got your attention about binary rhythm patterns, wait’ll you see all those patterns lined up vertically on music staves so you can read them in (for example) 4/2, 4/4, 4/8, 4/16, and 4/32 all at once…

The Elements of Rhythm, Vol, II, also dives very deeply into the idea of relative notation, where an absolute sound shape can be not only written in many different ways, but be counted in many different ways as well.

We become conditioned to seeing 16th rests and notes in 4/4 and count them 1 e + uh, but then when we see them in 4/16, our minds have to “temporally translate” (my term) the mathematics very quickly to make sense of the notation before us.

Ideally, we should be able to read any absolutely sound shape, written in any beat note value, using any counting syllables and not be married to the idea that, for example, sixteenth rests and notes will always be counted 1 e + uh…

Yeah, this is advanced, heady stuff. It’ll get your mind going from page one, I guarantee you. But, when you consider that in both volumes, you are looking at ALL of the fundamental building block rhythm patterns that all the larger ones come… believe me, that’s worth about six minutes of your time!

Enjoy.

Hey there, here’s a little something more that I’m pretty sure will turn your rhythmic world upside-down if you’ll give me about six minutes of your viewing time…

In 1982, the some lessons I took with Terry Bozzio exploded in my head and lit a fire that never went out. It led me to figuring out a systematic approach to understanding where all rhythm patterns came from mathematically. I sucked at math from day one of first grade on up through forever, so, I’d say this discovery was personally kinda huge…


Regular readers have been really cool and kind about humouring me over the past five years, so I’d like to ask them, and you new readers as well, for one small favour: turn up the volume so you can hear my voiceover, and watch this video clip. It’ll show you where everything comes from that you’ll ever play, or at least get you started on it.

There are a finite number of building block rhythm patterns that all larger combinations come from. Binary rhythm pattern theory uses 0s and 1s to prove they exist and create a model of them, which we then re-write with conventional music notation. But first, we gotta prove that a finite number exits… which I’ve done.

Other educators have explored this notion, but I’m pretty sure I can almost absolutely that no one has done it to the degree that I pursued. It was an insane obsession, but the results… are pretty damn cool. And I say that with a lot of unusual pride.


Anyway, the first video was kind of general and broad… but this one gets down to it like nothing you’ve likely ever seen before. The page excerpts from my books are fuzzy at times, just because of conversion I suppose. I’m working on it, so please bear with me. But gimme six minutes… and your head might get set on fire too. I hope so, because all I really want to do in this world any more is get the word out about binary rhythm pattern theory and how it can help expand our rhythmic minds to explore basic patterns, odd meters, polyrhythms and beyond.

And please, if you like this one, tell your friends and share it. I have never asked this, but if you get the message and what it means, you’ll see why. I hope you do, and as always, thanks for checking out my blog. I love writing this stuff!

Whew!

Okay, lemme tell ya up front: THIS was some work! And for those of you who’ve already done it, my hat is off to you. For those thinking about making a drum video of sorts, I figure it might be helpful to tell you a little about the process I experienced in hopes that can save you some time and steps.

The short version: I bought a GoPro, a backdrop system to hang fabric, some lights and stands, a very functional tripod (good lord, a must!), a complete set of mics for a 10-piece drum set, a mixer, dug out my ProTools LE8, bought another Mac laptop that could process the GoPro 4k images, and I borrowed a really nice HD video camera as a backup.

The short short version: no GoPro, no mics, minimal kit, and I only used the HD camera and one lighting stand.

What I discovered was that… the new version of iMovie was getting slammed reviews, and I couldn’t figure out how to strip original audio from the incoming iMovie 8 file and layer it with a ProTools sound track. My old laptop worked just fine, and I was able to import the footage, move it around and edit it, add some still shots and some music audio, and get it up and running on YouTube.

Seriously, I wasn’t experienced with this stuff to the degree I wanted to be, but it got done… which is all that matters.

If you’ve been following my last few posts, I’ve been sharing what I’ve been able to accomplish to move forward with getting my stuff out all over the world. We have the technology… but not all of it easy to grasp. It ain’t perfect, but I don’t care. I began the journey three decades ago with this project, so, tonight, I’m happy it got launched in one piece.

Meanwhile, I hope your individual drumming projects are moving forward, and hey, keep pounding if they aren’t done yet. You’ll sleep pretty good once they are, and then you’ll wake up and want to do more.

Enjoy, and remember: Everything You’ll Ever Play Comes From Here!

elements-cover-I                elements-cover-II

Not too long ago, I was reunited with a bass player I’ve been thinking about for decades. I lost track of her years ago, but she was one of the finest and rock-solid players I ever met. Dee Harrell taught me how to play the blues proper and do my job as a drummer when I lived in Austin in my 20s, and those lessons lasted a lifetime.

I owe that reunion to Carol Dierking, a drummer from Irving, Texas, who graciously connected me with my long lost friend. I told her I owed her big time – I mean, on a huge scale – because of how much this player/teacher meant to me, so when she put up a GoFundMe account for some serious health issues, the payback was obvious…

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Carol has a pretty interesting story, from what I’ve read so far. Mind you, we met kind of blindly in Facebook when I contacted her after seeing that my friend was playing with her, on a YouTube video. I had not heard of Carol before this, but it didn’t matter. Reading about her background, I found her to be established and legit.

She’s featured in Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (April 10, 2014), went to Steven F. Austin State University on a full music scholarship, and carved out a music life in a way that suited her world with raising a daughter. Not an easy road, which became even less so when physical ailments began to interfere with performance hopes and dreams.

carol-book

Developing degenerative bone disease is not exactly how most people wake up and plan their day. It actually brought Carol’s playing to a near standstill until an offer came up that reignited her drive and got her back on stage. But that fire took a literally exhausting hit when an airbag exploded in Carol’s face in a 2007 auto accident.

Such actions generally tend to render your teeth into a less that favorable state.

So, cutting to the chase, Carol recently put together a GoFundMe account to help pay for the now inevitable long-term dental work and related health insurance expences, some needed vehicle repairs, and funds to help participate in a musical fundraiser for breast cancer (she lost her mother to this, as did I; no one has to ask me twice to support the cure effort).

If you follow the link, you can read more about Carol (and of course, read her profile in Women Drummers).

https://www.gofundme.com/caroldrummer

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Not all of us are destined for incredible career rides, and as we go along in this world, we find the path to be odd and winding sometimes. But as long as we can sit behind a drum set and play our truth, what else really matters? Even if it’s exhausting and painful, the rush of the stage and the pulse of the music are what make life worth living.

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For Carol Dierking, this truth is her daily dose of connectivity to the beat of life. I’m all for chasing that wherever possible, and as long as it’s possible to play, most things can be overcome. But every once in a while, things can become a bit much. Texan to Texan, I truly hope the path becomes easier for Carol. And like I said, I owe her big time, so personally, thanks for reading this particular blog about her. I have no doubts she would thank you personally too.

#cuzDrummersRule

metama

Howdy, kids. Welcome back to part III of Make Stuff Happen 101. As you can see from the pic, I found a cool little bop kit from Tama that I seriously can’t be happier with. I wanted something light to haul around town, and this fit the bill and then some. The kick sound cool for jazz as well as other kinds of music, something I wasn’t quite expecting…

On the World Drumming Domination theme, small but good steps have been accomplished in the last few weeks. Recall that I am not only working to get my rhythm books out but also my message about music as great therapy for Tourette’s. The French and New Zealand international chapters of the Tourette Syndrome Association have received my music autobiography and are going to let me write for their newsletter. The Delaware chapter (in the United States) is letting me write for them as well.

Looks like I’m going to be contributing to DRUMHEAD magazine with pieces about my rhythm books and some other cool topics that I’ve touched on here from time to time. I’m very excited about this, getting back into the ink saddle again formally after quite a break (over ten years).

The video backdrop stuff arrived, and it’s up and organized. A very good friend helped me get ProTools and my mixing dialed in enough to create and import some decent sound quality files into the hopefully decent film quality of GoPro and ipad imagery. Quite a learning curve across the board, lemme tell ya!

So overall, after declaring my intentions to the universe a month ago, things are rolling along. I seriously encourage everyone to do this and then take small steps forward. It’s pretty cool to finally see things happening as I’ve hoped for them, so stay tuned, and I’ll have the long-awaited videos up before ya know it!

Meanwhile, go forth and kick drumming ass!

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