The word “strange” is relative in Los Angeles. For example, tonight on my way to Musician’s Union Local #47 Hall to check out Keith Carlock’s clinic,  I’m sitting at a light, and look over and see a guy walking along with a three-foot iguana on his shoulder.

Yep, sure enough, that was an iguana on his shoulder.

I get to the hall, walk in, take a seat, and I look at Carlock’s Gretsch, Brooklyn drum set, and that’s when I see strange. The snares and floor toms were tilted forward and down.

Yep, sure enough, those drums were definitely tilted forward and down.

But for Steely Dan’s latest driver, this is absolutely normal. And when he got his “Moeller method wide-open fluid rebound damn Keith you sure do make that look easy” flurry of chops into high gear, it all made plenty of sense.

Keith’s clinic was supported by many vendors (Gretsch, Zildjian, DW, LP, Remo, Vic Firth), and the room was packed. He opened with a very gracious thanks to Stan and Jerry from Professional Drum Shop, who hosted the event with an all-day sale and then the main event in the Musician’s Union hall.

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Okay, so Keith gets down to business with an improv solo that had something called “musical composition” to it. You may have heard of this term: it’s what real musicians do when they play. He didn’t just sit down and say, “Blazing chops time, ohhh, check this out….” and then proceed to make his hands invisible at the highest volume possible he composed on the spot, and it worked out nicely.

And lemme tell ya, that guy has a right foot. It sounded mighty powerful pumping through the open-tuning kick. His open-handed left hand on the snare was equally impressive played against a stick in the right hand. Very interesting…

Next up was a play-along to some music he recorded in New York with a group of guys he hangs with when their schedules mesh. The guy truly loves to groove, and I have to say, he really is as interesting to watch as he is to listen to. The way Keith moves is very different from most drummers, and you might want to catch a few YouTube examples to really see what I mean.

A question and answer session followed, focusing on the usual content of grooves, improvising, some talk about the Gretsch kit and K Zildjian cymbals, and the introduction of his new signature stick. All of that tech information is available on his web site (www.keithcarlock.com), so head there for the details.

The raffle give-aways included a Professional Drum shop 50th Anniversary video and coveted hoodie, an 18” K Zildjian crash, two pairs of Keith’s Vic Firth sticks, a small LP drum, and the grand prize, a Gretsch snare drum right off Keith’s kit.

But the real highlight was when Stan and Jerry invited everyone up on stage for a group photo, a tradition that Professional Drum Shop has maintained since forever. THAT was truly cool!

If you get a chance to catch the rest of Keith’s now 12-city clinic tour, you will see and hear a very different kind of player. His hands are all about the rebound, and watching his right hand pump a solid groove was a lesson in how to get the most out of your movement. And yeah, it does look kinda strange, but it’s not like he’s showing up with an iguana on his shoulder…