Howdy, gang! Well here we go with some updates about this and that, wherein I get off my overworked ass and propel ink thusly forward …

 

Virgil Donati

virgil-1

I wrote the cover story for the July 2017 issue of DRUM! magazine, featuring the incomparable Virgil Donati. What an amazing drummer all the way around! It was a real pleasure and honor to meet him, and I did the interview on my birthday no less!

We hung in his practice studio for probably three hours, hitting all the bases. And of all the thingd we talked about, I have to say, his microphone and recording set-up were a real inspiration, because he’s done several of his album projects recording remotely in a non-traditional studio environment.

It was truly educational to see how anyone can create an AFFORDABLE remote recording environment. Seriously, you don’t need to go into 30-year debt to create a place where you can record your part, export it to friends via DropBox, and have them import and add their own. Many of you already do this, but for those who don’t (raising hand here), it was eye-opening to see how relatively simple it is to do. Virgil was quite patient in explaining it to a newbie, and further on down in today’s blog, I’ll elaborate a bit…

 

Camille Bigeault

camille

About a year ago, I began seeing video posts and references to a French drummer with some pretty amazing skills. No flash, no glam, just pure understated substance with a great sense of humor. Tama artist Camille Bigeault’s specialty is being about to play complex patterns with individual limbs, combining them to create a song.

This is really cool, and after watching a few of her clips, I became sincerely convinced that she would become a leading explorer in drumming. I friended her on Facebook and sent a message saying exactly that. Last month, Camille was in town, and I got to meet her briefly and hear her sit in at the Baked Potato.

It was fairly loud, as always, but the takeaway was this: after several thousand collective views of her drumming clips, she said she never expected such a response nor really intended to elicit it at that level. It began as a simple 4-limb experiment, playing first one set of notes, then another, then another, that collectively created a song of sorts.

For example, in her “Brain Work” clip on YouTube, Camille plays an 11 pattern with her right hand, kick and hi-hit play a 6 pattern, and her left hand plays a 5 pattern. When it all overlays, you hear a really cool groove, and it works. It’s not forced, strained, or contrived. It’s just cool.

Camille said she posts more stuff on FB, but I’d suggest subscribing to her YouTube channel as well. Either way, She’s got much more interesting stuff planned, and you will want to check it. I think Camille opens such an interesting door for the rest of us, a very advanced one, to explore the drum set as musical instrument capable of creating songs in a unique context.

 

Gretsch Drums

gretsch street club

I’ve been so utterly overloaded these past few months that I can’t remember if I posted anything about finally planting my feet behind a couple of really cool Gretsch kits. Short version: I was looking for a bop kit, and Guy Murai at Guitar Center showed me a Catalina Club Street kit tucked away in the back room.

 

The first drum set I ever heard and saw live was red sparkle, and I’ve always wanted one. That was 52 years ago. Well, this little kit made of mahogany stole my heart in two seconds and three taps. Sticks, mallets, brushes… every thing sounded exactly how I’ve always wanted drums to sound. I like sustain with attack at all volume levels, simple as that.

So, I took it home.

gretsch black

Then I went next door to Sam Ash and found a 7-piece Catalina Club black sparkle kit on the floor. Slightly used, but bigger (which I needed for other stuff), and again, sustain with attack at all volume levels. And good lord, when played with mallets? I couldn’t like it/love it enough. To my ear, exactly what I wanted.

I later picked up a 6.5×14” Chrome over Brass snare, a newer one, to add some oomph where needed, and last week, I went back to GC and found a 5×14 1970’s chrome over brass Grestch snare that was headed home… which leads us perfectly to the next item on our blog list…

 

Austin, Texas

Austin-blog

I was born and raised in the Lone Star state, and after many years of here and there, it’s time to go home. Austin may not be as it was, but it will never lose what it is, and I will be heading there at the end of August to begin the next chapter of all things musical. This will include teaching in a private studio and recording remotely as inspired by Virgil Donati’s explorations.

I moved back briefly in the 80’s, learning how to play blues with Kathy and the Kilowatts. I also met and recorded with Arthur Brown (as in The Crazy World of…), but at the time, I felt I needed to be in Los Angeles for several reasons. Some were valid, some not so much.

In any case, the heavy lifting is done here, including writing several books, so now I want to plant myself in the middle of the country a bit south and have access to the East coast and Europe. British Airways has direct flights to Heathrow, so what more could a guy ask for? Time to reach out across the world from a friendly base, and I am looking forward to ditching the sneakers for my boots.

 

Em-blog

 

… and a Muscle car named Em

For you MOPAR car fans out there, here’s a couple of pics of my horse: a 2013 Dodge Challenger, 5.7l, Hemi, six-speed manual shift. It hauls ass, kids, and you can hear it doing so for many a mile. Badass and bold, is what she is. I call her Em (for muscle), and while she’s completely impractical for hauling a big kit, the little red sparkle kit fits just fine. I’ll get a van later I suppose. We’ll see … but for now, me and Em (ya like the symmetry of that phrase?) are gonna light it up and blaze across the southwest at the speed of Hemi!

So there ya go, what’s up with what’s goin’ down. I hope your summer is rockin’ along with music and mayhem, but if not, you still have six weeks to perspire and inspire. My fuse is sparkling, with dry powder at the end just waiting to make a little noise.

Meanwhile, be kind, stay focused, and make it happen. All of it. Big time.