Showing posts from November, 2013

The Age of Disinformation

As much as my last post was about, Make A Good Sound , this one is about getting sound advice , or more accurately, getting correct advice about making music.  It's 2013, and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can claim to be an expert on some subject, then proceed to post audio, video, or words for all to see. The 2 biggest examples of this are Wikipedia and YouTube . Both are filled with wondrous information for free. It's really quite amazing. But the other side of this is, there's an amazing amount of bad, and just plain wrong information being presented. I have a son currently in college, and he cannot use Wikipedia as a source for term/research papers, just because so much of what's out there is more opinion than fact. This is not to say there isn't a lot of great info, but you really have to be careful about what you believe as true. When in doubt, look for second sources to back something up. A perfect example of this is on

Fierce & Uncompromising: Ronald Shannon Jackson

On October 19, 2013, the music community lost one of its most original musicians, drummer/composer/band leader, Ronald Shannon Jackson. I first became aware of Shannon through a magazine interview. He was straight talking, intense, and had a sense of confidence about him like few others. Some would see it as boastful, I saw it as a man who knew both himself and his mission. The focus of the interview was his then new, first solo recording, Eye On You . I ran out and scoured the record stores for a copy. My young drumming self was not prepared for what sprung out of the vinyl groove! Just like the drummer in the interview, the music was fierce and uncompromising. It hit me the same way that Tony Williams' 'Emergency' had. I didn't really understand what was going on. So I played it a few times, then filed it away. Sometime later, I pulled it out and played it again. I kept doing this until one time it finally clicked with my brain. I finally got it, what Shannon

Make A Good Sound

One thing I stress to my students is, make a good sound . It's not enough to just play the notes correctly, or to have a lot of feeling, you have to be aware of the sound/s you make. Think of any musician you admire. I bet a big part of what attracted you to them was their sound . You can probably also pick them out from other musicians because their sound is identifiable.  As a drummer/percussionist, don't just hit your instruments!  Think about what you are doing.  Think about the stroke you make.  Think about how your stick/mallet makes contact with your instrument.  Think about how you release that contact.  Think about the resulting sound. Stick & mallet selection… Sound is very important to me. Whenever I play, I always bring a large assortment of sticks/mallets/beaters in order to facilitate getting a wide array of sounds from my instruments. And when I play, I'm always thinking about and listening to my sound. Now what's a good sound i

Unified Artistic Theory

If you are a musician, or any type of artist, you probably have some sort of studio or creative space that you work in. A lot of time we think about our working time as only being when we are in the studio. I want to talk about being "in the studio" when you are other places.  I have come to see my studio as any and everywhere. As much as I find myself physically working in my studio, I also find myself other places, like concerts, book/CD stores, museums, coffee shops, etc. where I'm gathering information & ideas to bring back to my physical studio. I may not step into my studio for days, but I'm always, as Julia Cameron would say, "filling the well." I think it's important to see how we are working on our art more than we think. Even going to the store and buying supplies/equipment is working on our art. This is not to negate the importance of being physically present in your studio doing your art, but don't get so hung up that you think th

Always Play Your Best

So it's the big night and your band is playing the big club in town. You're excited and can't wait to put on a great show. But it's time to start and there are only 5 people in attendance. What do you do? Do you decide to hold back and just go through the motions, because after all, it's only 5 people. Or do you go out there and play your best, no matter how many (or how few) people are in the audience? The best advice I ever received was: Always Play Your Best, because you  never know who is in the audience. A true story: famed guitarist Adrian Belew (Frank Zappa, David Bowie, King Crimson, and many others) was discovered by Frank Zappa while he was playing in a hotel lounge band. Zappa had come in after his own concert, and was impressed enough to get Belew's phone number. Months later, when Frank needed a guitarist, he called Belew and the rest is history. Now I'm not saying that  while playing a wedding gig  you'll be discovered by a major