I’m extremely saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Jason Lamb, one of the most unique, talented, and crazy musicians I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Jason was a legend in the music equipment industry, having designed many stellar products. Just three nights ago Jason was at our gig with me and John Lundeen. It was great to catch up with him, and to have him jump up on stage and sing a couple of songs like he did so many times over the years, Wooly Bully and Muleskinner Blues.
After the show we shot the shit until we were kicked out by the management somewhere around 2 a.m. It was fun to talk shop with Jason, as we go way back in the music biz. Jason was just forming a new guitar pedal company called EvilTone. I especially loved to hear Jason telling how young musicians were coming up to him at the NAMM show and asking for his autograph. Instead, he poured them a beer. I’m glad to have shared so many great moments with Jason, and especially to have caught up with him a few nights ago.
Rest in peace. Attached are a couple of photos I hadn’t even had the chance to dump from my camera.
Last night I played a gig with the old band. First one I’ve done since 2009. I haven’t played any drums since one fusion gig in 2010 and a jazz gig I did in about 2012.
I had some worries about the gig of course, like whether or not I would be able to play. This is a high energy band with lots of fast, loud, punk songs. Would my chops be close to good enough? Fortunately over the years I developed some techniques for bashing and creating a lot of sound and volume without expending tons of energy. It was the only way to last hours and hours with a high intensity. Only on a couple of tunes did I find my left hand lead on the HH (I play left handed HH on a right handed kit) on a couple of fast songs wasn’t up to par. I was certainly not at full chops but was able to do the gig with no issues and the audience didn’t know the difference. I knew it on a few fills that I used to be able to pull off but couldn’t last night. Still, not a beat was dropped. The band rocked. I lasted until the 3rd set before I dropped a stick.
It was a blast to rock again with my old pals. In many ways it was like I never left. After one song the bass player turned to me and said, “that was the tightest that song has ever been!” Well, I’m not so sure about that but I was focusing on nailing the parts more than I might normally.
After all these DECADES some things remain the same with my old band. The guitar player is as funny as ever, works a crowd like no other, and he’s a hell of a player. In true fashion his cables were a rats nest and he didn’t bother tuning until the 3rd set. “I might as well tune this fucker once tonight…” Naturally a couple of tunes later he broke a string. LOL.
The bass player was solid as always. We’ve always locked in.
The bar was nice and one of the best parts was the relatively new no-smoking law. I finished the gig without smelling like an ashtray. There was a good crowd, but they just watched the band, sort of like deer in the headlights. No dancing. I understand that’s how shows are now. The millennials apparently like to just watch the band and shoot video on their smartphones.
Some funny parts about my kit: I remember now why I put the snare strainer lever on the side, away from my hands. I whacked it with my hand and simultaneously hurt myself while turning the snares off. I also laughed at my rig to get this funky pedal setup. I have a wood shim in there to simulate the rim if a drum (picture below). Yeah, it’s 12 ply maple.
The lovely lass and I decided we wanted to go out on the town last night. We are always wanting to find some nice live jazz music to listen to. We’d love to find a live jazz band playing some Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Count Basie, Dave Brubek. This ain’t New York though. It is Salt Lake.
We found a local club here in Salt Lake called the Red Door. The Red Door is a martini bar downtown which boasts “live jazz” every Saturday night. We were stoked to listen to some live jazz and, believe it or not, experience my personal first ever martini.
The atmosphere of the club was great. Loved the mood lighting. Very New York-like. The martinis were frighteningly fantastic.
The live band looked the part. A trio of acoustic standup bass, jazz guitar and a small drum kit. The drummer was playing a Gretsch, my kit of choice. The band also had the look, with their suit and ties…
But the music wasn’t jazz. I didn’t hear one single bar of anything resembling swing. Instead, the band was covering pop and rap tunes. They played straight ahead 4/4 cover tunes of Doctor Dre, Macklemore, and from the movie The Breakfast Club, Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds.
Not exactly John Coltrane.
We didn’t stick around long enough to see if they played Wang Chung.
If you’re looking for a great martini in Salt Lake City, check out the Red Door. If you’re looking for great live jazz in Salt Lake, I’ll have to get back to you on that…
I have a gig to write about! Cool. Haven’t played a show in about nine months and haven’t played the drums more than a few minutes since then.
Got a call from a long time friend and guitar player to play and outdoor gig on the patio of a deli this weekend, a few days notice. I’d heard their band before, sort of a funky instrumental band with a sax player. I accepted the gig, the best part being that included in the gig is a free sandwich. This deli is the best in town so that was good. In the old days it was cool to play and get free beer, but I’d much rather play for an Italian Muffaletta with spicy olive and pepper spread than Bud Lite.
They sent me some mp3 files to listen to before the gig to familiarize myself with their set list. It was at that point that I realized this gig would be much more on the jazz side than the funk side. Having not played in a long time, and having not used brushes and hotsticks for about 500 years, this gig would be interesting. I wondered whether or not I could play, first. And second, could I play swing and play brushes?
I hadn’t busted out the small gig kit for a whole so I checked it out in the afternoon before the show. I had some new heads for the toms and figured it was time to install them. The old heads were hammered. The new heads were great for this gig, nice and ringy/jazzy.
I’d intended to practice a bit before the show, but this past week was a bit nutty on the schedule. So except for about 20 minutes on a practice pad, I went into the gig with no chops. Fortunately, the gig was very casual and laid back. Most the tunes were jazz improvisational style. The configuration was only a three piece, guitar-bass-drums. No sax.
The toughest parts of the gig weren’t playing swing or brushes as I’d expected. The toughest part was playing soft. For nearly three decades I’d developed a style of playing that was all about power and making a lot of sound, to make the power trio rock band sound full. All of my snare hits were rim shots for added volume and pop, and my kick drum technique is like dropping 100 pounds of lead on the pedal with every hit. With lighter 5A sticks, hotsticks and brushes I was able to keep the volume under control minus a few accidental big rim shots. The toughest part of adjusting to the lighter, jazzy sound was the lead foot kick. Normally the heel is off the ground and I put the whole leg into it. But trying to do that at low volume simply didn’t work. I had to change it up entirely, with the heel down. That made a big difference, but my control was sketchy as would be expected. And sometimes I could hear the beater sort of double hitting on the head.
All in all the gig went well and the guys I played with seemed satisfied at my playing. It was nice to play a show, and the atmosphere outside on this patio was great. There were a lot of people not only on the patio we played at, but at surrounding restaurants and a nearby Starbucks. The area didn’t look like anything you’d see in Utah. I felt like I was playing a gig in Brooklyn.
I hope that wasn’t the only gig I get to play with these guys. I’d like to find some regular gigs playing something jazzy, funky or even some Latin.
It has been over two years since Johnnie, my loved bass player who moved to Portland, has been back to town. On 12/23 Johnnie was in town for the Christmas holiday and the new version of the band was playing at a local club. So Johnnie and I crashed the party.
About half way through the first set, the one remaining original member of the band called us up to play. Though I was playing on a strange kit and though Johnnie and I hadn’t locked in with Kerry for 2+ years, it was magic. We effing rocked it.
It was great to bash the skins, though my chops weren’t quite what they would normally be.
I need to find a gig for 2012. Need to do some live playing, some composition and perhaps some studio work.