I'm not keeping up with my blog here as much as I should. Been needing a redesign of this site for some time now, but that will have to wait. I've been keeping busy with remote sessions here at "The Dorm Room" my home studio here in Durham, NC. I've got a ton of drum set gear/ percussion and access to even more esoteric stuff (timpani, tabla, mallet instruments, gongs, etc) via some good friends. If you have a project you're needing drums or percussion on, please get in touch - I would love to work with you on whatever you're dreaming up musically!
I've also been continuing to play with many local and regional artists such as Claybrook. I played on his debut album and have been doing shows and touring with him over the past year. We just shot a video of one of his new songs...check it out below:
I've also been collaborating with some other singer/songwriter pals and we're writing songs in anticipation for a release sometime in the next year. And speaking of writing songs, I'm going public with my desire to do more production work and songwriting. I've chosen the moniker: "The Maudlin Fee" and you can keep up with my progress on that front via my Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/themaudlinfee I will be chipping away at my goal to release an EP by the end of the year, and hopefully start playing live. Man, I hope I can make that happen... :-)
I've also started offering short drum lesson videos on You Tube, via my Durham Drum Lessons Channel - my hope is to post at least one new video a week. Nothing to fancy or complicated. Just simple ideas, beats, transcriptions to hopefully inspire others in their drumming journey.
Thanks for reading and keeping me in mind for gigs and other creative endeavors! I'm looking forward to making some great music happen this year!
Big Star in LA: was an awesome night of music - as these things typically are. Got to play with a bunch of my musical heroes and meet some new friends as well! I was part of the band/ orchestra (conducted by Van Dyke Parks!!!) that backed up The Posies, Dan Wilson, Jason Falkner, GroupLove, Aimee Mann, The Bangles, Mike Mills, Sarabeth Tucek, Dean Wareham, Jody Stephens, and Luther Russell.
Below is a video that was posted on Facebook: This is me playing drums on the song Kangaroo - w/ Brett Harris singing, Van Dyke Parks conducting, Mike Mills on bass, Mitch Easter, Django Haskins and Chris Stamey on guitars, with Ken Stringfellow and Jody Stephens playing cowbell and gong...here are some of the comments that were said about that song/moment of the evening:
Robin Danar-real this was HUGE!! a moment in the room that Youtube can't quite capture. luckily, a bunch of us were there.
Kenneth Stringfellow Dale this is one of the best drum moments I've been witness to in 34 years of playing live music. Kudos to the skies and beyond.
Robin Danar-realDale, this was even better than this video portrays and that says a lot. a high point of the night that i even freaked over at the rehearsal. thank you for rocking it!!
Recently a reader got in touch and asked me the questions that appear below. He agreed to let me publish his questions and my answers to them. Readers of my blog frequently ask similar questions and so I thought that by posting this Q & A it could be helpful to the community at large. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions you would like to ask, please get in touch!
Q: Firstly. I live 30 minutes from ------------------, so the demand for such things is prominent in my area. However there doesn't seem to be any agencies in the area that cater to session or stand-in musicians. Have you got any Idea what kind of representation I would need ((agents, managers, etc)) and where they could be found?
A: My experience has been that it is rare for a session musician to be represented by an agency or manager. I believe the reason for this is that session musicians don't create the amount of income (and types of income streams) that Bands, Producers, Solo Artists will make, and because of that, it isn't worth and agency's time or effort to work with session guys. However, if you are a solo artist in addition to being a session musician, that would be an exception. Or if you were in a band that was signed to a label and you did session work on the side. But keep in mind that in both instances the reason you are being represented is NOT for your session work. I would suggest not looking for representation, but contacting the drummers, studios and producers in your area and ask to take them out to lunch. Focus on creating friendships, letting them know what your goals are, and then see where it goes. Most session work happens by word of mouth - so the more people you know and interact with, the better your chances are of getting a gig.
Q: I have heard of people contacting studios to be put on an "on-call" list of sorts. Should I submit an official press kit as I would for a full band?
A: No I wouldn't. I don't know of any drummers that have been hired from their press kit (unless your press kit is absolutely off the charts amazing). Again, it goes to word of mouth. I would contact the studios you are interested in working in and find out who the producers are, the engineers, the 2nd engineers, etc. Volunteer to intern at these studios. Again, focus your attention on making relationships and not being a nuisance. If at some time they ask to see your press kit (which I doubt they ever will), you can always be ready to send it...but I would save my $$ and time developing a killer press kit, and instead spend my $$ and time taking lessons, practicing and networking as much as possible.
Q: Finally. In your opinion, is this a rewarding career? I am willing to do anything to make it in the industry, so there isn't much that can dissuade me.
A: It all depends on what you mean by rewarding... Are you asking if it's financially rewarding? If it's money you are looking for - then you are in the wrong industry. You'll increase your chances of making money in the music industry if you write songs, produce, have your own band, can sing, and also play drums...but if you're really looking to be secure financially you should look at another career path (I suggest sales - like insurance or being a funeral home director - those are two career paths that are historically lucrative). You may find that you are much happier doing something else for your "job" and in so doing are able to keep drums as your hobby.
If you are really set on "making it" then I would strongly consider a move to Los Angeles, NYC or Nashville at some point - though I wouldn't move there unless you are with a band, or have made enough industry contacts to warrant moving there.
Some of the happiest musicians that I know are Bankers, IT professionals, Financial Advisors, and school teachers. Because they don't make music for a living, they get to pick and choose the bands and type of music they get to play. As a professional musician, you have to be willing and able to do just about any style of music or gig - it's been my experience that it is rare to find yourself in a situation that is creatively satisfying AND pays the bills.
Here is a short video of me adding overdubs to a soon to be released recording by (sorry I can't mention their name just yet). I'm using a small LP tambourine and a Promark Broom Stick (to minimize the contact sound when I hit on beats 2 and 4).
Here is the invitation for the private party I'm playing drums for on July 1st - the RSVP is blurred for a reason - this event is (unfortunately) not open to the public. Many of the same folks that are playing in Central Park with us on the 30th will also be at this show (though it will be a much smaller band).
At the end of this month I will be playing with Big Star’s Third: An Orchestrated Live Performance of the Legendary Album. As part of the 20 piece orchestra, I'll be playing timpani, steel drum, shaker, cowbell and possibly some drumset - though original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens will be taking care of most of the drumming duties.
Here are the details: we play the Vic Theater on June 28th, and then play a free show at NYC's Central Park on June 30th. Both shows will have several guest musicians and artists.
Guest performers for Chicago are: Ken Vandermark, Sally Timms (The Mekons), Ed Roeser (Urge Overkill), Tim Rutili (Califone), Gary Louris (the Jayhawks), and Josh Caterer (Smoking Popes).
In New York City guest performers will be: Sharon Van Etten, Richard Lloyd, Kurt Vile, Marshall Crenshaw, Pete Yorn, Reeve Carney (Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark), Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev), The Uptown Horns and Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond), and the famed cellist Jane Scarpantoni.
The band for these gigs will consist of Mike Mills (R.E.M.) on bass; Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), Chris Stamey (The dB’s) and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star) on guitar; Charles Cleaver on keys; Django Haskins (of The Old Ceremony), Brett Harris and Skylar Gudasz on harmony and guitar; and original Big Star member Jody Stephens on drums.
There is an additional private show happening in NYC that will be taking place at the old CBGB's location. For that gig, Jody isn't available, so I'll be filling in for him on drums that day.
In February and March I did shows with Chris Stamey promoting the release of his newest album "Love Sick Blues". For several of the shows we had a small orchestra that played along with the band, and it was a treat to hear the arrangements and instrumentation from Chris's album come to life. In March I traveled to Austin with him for SXSW which was a blast. Chris seems to know pretty much everyone, so at each gig we had several people sitting in with the band, singing duets with Chris or singing background harmonies.
In the 5 or 6 shows I did with Chris at SXSW, I found myself playing with: The Tosca String Quartet, Ken Stringfellow, Cheyenne Mize, Aoife O’Donovan, The Old Ceremony (I sat in with the band to back up Chris), Star and Micey, Seetha Shivaswamy, and Casey Toll from Mount Moriah.
I also connected with Keaton Simons, an artist from LA who was in need of a drummer. He sent me his songs to learn on Wednesday, and between shows and commitments with Chris, I charted them out on Thursday, ran through them once with Keaton on Friday and then we played two high energy gigs - one on Friday at the Bayou Lounge and another on a roof top overlooking downtown Austin .
In addition to my work with Keaton and Chris, I also found time to meet up with my former Sixpence None the Richer band mate and friend, JJ Plasencio. JJ organized a concert based around Sixpence songs from the "This Beautiful Mess" era of the band. He found a singer and guitar player that just completely nailed the vibe and spirit of that time and we all had a fun time revisiting those old songs ("Puedo Escribir" anyone?) .
JJ also interviewed me for a local radio show he hosts ("Rhythm of the Heart" on KDRP Austin) and I spent Sunday morning drumming at the church where he leads worship (First Evangelical Free Church).
So to sum it all up: SXSW was a blast! I didn't see any of the shows I had planned on attending (mainly because I was so busy running from gig to gig), but I'm so thankful for the old friends and new friends I was able to connect with and the amount of music I was able to play during the week. Throw in a few meet ups with: a college buddy (Mike!), another bass player from Sixpence (Joel!), Todd - who has recorded Paul McCartney and Thom Yorke (and a host of others), the drummer for Delta Rae (Mike!), the drummer for Dignan, Dani from Team Mate (my new favorite drummer) and you have the makings for a great week. I hope to make it back again next year (Pedicabs, Waterloo Records, Amy's Ice Cream and Juiceland - I hear you calling...) and if you are an artist looking for a drummer to play with or you know someone who is - feel free to get in touch and let's talk!
Me and Joel Bailey (former Sixpence bassist)
Me and Keaton Simons
With my college buddy Mike (poor lighting I know...)