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Recent music: Electrical Storm w/ Wade and Jeff

I recently played a cover of U2's "Electrical Storm at Emmaus Way with Jeff Crawford on Bass and Vocals and Wade Baynham on Vocals and Guitar.  I was playing a small kit comprised of a 16" Floor Tom (used as a bass drum), a 13" snare (with the snares turned off), and a 12" rack tom.  For a hi-hat I was using my crazy looking shaker/jingle/rattling thingy which is mounted on an old hi-hat stand.  It sort of sounds like a shaker/ tambourine accompianment track when I stomp on it with my left foot.  Anyway, I was really proud of how this particular song ended up sounding that night.  Wade sent me a copy of it and you can hear it in it's proper context by looking for the Emmaus Way podcast from March 8th.  Or you can listen to it here (out of context) here on my blog:  Electrical Storm played by wade dale jeff

The audio was recorded with a stereo condenser mic and that's all.  We usually set up in the middle of the room facing each other (sort of like a house concert type situation) and with minimal rehearsal we play through 3 or 4 songs.  Wade will then take the audio that's been recorded and minimally process and tweak the levels and then post it to the Emmaus Way website for download.  I was really happy with how my drums sounded and the blend of the instruments with the vocals.  Anyway, I thought I'd share this with you...hope you like it!

Tomahawks (at least I think that's the name)

We practiced today for about two hours or so, ran over some of the songs twice and made some notes on our charts (oh how I love charts!).  We played our show at The Cave about 8 hours after we rehearsed.  By most accounts, the show went well.  Ben came up and had some nice things to say about my drumming and I met Doug and Josh (?) who are forming a band and need a guitar player.  I also met Tad Dreis, which was fun 'cause I've seen his name around, and he's worked with other guys I've played with...so it was nice to finally meet him and connect a bit. 

I enjoyed getting to see my friend Tim and talk about music and life some.  And it should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway), I enjoyed playing with all the guys in the band.  Good stuff all around and I hope we do it again soon (schedules permitting).

Next time I should bring a camera and take a picture of this place.  The Cave is such a landmark place...I love that venue.  Divey, vibey, and small.  Perfect.

Russ Kunkel: easy way to play ghost notes

Russ is one of the great drummers of our time, and I found this video online of him doing a simple pattern, which when applied to the set, will allow you to play ghost notes without having to think about it too much. Just play the basic 16th note beat, move the left hand to the snare, and let your right hand come across and hit the two and four, and there you have it: instant groove! (or at least in theory)

I've been a fan of Russ Kunkel's drumming ever since Jackson Browne's Running On Empty Live record.  I used to listen to that thing constantly, mainly because of the song "Stay," where Jackson Browne mentions that the "roadies don't mind..."  

The idea of being "on tour" just grabbed hold of me as a youngster and I spent hours wondering what it must be like to be on the road.  There was that song they recorded on the bus, and you can hear the road noise in the background, and Russ is playing a cardboard box for a kick drum.  I just ate that stuff up! 

Oh, and those North Drums on the album cover...if you've never seen North Drums just know that they look like something you'd see at a Blue Man Group show.  Oh, but I digress.

If this video whets your appetite and you want to learn more about how to play drums...(and here comes the plug) Did I mention that in addition to being a studio and live drummer, I also teach lessons?  Check out my teaching site at www.durhamdrumlessons.com for more info and feel free to contact me with any and all of your drumming questions. If for some reason I can't help you, I can probably steer you in the right direction!

U2, Letterman, Eno and Band Dynamics

I'm looking forward to seeing U2 on Letterman this week.  Of course, I don't have TV to watch the show so, I'm hoping that I can see the footage on You Tube or on the CBS site.  We'll see if I get lucky.  Someone will surely post it.  Sure there are critics:

"If U2 truly wanted to make a dent, truly wanted to do something special, they would have played five nights a week on HULU!  There should be some kind of Web play."

But when I got to thinking about the late night options available to U2, Letterman is really the only the choice in my book.  And the fact that his show is in the old Ed Sullivan Theater (where the Beatles played!), and as a band what could be cooler and more exciting than spending 5 nights playing on that stage?  I don't think they are doing this so much as a marketing move, as they are because it just sounds like fun. (Or is their plan to mimic the Beatles:  performing impromptu on top of a British Landmark, then playing in the Sullivan theater?)

I'm sure there is a marketing angle to it, but not to the extent of what this guy says on his blog.  I mean, really, U2 can do whatever they want...and I bet this option sounded like fun to them and surely doesn't take as much work to make happen as doing something on HULU.  I look at this video and think that U2 could have picked a much bigger (meaning:  more room for the band, and camera crew) building to play off of in London, but instead chose to go with the BBC option (it looks more like a balcony than a rooftop to me).  I'm sure this was more fun than work for them, though it certainly took some work (the helicopter shots are beautiful) and serious planning to pull it off. 

So as I was trolling around the web last night finding out more info about U2 on Letterman, I found this cool little snippet of an article on the U2.com site:

'U2's chemistry relies on their empathy and respect for each other, but also on something intrinsic to Irish society - the attempt to keep everyone included. They just don't let things fall apart. So if somebody starts to feel they're not part of the process they are quickly brought back in. U2 have that tribal attitude: if you get ill it's not just your problem, it's the problem of the entire tribe. They do it not simply out of generosity but because that's how you get a good working community.'

And isn't community what it's all about?  I'd love to hear of that happening more in the music business.  When I was in Nashville, it always seemed that most band related decisions were made by lawyers and accountants who were always looking at the bottom line, with nary a thought about building a sustainable community which would continue to grow and prosper with time.

The rest of the article is a great read as well:

The Telegraph:  "So what happens, I wonder, when rivals to The Biggest Band in the World decide they want some of the Eno magic? Was it seen by U2 as a defection when he worked with Coldplay?

Eno:  "I realised it could have been, but there was no friction on either side. First of all they know each other. Bono said he thought it was a good idea. (note:  Here is the part I like, emphasis added by me) But I felt sensitive that in one computer I had all the work I was doing on Coldplay and all the work I was doing on U2 and I had to mentally keep them apart."

What Paul Harvey could teach us drummers:

I just found out that Paul Harvey is dead.  90 years young!  I remember hearing his radio shows and reading his columns (I think...I swear I used to read some of his stuff in the newspapers or Readers Digest growing up) when I was a child.  One of his signature delivery "tricks" was his use of silence:

"One of the things that radio broadcasters are taught from Day 1 ... is that dead air is a big no-no and it's only after years and years in the field that you realize that silence is your most powerful tool, [and] he did it better than anyone," said Edwards, who remembers listening in the back seat of his parents' station wagon. (excerpt from Chicago Tribune story)

I think many of us drummers are taught the same as broadcasters...silence is bad.  Better to fill up the silence with a barrage of notes, than to just sit there and do nothing.  Or maybe it's not that pronounced:  most young drummers tend to play 16th note fills more often than 8th note fills.  I think more times than not, an 8th note fill will do a better job at supporting the music you are playing than something quicker and more complex.

I think we drummers can learn from the way that Paul Harvey used silence to make his next word take on more depth of meaning and possibly surprise. The first drummer that comes to mind when I think of silence in the midst of a fill is Jeff Porcaro.  His fills (and I'm thinking specifically of a dotted quarter note spaced out over two measures or even dotted 8ths spaced out over a one bar fill) were famous for being spaced out over several beats so that when the band came back in, there seemed to be more emphasis and maybe even excitement on the downbeat.

But as I alluded to before, I think silence doesn't have to show up just in our fills.  It can show up in just playing more simple, less complex beats.  Holding back our "chops," so as to give the music we play greater depth and meaning.  Silence and space in our drumming and music can give our playing more depth, leaving the listener wanting more.

If you get a chance, check out one of Paul Harvey's signature radio broadcasts (if you haven't already) and listen to how he delivers his lines.  He doesn't rush the phrase and doesn't fill up the airwaves with extraneous information.  He tells a good story and then - wait for it - "the rest of the story."  His writers (writer?) were good, but his delivery took those words to the next level in how he performed them.

It might seem strange to think that a talk radio pioneer would have anything to teach us drummers, but I think if we approach and listen to Mr. Harvey's delivery and (pause....) his use of silence, we might find some concepts and ideas that we can apply to our own field of work.

RIP Mr. Harvery.  Thanks for telling great stories and being an inspiration to me.

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My Drumming On CD

  • Sixpence None the Richer: This Beautiful Mess

    Sixpence None the Richer: This Beautiful Mess
    The second CD Sixpence recorded was my first with the band. We tracked the rhythm tracks in 4 days at Omni Sound studios in Nashville. Armand John Petri produced and many fans say that this is their favorite Sixpence album.

  • Sixpence None The Richer: Sixpence None The Richer

    Sixpence None The Richer: Sixpence None The Richer
    The Grammy nominated, RIAA Certified Platinum selling album that featured the breakout hit, "Kiss Me." Produced by Steve Taylor and wonderfully engineered and mixed by Russ Long, with additional mixing by Bob Clearmountain. The follow-up hit, "There She Goes" was also later added to this album.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: The Best of Sixpence None the Richer

    Sixpence None the Richer: The Best of Sixpence None the Richer
    Includes the hits "Kiss Me," "There She Goes," and "Breathe Your Name" and many other of the songs I played on and helped promote during my 7+ years with the band.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: Tickets for a Prayer Wheel

    Sixpence None the Richer: Tickets for a Prayer Wheel
    Out-takes and B-Sides from Sixpence's "This Beautiful Mess" CD. There were some extended jams, a live track, some moody percussion and even a re-mix done by friend and former roommate, Sal Salvador. Not only does this CD feature my drumming, and vocals(!), but I make my producing debut on this album with an angst-filled vibey take on an old Patsy Cline song.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: Mega 3 Collection

    Sixpence None the Richer: Mega 3 Collection
    Includes Sixpence's first 3 CD's. Of these 3 CD's my drumming only appears on the 2nd and 3rd disc. The first CD featured the drumming of Chris Dodds, one of my favorite people and drummers.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: There She Goes

    Sixpence None the Richer: There She Goes
    CD single of the 11th hour addition to Sixpence's self-titled album which helped solidify Sixpence as a legitmate "Breakthrough Artist" according to R&R magazine. The song went on to become a Top 10 Single with an appealing video (featuring "Saving Private Ryan" star, Adam Goldberg), by director and good friend of the band, Brandon Dickerson.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: Breathe Your Name / Northern Lights

    Sixpence None the Richer: Breathe Your Name / Northern Lights
    CD single of the Top 20 hit, Breathe Your Name w/ non-album track Northern Lights, from Sixpence's Divine Discontent record. Both songs feature my drumming.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: Collage: A Portrait of Their Best

    Sixpence None the Richer: Collage: A Portrait of Their Best
    A compilation of the best tracks from the band's REX years. And yes, that's me in the corner with the beard and glasses.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: Kiss Me

    Sixpence None the Richer: Kiss Me
    Imported Single of the most played song from the year 2000. This song features my drumming and went to the top of the charts in over 10 countries (US, UK, Canada, Israel, Japan, etc...). I also appeared in all the videos and TV appearances that helped promote this song. Interesting side note: this song was chosen by Britain's Royal Family to be played for over 200 Million viewers during Prince Edward's 1999 wedding.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: I Can't Catch You

    Sixpence None the Richer: I Can't Catch You
    Import Single of a song from the band's self-titled album. This was one of the songs Bob Clearmountain mixed and it was honor to have him work his magic on my drum tracks!

  • ...The Basics: Grow
    I was really happy how this record turned out. An honest, well produced CD by a couple of North Carolina's (and Northern California's) best songwriters. I also took the photos that appear in the CD booklet.
  • [Various Artists]: City on a Hill: Collection

    [Various Artists]: City on a Hill: Collection
    I played on the first City on a Hill CD as well as a track or two on the second CD.

  • [Various Artists]: Return Of The Grievous Angel: Tribute To Gram Parsons

    [Various Artists]: Return Of The Grievous Angel: Tribute To Gram Parsons
    I played drums with the Rolling Creek Dippers, aka: Buddy and Julie Miller, Victoria Williams, Mark Olsen, Jim Lauderdale.

  • [Various Artists]: Roaring Lambs

    [Various Artists]: Roaring Lambs
    I played drums with Sixpence None the Richer, Emmylou Harris, Steve Taylor and percussion with Burlap to Cashmere on this CD.

  • [Various Artists]: Exodus

    [Various Artists]: Exodus
    I played with Sixpence None the Richer, Michael W. Smith, and Kenny Meeks on this CD.

  • Kim Taylor: So Black, So Bright

    Kim Taylor: So Black, So Bright
    I played drums on this CD that was produced by Jack Henderson. This is one of my favorite projects to have played on. Some of the tracks feature Linford and Karin from Over the Rhine as well.

  • Frankly Scarlet: Stories I've Heard
    I played and recorded with this band back when I lived in Dallas. We even shot a video...with the Dallas skyline as our backdrop.
  • [Various Artists]: Making God Smile: An Artists' Tribute to the Songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson

    [Various Artists]: Making God Smile: An Artists' Tribute to the Songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson
    I played drums and percussion (timpani, chimes, beat box) on Jason Harrod's version of "In My Room" for this Brian Wilson tribute album.

  • Rebecca St. James: Transform

    Rebecca St. James: Transform
    I played on a track produced by Matt Bronlewee, that featured the London Symphony Orchestra and some very "Bjork" sounding vocals by Rebecca. I think we did about 40 tracks of various percussion overdubs for this track too.

  • [Various Artists]: Never Say Dinosaur

    [Various Artists]: Never Say Dinosaur
    My first time to work with producer Brent Bourgeois and one of my first times in the studio with Sixpence. I borrowed a whole bunch of percussion from Steve Hindalong and had a great time overdubbing frame drums, rattan shakers and the like. The track ended up sounding very Daniel Lanois-ish with some Peter Gabriel-esq type layers thrown in for good measure.

  • Phantasmic: Fluffy Vs. Phantasmic
    "Rainy Day Assembly" appears on this record. This out-take from Sixpence's "This Beautiful Mess" session was used by Tess Wiley (aka, Phantasmic) and features shaker performed by percussion wiz Lalo Davila.
  • Honey: Lost on You
    I played on two tracks from this record produced by Dan and Steve from Jars of Clay.
  • [various artists]: Here On Earth (2000 Film)

    [various artists]: Here On Earth (2000 Film)
    This Soundtrack album features two songs I did with Sixpence, one a cover of a Sam Phillips/ T-Bone Burnett song: "I Need Love" and the other, the opening track ("We Have Forgotten") from Sixpence's self-titled record.

  • [various artists]: Snow Day: Music From The Motion Picture

    [various artists]: Snow Day: Music From The Motion Picture
    Sixpence's version of The La's tune, "There She Goes" is on this soundtrack album. And yes, I'm playing drums on that song...

  • [various artists]: Bounce: Music from and Inspired by the Miramax Motion Picture (2000 film)

    [various artists]: Bounce: Music from and Inspired by the Miramax Motion Picture (2000 film)
    Another song ("Love") I did with Sixpence from their self-titled album, appears on this soundtrack. Mark Nash and I played a drum duet of sorts to get the primal heavy-handed approach needed for this wonderful song.

  • [various artists]: Dick

    [various artists]: Dick
    One of my favorite tracks. Everytime I hear this song ("Dancing Queen"), I can't help but think of Alan Partridge.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: Divine Discontent

    Sixpence None the Richer: Divine Discontent
    Even though I quit playing with the band in 2001, the bulk of this record was recorded in 2000, and so my playing is featured on more than half the tracks on this record. Produced by Paul Fox, beautifully engineered by Mark Chevalier and mixed by Tom Lord-Alge.

  • Sixpence None the Richer: The Early Years

    Sixpence None the Richer: The Early Years
    New Sixpence compilation from the REX years. Includes songs and b-sides from the early work I recorded with Sixpence - pre "Kiss Me" era.

  • Steve Hindalong, et.al: City on a Hill: Reflections on Our Spiritual Journey (Ccm Book)

    Steve Hindalong, et.al: City on a Hill: Reflections on Our Spiritual Journey (Ccm Book)
    Okay, this is a book. But I wrote the first essay that appears in the book and took all the photos that appear as well. You can actually read my essay by clicking this link and "looking inside the book." Fun, huh?

  • Various Artists: Pointfolio 1.0

    Various Artists: Pointfolio 1.0
    A radio station compilation featuring in-studio and concert live cuts. Includes, Sixpence doing "Kiss Me"(with me on drums), and Fleming and John's "Ugly Girl", Dido, BareNaked Ladies, etc.

  • : Plumb

    Loops, fragments of songs and lots of percussion is what I remember from this session. Producer Dan Haseltine and Matt Bronlewee made this a fun and creative time in the studio. It was great to be a part of the debut album of such a phenomenal artist (am I gushing to much here?).

  • [various Artists] : Felicity: Senior Year (tv soundtrack)

    [various Artists] : Felicity: Senior Year (tv soundtrack)
    Features "Melody of You" a beautiful song by Sixpence None the Richer that I played drums on and was featured on the series final episode (I think).