Friday, February 24, 2012

[Playalong] Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water

Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water

Keep drumming ;)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What about hand drums?

It’s common for drumset players to be curious about hand drumming, and to eventually decide to buy their first set of bongos…or would congas be better…or perhaps a djembe?

Modern Drummer’s sister publication, Drum Business, recently ran an article hipping retailers to the current hand-drum trends, and much of what was covered in that piece would also be helpful to kit players looking to expand their skills. DB originally enlisted the help of Victor Filonovich at Toca Percussion, Glen Caruba at Pearl, Quincy Yu at Tycoon, Sue Kincade at Remo, and Chris Brewer at Meinl, and we’ll examine some of what these experts said in the original article and apply it to the needs of the novice player.

First, here’s a basic list of the primary hand drums of various regions and countries.

Africa: djembe (large goblet shape)
Brazil: pandeiro (frame drum with metal jingles, similar to a tambourine)
Cuba: conga (tall and narrow) and bongos (set of two small drums)
India: tabla (set comprising one small wood drum and one larger metal drum)
Ireland: bodhran (circular frame drum)
Japan: taiko (many variations of large-shell drums)
Middle East: doumbek (small goblet shape)
North America: hoop drum (circular frame drum)
Peru: cajon (wooden box)
Thailand: klong yao (long goblet shape)

That’s a lot of drums to choose from, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pearl’s Glenn Caruba suggests that the cajon could be the ideal entry point for set players looking to expand their percussive palette. “The cajon has multiple frequencies that emulate the sound of a drumset,” he explains, “and it’s very easy to play and mike.”

Chris Brewer at Meinl agrees. “Cajons are our top-selling hand drum because they’re such versatile instruments and are just plain fun to play,” he says. “The cajon can be used in so many different musical styles and settings, and it’s easy to play for beginners and novices.”

Toca’s top-selling hand drum is the djembe. “We have lightweight djembes as well as traditional-style models,” Victor Filonovich says, “and our djembes’ prices fit every budget, from inexpensive to premium models.”

“Remo’s key-tuned djembe has had great success,” Sue Kincade concurs. “With features like portability, tunability, durability, and playability, it’s [a good] choice for professionals, educators, and recreational drummers for all drumming activities.”

Tycoon has had a lot of success with its cajons and djembes as well. “Right now, our best-selling hand drum would be our Supremo series cajon,” Quincy Yu says. “Part of the reason is that cajons in general are one of the faster-growing markets in the percussion world. The other part is that cajons are affordable and durable instruments that can be used in so many different ways. Djembes have a similar ability, in that they can find their way to fit into music from around the world. Naturally, the wider the range of any instrument, the more styles it might find a way to be a part of.”

Congas might not produce low-end frequencies as well as djembes do, but they cross musical genres fairly easy. Bongos can work well in many settings too. “Congas, bongos, and djembes could be played in any genre of music,” Brewer says. “But some of this depends on how experimental the user is within the style that he or she is playing.”

Here’s a breakdown of the basic tones of cajons, djembes, and congas:

Cajon: moderate low end, woody mids, snappy high end
Djembe: big low end, warm mids, high-end “pop”
Conga: moderate lows, warm mids, high-end “slap”

Like the modern drumset, today’s hand drums are available in a variety of materials, which might play into your preferences for one instrument over another. “Natural products allow for natural sounds,” Filonovich says. “Also, natural products capture the beautiful elements of the wood. With a wood conga, bongo, or djembe, for example, you’ll see the natural beauty of the wood grain.”

“Natural materials are great because they’re safe, time tested, and very durable,” Yu adds. “The process of making wood congas, bongos, and cajons is fairly well established. Of course, each manufacturer’s different techniques are what give them their uniqueness.”

Synthetic materials have their own advantages. Caruba feels that they “produce brighter tones, are less affected by varying climates, and are greener to the planet.” Brewer points out the visual, sonic, and economic advantages of synthetic instruments. “Using man-made materials opens the door for new and exciting opportunities in unique sounds and appearances,” he says. “Along with being resistant to changes in weather, synthetic materials in some cases can also allow us to have more affordable options.”

Remo offers drums featuring lightweight synthetic Acousticon shells; the company’s Mondo synthetic drumheads offer additional benefits. “Weather-resistant and durable synthetic drumheads produce deep bass tones and sharp slaps in all weather conditions,” Kincade explains. “They stay in tune longer and are easy to maintain.”

The characteristics of natural versus synthetic construction are generally as such:

Natural materials: warm, round tones, tuning affected by climate changes, less durable
Synthetic materials: bright, sharp tones, less affected by climate changes, very durable

For individuals looking to purchase a hand drum for a youngster or beginning percussionist, djembes, congas, and cajons might be the best bet. According to Filonovich, “A djembe is very user-friendly because it can be played in different styles of music and it’s very easy to learn to play.” Adds Kincade, “Mondo djembes are very popular, lightweight, and easy on the hands. They’re durable, portable, tunable, and playable.”

Caruba chooses the cajon because it’s “easy to play, and a drummer can quickly relate to the kick/snare/hi-hat drumset patterns that can be emulated. It also doubles as a throne.” Similarly, Brewer prefers cajons. “They’re fun and easy to play,” he says, “even without a proper musical background or teaching. Through its bass tones and slap, a cajon allows the player to create a wide variety of beats and sounds.” Yu feels that “congas, bongos, and djembes are great for beginners. Learning congas or djembe teaches a player to achieve three different sounds—open tone, bass tone, and slap tone.”

Answering a few simple questions could help your decision making: What type of music are you looking to use the drum for? What is your price range? What materials would you prefer your drum be made from? Once you whittle down the options, go to your local drum dealer and try out a few different models to see which one feels like the best match. Good luck!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Drummer: John Bonham

John Bonham is the most influential Rock Drummer of all-time.

Describing the style of John Bonham's drumming instantly conjurs up visions of the thunderous power he created. His contributions to rock music were revolutionary, and his talent unmatched and irreplaceable. You can only imagine Jimmy Page's reaction to first seeing him in 1968, ending his search for a new drummer to form a new band, the New Yardbirds (later renamed Led Zeppelin.)

A childhood friend of Robert Plant, they played together in the 'Band of Joy', resulting in local gigs and a few studio demos. At first, Bonham was reluctant to join the well-known guitarist because of a steady gig with Tim Rose. But... the rest of history...

As John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have all stated many times, Led Zeppelin wouldn't have been half as good without him. Along with JPJ, they provided the solid foundation and backbone of the band, which made it all possible. Live performances truly showcased his abilities during the numerous improvised jams throughout every concert and of course his famous "Moby Dick" drum solo; reaching a half-hour in length at times! Immitators are usually left frustrated, since Bonham made it look so easy - not only in his playing but also in the incredible drum sound he acheived. His legendary right foot (on his bass pedal) and lightning-fast triplets were his instant trademark. He later refined his style from the hard skin-bashing approach to a more delicate wrist controlled one - which produced an even more powerful & louder sound with less effort.

His tragic passing on September 25th, 1980 immortalized his legacy forever. His only son, Jason proudly continues the tradition. Daughter Zoe also has a strong interest in music and is experimenting with her own original material. John's sister Deborah is a highly acclaimed & talented singer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Modern Drummer Interview with Jason Bonham

The rumors started spreading months before the official press release went out: “Led Zeppelin is getting back together and they’re going on tour.” MD, like everyone else, was getting excited at the possibility. Was it true? We made calls and sent emails back and forth. And we tried to speak with Jason Bonham–son of famed Zep drummer John Bonham and likely heir to his throne–to find out the scoop. But frankly, it wasn’t so easy, since every writer and magazine in the world was thinking the same thing.

After a few attempts, we finally hooked up with Jason. The plan to have him on the cover of MD asap to announce the reunion went into action. Unfortunately, jazz icon Max Roach passed away, and that plan had to change so MD could honor the legend in a timely, respectful way.

But details have a way of working themselves out, and here we are, getting the inside skinny on the most anticipated rock reunion–certainly of this young century, and perhaps of the past twenty years.

On December 10, all three surviving members of Led Zeppelin–Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones–were joined by Jason Bonham, a respected journeyman drummer in his own right, to play a tribute concert for Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. As an indicator of just how huge an event this was, 90,000,000 people (!) tried to get tickets for a show at a concert hall that only holds 17,000.

Jason Bonham was born on July 15, 1966, to parents Pat Phillips and John Henry Bonham. Most rock fans are familiar with the story of Jason’s father and the gargantuan impact he made on music and on drumming. But many are unfamiliar with Jason’s journey to rock stardom, from his early fascination with drums and dirtbikes, to his not-always-easy career in the music business.

By following his passion for the drums, Jason would forever be burdened with living up to his dad’s legacy as “the greatest rock drummer ever.” Of course, having a famous drummer for a father has had certain advantages. But the Bonham name also brought on more pressure than any other drummer would ever have to live up to.

Jason’s career certainly had its ups and downs, but the passion he had for being the best drummer he could be would always burn in his heart. At seventeen he formed his first band, Air Race, and later joined Virginia Wolf (whose record was produced by Queen drummer Roger Taylor). In 1988, he joined Jimmy Page for his Outrider record and tour, and that same year he played for the first time as an “official” member of Led Zeppelin when the band reunited for Atlantic Records’ Fortieth Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden.

Jason’s first solo album, The Disregard Of Timekeeping, was released in 1989 to critical acclaim. After his second solo album, Mad Hatter, Bonham concentrated on session work, including supporting Bad Co. singer Paul Rodgers on the Grammy-winning Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute To Muddy Waters. In 1994, Jason appeared at Woodstock II with Slash and Paul Rodgers. In 1995, the drummer represented his father when Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, where he sat in for an unrehearsed reunion that featured Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler.

Soon after that, Jason put together another solo project, this time focusing on the songs of Led Zeppelin, titled In The Name Of My Father, with proceeds from the album going to charity. From 1999 to 2003, Jason drummed for Healing Sixes. In 2000, he appeared in the film Rock Star. And in 2006, Jason breifly became a TV star on VH1’s reality showSupergroup.

Following an album and tour with his aunt Debbie, the younger sister of his dad, Jason joined the classic hard rock group UFO. Also in 2006, he recorded with guitar slinger Joe Bonamassa. And for the past few years, he’s been touring constantly with Foreigner. Without question, Jason has had an impressive career.
So how is Jason preparing to play with Zeppelin–and how will that first show go? The following interview took place–by coincidence–on a very special day in late September.

MD: As you know, today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of your father’s passing.
Jason: Yeah, I know. I didn’t actually think about it until this morning, when I got up and said to my kids as they were squabbling on their way out of the door for school, “You know what day today is?” And they said, “Of course, it’s Tuesday.” [laughs] It’s good we can talk about it all today. And with all the things that have been going on, it’s pretty special.

MD: Speaking of which, when did you start rehearsals for the Zeppelin show?
Jason: We started back in June. Basically we got together to see if we were going to do something, to see how it would play out and how it would sound–and whether we would all get along. Our first get-together lasted three days, which was mainly two days of playing and one day of planning. And then I heard nothing from them for about a month and a half.

MD: And I’m sure that left you thinking: Did they like it or not?
Jason: Exactly! I’m like, were they kidding me in the room at the time when they were saying it was great? I thought, whatever it is, it’s something they have to talk together about and be comfortable with. That’s the main thing. This is not being done for money. It’s purely because they wanted to play together again.

MD: So how was it playing with them?
Jason: It was a very emotional and amazing experience. I walked in a boy, but they made me feel like a man when I walked out. I felt all grown up. I felt taller…it felt like I could speak on the same terms and I didn’t feel like that young sweet boy anymore.

MD: So you felt you held your own.
Jason: Yes, and they were all very encouraging. You have to remember, for the past fifteen, twenty years, people have always asked, “When are you guys going to get back together?” So to finally have it happen, it was a bit overwhelming at first, because I had kind of put it to rest in my mind. “This is not going to happen, move on.” Of course, as soon as I moved on, it came back to bite me. That was actually a good thing, because once I stopped expecting that seat to be mine, instead of being cocky, I actually started to doubt myself, which all led to me being a different human being and a lot more honest with myself. It made me go back and really listen, instead of assuming that I knew it all and that I’m the rightful heir to that drum seat. Nonsense! You get the gig if you can play it. I had a foot in the door, but there’s also more pressure on me than there might be on another drummer.

Pick up the February 2008 issue of Modern Drummer to read the full interview with Jason Bonham.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Latin Percussion - February Clinic Tour

Sun, Feb 5th & Mon, Feb 6th
University of Wisconsin
Madison School of Music
455 North Park St.
Phone: 734-883-3272

Tue, Feb. 7th 
Syracuse University
215 Crouse College
Syracuse, NEW YORK
Phone: 315-373-6126

Sat, Feb 11th
667 Westfield Road
Scotch Plains, NEW JERSEY
Phone: 908-757-7555

Sat, Feb 11th
35 W. 4th Street
New York, NEW YORK

Sat, Feb 11th
35 W. 4th Street
New York, NEW YORK

Sat, Feb 11th
35 W. 4th Street
New York, NEW YORK

Mon, Feb 13th
University of Mississippi
Room 116 Education Bldg
Phone: 662-915-5665

Wed, Feb 15th
Alabama State Univ.
Tullibody Music Bldg #404
915 S. Jackson Street
Montgomery, ALABAMA
Phone: 334-229-4346

Thu, Feb 16th, 7 – 9 pm 
1003 Pacific Avenue
New York, NEW YORK
Phone: 212-741-0091

Thu, Feb 16th
Valley City State Univ.
“Band Day”
101 College Street SW
Phone: 701-845-7271

Fri, Feb 17th
Bethune Cookman Univ.
Larry Handfield Bldg #202 
Daytona Beach, FLORIDA
Phone: 386-481-2746

Fri, Feb 24th & Sat, Feb 25th
Westlake Auditorium
99 North 200 West
Saratoga Springs, UTAH
Phone: 801-763-0200

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chad Smith Clinic at the Collective NYC

Chad Smith will be performing a clinic at the Collective on Thursday, February 9th at 7PM. Students and the public are welcome. Click here to visit the Collective website.

Keep drumming! ;)