UK Drum Show – September 21st, 2019 – Manchester

It was a bit of a palaver getting in to the venue. People had lined up promptly. I arrived there about 9.25am for the 9.30am start. The queue hardly moved in 30 mins. There was an appearance by Matt Garstka on the main stage due for 10am and many people who had paid to see it were still queued up outside at 9.55am. They were being filtered through by this point but they probably weren’t going to make it in. I hope Matt delayed things so people got in.

B690AC61-01A5-4E6D-8563-2ACD004389AF

I had booked to have a free drum lesson at the Trinity College booth for 10.15 and I just about made it in there. It was my first experience of an electronic kit. We were on Roland kits (can’t remember the model – lovely kit though) and had just a bit of basic tuition. We played along to Queen’s We Will Rock You and then to James Brown’s Hot Pants before going on to Blur’s Song 2 which did me in. Lol. It seems like it would be really straight forward, Song 2, but heck, there’s a whole lot of patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy stuff going on with that. Lol

I walked about a bit checking things out. Then I saw Emily Dolan-Davies and had a great chat with her and another man whose name I didn’t catch, but he was one of Nathan Shingler’s tutors. We had a good talk and he offered me some great pearls of wisdom in terms of how I get on with my own learning and stuff. I briefly met Nathan’s parents too.

E8522087-2226-4D8E-99C8-5CFAD5A68312

I went out for a bite to eat and then met up with fellow Minds fan Dave Kelly. We had a good chinwag and then went in to see Cherisse’s masterclass.

A fab masterclass it was too. We learned about Cherisse’s career. How she started out, who she’s drummed for professionally, as well as her performing demonstration medleys showcasing music from the acts she’s worked with.

Below are some vid from the masterclass of her talking about working with Mika and then talking about her time with Bryan Ferry and Paloma Faith and now her time with SM and showcasing a medley of Minds stuff (the observant amongst you will hear a little bit more of LITCoA ahead of its October 4th release).

She put on a great show and a really strong showcase of her immense talent. Jim’s tag of referring to her as “a little dynamo” is WHOLLY justified. For someone so petite, she has such power behind her! But also the subtlety when required.

 

She was doing a signing after the masterclass and I queued up just to say hi and to badger her for more lessons. Lol. Hopefully I’ll get to have a few in the weeks ahead.

As for kit that took my eye? Well, it needs to be about the sound and feel, but I was far too scared to test anything out. I have no real knowledge of what I want or need and a show like this isn’t really much of a buying experience for a complete beginner. Well, I don’t think anyway. So I was just looking at the aesthetics if kits. There was a beautiful looking Natal kit. The bass drums on the Natal’s are HUGE! I love the look of Rusty drums and there was a beautiful bass skin on display on their stall.

7E751073-3F81-41B2-9139-3115B7082127B0CFFE30-3DFB-4C13-91E9-35E24612C5556A1D0F6C-4631-465D-A3A9-546F3FFA4A94

But for looks and affordability, there was a lovely looking Gretsch there for £625. I know Dave Ruffy of Ruts DC plays on Gretsch kits and he always sounds awesome.

But Cherisse’s Tama kit looks and sounds amazing too. And I have been having most of my lessons on Pearl kits, so…how will I ever make my mind up?! Lol

After the brief chat with Cherisse and goodbyes with Dave, there was just time enough for another scoot about and a coffee over the road at the Costa before getting the coach back to London and onwards to home.

All in all, a fab day. I’d do it again.

Drum Lesson And Practice – June 29th, 2019

Yesterday was the first tuition I’ve had in two months. Gareth was great. Started me back right from scratch, really. We went right back to basics. We worked on stick grip, rudiments, grooves and fills.

I can’t really talk a lot about it…not really going into much detail. And it felt a lot to take in yesterday because I was so apprehensive about it, but really excited too. There was a lot to take in. Well, it felt a lot yesterday and because I’m so anxious about it all, not everything sinks in immediately.

I checked with Gareth that he wouldn’t mind me recording the lesson. He was fine with that. I won’t be sharing any of that, but I will still share a bit of my own practice here and there.

I’m really thankful that he’s okay with me recording because as it was with Cherisse, upon playback, things register better. My brain absorbs the information better and I always have it to reference it.

I’m about halfway through listening to yesterday’s lesson…and I just lost it. Gareth had me playing along to (rather ironically) No Woman No Cry…and I just started blubbing like a fool. I could just feel it and I could see him in the room with me, helping me keep to the beat, dancing around the room to it and it was just lovely thinking about it…and I just lost it, I feel like an idiot! (I’m crying all over again typing this out! I’m such an oversensitive idiot.)

I’ve just wanted this for so, so long. It was like the 8 year old me was in that room yesterday, learning.

As you get older…once you get to adulthood, you just think all this stuff is just too late. That it’s too late and you’ve missed your chance and it’s all gone. “Don’t bother now. It’s too late. You’re too old. You can’t afford it. And you’ll never learn. You’ll never pick it up. Your mind is young enough. You won’t be as much of a sponge.”

I still feel like that. The adult me says…”You’re 48! Why bother now? Where’s the money gonna come from? How will anything sink in?”

And then I was listening to the lesson and how it was all sinking in and just listening to the playing. Hearing myself play to Bob Marley…and it’s joyous and liberating and wonderful and that 8 year old is there inside saying “Wow. This is cool. I’m getting this. And my teacher is cool. And we’re having fun. And I’m learning and playing…”

And now my face is an absolute mess!

Such a silly cow.

So yesterday was wonderful. And I still want this. More than ever.

But how I continue to do? Who knows…

We’ll see.

Remote Musical Collaborations

A friend – Scott – has been really lovely in giving me encouragement and support with the drumming practice. He plays guitar and bass and has taken a few of my drum samples and added to them.

I never thought this would become “a thing”. That someone would want to use my drum parts to fool around with and add bits to.

I’m sure Scott wouldn’t mind me saying that it’s all very amateur, but I love these little remote jams. I am feeling like I am some pro muso working on actual music collaborations.

Thanks for the permission to share this little snippet, Scott.

He said I I could give it a title. Not sure what to call it, really. Perhaps seeing as Scott IS a Scot, we can call it “Razzy Jam”? Lol. I don’t know… All’s I know is, I like it 🙂

It’s a rough cut, not tidied up at the ends…in true “rough jam” fashion. “Razzy Jam” – with pips 😁

Drum Practice – June 23rd, 2019

Woke up mega tired. Didn’t sleep that well. Had silly trivial things (in the context of things) on my mind. Set out early today and got to Mill Hill in plenty o’ time.

I walk past the entrance to a park on my way to the rehearsal rooms each week. So with a bit of time to spare this week, I thought I’d take a quick detour. It’s an ordinary looking park. A decent size for play, etc. A few dog walkers were about. A lady passed me with her cute little Pomeranian in tow. I sat on a park bench for a few mins, setting the world to rights. Lol

I try and hit the studio each week without any overriding feelings of anything. Nothing too positive or negative. Just trying to stay balanced. It obviously doesn’t always work!

I’m getting used to the little routine I have when I enter the room to set up. Get the little recording device out and get that going. Grab the iPod Touch, over-ear headphones and ear protectors, to alternate between them as and when. Adjust the kit. It still drives me nuts (adjusting the kit), but it just has to be done. The day I have my own kit, and it is just ready for me every day….I’ll be kissing my drum kit with a greeting! Lol

I had two goes with my mix of songs. I tentatively tried to play along with fills and things. Really not as easy as it seems it will be doing the stick practice at home.

I also tried playing the backbeats to Glittering Prize. OMG! If Mel Gaynor was no longer with us, he’d have been rolling in his grave today! Lol. If he ever hears my attempt, he WILL die! Lol. 😂😂😂😂

But instead of just getting frustrated and angry, or despondent and disillusioned…I just tried to make it fun today. Just resign myself to it – in a positive way. Just accept there’s a way to go…but just relax. Just try to enjoy the time more. It’ll make the learning easier in the end. I spoke over the top of what I was “playing” and just took the piss out of myself.

One drumming session at a time. Tiny smatterings of progress MAY just happen that I don’t detect. I dunno. I’ve just got to get into the habit of embracing the frustrations and accepting them happening and see them as fun too. What I am doing is fun! I get to make a racket and hit and bash things for two hours.

This week I just tried to play along as confidently as my lack of actual musicality and expertise will allow. Just to loosen up and just have fun. I’ll even share a bit of my stuff on here, just because I think they’ll be funny. Just me waffling and playing and giving “critiques” to myself on the fly.

Next week, I am very, VERY excited about. AT LAST! I get tuition again! Not with Cherisse, as she is still on the road with Kelly Jones at the mo…and I think will have a few other things after the tour ends. So next week, Gareth will be my tutor. I really am overdue some tuition time. There is stuff I want to get moving onto and implementing. I need some routine with this. If I am serious.

I just feel like…I started the commitment, so I need to give it a good old stab for a while, you know?

Anyway. Appalling but funny snippets to come…and YAY to next week!

Drum Practice Samples – June 16th

I dunno whether there is any real point in sharing these…other than to have handy snippets for myself to log POTENTIAL progress. We’ll see…

The sample snippets are: me playing along to The Traveling Wilburys’ Handle With Care, some general practice incorporating hi hat pedal play and drum fills, and playing along to Make It Wit Chu by Queens Of The Stone Age – my crash plays are not inline with where the song’s crashes are. I was just trying to give myself ample practice. My cymbal playing and timing is diabolical…but there you go. I’m four months in…what do I expect?

F82C1276-0166-4526-A8DC-87D89B074124

Drum Practice – June 16th, 2019

Back to a full two hour session this week.

Weather wise, it was pissing it down when I left the house this morning. Then it stopped for a bit. Pissed down again. Then eventually stopped for good. Mercifully didn’t get too wet. Who’d believe it’s the middle of June, eh? Blow me!

Another small mercy. No train complications or anything. My 11.21 train was running and on time.

This week I took my over-ear cheap pair of Sennheisers with me. YES! Cheaper Sennheiser headphones do exist and they work just as well as the ones you’d pay hundreds for – I would think – I’ve never DARED invest more than £50 on a pair of ‘phones. I didn’t pay this much for these Sennheisers. Only about £20 and I’ve had them several years.

So, took the over-ear cans so I didn’t have to use the amp to play my mix of tracks that I practice playing along to at home. I had been missing the opportunity to play with them on the actual kit. Just hadn’t been very successful with setting up the play along at the rehearsal room right. ANYWAY, this week – fab! I needed the over-ears to get the ratio of hearing the tracks playing but also hearing myself playing in time (or at least TRYING to play in time) right. Got the sound levels right right off the bat and started playing along once I had the kit set as near as possible to my liking without wasting too much time on that. Must have been a kid in before me, as the snare was nearly on the bloody floor it was down so low. Lol. Snare was waaaay down, but the hi hat was higher than normal. Go figure *shrugs*

I just…got on with things this week. Just got on with business, like. When I am playing along to songs, I don’t do fills or crashes, because usually the fills and crushes and things are on the backbeat or on a separate time signature to the rest of the song. That I am now finding a bit frustrating. I want to start getting coaching on how I start to do that. I feel I really, REALLY need a lesson right now. Now, I THINK the Kelly Jones tour takes a small break for about 10 days or so after tonight’s London gig and Cherisse said to me she might be able to squeeze a lesson in…but it might not happen. So…I may be another month off having another lesson, which will just…kill me. Lol.

I think if she doesn’t do any tutoring until mid July, I might have to book a 90 intensive session just to feel like I am getting back on track properly.

In the mean time, next week is booked and ready to go, but looking ahead…July could be a bit iffy for practice. My Race For Life 10km event is on July 7th. I’ll be far too knackered after that to think about a practice session. I may think about altering it to the Saturday that week and maybe shortening it to just an hour. We’ll see. The other weekend in July that will affect things is the weekend of the Trevor Horn gig. I’ll be leaving for Glasgow at about 5am on the Saturday (July 27th) morning and won’t be back in London until 6.30am on Monday – so that knocks out any chance of anything for that weekend. UNLESS! I find a place in Glasgow I can practice in! Oooh…there’s a thought! We shall think on with that one!

I’m halfway through playing back practice. It doesn’t sound too bad. But I am just craving for some incremental advancements in tuition right now. But I felt fairly good this week. That’s the crux of it.

P.S. I meant to say. I walked 11km today. I was absolutely KNACKERED when I got home. When I was listening to my recording of my practice…I fell asleep! Lol. Maybe I am getting some musicality to my playing? Lol. I wish!

Here’s my drum practice mix I play to…

Giving Yourself A Break While Fighting The Black Dog

This evening I played the recording of Saturday’s practice back. And, okay, yep. I do think I am probably being incredibly hard on myself.

But… I need to be don’t I? Otherwise how the fuck am I ever going to get any better? Yes?

But… I am so thankful I took the advice of Emily Dolan Davies (click on her name to be taken to her fab website A Drummer’s Guide To) – otherwise I’d believe week after week that I am playing far worse than I am. It ebbs and flows, obviously. On Saturday I was SUPER down on myself. Just felt completely fucked up.

But I really wasn’t as bad as I thought.
YES! I still had my moments. I really did struggle with my hi hat timing and rhythm this week…but…I need to learn to give myself a break.

What makes it harder is when, at the point you are having your kit practice, not only are you questioning why you continue to do it, but you are questioning the much grander thought and perplexity of the existence of the entire human race.

Actually, this week was odd. For once I didn’t actually find myself questioning why I was there practicing. I suppose I felt I had much bigger fish to fry this week. What would be the point of me questioning why I was at drumming practice when I was more preoccupied with pondering why I am even here on the planet at all! Why we’re all here.

I feel the only why to fight the black dog is to suppress his bark. Engage a metaphorical mute button. Put earplugs in to drown him out. When he looks his most vicious…just smile at him. It’s hard. You have to just snap the brain (and this is just my own personal way around it…and thankfully it works most of the time – if it ever fails, I am going to be in BIIIIG trouble!) into that mindset. No matter how delusional it may feel. And it does to me. 100%! I feel I am absolutely deluding myself to put it at the back of my mind and smile and carry on.

The other way that also works is..acceptance. There is no rhyme and reason to us being here. We just…are. So…for whatever way you live your life…however way you live through it…just do it. And just…strive to be the best version of you that you can be.

So…no more about THAT “black dog”…let’s have THIS Black Dog instead!