“It was another great weekend at the National Drum Fair, in my home town Birmingham and it was nice to see some new faces. This is the 11th year and the fair continues to attract more stalls and visitors alike.
As always there were some interesting drum sets of a very high standard on display.
And if you wanted that special part you have been looking for years you will more than likely find it among the stalls this weekend, that’s for sure.
I visited the show on Sunday and was fortunate to see Clark Tracey playing with his trio, which was really fantastic and also Pete Cater gave a great master class on technique.
I had a good wander round the stalls and meet people I only get to see at the fair.
A a good time was had by all and the “A” team did a great job as always. Yes, I am talking about Garry, Simon and Matt.”
Following on from the last installment I’m pleased to say that the Script video (‘Millionaires’) has been released and you can see my two seconds of glory on Youtube and add to the 2,200,000 hits as of the time of writing.Oddly the phone hasn’t rung once as a consequence but Claudia who cuts my hair (more frequently than you might imagine!) was most impressed.
More vintage pedal fun and games; following on from my recently acquired 70s Speed King I got bitten by the bug to pick up a Gretsch Floating Action. These pedals are not anywhere near as plentiful as Speed Kings but an appeal on Facebook brought about the right result. My good friend Gary Willcox (great jazz drummer too!) spotted the post and came up trumps. He even agreed to deliver it to a gig I was doing for the Way Out West jazz collective in Richmond. With no adjustment I put the pedal on the bass drum hoop and waited for the gig to start.
Amazingly this simple, old fashioned piece of kit gave me all the power I could wish for and I’ve found my bass drum foot facility has actually improved, and that I’m able to play things I’d previously only thought about playing, with absolutely no effort at all. Sometimes the latest, shiniest, most expensive piece of equipment is not necessarily the best option.
Like all city dwelling drummers the opportunity for me to work out on real drums can be a bit of a challenge. Either you compromise by using pads or end up dipping your hand in your pocket to hire rehearsal space. This I tend to do when there’s a really big gig to prepare for but for day-to-day practice that can start to get a little expensive. Mindful of this I’m currently working on developing a couple of ideas whereby it would theoretically be possible to play live drums (real heads, not mesh) but reducing the decibels by as much as 90 percent. I’m not going to give too much away at this juncture in case it turns into a big hit and ends up being my pension!
More gigs with Vasilis Xenopolous’s new quintet; the usual rapturous reception at the Eagle in Rochester on July 14th, with Ealing Jazz festival on 24th, Croydon on 28th and then two days in the studio to commit this music to tape. (OK, I know it isn’t tape any more but it just sounds right). After looking at a few options we plumped for Kool World studios in Luton, which in the last week of July was anything but cool. More like being in a sauna if anything. Anyway, having spent a little time post sessions listening back over what we had done, I had that rare feeling of near total satisfaction with what I had recorded. It’s with out a doubt some of the very best small group jazz I’ve had the pleasure of capturing in the studio. The album is due out at the year end and will be entitled ‘Wind Machine’, (No juvenile gags please!) The sessions were made all the more pleasurable by the deployment of my 1958 transition badge c-o-b Super Ludwig snare. Since acquisition it had been sitting at home being occasionally admired, and I decided the time had come for it to see some serious action. I had such a blast playing it that it’s been out on a few special occasions since.
The next outing for the Super Ludwig turned out to be the Freddie Gee camp at Sparsholt College, Winchester. The FG event is the longest running and most successful of its kind and it’s always a great pleasure to be invited to go and share skills and information with a room full of enthusiastic drummers. This year I’ll was teaching alongside my great friend Steve White, together with Craig Blundell and Gregg Bissonette.
My day as guest tutor was divided into four groups with a broad range of ages and experience. I was mostly talking about jazz, improvisation, and creativity. However, much excitement arose from my use of a squeaky dog ball to help illustrate part of my approach to stick grip. Want to know more? Coming to the free seminar at this year’s National Drum Fair and I’ll tell you everything.
In the evening at drum camp I did a short clinic for all the attendees as well as my fellow tutors. It was a real buzz to perform in front of three such heavyweights as Steve, Gregg and Craig, and no, I wasn’t nervous! Thanks again to George Frederick for inviting me to participate in this great event.
September highlights include a concert with my big band at Millfield School in Somerset and of course the UK Drum Fair itself.
See you all there.