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Gain insight into the drumming world from the pros.  We will feature coulmns from the guys that are rockin' arenas across the country.  No drumming topic will be avoided! 
When Your Health Knocks You Down
by Lee Kelley
                                        
     When anyon
e sets out to be a musician, there is one thing that doesn’t really come to the forefront of the thought process…Personal health.  Because being a musician is a somewhat taxing physical career and we just barrel through days, weeks and years of gigs, we tend to follow the mentality of “the show must go on.”  Think about how many gigs you have played with a cold, flu, a muscle pulled or torn, or even worse.   Sometimes your health is as such that the show cannot go on but may have to go on without you.  So what happens when you have spent years playing only to have a health issue come up that is unavoidable and has to be dealt with, even at the cost of having to step away from playing for a bit.  This is what happened to me during the back half of 2008.
      It all started innocently enough with a day on the lake in early August.  In the latter half of the afternoon, we were hanging out with friends from my fiancée’s, Denay, work.  We decided to go cliff jumping on one of the islands.  Well, I decided to take a jump from the highest point of about 42 feet.  Probably not one of the smartest decisions, you know?  I jumped and instead of landing perpendicularly straight in the water, I landed at a slight angle.  This felt like my lower back was slammed against a concrete floor, knocking the wind out of me in the process.
     Once I came back to the water’s surface, I knew something was wrong.  My back was in very intense pain and my mobility was limited due to that discomfort.  I slowly got back to the boat with a little help with someone pulling me part of the way with their jet ski.  Denay and friends helped get me back on the boat and seated but I knew this was really bad.  I got our jet ski back from the friend riding, slowly got it back to the launch, got it on the trailer, towed it back to our house and unhooked the trailer….all while in this extreme pain.
     I made my way in the house and upstairs to lay down and wait for Denay to get home from where they were parked at the local marina.  Every little movement shot pain through my back and down my legs.  I got as comfortable as possible (no easy feat) with 3 pillows to support my lower back.  My fiancée got home and had some back and body medicine for me so I took the pills and sat back hoping for my back to have a bit of relief.
     That relief did not come in 1, 2, 3 or 4 hours, even with extra medicine.  The pain got worse and my body became more stiff, to the point of screaming at almost any movement.  With a road trip for two shows with Mark Chesnutt, my main artist gig at the time, coming up the following weekend, I made the choice to call the band leader, Slim Yamaguichi, and try to set up a substitute for those shows dependant on what my doctor’s prognosis was the following day.
      I made an appointment with my doctor, Dr. Michael Beckham, the next morning to see him that afternoon.  He decided it was a severe sprain, put my on some prescription medication and suggested that I sub out the upcoming gigs to let my back get better.  What amounts to a total of around 42 hours on a bus (just under 2700 miles) with setting up and playing a couple of 2 hour shows that soon after the injury was not advisable in the least.  I went home, got in touch with Slim, subbed the gigs out, took some medication and prepared to just rest and let my back heal.
     A couple days into this I noticed a strange development.  One of my inguinal hernias that I had as an infant looked like it had ruptured.  Upon another trip to Dr. Beckham, he pointed me toward Dr. John Boskind to have it examined.  Sure enough, my suspicions were correct.  Luckily it wasn’t serious enough to need to be repaired right then so went back home to rest for another week or so before having to be back on the road.  Just had to make sure to not strain myself or lift anything heavy.
       After a couple of weeks of working both in town, on the road and my back feeling a little better, my hernia was beginning to irritate me a little more.  Nothing too painful, just uncomfortable.  I decided then it was time to get with Dr. Boskind about getting it put back in place.  Scheduling the surgery for a month or so later, I went back to playing and continued to avoid any overly strenuous activity.  I also went over this situation with Chesnutt’s band leader to arrange for a substitute in order for me to spend 2 weeks, of the recommended 4, healing from the surgery.
     The last run I would make with them started on September 18th, 2008 and went for the next 14 days.  In those 14 days, we would travel a total of 6,500 miles and play 6 gigs….2 in Texas, 3 in California and 1 in Washington State.  During this run, my discomfort continued and I can safely say between the ridiculous amount of travel with minimal gigs, my growing frustration of working for an organization with no progressive thinking with no control over that, along with the pain, discomfort, medication (prescribed, over the counter and extra curricular), it didn’t make me the most pleasant person to be around, to say the least.  I was looking forward to getting on with the surgery and healing process and subbed out the next two road gigs over two weeks.  I also decided to take a full month off from any in town work that was a regular thing or that came up.
      The operation day came and went without much of a hitch.  I then kicked back to let it heal as the pain and discomfort was quite something to deal with.  Just going through the days as lightly as possible and taking the medications required by the doctor.  I would only take the prescribed medications as directed and no more, trying to wean myself off of them slowly as I realized during this process how easy it would be to become addicted to the pain killers given to me.  I did however notice myself getting a bit winded from simple things like walking upstairs in our house.  Just figured that was due to the surgery I just went through and just expected it to clear up as I healed.  More on that later.
     The following weekend, my second weekend off the road, Denay decided to do some painting in the kitchen and I was feeling somewhat well enough to try and do some light work.  Not only in weight, but we literally had a couple of new lights to replace the old ones outside our front and back entrances.  It was a pretty nice day.  A warm day in October but not too hot, I decided to give it a shot since it didn’t seem too strenuous to hang a light or two.
     It began all well and good.  Got about 2/3rds through the project and got extremely winded and dizzy.  I sat down on the patio for a minute thinking it was just momentary, but a cold sweat broke out and Denay insisted I go inside and lay down, as I probably should have been doing to begin with.  A couple hours later I felt better and finished that one, but figured I better call Chesnutt’s band leader to discuss my stamina concerns.
     I called Slim on October 12th to discuss my stamina issues and concerns with him, how I would be coming back on the 18th, but would still need a good bit of help getting my kit up and down.  Upon this call, Slim informed me that Chesnutt and his management have decided to make a change with me being let go.  In other words, I am fired while healing from hernia surgery.  As I stated before, I was not the easiest person to travel or play with at this point, so I can’t say I blame them really.
     This was, however, quite a shock as anyone can imagine.  Luckily for me, my family was amazingly supportive.  They all have understood the precarious and bohemian lifestyle of a musician, especially my fiancée.  While I couldn’t really see the forest for the trees, so to speak, she immediately believed, without a shadow of a doubt, this change was something that should be taken for great advantage.  She was right.
      Denay said not to worry and take the actual 4 weeks to heal.  After that time, get back to playing my in town gigs, slowly get back in the loop for more road work, but most importantly, just look forward to the joy of our upcoming wedding the following month.  Sounded great to me.
      I figured it would be a good idea to give the guy I play with in town, Craig Campbell, to let him know what had gone down with the road gig and that I will be back to work in the next few weeks after fully healing.  Figured it was wise to take that much time off from this gig since it was a club gig of usually about 3 to 3½ hours of playing with about a 20 minute break in the middle.  I didn’t figure I could pull off that long behind the kit with just a couple weeks of healing.
      Guess what happened??  Craig had decided to make a change as well, keeping the guy who was subbing for me.  That was actually more of a shocker than the first blow, but I figured my health and how it was affecting my outward treatment of others was what contributed to this as well.
       Ok…what do I do now??  My health has knocked me out of both my main gigs.  Once again, my wife said don’t worry about it, just heal and then get back out and network.  That’s what I have always done if something has knocked me back…just pull up the bootstraps and head back at it.  This was a bit different of a feeling though.
       While the hernia was healing and my mobility was getting better, I still couldn’t shake the problems with my stamina.  I was still finding myself winded over the least little things.  Having to sit down on the bed after going upstairs just really baffled me, but I figured this would go away over time of healing.  I also guessed the weight I had lost from inactivity or loss of appetite would come back on in time.
        With reality setting in that I had NO work at this point, other feelings started to seep into my psyche.  These were feelings that I normally do not have to deal with as I am a pretty “up” person, although emotional as most passionate, artistic people are.  These were dark feelings, scared feelings, worried feelings.  The kinds of thoughts you have when the carpet you have walking on comfortably for 20 years of playing has been pulled out from under you. 
       Then the questions start to come to yourself.
“What am I going to do?”
“Will I be able to find some more work?”
“Is there more work to be found?”
“How am I going to contribute to my upcoming marriage?”
      Those are just a few of the things that began to run through my mind with so much time suddenly on my hands.  The scariest question that continued to pass through on an almost daily basis was this…..
“IS IT OVER??”
       Are my days of playing drums for a living over??  Let’s be honest, popular music has always been a kind of “young man’s game.”  At 40 years old, healing from a surgery and the gigs I had gone, this is not an easy thought to keep out of one’s head.  More to the point, that thought is SCARY AS HELL.  While it is difficult to put into words how dark the thought got, just know that the worst did pass through a couple times.
      These thoughts and questions began to send me into a bit of a depression on many days.  As I said before, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees and had NO idea how I would walk out of these problems.  Denay just stayed by my side in every way possible and then some reminding me again and again to just enjoy the well needed break from everything and, most importantly, to enjoy our upcoming November wedding and honeymoon cruise.  I tried my best to take her advice and keep focused on all that lay ahead of us.  The wedding quickly approached, turning my thoughts more positive as the days passed.  Denay continually helped in holding my chin up and suspend my heavy heart to a better place.
      We married in the middle of November, surrounded by a gracious bunch of family and friends.  The following day we took off for our week long cruise in the Caribbean.  All this positive activity in my life with my now wife really pulled me out of the darkness that I had experienced in the past month and a half.  I felt GREAT.  Only got winded on one excursion on the honeymoon in which we had to run about 200 to 300 yards through woods.  Other than that, my indigestion that had been with me since my early 30s was the only real discomfort I felt.
      Denay and I came back home and I began to set my mind at “getting back in the game” the only way I knew how, go back out to start networking and sitting in again.  Basically, just letting people know I was looking to get back to playing.  This sent me back to square one of playing for a living in Nashville.  Not only had I been off the radar for 2 months, I had been off for so long that my formally callused hands were completely smooth.  This was the first time for that since before high school when had no place to practice during summers in South Carolina.
      Anyway from then though Christmas, I picked up a gig here and there.  Got through the first part of December, had two wisdom teeth pulled right before Christmas, Denay and I went to visit my family for Christmas…all with not too much of a problem.  My weight was still lower that it had been in years but stable.  The acid reflux I had dealt with for years was still there but seemed to be somewhat under control taking antacids after every meal or when needed.  I was still getting a little winded but it seemed to be improving with time.  We came back from Christmas in the Carolinas on December 26th in time for me to have a split double shift in the downtown honky tonks the following day, 2pm-6pm at one club and later that night from 10pm-2am at another club up the street.  Showing her unyielding support, my wife decided to come hang out during these gigs.
      I began the afternoon gig feeling positive but a little winded.  As I’ve done for years, I just played though any sickly feelings I may have had until, about 2/3rd a way through the gig, I couldn’t fight it and had to excuse myself from the stage.  Immediately upon getting in the bathroom, I got violently ill, throwing up black.  This went on for about 30 minutes.  I eventually gained composure enough to finish the gig, but knew I couldn’t do the second gig.  The weakness was overwhelming.  Got a sub for the late gig and Denay and I started heading to the truck.  Going up the hill from the clubs, I got violently ill once again.  Denay said, “That’s it, you are going to the doctor on Monday.”  I didn’t argue as I knew I had hit the tipping point of something serious.
      We got to Dr. Beckham’s office as soon as possible on Monday.  He immediately noticed my weight loss and ran blood tests on me.  They found me to be suffering from severe anemia along with a massive loss of blood.  He said I was missing about 5 pints of blood, which is about half the blood in the human body, and the fact that I walked in of my accord and was sitting up talking to him was unbelievable.  He admitted me to the hospital at once to get an IV in me to replace the massive amounts of diminished blood while also scheduling an Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD) to find out what was causing the blood loss.  I laid in the hospital the rest of the day with the IV feeding me blood, my wife at the bedside the whole time.
     Over the previous months, I guess my skin color had very slowly turned very white and sickly looking due to the blood loss.  Because my wife and I were with each other almost all the time, we didn’t notice this extreme change.  As my blood supply was being replenished, Denay began to notice the rosy color coming back into my hands and my face.
      The next morning the took me down and put me under for the EGD.  I awoke several hours later to Denay looking very distraught.  They had found a bleeding ulcer at the bottom of my esophagus caused by years of acid reflux.  That wasn’t the worst news but, Denay said that it might be CANCEROUS!!!!  Yes, she had been informed while I was out that her new husband might have esophageal cancer.
      Now, I don’t know what made me feel like this, but I had a feeling of calm come over me.  I looked at my wife and said, “It’s not cancerous.”  I don’t know why but I just KNEW.  She relaxed a little and the Doctor of Gastroenterology, Dr. Lee,
was notified that I had come around.
      Dr. Lee came in to give us the news.  While the ulcer was massive and the cause of the internal bleeding, upon further inspection, the ulcer was NOT cancerous.  She told us I would be put on prescriptions of both iron pills to help sustain my blood levels and a double dose Nexium each day to get the acid reflux under control along with subsiding the ulcer.  Denay and I breathed much more at ease knowing this was the cause of my weight loss and stamina problems and that with the correct treatment, everything will be alright.  I just laid back and continued enjoying the O-positive cocktail being fed into my veins for the rest of the day until I was released.
     Since then I have continued to take the medication advised by my doctors.  My stamina problems went away almost at once and my weight is back up and then some, especially with my appetite completely restored.  I recently had a follow-up EGD to see how the ulcer is and am happy to report that it is almost non-existent.
      On the gig front, I am back in action in a great way.  After spending 2009 rebuilding my musical career and playing with Jeremy McComb (www.jeremymccomb.com) both in town and on the road dates…Watch out for that guy!!!  I began 2010 with starting on the road with Heidi Newfield (www.HeidiNewfield.com), which has to be one of the most positive experiences in the 20+ years in doing this crazy job.  Other work comes in on a regular basis and things are looking more positive every single day.
     Personally, my wife, Denay, and I continue to build our new life together.  Spending as much time together as possible each and everyday.  I make sure to thank her on an almost daily basis for understanding what I do for a living and the crazy schedule that comes along with it.  I can safely say, if it wasn’t for her love and caring support, I would absolutely not be here to write this article.  She literally saved my life….without a doubt.
     Denay & I also welcomed a son on Easter Sunday of 2010, Dylan Lee Kelley.  What a great gift to have in your life as your health comes back around.  He is amazing and along with Denay is a great reason to take care of myself so I can take care of them.
      For years and years, music and playing was the end all, be all to my existence.  Due to the medical problems I went through, my focus has changed for the positive.  While I will hopefully always be lucky enough to make my living playing music and experience the joy of creating that music, I want to give as much of myself to my family and home life as possible while continuing to work. 
    In closing, I can give a little advice to those of you who may be going through any type of trouble that may affect your health or your playing status. 
      First, if you think you may have health issues….pay attention to any warning signs and please get to a doctor and have them addressed.  They are there to help you but you HAVE to be the one to walk in and see them.
      Second, keep playing fun in your life.  If you are in a gig that just makes you miserable, maybe it is time to look for a change somehow.  How you change it is up to you but there is no sense in staying in an unpleasant situation.  It can only drag you down along with those with whom you come in contact.  We ALL started playing music because it was fun….Keep it that way.
      Finally, remember that those who love and support you come first.  I am talking of your family and true friends.  These are the people that will be with you through the good times and the tough times.  May you all have more good times than bad ones.  Good luck and Good Groovin’.


Thanks, 
Lee Kelley
Nashville, TN
www.myspace.com/leekelleyondrums
www.facebook.com (Look up Lee Kelley in Nashville, TN)

 

The Artist Gig:

Playing the Parts from the Album
&
Incorporating Your Own Ideas
by Ben Jackson 
        

         
     One of the questions I get asked about most often is when I play an artist gig, do I
play exactly what’s on the record or do I change the parts for the live show? The
answer, at least for me, is to play whatever will best support the artist and make him/her
the most comfortable. Knowing when to play a part exactly like the record and when it’s
a good idea to change it up can be tricky. Every artist is different, and sometimes, it can
even change show to show. The challenge is in knowing when it’s time to stick to the
original part and when it’s time to make a change.

ORIGINAL RECIPE

When you are auditioning or when you first get the gig it’s a good idea to play the part
down just as it was recorded. At that point, you’re new to the gig and don’t yet know the
artist’s preferences and how the band is used to approaching the music. Your safest bet is
to go in and nail the parts just as they were recorded, giving your playing the best chance
of fitting into what’s happening musically. This will also show your artist and
bandleader that you have taken the time to learn the material and represent it accurately.
To get an idea of how close the band is sticking to the record, try to get your hands on
some recent live recordings and compare the parts being played live, to those on the
album. You will also ALWAYS want to retain any standout or signature drum parts/fills
that are really recognizable, and are important to the song.

THE RULE OF CHANGE

Once you’ve been on the gig for a while, and are comfortable with the material, the band
and the artist, then it becomes more of a matter of interpretation. Ultimately, your job is
to make your artist look and sound as great as they can, so whenever the idea of changing
something comes up, I refer to this fundamental rule. ONLY MAKE A CHANGE IF IT
WILL INCREASE THE COMFORT LEVEL OF THE ARTIST, THEREFORE,
ALLOWING HIM/HER TO HAVE A BETTER PERFORMANCE. This rule helps me
eliminate any ideas that are selfish in nature such as playing a cool lick or fill that serves
no purpose other than to showcase myself. As part of the rhythm section we are
SUPPORTING our artist, therefore, any changes should only be made on the basis of
making the artist’s job easier, and enhancing the performance.

KNOW YOUR ARTIST

Every artist is different and has a different philosophy. Some artists are very particular
about the live show representing the album note for note, other artists want the live show
to have its own personality and feel, and encourage the musicians to put their own stamp
on the music. Knowing your artist’s preferences can be the difference in keeping or
losing a gig, so take some time to ask your bandleader, or if he/she is accessible, the artist
themselves. Most artists will fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and it will be
up to you to make those decisions.

HOW DO I DECIDE?

I always take the approach that I’ve been hired not just to be a living record player, but a
human being that will make good, musical decisions that are always in the best interest of
the entire group. Many musicians can play a part, but fewer can use their ears and good
musical judgment to play what best fits the situation, so let that be your guide. Be aware
of what the other members of the band are playing, and how that compares to the
recording and what you are playing. Another great thing to do is record yourself on the
gig, go back, and listen objectively to how your playing is or isn’t supporting the music
as well as it could, and adjust accordingly. Making good, musical decisions can really
help increase your level of trust with your artist!

WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU HAVE TO CHANGE A PART?

There are a few situations where changing a part might not just be an option, but a
necessity. Some of those situations include:

The Tempo That the Song is Played Live Differs Greatly from the Album’s Tempo:

This happens a lot and can make a groove that felt great on the recording, feel not too
great live. When this happens, I try to retain as much of the original part as possible, but
mainly, I shoot to give it the best feel I can for the song at its new tempo.

The Live Instrumentation is Different from the Record:

This happens a lot less these days with so many bands using backing tracks, however,
there are times when a record has all kinds of instruments on a song that cannot be
realistically put into a live show. This might mean as a drummer, playing something with
a little more note density to help fill up that space that the other instruments were
covering previously. In turn, if you find yourself on a gig with an orchestra backing you,
it might be a good idea to lay off a few of those busier fills and really go for simplicity
and clarity to help guide the extra musicians and leave room for them to be heard.

The Arrangement of the Song has been changed for the Live Show:

Almost every show will change the arrangements of a few songs to enhance a live
performance. This can include new intros/outros, segways, transitions from song to song,
punches/hits, stops, you name it. When those things come up, it often becomes necessary
to change your part to fit the new arrangement. Again, this is where that rule comes in.
Make your changes to support the new arrangement, and don’t abuse the opportunity by
cramming in your favorite lick.

You’re Playing Someone Else’s Gear:

This one should be fairly obvious, but when you’re doing a fly date or playing
somewhere with a house kit that has a different set up from your usual kit, some changes
will be necessary. I try to take a look during soundcheck at what I’ve got to work with,
think about what will be different or challenging, and go through the show mentally so I
can anticipate any trouble spots, and when possible, figure out how I’m going to get
around those before I get on the bandstand. You’ll always run into a few that you hadn’t
thought of, and that’s where focusing on maintaining a good feel, combined with the
ability to improvise will get you through unscathed.

      Good musicianship and knowing your gig/artist are the main criteria that will
determine what you play and how you play it. You have to use your own judgment to
decide what will best suit each musical situation. It’s always a good idea to start with
the original parts for a foundation, and consult your bandleader or artist. Once you’ve
done that, as long as you stick to the Rule of Change, you should be able to have a
great personal and musical experience with the members of your band and your artist.


Ben Jackson is currently the touring drummer for NIPPIT recording artist Aaron Tippin.
He attended the University of North Texas from 2001-2006, and graduated with a degree
in Jazz Studies. When not on the road with Tippin, Ben maintains a busy schedule in
Nashville with recording sessions, artist and label showcases and various other
performing engagements with his fusion band and his jazz quartet. He also remains
involved in music education through his private lesson studio. Ben is endorsed by
Innovative Percussion.

For tour dates and more info, please see:
www.myspace.com/benjacksondrumming


Tim Haines Encounters a Drum Hero!

Greetings and Salutations,

As the Heidi Newfield Tour kicks into full swing, sold out shows and unexpected surprises give rise to buffered country artists and otherwise uneventful days. Mobile trucks filled with all the recording gear one could fathom and a sense of satisfaction permeated one day in particular.

The day was April 18th, 2009 and the place was Grand Rapids, Michigan. I stand at a table cramming my newly health conscious face with vegetables, I look up, only to notice a person that was unmistakably familiar. My ability to recognize this person stemmed from countless hours of looking at album covers and being him via headphones. Now mind you, being him was an attempt and not necessarily a successful one. Now a side note about myself. Anybody that knows me, can tell you that I very rarely get "star struck".

This was that rare moment in which I transformed from being a drummer for a successful country artist to "full on" stalker fan....in every sense of the word. This target of my "germness" was the prolifically influential Phil Ehart, drummer from none other than KANSAS. After attempting to get confirmation from those around me that it was really him, I gobbled the rest of my bland meal, and prepared to firmly plant lips on butt cheeks. Yes, I proceeded to raise myself to the top of all time "brown nosers", complete with a frantic phone call to my best friend and monster drummer, Sean Paddock (Kenny Chesney). Sean and I share the same enthusiasm for our childhood drum heroes. (Mr. Ehart, White, Bozzio, Bruford, Gadd, Colaiuta, Smith, Phillips and the list is never ending) Get the picture? We're drumming for country artists but our roots lie deep in the rock/prog rock/fusion era. On to the actual stalking.

I proceeded to introduce myself and as he reciprocated, I responded with, "Oh, I know who you are." Very matter of fact like.

Creepy, huh!? I agree. So ensues the gratuitous compliments and my attempt to make him extremely uncomfortable. One question after another along with 30 plus years of blabbering praise while, all the while, trying not to date either one of us. Mr. Ehart could not have been more genuine, humble or classy. Fielding all my, line drive, questions with a cool and appreciative demeanor. We talk about everything from touring, click tracks, playing with a symphony and his approach to music all the way down to his white tube socks with yellow stripes, on the inside of the "Two For The Show" live album. I guess that totally confirms the fact that I'm a little on the creepy side! This whole dialogue with him is taking place over the course of a few hours. In the meantime, I'm bouncing back and forth between bus and venue only to return his proximity and move in for more bombarding questions. At one point in our conversation, I call my buddy Sean again and hand the phone to Mr. Ehart. The whole time me being so proud of myself. He returned the phone to me with the sound of a giddy Sean on the other end. Yeah....we were definitely 13 again!

Very few people get to meet their occupational/childhood heroes.  Even fewer get to thank them in person. I've met a few that have tarnished the fantasy but this was not the case. In all actuality, Mr. Ehart would have been justified in having the "white coats" haul me away. There was no entourage, no disguise, no one to tell you to avoid eye contact and he wasn't being carted around in a custom wardrobe case. Dig, dig, dig! He made himself accessible not only to me, but my boss and my bandmates/crew. For a brief moment I saw him as my peer....I soon came to my senses!

As I took the stage there was an unfamiliar nervousness that could only be attributed to Mr. Ehart's presence. I secured my "in ear monitors" and made my way to the imaginary basement and became a 13 year old kid in a grown man's body. Unleashing the fury and excitement that was taught to me many years ago through headphones, a drum kit and Mr. Ehart. All element's were present and I had arrived at "full circle". After the show, Mr.Ehart was gone and my inner "little dude" felt compelled to send a note of gratitude via text.

As I lay in my bunk, wondering if I had breached the "Point Of Know Return" in my OCD, a message appears on my phone. "Tim....It was a blast! C-ya Phil". All was right with the world.




Phil Ehart and Tim

Gigging on the House Kit
by Jeff Mulvihill

                                

There are infinite variables in daily life that can affect business, relationships, what you have to eat, how you drive on the road etc etc….But there is no greater variable than gigging on house drum kits. A house drum kit is one that is provided by the venue and is made available to the drummers that play there night after night. The upside is that it saves time for drummers on the run from gig to gig, or in busy cities that make transporting gear difficult. The downside is that the house kit is rarely in good condition, or taken care of, or even complete. Many times a bar or night club owner’s idea of a house “kit” is a kick drum, 2 toms and a couple of stands. Don’t be a victim of the variables! Make sure you cover the basic working parts of the kit. Here are some tips that will eliminate some of the variables in using the house kit and how to make it work for you.


1. Bring your cymbals: If a venue has a house kit it almost never includes cymbals.
2. Bring a hi-hat clutch: This little item can really blow the gig if it is missing
3. Bring your Bass Pedal: Often the house pedal is missing parts, or functions poorly
4. Bring your Snare Drum: You can make it on bad sounding toms and kick, but the snare is too important, and again the house snare is often missing parts or functions poorly
5. Bring your throne: The house throne often is stripped and will not adjust at all or is completely missing
6. Get simple cases that all of this can fit in and be carried in one trip from the street, and would work even on a bus or subway if need be.





 

       

 

Jeff Mulvihill

Currently Jeff lives in Nashville TN where he enjoys a variety of musical experiences by maintaining an active freelance drumming and percussion schedule, drumming for Nashville Country Artist Craig Boyd, performing as principal percussionist of the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra, and providing the drumming and background vocals for the modern country band WideRange and the rock trio Dennis Shepherd Group. An eclectic performer, Jeff works in a wide variety of musical situations from acoustic songwriter’s nights, to progressive rock clubs, to the symphony orchestra hall, to the country honky tonk.

A versatile musician, Jeff has enjoyed recent performances with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Kentucky, Aretha Franklin, showcase performances for BMI, SESAC, Sony Music, and RCA records as well as live and studio performances with Clay Underwood, Amber Hayes and can currently be found on the road throughout the Southeast with Craig Boyd and Southland. 
http://www.jeffmulvihill.com/    www.myspace.com/jeffmulvihill


So You Got The Gig, How Do You Keep It!
by Tracy Broussard

Whether you got the gig by audition or by recommendation, now you have to prove that it’s yours to keep.  I have gotten gigs both ways and been through many types of preparation.  From having several rehearsals before the show or none at all, I have been through it!  Don’t forget, not only will your preparation reflect on you, but on the people that recommended you.  You may be a smoking hot player with the best gear, but if you are not properly prepared, you won’t keep the job.

In the time before the first show or rehearsal, do as much homework as possible.  If you are rehearsing, prepare just as you would the actual gig.  It would be great if you can get your hands on a live recording.  Don’t just learn the material, live with it.  Load it into your iPod.  Listen to it while driving, at the gym or jogging.  Make charts or notes and if you are able, actually play through the material.  All of these together will help you master it.  Simply playing through it might cause you to miss some signature elements.  On the other hand, if there are some fills or riffs you are unsure of phrasing or playing-wise, it would not hurt to run those sections on the kit.  If you have any questions, call someone in the band, probably the band leader or musical director.   

If you are in a time crunch, you may not be able to capture every nuance in the songs.  Hit the signature elements – accents, hits and dynamics.  If you are a drummer, be sure that you have the correct tempos.  Make sure that you have the count-offs down.  Also, don’t forget the endings – ask about the songs without them.  Once you have these down, and if time permits, you can move on to the finer elements. 

Also, check out the set list.  Focus on the songs that you are the least familiar with – especially any originals. 

This may seem silly, but make sure that you have correct directions to the rehearsal and give yourself plenty of time to get there and set up.  You don’t want to make a poor impression before you have even play a note. 

At the rehearsal, relax.  If you have prepared well, you will have nothing to worry about.  Bring a metronome and use the tempos from the material as a guide.  Sometimes the songs may be performed slower or faster live. Tap out the song’s tempo and ask the band how it feels. 

If you have charts or notes, use them as a guide but don’t obsess on them.  Keep your head on a swivel and make eye contact from time to time with the rest of the band.  Look for cues from the band leader or lead singer.  After each song, make notes and ask questions.  Don’t forget to adjust the tempo if necessary.

 

Recording the rehearsal is another great tool.  All of this can be quite overwhelming.  It is almost impossible to remember EVERYTHING from the rehearsal. The Zoom H-2 Digital Hand Held Recorder is perfect for this application -although any hand held recorder will work.  Don’t be concerned with quality; you will be using it to help you remember hits, arrangement changes and endings. 

Something else to consider is to get with the monitor and front of house engineers and crew to let them know how much and what type of gear you are using.  Be reasonable – if the previous drummer had a four-piece kit it is probably not a good idea to bring the double bass drum rig and 14 cymbals!  Also find out what type of monitor system the band is using and if you have to bring your own ears, etc. 

Your best friend or worst enemy can come from the crew, depending on how you treat them.  Some of my best friends are crew guys.  If you treat these guys poorly, they are less likely to go the extra mile to help you out.  Don’t forget that the monitor engineer controls what you hear on stage and the front of house engineer controls what the crowd hears.  No matter how much or how well you have prepared, a horrible monitor mix can be very unnerving – just enough for you to loose concentration.  Likewise if you are the next Eddie Van Halen and you have pissed off the front of house guy, no one will hear it!  If you encounter a problem during the show, keep your composure and do your best to get some help.  You are the new guy!  Rule of thumb: treat other people as you would like to be treated!   

Since it is your first show, make sure that you know when leave time is and from where and get directions, if needed.  Also factor in time to load your gear.  Remember to be reasonable with the amount that you bring.  The pack may have to be arranged, so get with the production manager and or crew to make this as painless as possible.  Don’t be afraid to help – you don’t want a stranger loading your gear!  

Another great way to cement the show in your head is to use the travel time to review.  Don’t spend every moment with headphones and your head buried in charts.  You also want to get to know the guys that you will be taking the stage with.  Take a break from the songs and hang.  When the guys do see you reviewing, it reassures everyone else that you are prepared.  I’m always leery of a guy that stays up late and sleeps late on his first show!

Sometimes the only rehearsal is the sound check before the show.  In a perfect world, you would be able to run the whole set, but that rarely happens.  Focus on the songs that you are unsure of first.  Make sure that you have the count offs and endings down.  Adjust any tempos and don’t forget to write down any changes.  Use your hand held recorder!!  You can always go back and listen!

Lastly, relax and get ready for the show.  Get your head right.  If that means warming up or stretching, do it!  Get excited about the show; you’re just playing music!  Have fun!  During the show, don’t stay buried in your charts.  Maintain eye contact with the band and especially the band leader and lead singer.  Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake.  If you dwell on it, that one mistake will snowball into a horrible gig.  Usually they are not as bad as you think.  Make mental notes on anything that was weird and record the show, if you can.  Seek feedback from the band leader after the show.  Also, keep an open mind to suggestions from the band – don’t take it as criticism.  Do whatever you can to make the next show better. 

Hopefully these tips will help you to nail the shows and begin to forge a rock solid reputation for work ethic and preparation.

                                                
Gregg Lohman will discuss the ongoing role that his musical education plays in his career in a multi-part series.
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