Saturday
Feb162008

« Old. Time. Music. »

After 11 years and one day since my last drumming gig, I played the first "public" gig as a drummer today and it was totally unlike anything else I ever did.

It also happens that prior to today, it has been at least a year and a month or more since I even had my drums set up to play at all, and today was the first time I actually put things together since whenever I took them apart and left them in the garage last year. I have not played a lick of drums since then, and barely even wielded any sticks in that time.

And then it also happens that the music that I was playing today was stuff that I was not typically accustomed to playing anyway.

And beyond that, the guys with whom I was playing were new acquaintances (I don't think I have all their names right just yet) and the two previous times I met most of them (in a music setting) were times when I came not with drums, but acoustic guitar. So, this was a total walk out on a limb, being unrehearsed both individually and in context. Totally out of my element, eh?

So what the hell was going on then?

I left my home church last year and started going to another one in part because I wanted something different than was possible at the old church, in terms of interaction and activities. It happens the new church I am attending has a pastor emeritus (Curtis) who has a little acoustic ensemble that plays the occasional church event or some small things in the community. After weeks of missing out because of holidays, late night work, or figuring out how my new job's schedule was going to sort itself out, I finally got to bring a guitar along and hack my way through stuff that was pop music well before my time. It isn't hard; but it isn't stuff I burn to learn on guitar. So I offered that, since there was no drummer I could drum, and the guys liked the idea.

looking out over the room of old timers at the broken strings show in a nursing homeToday's gig was at a residential care center for elderly folks. Two band members have a father who lives there and sometimes they (the larger group) go in and play a number of songs. Curtis acts as emcee and does a bit of fun stuff, and gets people to sing along and have a few moments of joy to punctuate life-as-usual. It was for me a nice throwback to the days a few years back when I'd deliver meals to seniors at home, and how most looked forward even to the few minutes each day that I would spend relating to them.

I knew I didn't need much to play a few country songs, show songs, pop songs (a couple from the Beatles), and a Cajun tune. I brought the bare minimum—just a kick, snare, hihat and a couple cymbals for color. I chose the bronze Ludwig Super Sensitive snare because it is essentially a period instrument but also because it has a great versatile tone that can sing or go thud depending on how I follow through on the drum head.

my two piece drum kit for the occasionThe other instruments were electric standup bass, guitars, a uke sometimes, and an accordion. Now you gotta realize that these guys aren't using state of the art amplification and such. I heard the bass well enough and could sort of cue off the greatly underpowered and ill-placed amps that were used for vocals. But to me now, I don't give a crap about technical stuff. I was bogged down with all that for a long time while not actually making music. So it was nice to return to my first instrument—the ones that make a sound whether or not the power is on, and with the utmost of primitive tools needed to excite sound from them.

The reference to my last gig as a drummer is about the fact that I did indeed play drums at a gig only about a mile or so up the road from this senior center—back on the 15th of February in 1997. At that time, I was playing as a sub for a friend's band (Uncle Jesus) who had a moody drummer who ditched them for a few weeks around the time of that gig. Of course, since then, I was deep into my own recording work and then even abandoning that as I felt it was time to reinvent myself, both musically and personally. Not that this will be the immediate answer, but some exposure to music in a positive setting might be a lot more fulfilling than doing none, or being frustrated with my earlier efforts. I could see this exposing me to more players in a whole other world, and something worthwhile coming from that. But even if none of that happens, it was fun to defy my own expectations of self and sit in with some guys who play to make people happy.

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