Drums from Ghana

July 19, 2010

This group shows how simple and mesmeric basic African rhythms can be. The kids loved it, and were captivated at the front of the stage for the duration. The drumming workshop which ensued was oversubscribed before I got there.

Zimmer Frame Drum Kit

May 2, 2010

Some great jazz from a bunch of chefs. A Zimmer Frame provided an excellent portable drum rack.

The Pipes!

July 19, 2009

Another great example of a simple drum section in isolation – with a military influence. The Ringwood Pipe Band can be seen at all sorts of events and always catches my ear. I saw them performing again yesterday and took the opportunity to take this video clip. The beauty of an iPhone G3s…

Those snare drums really are as crisp as they could be – great sound.

Chinese Lion Dance

July 12, 2009

There’s nothing like stripping percussive performance back to its bear bones, and the Chinese Lion Dance is an excellent example. I was lucky enough to catch this one today (video below) in a little village in the south of England, performed by the Waterside Lion Dance Club, who created a polished, energetic display in the middle of a drab, wet afternoon.

The percussion is traditional – a drum, a gong and a couple of cymbals. It’s simple, repetitive and mesmeric. The last time something as raw as this captured my attention was years ago in Zimbabwe. Lying in a field one afternoon I watched some kids come out of a school nearby with a few oil drums and sticks. Most of them formed up, and spontaneously sprung into action, dancing perfectly in sync to the pounding, impressive rhythm in the background. I wish I’d recorded it – I do have a photo though. I’ll see if I can dig it out.

Anyway, it all serves to remind me that talent is much more important than expensive kit. A well played collection of saucepans is more entertaining than a badly played Tama Imperialstar.

Tommy Lee And Those Weird Dreams

July 7, 2009

Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee couldn’t have found a bigger bass drum if he tried. And I think he might have a bit of trouble taking it round the indoor roller coaster of rock he’s planning.

Tommy Lees Massive Drum

Tommy Lee's Massive Drum

Virtual Online Drum Machine – For Testing Tabs

June 29, 2009

We’ve got our simple online drum set up and running again for the purpose of testing drum tabs. Have a play and please let us know what you think by leaving comments here.

The tab tester drum machine was created using sounds from my Roland V-Club Electronic Drum Set.


How to Tune a Drum

June 23, 2009

Finally got round to finishing my article about tuning drums – my contribution to the debate!
How to Tune a Drum

The Isle of Wight Festival 2009 from the Medina River

June 15, 2009

I just finished an eventful weekend at the Isle of Wight Festival. The weather was great and my viewpoint was unique. I sailed up the Medina River from Cowes, moored up and then took my little rubber dinghy all the way to the festival where I tied up to a bigger boat, settled back and enjoyed the gigs.

The main stage is right next to the river, so the big screen is clearly visible and the sound powerful. Although it probably wasn’t as good as being inside the compound, it was certainly more comfortable! I didn’t envy the hardy souls who were swimming fully clothed (beers in hand) from the other side of the river, trying to sneek in, only to be turned back by security and having to swim back to the other side. There were other equally unsuccessful, albeit drier attempts to break in, such as the man paddling by on a windsurfer.


Looking for a back door

Looking for a back door

My favourites were more of my era, like Simple Minds, the Prodigy and Neil Young, although there were plently of other great acts. Below you can see my view of The View performing on the second day. The Stereophonics were good in the evening.

My view of The View

My view of The View

The Red Arrows came by for a spectacular aerobatics display to make the day perfect, despite the fact that I didn’t get to play on stage myself. Maybe next year…

The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

June 9, 2009

Jimmy Cobb’s been geting a lot of press recently because of the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ seminal Kind of Blue album of  August 1959, the 50th anniversay for which is approaching fast. Almost 10 years older than me, this has to be one of my top five favourites. Occasionally I’ll listen to a track like So What by chance and wonder why I left it so long since last I heard it.

Jimmy Cobb is the last surviving member of the sextet that created this piece of work, and he’s touring in 2009 with Jimmy Cobb’s So What Band. Below is a 1959 TV performance of that very track.

Mary Jane Folk Rock

June 8, 2009

I heard from my old friends from Mary Jane last week. MJ was the only band I played with who released and albums and singles, and the experience of recording (sometimes on a shoestring, sometimes with a modest budget) was second to none.

I often hear from seasoned musicians about how when recording (and similarly from actors about filming), most of the time they’re standing around getting bored. I never understood that – I love all aspects of the creative process, and never got tired of take after take until it was perfect. (Well maybe not perfect, but acceptable!) I have very fond memories of playing and recording with Mary Jane anyway – even if sometimes the music was a little on the hippy side now and then!

Here is “Isle of Wight” recorded (if memory serves) in a great little studio converted from a garage somewhere near Cranley.