“Rebel without a Clue “

– – –  or am I ? Over the last year i’ve been continuing to consolidate my technique on the kit, enjoying the fortnightly challenge of being the house drummer at an Open Mic ( playing everything from Folk to Jazz, Blues to Soul, Pop to Cockney !) and constantly on the look out for a band to join.  This is an interesting & time consuming process  – – – it Rebel smallseems to be more a process of finding out your own limits & what you don’t want to do.

I recently met up with the very talented songwriter, Richard Townend , the man behind The Mighty Bosscats . With a bagful of new songs he was on the lookout for a new drummer to join the band to record a new album & Gig regularly. We played through quite a number of original songs & managed to get the retsrained JJ Cale style of the music together – – Cool ! On the face of it the ideal ‘next step’ for me, recording & gigging with an established band – – – – BUT the band are based in deepest  Essex & the travelling involved for rehearsals etc. would have been too much for me on top of work & other time commitments – so , even though Richard was extremely kind & complimentary about my playing, we agreed that the travel was an issue long term & we’re staying in contact for any future possibilities.

The moral of the story is that by pushing myself i found that i’m more than capable of playing at that level – i’m not being arrogant with that statement, just that, as individuals ,we need to find out where we are in the general scheme of things with our chosen pursuits, and  also, although my ability on the kit was up to scratch, the shear practicalities of  getting to rehearsals etc has made me re-evaluate my search area for a band.

In other words – – if you don’t have a go – you’ll never know !

So now, alongside the search for a band, myself & a really good local Bass player, who has the same motivation as myself, have put out an ad looking for guitarist & vocalist who are up for playing for the song.

I may be a “Rebel without a clue”, but for me, the methodology of learning styles of music rather than particular songs is paying off – as, if a song is called out, i may not know it , but i can, generally ‘get the style’ of it. Music is a joy, a universal language and, in my opinion, great music comes from the soul & creativity of the person playing it , including the ‘mistakes’ ( is there such a thing in music ?) – not just copying what’s gone before.

So, get out there, make mistakes & have fun doing it !

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Where am I – – -?

It would seem logical to follow up a ‘Who am I  – -?’ post with a ‘Where am I  – – ?’ post.

It has been over 12 years since I started learning the drums and I do not see myself as a beginner any more – that’s quite a leap in attitude for me, and one that has been achieved through practice, quality support & personal growth.

The minor amendments to this website indicate a shift in my musical development over the last couple of years – to quote Italian photographer Franco Fontana ” – we must always change to remain what we are – that is what nature does and teaches” – – – I have become increasingly disappointed with the ‘mainstream’ UK Blues scene – – the needle seems to be stuck at the 60’s Brit. Blues revival ( Clapton etc) or some sort of ‘Classic’ Rock hybrid. It’s a pity that if you talk about Blues as a genre to most folks they will automatically relate to a trio with a guitarist doing endless twiddly solo’s – – -such a shame as Blues is about a state of being covering all emotions from happy to sad AND there are some very interesting  duos / bands doing some more unhinged, raw, real music out there ( Daddy Longlegs , Stompin’ Dave,  Kaz Hawkins & Giles Hedley for example).There is an open & genuine feel to what these guys do – – – – so a change in my musical taste has been going on – –

Over the last year or so  I’ve been out there at Open Mic nights and met some wonderful players who challenge me constantly with everything from Frank Sinatra swing to Folk – – -the beauty of playing music is not knowing where the next ‘connection’ is going to be – – and ultimately, for me, playing the drums is about making music, making a human connection , developing an understanding of, not just what to play on the kit,  but when  – – -thus adding to making music. Getting to grips with Jazz brushes has been a revelation  – – playing quietly  is a fabulous feeling – – Ed Thigpen ( Oscar Peterson’s drummer called it )‘ Expressing the melody with your hands’

There seems little point in slavishly copying what has gone before, sure it can influence you – but we have to find our own voices as part of a band of folks coming together to make music !

In summary, the drumming journey continues – meeting new people & music, gaining more independence on the kit with practice, understanding that not playing is as valid as playing, trying to spread the word that drummers are an integral equal part of a band who make music together .

 

 

 

 

“Late Starter” – – – – –

Bob Ayre

– – – as the talented Americana Singer songwriter Guy Tortora put’s it,  ” – – – – I’m a late starter, wasn’t built for speed. A little encouragement is all I need, Started late, but I’m catching up. It’s gonna take a river just to fill my cup ! – – “

Well that  sums it up beautifully for me on where i’m ‘at’ currently  playing the Drums – –

A little background first; I picked up the sticks for the first time when I was just over 40 (mid-life crisis ? maybe, but I figured it was safer than a motorbike ! ) not long after processing personal bereavement & managing low mood Initial lessons lead to first playing in public after 6 weeks – – one of the most exhilarating & petrifying experiences I’ve ever had ! After years of going to Gigs I suddenly got a whole new perspective on performing & it gave me total…

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“Late Starter” – – – – –

– – – as the talented Americana Singer songwriter Guy Tortora put’s it,  ” – – – – I’m a late starter, wasn’t built for speed. A little encouragement is all I need, Started late, but I’m catching up. It’s gonna take a river just to fill my cup ! – – “

Well that  sums it up beautifully for me on where i’m ‘at’ currently  playing the Drums – –

A little background first; I picked up the sticks for the first time when I was just over 40 (mid-life crisis ? maybe, but I figured it was safer than a motorbike ! ) not long after processing personal bereavement & managing low mood Initial lessons lead to first playing in public after 6 weeks – – one of the most exhilarating & petrifying experiences I’ve ever had ! After years of going to Gigs I suddenly got a whole new perspective on performing & it gave me total respect for anybody who has the nerve to get up on a stage ( no matter what size) & strut their stuff !

With unconditional support & encouragement from my wife, Gill, I set out on the lifelong trail of hard work to develop as a drummer.

10 years on – What have I found out from my experience so far ? ( I’ve found that most of these also apply to many other parts of our lives !)

1. Learning ‘how to learn’ ( I’ll explore this one a bit more in the next Blog !)

2. the more you think you know, the less you actually know !

3. there are many ways to approach & break down a problem, and to resolve it.

4. Hard persistent work pays off, but learn when to back off a problem and let your sub-conscious work it out for you.

5.The right teachers / tutors at the right time can transform your craft – – not the gear !

6. Be influenced & admire other players – comparison is pointless – we are all on our own trajectories and everybody has their own unique style, skills and valid contribution to make .

7. Learning this skill has improved both my mental & physical state – relaxation & co-ordination.(more on this another time – – ) Don’t put all your energy into the one pursuit –  a balanced life creates a fertile ground for all your pursuits.

8.A creative endeavour involves a combination of many skills – organisation, diplomacy, marketing, interpersonal skills, empathy, teamwork – – – the actual creative bit is the icing on the cake !

9. For me, drumming is about making music with other people. I’ve found that the development of Technique supports that goal – it’s very easy for that pursuit to become  the purpose of the exercise itself, and to get completely bogged down with it – I acknowledge the skill and dedication of those players who follow that path, but it’s not for me.

10. Because I started late there is an assumption made that “I’ve been there, done that” – – I haven’t – – –  and I’m not content to rest on my laurels, always looking for fresh challenges – – – so watch out “–I’m catching up. It’s gonna take a river just to fill my cup ! – – “

11.Enjoy it !!

Where to begin – – – ?

Well here I am embarking on another step in my musical journey

“What have you been doing up to now and what’s new about this then ? ” I hear you ask  – –

Here’s a quick run down of my drumming  journey so far – –

  • from school age to now a regular gig goer – list of gig’s to follow sometime ?
  • August  2004 picked up  drumsticks for the first time
  • October 2004 played in public at Blues Jam, Half Moon Bishops Stortford  first time. One of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done !
  • created & promoted St Albans Blues club ‘Shades of Blues’ at The Maltings Arts Theatre, March 2006 to April 2009  ( run in from Sept.2005)
  • 2007 handful of gigs with ‘Life of Riley’ local covers band
  • 2008 formed ‘Dr Shades’ Blues band from audience members to ‘Shades of Blues’
  •  November 2008 ‘Dr Shades’ debut at The White Lion, St Albans.
  • Sept. 2012 to July 2013 ‘Shades of Blues’ series 2 !
  • Dec. 2013 Dep. drummer for Roadhouse at the Famous Monday Blues , Oxford xmas party !
  • July 2013 ‘Dr Shades’ band re-branded as ‘Chris Lord & her Blues Express’

– – – – – – LATEST NEWS – – – – – – – – –

October 2014 Decided that the time is now right to leave ‘ Blues express’ to free up time & headspace to pursue other avenues of music & playing experiences to broaden my knowledge & abilities on the kit.

So besides being on the look out for fresh challenges, going to jam nights, folks to play with etc. I reckon that getting to grips with Blogging, Facebook and social networks are all part of ‘getting out there’ – –

So bring on 2015 and let’s see where I get to musically !