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The wedding of Larry Gallagher and Catherine Shaddix was beautiful beyond belief: up in the Sonoma County forest, on a weekend of two impossibly brilliant days, Larry and Catherine’s friends and family gathered for a Buddhist ceremony (moving and hilarious by turns), fine food, ecologically sound partying, and a six-hour music festival that featured one remarkable performer after another (the Singing Gallaghers, consisting of Larry’s mother, three of Larry’s four sisters, and one of his nieces, nailed a five-part harmony on “Mister Sandman” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which was much appreciated by the crowd; a jazz-guitar trio did amazing things; beatboxer/ vocalist/ performance artist Kid Beyond, aka Kid B, closed out by rocking the entire hillside).  I drove up on Friday night, rehearsed with the soi-disant all-star band that evening, crashed in the soi-disant “men’s dorm” in a house owned by somebody or other who knew somebody or other, attended the outdoor ceremony the next morning in my very best pinstripe suit, swam in the Russian River that afternoon (not in the suit), and played in the aforementioned soi-disant all-star band that night, as we kept the party hoppin’ with our soulful renditions of “Isn’t She Lovely,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Into the Mystic,” and “Harvest Moon,” among five or six others.  My part of the evening was capped off when word got around the crowd that no one in the United States could be properly married until the band played “Celebration,” whereupon we all got back up on stage and played a seven-minute jam that included an extended solo so remarkable that half the musicians spun around and said, WTF? as one of the guitarists took the tune to places it had never been.  As we ended sharply on “everyone around the world, come on”—improbably, since we had never played the song before—Kid B brought the celebration to a close, declaring, “by the power invested in me by Kool and the Gang, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The next day, I chatted with Larry and his West Coast friends all morning, lay around in the pool for a while, drafted a letter about forming an AAUP chapter on the main Penn State campus, and then went canoeing down the Russian River with Larry’s sister Marybeth and three other people.

It was a good weekend.  And I even got to meet Chris Clarke and do tequila shots with Ward Churchill.

But that’s not the point of this post.  The point of this post is to let you in on the engine room of my life, where swinking demons work tirelessly to create the conditions that might possibly allow me to have a good time.  Let me explain.

Two weeks before the wedding, I got a CD in the mail from Rob Riddell, Larry’s co-conspirator in many things.  Rob included the set list for the all-star band—a formidable array of songs that originally included “Jackie Wilson Said” and “Reeling in the Years,” each of which poses serious challenges for guitarists, horn arrangers, and drummers, especially if they’ve never met each other.  I spent two weeks dutifully learning the changes in “Jackie Wilson Said,” and agonizing over whether to double the dotted eighth notes in “Reeling in the Years” on the bass drum during the solos.  (There’s no question about the verses: if you don’t play dotted eighths on the bass drum during the verses, that is, if you take the easy road of playing quarter notes on the 2 and 4, you’ll drag the song into the rhythmic mud.) Quickly, however, Rob decided that “Jackie Wilson Said” was just too damn difficult to orchestrate on two weeks’ notice and one Friday-night rehearsal, so we dropped it.  But the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” posed similar problems, and it remained in the set.

Along with the CD, Rob sent a letter that read, in part,

There will be music-loving, drunken wedding revelers grooving on everything we do up there.  So this is an excellent opportunity to learn these songs good, people.

I’m bringing a lot of equipment.  Please feel free to use any and all of it, instead of dragging your stuff along.  E.g.,

Larry’s Yamaha steel-string acoustic (with jack), tuned to D
Nylon string (flamenco) acoustic (with jack)
Stratocaster
Yamaha SR-400 bass with active electronics
David Eden “Traveler” bass amp with 2x10 cabinet
SWR “Strawberry Blonde” acoustic amp, nice crisp sound
“Pod” guitar effects unit
16-track mixer/amp
mains
JBL 10” powered monitor
Two Shure SM-58 vocal mics
One Sennheiser e-835 vocal mic
one cheap but functional condenser mic
4 mic stands

Notice there is no mention of drum equipment here.  For as daunting (logistically) as it is to put together an all-star band for a wedding gig (so much easier just to book a band!), it is X times more daunting to deal with #$%*@*!!**ing drummers.  Obviously, there was no way for me to cart my five-piece Tama set across the country, so someone was going to have to supply drums for me.  And here’s where things got weird, and the weird turned pro.

I had told Rob via email that I would bring my cymbals—an 18 inch ride, a 14 inch thin crash, and a 15 inch medium crash—along with one cymbal stand.  Why cymbals?  Uh, that’s a story unto itself, but suffice it to say that when I last played with Larry in any official capacity, in the summer of 1983 with the Beaux Arts Society, we recorded a demo tape one of whose signal weaknesses was the fact that we’d had only two hours’ notice before we went in to record, and another of whose signal weaknesses was that the studio cymbals sounded like shit.  Drums, for the most part, are just drums (with the exception of the snare, whose tonal qualities are crucial).  But good cymbals can make a world of difference, and I thought I’d just be more comfortable playing mine.  And I did want to feel comfortable, don’t you know, because (gulp) I hadn’t played in front of people in six years and (gulp) the rest of these musicians were much, much better than I am.  (When people ask if I’m a musician I usually reply, “no, I’m a drummer.” Stay with this thread!  There will be more drummer jokes below.)

Now for another complication.  I wasn’t quite finished with my review of Theory’s Empire, so I needed to complete that assignment before I went to any wedding and music festival.  And since my schedule last week was too busy to allow me to write the review before I got on the plane, I went to priceline.com and booked a room on Fisherman’s Wharf for Thursday night.  My plan was this: I would meet Chris Clarke in downtown SF for dinner, drive a mile or so north to the hotel, write a 2000-word draft that evening, and then look it over in the morning and send it via the Internets. 

Just before I left, Larry wrote to me to say, “hey, you can have Internets access in the apartment that Catherine and I call home.  We won’t be here, but we’ll leave a key—just let the upstairs neighbors know you’re coming.  And if you have an empty car”—I’d rented a “mid-size,” thinking I would ferry people north, but that didn’t work out—“you can pick up some stuff we’ll leave behind.  The Internets access is right there on the table.” But Larry’s email mentioned a cat, and my priceline.com room wasn’t refundable, and their apartment was nowhere near Fisherman’s Wharf, so I politely said thanks but no thanks, I’ll just take the hotel.  Alas, I didn’t notice that the cat did not actually live in Larry and Catherine’s place; I simply saw the word “cat” in the email and began to sneeze.  I told Larry that I couldn’t manage any cat dander, and he told me that he’d made other arrangements, and that I wouldn’t need to pick up any stuff from his place, so all good.

And here’s why that matters.  In comments, Tina—is Tina in the house?  ah, there you are!—had asked last week how I manage to do all the various things I do.  The short answer is that I do them all at the same time.  So, for example, while I was prepping for this here wedding gig, I was also reading all the essays in Theory’s Empire and rereading the ones I considered most important.  On the flight from Dulles to SFO, I finished the book and made notes on the passages I absolutely, positively wanted to quote directly in the course of writing the review.  Long practice in writing such reviews has taught me that I can use about twenty percent of the material I think I absolutely need, and this review was no exception.  So when I bid farewell to the charming Mr. Clarke and checked into my discount-rate Radisson-on-the-Wharf, I knew more or less how I wanted the review to look and how I wanted to begin making it look that way.

But it turned out that the Internets access from my hotel was ridiculous: five seconds of wireless connection followed by two hours of fiddling and frustration.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I finally managed to put together an acceptable draft and jack into cyberspace around 11 am Friday morning, whereupon I sent the review, packed my bags, and embarked for the Embarcadero Plaza, where I would search for Jamie’s birthday present and a wedding present for Larry and Catherine.  Had I taken care of such matters before arriving in San Francisco, I could have simply hopped on the Golden Gate Bridge from my hotel (and you know, so few people jump onto the bridge, it might’ve been a nice change of pace for the Bay Area authorities), but I was in no hurry—I checked out of the Radisson at 11:59:59 and budgeted two hours for lunch and shopping around the Embarcadero.

Shopping went well.  Lunch went well.  The Embarcadero on a glorious late-summer day.  And in the midst of it all, Rob Riddell called me, saying, in effect, I thought you were staying at Larry and Catherine’s place.  I said, yes, well, I thought it would be less of a hassle all round if I just got a hotel. OK, right, Rob said, but I left three speakers and an amp there, thinking that you could bring them up if you have an empty car. No problem, I replied, mentally moving my ETD from SF from 2 to 4 pm.  Just give me directions from downtown SF to L and C’s place.  Rob did so—with great patience, I must add—and then added that I should also pick up a vial of saffron from the spice rack in the kitchen.  Got it, I said, as I wrote down my directions, asked Rob for wedding-present tips, and called Janet to ask for advice on whether Jamie might take an XL kids’ jersey or a S adult’s.

I never did find the saffron, despite calling Larry and asking precisely where in the apartment I might search for it.  But I did manage five minutes of Internets access while I was loading the speakers and amp into the car (they just fit, of course), and wished Jamie a happy birthday.  Then I got back on the road and enjoyed some of the Left Coast’s lovely bumper-to-bumper traffic for another three hours, and finally arrived at the wedding site around 6:30.

Which was fine, because the drums weren’t there yet and I was in plenty of time for a quick tour of the grounds and a little night-before party at 7:30.  Rehearsal would take place at 9.

The drums showed up at 7, courtesy of a good soul named Kirk.  Bass drum, floor tom, rack tom, snare, hi-hat stand, two cymbal stands, bass pedal . . . I decided to put everything together before rehearsal (so as not to hold things up when all the real musicians arrived), and as I went through all the stuff, I slowly realized there were no hi-hat cymbals.  I asked Kirk if I’d missed a bag here or there, and he replied that he’d been given to understand that I was bringing cymbals.  And why didn’t I?  I had a cymbal bag, and I’d almost packed them at the last second, but didn’t, and what the hell was I thinking?

Well, shit.  Now, those of you who aren’t drummers (all but two of you, to gauge by my referral stats) will have very little idea what this means, but you two drummers out there are slapping your foreheads and saying, “dude, you are so screwed, dude,” in that distinctive way we drummers communicate with each other.  For some songs, like “Isn’t She Lovely,” I could play the entire thing on the ride cymbal and no one would notice, but there are definite moments in “Into the Mystic,” “Reeling in the Years,” and so on where the absence of a hi-hat (a) hurts the song and (b) can be noticed by even the most drunken wedding reveler.  Not to mention the fact that drummers tend to keep the half notes on the hi-hat with their feet, anyway, and I was going to do this shimmering little sixteenth-note triplet thing with the brushes on the crash cymbals and foot on the hi-hat during the last bar of the chorus of “Harvest Moon.” Just so you know.

We got through rehearsal well enough, though.  The real musicians were curious about why I had a hi-hat stand and no hi-hat cymbals, but I told them I would play on the rim of the snare for now (rockabilly style!) and would try to get a hold of something cymbal-like the next day.  Rob assured me that there would be someplace open in Santa Rosa, so I wasn’t too worried.

But I was probably the only person who attended Larry and Catherine’s beautiful, moving, and occasionally hilarious Buddhist ceremony thinking—despite my best efforts to stay in the moment—that I had to get me some Yellow Pages and drive to Santa Rosa at some point that afternoon.  And that’s exactly what I did: after milling about with the guests (yes, I can mill all by myself) for a while and congratulating the lucky couple on a lovely ceremony (with very detailed vows!) on a brilliant day, I got on the phone and began calling music stores to say that I’d traveled 2500 miles to play in this band, and so forth.  The Santa Rosa Music Center—which, I think, is badly named, since they deal almost exclusively in pianos and organs—was willing to rent me a pair of cymbals for the weekend, but (next snag!) of course they would have to be returned on Monday, and by whom?  Whose name could I give, and who could I ask for such a favor?  “Um,” the nice man on the other end of the line said, “we do have some really cheap cymbals too, if you just want to buy them.  Maybe you should bring the hi-hat stand and a couple of sticks and try them out.” Which is exactly what I did, driving the fifteen miles back into Santa Rosa and trying every pair of cymbals in the store.  (It is so strange, the palpable difference between cheap and expensive cymbals.) The nice man eventually sold me two $17.95 cymbals for a special you’ve-travelled-2500-miles price of $30 (note to non-drummers: a good pair of cymbals will run close to $200), and I triumphantly took them back to the wedding, where, many hours later, we married Larry and Catherine by the power invested in us by Kool and the Gang.

I even got to play three songs with virtuoso and former bandmate Oren Bloedow, when we suddenly decided that people should not wait in line for dinner without listening to jazz in the background.  Oren was the bassist in the Beaux Arts Society with me in 1983, and has since gone on to much greater things, including touring with Michelle Ndegeocello.  His nimble version of “Blue Bossa” was a delight to play on, and we think the waiters-in-line liked it too.  Oh, yes, and I provided some modest percussion behind Rob and vocalist Jennifer (whose last name I didn’t catch) for their Brazil-inflected version of “In the Still of the Night” (no, not the Five Satins song), which was the tune for the newly married couple’s first dance.

So how was your weekend?

Oh, yes, the drummer jokes.  I brought two with me: What do you call the guy who follows the band around and goes to all their gigs?  The drummer! and What’s the last thing the drummer says before he’s kicked out of the band?  “Hey, guys, let’s try one of my songs!” To these, Oren graciously added, How can you tell the stage is level?  The drummer is drooling evenly from both sides of his mouth! and How do you know there’s a drummer at your door?  Just wait and listen to see if the knock keeps speeding up! That last one actually made me spew coffee all over the deck on a nice Sunday morning.

I’ll be back later on with more of the usual blogging.  In the meantime, thanks to Larry and Catherine for inviting me, thanks to the entire West Coast crew who made the musicfest possible, and thanks also to John for another terrific post on Tuesday (that is, Monday!).

Posted by on 09/22 at 10:48 AM
  1. Damn.  Cross country-ing, theory critique-ing, cymbal hunting and playing, with a Buddhist ceremony and Kool and the Gang thrown in for good measure?!?

    This is what makes America great.

    And here I was so proud that I managed not to fall out of my “Mexican peasant blouse” during the Independence Day celebrations.  ¡Viva America!  Glad you had a geat time.

    Posted by Caro  on  09/22  at  12:19 PM
  2. the level-stage joke works the other way around, too: What does it mean when the drummer drools out of both sides, etc.? The stage is level.

    Why are violas larger than violins? They aren’t, it’s just that violists have smaller heads.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  12:34 PM
  3. I checked the Tama website. They have a list of performers there but you don’t seem to be on it. Guess who was ?

    John RobertsMusiq / IndependentN/A

    Maybe you guys can get together for some really long Allman Bros-like drum jam after the confirmation vote.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  12:36 PM
  4. Here are some more drummer jokes.

    As a semi-retired bass player, this is my favorite:

    A man goes to an exotic tropical island for a vacation. As the boat nears the island, he notices the constant sound of drumming coming from the island. As he gets off the boat, he asks the first native he sees how long the drumming will go on. The native casts about nervously and says “very bad when the drumming stops.”

    At the end of the day, the drumming is still going and is starting to get on his nerves. So, he asks another native when the drumming will stop. The native looks as if he’s just been reminded of something very unpleasant. “Very bad when the drumming stops,” he says, and hurries off.

    After a couple of days with little sleep, our traveller is finally fed up, grabs the nearest native, slams him up against a tree, and shouts “What happens when the drumming stops?!!”

    “Bass solo.”

    Posted by corndog  on  09/22  at  12:44 PM
  5. Remember how the fundies thought hurricane Katrina resembled a fetus?

    Check this out:
    http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09/21.html#a5056

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  01:45 PM
  6. Oren Bloedow is a former bandmate of yours?!?

    Just when I thought you couldn’t get any cooler, Michael.... 

    (The Jennifer whose last name you didn’t catch wasn’t Jennifer Charles, was it? She and Bloedow are the core of Elysian Fields, a band to check out if you don’t know them.)

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  02:04 PM
  7. New name for Michael: Quantum Man (able to be in many places simultaneously while muli-tasking). I hear no mention of cow bell.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  02:13 PM
  8. No, Ben, it wasn’t Jennifer Charles (but I did take the pic of Oren from the Elysian Fields website).  Funny you should ask:  there were three Jennifers at the wedding, and four Michaels.  This was much remarked upon.

    And Chris, no, there was no cow bell.  But if “Don’t Fear the Reaper” or “We’re an American Band” had been on the playlist, I would have brought one.  Btw, while we’re on the subject, check out the cowbell on Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Loving.” It’s subtle, but it really kicks it.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  02:44 PM
  9. Let us not ignore the bass players:

    Q: How many bass players does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    A: None. The keyboard player can do it with his left hand.

    or

    A father buys his 12 year old son a bass guitar and pays for some lessons. The first week he drives his son to the lesson and, a few hours later, the son returns. The father asks “What did you learn today?” The kid answers, “I learned the notes on the E string.”

    The next week when the son returns from his lesson he tells his dad, “This week we learned the notes on the A string.”

    The third week, same thing; all the notes on the D atring.

    The fourth week comes and the kid doesn’t return at the usual time. Hours go by, the dad is frantic. Finally, about 3:30 in the morning the kid comes home, smelling of beer and cigarettes. The father asks “Didn’t you go to your bass lesson?” The kid says, “Naw. I had a gig.”

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  03:11 PM
  10. Stop me if you’ve heard these…
    Q. A drummer and a frog are driving the wrong way down a one-way street.  What’s the difference between the two?
    A. The frog might be driving to a gig.

    Equal time for “musicians"…
    Q. How do you get a guitarist to turn down?
    A. Put a sheet of music in front of him.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  03:15 PM
  11. This actually happened in a rehearsal I was part of:

    Pianist: “The passage is marked ‘Ausdruckvoll.’ “
    Cellist: “Gee, in my part it says ‘Espressivo.’”
    Violinist: “Mine just says ‘Loud...’ “

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  03:27 PM
  12. Great stuff there, Michael.  Reeling in the Years is a great song.  Surely that great guitar solo by Elliott Randall wasn’t copied note-for-note, was it?

    Plus, you got to be a faux-Ringo!  Too bad it wasn’t Revolution or better yet, Helter Skelter.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  03:47 PM
  13. Why is a drum machine better than a drummer?

    You only have to punch the instructions into a machine once!

    Posted by Jeremy Henty  on  09/22  at  04:44 PM
  14. :sigh:

    Reading your post reminds me how boring my life has become.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  05:31 PM
  15. Sigh not, stevek!  This was a once-in-a-decade kind of thing, for which I put a whole mess of mundane stuff on hold (and for which I needed Extended Spousal Approval—thanks, Janet!).  My life is back to dull again, and will be for quite a while.  Though I’ll be happy to blog about Jamie’s science homework one of these days.

    Henry, I was sitting behind some serious guitarists.  They didn’t do Elliott Randall’s solo note for note, but they were studio-quality musicians, and fully capable of making that song fly.  And I didn’t even mention their descending harmonies on Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing” in E minor, or the Gallagher sisters’ lovely three-part harmonies on the choruses of the Beatles’ “You Won’t See Me.” (Speaking of faux-Ringo moments, that one wasn’t bad, and I’ve always liked the drumming on “Don’t Let Me Down.” Yet it has long puzzled Ringologists that some of Mr. Starkey’s best work can be found on the Beatles’ weakest songs, like Harrison’s “Old Brown Shoe.")

    Oh, and BushYouth, I have to admit that I liked John Roberts’s early work on “I Hear You Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)”—from his first album on abstinence education—but I still can’t support him for Chief Justice.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/22  at  06:23 PM
  16. As a fellow drummer, I don’t “get” that last joke...anyway...I have a theory about good drummers also being good mimics, perhaps you or others could relate your feelings on the subject?

    Will the Big Chill never end? I love how old white guys think music basically began in ‘55-’56 and ended in ‘79. And that that period represented the sine qua non of musicianship and expression. Not to mention that most of this took place in the U.S., with some notable exceptions like the Beatles, Stones, Clapton, (Townshend?) It always reminds me of the two guys arguing over Beethoven and Rossini in Gravity’s Rainbow (the punchline of which Woody Allen used in Annie Hall, confident that few people had read that far into the novel).

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed your time here in the bay area, it was a beautiful weekend. It was actually a pretty typical representation weather-wise of about nine months of the year. Makes you wonder why more people wouldn’t want to live here, what with our reasonable housing prices, great Governator-ship, and the occasional tremblor. At least we know what to expect in the way of “response” when the next BIG ONE hits. Hastert: “They knew where the fault was, why would they build there?” cool hmm

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  09:34 PM
  17. Michael, you’re a brilliant guy, and I hate to bust in and say this like some guy busting in and saying something; but the abbreviated, ultra-minimal duffel-bag drum kit comprises these items, and none fewer:

    Snare
    Kick pedal
    Hi-hats
    Hi-hat stand with clutch
    Several pairs of sticks
    Both standard and Tama drum keys
    Felt bushings
    Maxi pads

    Plus a small tool kit including:
    Duct tape
    Fishing line
    Pocket knife
    Small can, WD-40
    Vicegrips

    Anything that can go wrong with a drum kit can be endured if you have the triumverate of kick, snare, and high-hat. And it’s always one of these three things that are broken or that have crucial bits missing.

    And of course, as scientists know, anything built by man can be fixed in the short-term with duct tape, fishing line, WD-40, and vicegrips. The maxi pads + duct tape = instant drum mutes. 

    It might be prudent to put together a go-bag, in case civilization falls one day and you need to run out the door quickly. Just saying.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  09/23  at  01:48 AM
  18. Two authentic, spontaneous drummer jokes:

    1)

    Bassist: “How do you know if a drummer is knocking on the door?”

    Guitarist: “He’s late?”

    --------------

    2)

    A band is driving late at night through a flat, Midwestern state. The drummer is at the wheel and the guitarist is riding in the front passenger seat.

    The guitarist looks at the speedometer and says, “Yo, John Bonham...”

    The drummer eases his foot off the pedal.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  09/23  at  02:03 AM
  19. How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Twenty - one to hold the lightbulb, and the other nineteen drink until the room spins.

    Incidentally:

    How many lead singers does it change to change a lightbulb?

    One - he just holds the lightbulb, and the universe revolving around him screws it in.

    And also:

    How many lead guitarists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    Eight. One to actually do it, while the other seven stand around saying “I could do that much better.”

    Posted by martin g.l.  on  09/23  at  03:43 AM
  20. Did you hear the one about the musician who locked his keys in the car on a hot day?

    Luckily he managed to break in before the drummer inside got heat stroke.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  11:01 AM
  21. I heard the punch line to “How can you tell there’s a drummer at your door” as: “First he knocks too fast, then he knocks too slow, then he doesn’t know when to come in.” But, yeah, either way we drummers get no respect (not that we deserve any!)

    Sorry to hear about the hi-hat cymbals. I once played the first set of a jazz gig without a bass drum pedal while my lovely wife drove back home to retrieve it. Thing is, I think I actually played better without the bass drum. Four-limb-independence is overrated anyway. 

    Rock on.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  11:19 AM
  22. Michael, how’s about some pix of the rockin’ wedding band?

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  11:22 AM
  23. Yeah, a variation on the joke from kemk:

    What’s the difference between a dead skunk in the middle of the road and a dead trombonist in the middle of the road?

    The skunk was on his way to a gig.

    ------

    How do you write a solo for viola?
    Tie whole notes.

    ------
    How many divas does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Three. One to change the light bulb and two to stab her in the back.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  12:07 PM
  24. CF, it wasn’t a Big Chill event, really.  (I’ve never seen the movie myself, but I did enjoy the film it was stolen from, The Return of the Secaucus Seven).  Oren Bloedow, Kid Beyond, two members of Bossa 5.0, and the jazz trio (featuring a guy named Jack with a bizarrely fretted guitar and mouth percussion from Kid B) all played originals.  I swear.  It was only the soi-disant tous les étoiles band that played classic rock.

    And I dreamt about an earthquake while I was there, too.

    Gavin M., you’re so right.  I should have taken along a hardware bag as well.  I was just worried about getting my garment bag, my laptop bag, and my cymbal bag all together for the long haul between baggage claim and car rental at SFO (they’re in different counties, you know), and didn’t think I could manage a snare and hardware.  Next wedding, definitely.

    And Al Jackson Jr., good to see you here!  Taking a break from the night shift with Marvin and Jackie, I presume.  I’d post pics, but the dang disposable camera flash didn’t work.  So all I have are pix of the wedding party, the gorgeous day, Oren and Catherine, Larry and Catherine, and me looking like Walt Whitman on the Russian River.  Next time I’m buying the disposable digital camera.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/23  at  12:08 PM
  25. Thanks Michael, it’s nice to be posting again. I rarely have anything to add to the political or critical theory discussions so I get a bit excited when talk turns to drums. I guess it’s ‘cause I spend so much time locked in the Stax Studios tryin’ to put a pocket on those Otis, Aretha, and Booker T tunes that I don’t have time to brush up on my poststructuralist theory or U.S. foreign policy. I gotta get out more often. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. (Duck and Cropper say “hey.")

    I did REALLY enjoy Dr. McGowan’s post on the meaning of Liberalism last Thursday though. I wish I’d had Dr. M when I was majoring in English lit at UNC-Chapel Hill but I’m not sure if he was there in the mid-80’s. Great school though, and I miss Chapel Hill a lot, esp. the Cat’s Cradle.

    As to playing other people’s drum sets, an old drum teacher of mine described it best as “a lot like wearing someone else’s underwear”. I didn’t ask how often he wore other people’s underwear but I think his comparison about sums it up, don’t you?

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  01:12 PM
  26. Cymbals: Paiste
    Sticks: 2D
    Stand: On the left-wing, where it belongs.

    Now that we have the important stuff out of the way, I’m taking bets on the number of gold stripes on Roberts’ robes. Five?

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  01:39 PM
  27. A true drummer story-
    A bass player friend of mine was living in a city I won’t name. There was a local jazz drummer who had a nice light touch, listened and grooved fairly well. There was one problem: He would subtly speed up and slow down. One day the band ended up at his house, and he put on an LP.
    His turntable subtly sped up and slowed down!
    “Dude, your turntable’s messed up”
    “What do you mean?”

    Posted by John Mulkerin  on  09/23  at  01:52 PM
  28. As to playing other people’s drum sets, an old drum teacher of mine described it best as “a lot like wearing someone else’s underwear”.

    That’s another reason to bring your own maxi-pads.

    The one thing, honestly, that I could never get used to… No, there are two things.

    One is when a borrowed kit has a double bass pedal. It makes for a totally cluttered mise-en-place, and unless you need to go ‘tucka-tucka’ all the time, you actually get easier, cleaner grace notes on the kick with a single pedal. Which you usually can’t do with those things because the action is so coarse.  It’s like “Oh no, I have to wear the Herman Munster shoes tonight.” Hate those damn things. 

    The other is those stools shaped like bicycle seats.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  09/23  at  02:06 PM
  29. Oh my god, don’t get me started on double-bass pedals. They are the scourge of the modern drummer--if you’re gonna play double bass (and you aren’t Rod Morgenstein or Billy Cobham) then for god’s sake bring two bass drums so when you show up at the gig/rehearsal/jam session everyone else in the band will know you’re a death metal speed freak and cannot be depended upon to lay down a simple groove.

    There are no bounds to the endlessly weird things people do to their drum sets. I once sat in with a band whose drummer used cut-off broom stick handles for sticks. Red ones. I played “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix...with much depression but little mania, due to the tree-trunk size of the “sticks”.

    Drummers of the world...in the name of all that which does not suck...please...put...down...the...bong.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  03:33 PM
  30. Michael, I was hoping that you’d done Helter Skelter just so you’d have a chance to yell “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”. Oh well.

    I wish I could remember who it was that said it (maybe Trevor Horn?) but a Famous Person In The Music Business caused a ruckus once by saying he liked drum machines because they didn’t show up to sessions totally coked out, unlike human drummers. D’oh!

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  05:19 PM
  31. "This was a once-in-a-decade kind of thing, for which I put a whole mess of mundane stuff on hold (and for which I needed Extended Spousal Approval—thanks, Janet”

    Sorry to read that Michael, since music is so necessary to assuage the savage SCOTUS.  Reading your commentary, and knowing the Bay Area and surroundings all to intimately well, i could follow along with some degree of emotional connection.  I had to start laughing with your delayed ETD from SF, knowing all too well what 101 traffic looks like all the way to Santa Rosa on Friday afternoons.

    If, for some bizarre and certainly as yet unimaginable reason you should again find it necessary to come out to the West/Left Coast to play some music, please contact me via email.  Even before i retired from academia, i produced, and continue to produce(tomorrow, in Berkeley, two great festivals on campus--Watershed poetry fest and Comes A Time tribute for Jerry Garcia), music festivals and rock concerts throughout the region from SoCal to Canada; i can dig up backlines and drum rigs of any degree with surprising ease.  Reading your plight on cymbals in Santa Rosa made me shudder, knowing how close you were to some awesome professional drummers i know, who would have gladly lent you the cymbals of your dreams.  aaaaaarrrrrrggggg… oh well, teaches me to offer up even if it might not be wanted.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  06:51 PM
  32. Michael… What did this Kirk guy look like?

    Posted by Ron Sullivan  on  09/24  at  12:28 AM
  33. Oh! my god this is just gr8.....you ahve inspired me ti have the perfect wedding. Thank you mate....wish the couple success in thier marriage.
    http://www.thekikuyu.info

    Posted by antonio  on  09/24  at  01:58 AM
  34. Late to the party, so to speak, but:

    How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Fuck the changes, man.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  09/29  at  09:46 PM

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