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Tony Williams Fred, minus drums

I'm proud to announce that I've finished work on my drumless backing track! It took me about a month to complete and here it is!

Tony Williams' 'Fred' is one of those tunes you hear and it all changes.  At least for me, that's how it was.  The drums really make this track, as you can hear.  Feel free to download, or do what ever with this.  I only ask for the credit if you use the track.


Sting's Wild Wild Sea

Not sure when I first heard this song, but I think I had rented Sting Unplugged from Hollywood Video while I was living on Forrest Hill in Peoria, IL. After watching it, I wasnt in a hurry to return it because it's that good. The song 'Wild Wild Sea' tells the story of a man who see's a ghost ship in the darkening sky. The man sleep walks into the sea, following the north star and the moon. He swims all night and finds himself on deck of a ship. Everything is silent around him. He then sleeps for what seems an eternity. When he awakens, he's in white linen and the sky is turning grey. Through the oncoming storm, he sees a sailor. When he gets close enough, he discovers it's his father. 'Lost in the wild, wild, sea refers to the ocean of emotions that he felt after his father died. The song, in my opinion is perfectly crafted around this story. And what personal story to tell. Perhaps thats why I like it so much.


John Bonham's Last Zeppelin show

John Bonham's Last Zeppelin Show I haven't downloaded this yet. And I don't remember hearing about John Bonham's death in 1980, I was only 4 years old. I never really got into Zeppelin until I was about 14. And I don't even remember why I got into it in the way I did. I remember it being a big deal to hear 'Stairway to Heaven' on the radio. The first Zeppelin album we had was probably Led Zeppelin II or the first album. It was on cassette. This was back in the days of no Internet. The days of having to order or look for 'Hammer of the Gods' in book form. There used to be bootlegs on sale at CoOp Records in Peoria, IL. Or you could look in the back of some magazines and find ads for live concerts for sale. Not from that show, but close



Brubeck tune via Ligon

that tune is great for learning to hear 9/8.  Here are the accents:

123456789   123456789   123456789   123456789

or something like that.  You can do a similar thing when learning to feel 7/8, 5/8 and on and on.  File this under rhythm, the power of accents can make a song seem more complex than what it is. 



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google plus

so I was lucky enough to be one of the first folks to get a google plus account. I dumped facebook about a year ago.


Gretsch Catalina Birch 2010 Review

Over the past year or so, I’ve wanted to buy a drum kit that would be my main ‘gigging’ kit.  I own a very nice Gretsch USA Custom kit, that I purchased in 2002(?).  I love that kit, but I didn’t want to take it out to bars or clubs and run the risk of something happening to it.  I was pretty sure that I wanted another Gretsch kit, but I also checked out Yamaha and building a custom kit myself.  I looked at used kits on ebay, checked the specs for new kits and did the math on having a kit built, custom.  My budget was around $1000.  All the used kits that I looked at had some detail that I didn’t care for. The custom kits, while extremely nice, would’ve been too much for my budget.  I kept ending up back at Gretsch kits.
At first, I looked at the Catalina Maple series.  They weren’t too expensive and were maple, which is always great.  This sounds silly, but I wasn’t too hip on the color selection that they had to offer.  That’s when I came across the Birch series.  What I found was that the Birch series were unique in that they utilized the 35 degree Gretsch bearing edge and also came stock with 7 ply.  This meant that they should project more volume and have a lower fundamental tone.  Not a lower pitch, but more of a lower end quality.  I play mostly modern rock, so this suited me well. 
I chose the Euro shell pack, which basically consists of a 22” bass drum, 10” & 12” toms, 16” floor tom and a standard 14” snare drum.  Around a week later the order arrived at my local shop.  The only assembly required was to put the bass drum & floor tom heads on. The snare and BD-mounted toms were pre-packaged and tuned (sort of). 
From Birch
Set up was easy: insert double tom holder, attach toms, extend floor tom legs, attach BD pedal and use existing SD stand.  I will say one thing about the GTS system on this kit:  Gretsch only attaches to two lugs (vs 4 on my USA custom kit) and there’s a funky sort of rubber stopper that keeps the tom from hitting metal. 
From Birch
Honestly, it does it’s job just fine.  The toms were tuned quite high for my tastes and the 10” sounded almost like a toy drum.  I quickly tuned it down and it sounds better.  I had some trouble getting the floor tom to sound the way I want, but I’ve always had some issues with floor toms.  They sound higher when you’re right next to them, but farther away they sound fine. 
Right off the bat, the best feature is the Bass drum (isn’t it always this way?).  Worst feature: snare drum.  WHY, Gretsch, WHY don’t you put a snare bed on this porn-star-of-a-drum-set? 
From Birch
I’m half tempted to buy a router and do it myself.  I wonder if there’s a reason they don’t though.  After some tuning and experimentation, the snare drum became acceptable-sounding, but it still lacks the tonality of a pro snare drum.  There’s just no beef to it.  I have a Gretsch Maple snare drum and it sounds loads better than this one.  It will do fine for bar gigs though.  I don’t expect to find any drum snobs anywhere near where I’ll be playing.  The snare does have a nice sensitivity to it though.  Which reminds me, the hoops on the drums are only 1.75mm single flanged.  Again, WHY?  I’m sure it has to do with cost containment or something.  I’ll bet if these bad boys had die cast, they’d sing a different tune all-together.  Sigh, another day my friend.
The color of the kit is beautiful though.  I ordered cobalt blue, very blue indeed:
From Birch
Overall, I’m very happy with the kit.  I haven’t gigged yet (this Sunday will be the first) so I may post a follow up.  My initial impressions are that the kit sounds pretty good.  I’d love to change all the batter heads and do an A/B against the USA Customs, but that is another story.  And I have yet to hear it in an environment where I can discern the Birch from Maple (I demo’d it in my basement, which is like playing in a glass amplifier), but I’m hoping to really get a sense of what Birch can do for you!  So, for now, I’m a little skeptical on the real difference between Birch & Maple, but time will tell. 
Overall Rating:  7.5/10
Pros: Cost, Color, Quality, Tonality (pending)
Cons:  snare drum, single flanged hoops

Here’s another pic, sorry I’m too lazy to crop some of these:
From Birch

12/16/2010 Update:  Ok, so I've gigged quite a bit with these drums now and I owe this post an update.  The Birch thing?  Yeah, the tone is lower and has more presence.  It's a good thing.  The snare drum?  I don't use it.  But this kit has become my main gigging kit, it's great.


Apple in talks to improve sound quality of music downloads -

Not only will it sound great, but you'll look great while listening to it! Today's music distribution can be summed up as cheap.easy.shit.

Apple in talks to improve sound quality of music downloads -


Very Hip Groove

This is a very hip groove from Gary Chaffee.  I haven’t figured out the exact sticking, but stay tuned!


Sanford Double Beat

This is an excellent article/exercise from At higher tempos (or not), this can really isolate your weaknesses.