We all need to feed our head (and hearts) with music. Don’t forget that. There have been times in my life that I have been so upset that I denied myself one of the things I love the most; Playing music and listening to music. Why? Who knows. One general concept of living well holds true, and that is
I strayed away from baseball after the Big Red Machine days in the mid 70s but as my career in music unfolded I began noticing the Zen-like abilities of baseball players. Watching Jose Altuve bat for the Astros in this current World Series is not unlike seeing Vinnie Colaiuta play with Herbie Hancock. Vinnie is a perfect example so I’m going with it. Both Jose and Vinnie are well trained, with so many gears of auto responses studied and embedded into their bodies, hearts and minds. Baseball has more rules about “what ifs” than any sport. It is a game of anticipation, not action.
Halloween is coming up in a week or so and it has led me to thoughts about drummers that work on fills in isolation from groove or music. Drummers that only work on the fills themselves are playing a facsimile of music, just like a Halloween costume. I mean, “Wow, listen to this guy playing a Bonham (Batman) fill!”
I think that is one reason I will frequently reach for a tambourine or shaker mallet in my right hand instead of a drumstick at times. Having a limitation can be freeing in terms of creativity. This is also why I dropped the two-rack tom setup. It is simply too easy to repeat things from one drum to the next when they are right next to each other. That extra drum (cowbell) stares at me, “Play me, you fool!”
Big Time. Many times in my instructional “Big Time” as well as numerous clinics or appearances, I’ve talked about playing the space between the notes. About loving that space. Big Time teaches how to be self reliant in playing the space, by wiggling in time, breathing in time. Sometimes the rest of the band or at least a crucial player has time that is
I love reading creative quotes from interesting people and since I’m somewhat brain dead with flu, I thought this was a fun way to splatter some thoughts your way. Feel free to share some of your own thoughts or stories after reading, and don’t forget to tip the waiters.
"One of the perks of being an unemployed musician is that you get to play much less bad music." -Jack Daney...
This happened some time after I was in The Knack and before working with Chris Whitley as well as continuing numerous Gary Chang feature film sessions. Gary Chang had worked with Robbie on his first album that Daniel Lanois produced and Gary was instrumental in my meeting and then playing with Robbie. Apparently Gary called Robbie and apparently said, “You’re an A-hole if you don’t check out this drummer from New York, Billy Ward.” Robbie responded
It was a breakthrough for me when I realized that great beats don’t all have to contain busy hi hat and snare notes. The drums are not the only instrument in a band that supplies rhythm to a song! This is one reason why I believe too much time alone on the drum set, without band mates, can turn your playing toward destructive tendencies.
I have plenty of problems. You see, when I am driving through a parking lot and looking for a space to park, if there are lots of available spaces, I can’t decide where to park. I keep driving around until my wife says, “That’s the one!” Then I thank her and park the damn car.
I was a practicing monkey in my early 20s, playing 8 hours a day while dropping out of two music schools. Not being in a band tilted my attention to freer forms of music, Coltrane, Anthony Braxton and others. Have you heard Jack DeJohnette play drum solos? I was into that kind of thing.