Spring 2017

Been pretty crap at posting updates, but I have kept up with the media pages in the meantime!  There are a couple new little video clips over there, both of jams and ideas as well as gigs.

I guess I haven’t mentioned new projects – James & Black is a great soul/funk duo out of Texas who’ve been touring Europe nonstop for years now.  I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in with them on Germany dates and the occasional Netherlands gig, and it’s been great fun.  Love hanging with fellow Americans over here in Europe, and they’re genuinely great people to boot.  Been able to play a couple big festivals with them, like Swingin’ Groningen and the Baltic Soul Festival (getting to see Sister Sledge perform “We Are Family” from backstage was a trip).

I’ve also begun playing with Bluespam, a blues/funk/rock group with some incredibly talented musicians… hearing an absolutely shredding guitarist trade solos with a ripping harmonica (!) player will never get old.  After our first gig together, an older man said to the guitarist that he had tears in his eyes during our take on “Little Wing” – “Jimmy Hendrix was here tonight.”  That’s amazing to hear!

I got asked to sub for The Urban Turbans, a great ska/balkan jazz group out of Muenster, as their drummer’s broken his hand.  While I wish him a speedy recovery, I’m enjoying playing some music that’s quite on another planet from what I’ve done so far!  Really fun stuff and looking forward to the three gigs we have coming up together.

I got to reunite with Bill Dwyer Band and do a tour with them through Germany, France, the Netherlands, and England… felt like home!  And there’s another EU tour in the works… also been doing a little touring with Mr. Kowalsky in the last year; how many things exist that can top playing ska on a boat in Paris with good friends?

Shubangi‘s still rocking, gearing up for some fresh gigs and festivals this spring and summer.  Last year had some real highlights, like Juicy Beats!  Feeling super fortunate.  Shubangi is working on an EP now for which we’ve even recorded a couple acoustic drum layers.  itshappening.gif

Also had the chance to play at Skater’s Palace 16 year anniversary party with AzudemSK, which was an absolute blast.  There will be some more ASK gigs this year, and I can’t wait!

Also rocking with some friends here in Muenster and hoping to get some videos and recordings going this spring/summer, so will post about that when that’s underway.  I’ve felt really fortunate to have met some folks who are not only incredibly talented and share some musical ground with me, but who are also great people and fun to work with.  Not something to take for granted, one is reminded as the years go by.  Here are two examples – these guys agreed to perform these pieces with me at a recent exam I took at my university, and we’re going to be doing videos for them in the near future.  But to have been able to rock these songs was just a real challenge and pleasure.  Great music and great performances: Alex Rosenhof’s “A Sleepless Night” and Andreas Liebrecht’s “Who’s Chasing Me?”

End of Summer Sum-Up

As the summer’s coming to a close, I thought I’d post a few more photos, for archiving’s sake, and remark on how fortunate I’ve felt about some things I’ve been able to be a part of.  From beautiful locations to new equipment to tour with friends to three weeks back home, it was a summer with lots of highlights.  Some of these I’ve featured in past posts, but others I still wanted to represent with a photo or two.

First up, largely for Shubangi and partly out of morbid curiosity, I’ve joined the “dark side,” as my buddy Bill Dwyer would probably put it:

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I have since purchased two Roland BT-1 percussion bars to run into this thing, as opposed to the triggers.  I’m excited to work with the triggers more, but for now they’re impractical and don’t fit with what I need samples for.  We’ll see when or if that changes.

Here are some pictures from the last Shubangi gigs of the summer.

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Borken – That’s Life festival

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Setting up in Borken. That’s an old Sonor Sonic Plus kit, made in Germany of all birch. Sounds a lot better than what’s billed as a beginner’s kit ought to.  Crazy hardware as well… look at the floor tom legs, for example.

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Heimatzoo Festival, Grindau bei Schwarmstedt

shubangi heimatzoo

Heimatzoo Festival, Grindau bei Schwarmstedt

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Rink-Festival, Osnabrueck

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Rink-Festival, Osnabrueck

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Session.One at the Kleiner Donner, Hamburg

I was home in Boston for a few weeks as well, enjoying lots of family time which I’d sorely missed, and got to see some old friends, and even play a little music.  I didn’t take many pictures, which I should have, but musically speaking:

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Curtis Killian, Clinton Degan, and Hocus Pocus. This pic/jam was in Curtis’s new apartment’s basement, which just happened to come with a RECORDING STUDIO BUILT IN.

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Added a few new members to the family

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Trying to figure out how to fly overseas with a full drumset. Not recommended

Back in Europe I got to hit the road with my friends from Mr. Kowalsky.  I maintain that nothing gets an audience moving like ska and reggae.  We hit a few cities in Germany, as well as Amsterdam and Paris.  We also shot a little video in Paris, which is guaranteed to make us look ridiculous, so that should be fun.

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On the tour I got to play two awesome kits: a 1964 (I believe) Gretsch which, as can be expected, just had the sweetest tone…

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And, finally!  A Ludwig Breakbeats!  It sounded so much better than I expected.  Tons of punch to the kick and the toms have a great tone.  I’m still working on my epitome-of-portability suitcase drumset (henceforth known as the Kofferkit), but I’ve gotta put this thing back on my radar for other small gigs that need something a little more “traditional.”  Was super psyched about this one.

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Belgian Fries (Or: the Rumors are True)

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Noticed some funny usage patterns on my new snare head after the ska/reggae tour

This was a cool one: a wedding at one of the wildest locations I’ve played in.  They rented a second church for their party.  Note the relative size of the drumset on the stage – and the pictures don’t even entirely catch the magnitude of the place!

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At this wedding I got to work with Phil Kamp, a champ, by the way, for making the above-pictured room sound not just reasonable but better, who brought along this little guy – a KLANG:technologies monitoring station.  This ran to our in-ear monitors and created a 3D mix for us which we could control wirelessly from individual iPads, not only controlling volumes and EQ in our buds, but also actually moving around the other instruments in our mixes with the graphical interface, putting them further to the right, left, above, below, in front, behind… all of this to actually mimic the stage set-up, or mock-up a rehearsal set-up, or whatever we felt like.  It was amazing.

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I also got to do some studio work; one session was with the DopeBoyz, who are beat makers and one of whom I study with.  Here we are getting set up.  Hopefully I’ll be able to link to some final products sometime in the near future, but as they post the beats for purchase, occasionally with exclusive rights, a link may be short-lived.  Here’s a short video of the session they put together.

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Of course, there was some time to relax.  I’m always looking for a reason to get on the bike, so I was happy to take a short tour up to Osnabrueck and back with my friend Lucky.  (If the authorities are reading this – we had permission to camp! 😉 )


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Way overloaded, but in my defense, I was testing my new front rack and panniers

Way overloaded for such a short tour, but in my defense, I was testing my new front rack and panniers, plus I brought the tent!

The new semester just started today, so that’s the next step.  I’ve been working on a song of my own, as well, so I hope to have something to show before long – it would/will be my first personal work posted, so I’m excited about that.  And there are a few acoustic Shubangi gigs coming up soon, Nov 6th and 7th in Koeln and here in Muenster, respectively.

So: onwards!

Adventures in Percussion

Got to play a really neat concert at the new-ish LWL Museum here in Muenster with the Musikhochschule Muenster percussion department a few days ago.  It was a “Student’s Night” there with apparently around 5,200 people attending, and the percussionists provided a lot of the music.  In the inner courtyard, we played a decent variety including a Steve Reich piece; a couple pieces for marimba (I played as voice one on a marimba trio song); a really badass piece for bongos, tamborines and hihats; a rumba; an original song by one of the students, and more.

Out on the outside corner of the building is a huge light art installation by Otto Piene, and twice over the course of the night, five of us were booked to perform an improvised piece to the lights.  During our first time slot the lights were having some issues and came on late, but otherwise, it was pretty successful.  We prepared a ~15 minute piece for hand percussion, tomtoms, gongs, cymbals, and drumset that moved between prepared groove sections and improvised passages where the improvisers would work off what the lights were doing at the time (the light show rotated randomly – and what’s more, it consisted suddenly of completely different shapes and movements than it had when we took video with which to rehearse and prepare!).

Although I feel like I’m working through a minor plateau in my drumset playing right now, I’m really feeling fortunate to be a part of these other more percussion based events like this one and the percussion department concerts; I never thought I’d be up on stage in a concert hall behind a marimba, or out on a street corner with four other drummers improvising to a light show surrounded by a few hundred people, but I’m really enjoying doing something a bit different.

Here are a couple pictures, and here’s a short video Lena managed to catch of the first improvised piece (this was at the end of one of the improvisational passages before the lights were working, then goes into one of the prepared sections).

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lwl museum gig action shot

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Efforts Towards Flexibility

I’m putting together a suitcase drumset.  Psyched about it.  This should allow me to take acoustic gigs and (very) small venue gigs without sacrificing the presence of a drumset for the sake of a cajon or some similar stand-in.  I’m not ragging on the cajon; I know those good with them can produce a lot of interesting sound.  But Shubangi has a few acoustic shows coming up, and I’d prefer to keep as close to the original drum sound as possible while scaling it back appropriately.  I’ve also recently had a couple sub gigs for Gin and Juice and G & the Boyz; both times we’ve done stripped back acoustic covers and both times I’ve wished I had a proper kit to better replicate the original grooves.

I’ve already had a couple conversations with other musicians about potentially getting out into the street and busking, and this kit would be perfect for that, as well as other guerilla type performance possibilities.

Total cost so far: 45 euros

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One from the Archives

Grant of Electric Laser People just sent us all this old clip, and I thought I’d share it.  I hadn’t even put it on my media page.  The Cambridge scene cornerstone, All Asia, has since been leveled for new MIT facilities, so here’s to the fond memories.

http://vimeo.com/3481705

I’m currently in Germany but some things I recorded before I left are still cooking back home.  I’ve recently added a few links in the Discography and Media section and will continue to do so as projects continue to wrap.  Happy 2014.