I’m just coming off our first leg with Trombone Shorty, Preservation Hall and New Breed Brass Band. Before I head back to the road, I wanted to give you guys a couple updates, on what’s new, how tour life has been, what I’ve been up to and what to expect if you end up coming out to see a show.
My New Mobile Woodshed
To start off with, I just got word from Gretsch that I'll be getting my new practice kit while on tour. This will replace the red sparkle practice kit I've been playing for a few years. This new kit is top secret for now but I call it mini-me. Its sizes are 10”, 13”, and a 16" bass drum. For comparison, my touring Brooklyn kit is a 12” rack, 14”, 16” floors with 20” and 26" bass drums. So the new kit is tiny! This kit is going to be a new color from the maroon finish to a silvery blue color. We'll definitely do some posts about that when I get it on the 24th. More drums!
View this post on InstagramI'll be hosting a live chat in a few minutes on Facebook live at noon Eastern time. I'll have special guests #Alvin Ford and #JoeyPeebles dropping by… And my cameraman and question fielder for the day will be big [email protected] tour with @tromboneshorty and @preshallband #GretschDrums #ThatGreatGretschSound #BrooklynSeries #NewDrums Rd#drumlife #tourlife #funk #drums #drumporn #gearporn @gretschdrums @sabiancymbals_official @dwdrums @vicfirth @remopercussion @lppercussion @gatorcases @audixmics
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My day to day life is pretty much practicing and writing. I've been setting up my little practice kit in our trailer or backstage. On the bus, I've been practicing with a pad because I've been working on finishing up my third book on my approach to applying rudiments around the kit. I've been going through some different rudiment books and just making sure that I've covered all my bases and I have as many ideas as I can use. I haven’t been looking to borrow anybody's ideas, but I’ve looking at what’s been done and making sure my ideas are new.
Rehearsals On the Road
Even as we are touring, Galactic is working on finishing up our next record, and it's getting very close. We've been working up a brass band type of tune that we can play live in the studio. I've been able to incorporate some of the beats and ideas that I've been working on recently into this new tune. As I’ve been teaching and sharing with the academy, I’ve come up with new beats for the record. The beat for this new tune is based off of my “Garibaldized” version of “Cissy Strut” which I cover in Academy Lesson 19. It’s a challenging groove because it utilizes a lot of the stuff on the left side of my kit and it’s at a pretty quick tempo...
We’ve been working on this new song during sound check and then playing it live. This has been particularly helpful because we're trying to prepare to finish this record with only two days in the studio focusing on drums, before we fly back out for the second leg of this tour. The way we like to record is for me to start and record a bunch of drum ideas for a couple days to different tempos and then everyone else starts writing. When we finish up the songs, the drums become mostly loops, so I go in in and replay the drums so that I can put in drum fills, go to the ride for the chorus, and improve the overall drum performance as opposed to just a series of loops.
Trombone Shorty’s Percussion Section
Being on tour with Trombone Shorty I’ve had a bunch of time to spend with their percussion section, Joey Peebles, Alvin Ford and Weedie Braimah. Watching these three has been such a pleasure because of the way they interact with each other. Alvin intentionally plays a little bit more of a percussive role. He's got a Yamaha multi-pad and he's playing hand claps and some different sounds that Joey's not. Alvin also has a smaller kit with bongos and fewer cymbals. Weedie is one of the best percussionists in the world, especially with West African Ghanaian djembe percussion. So when Weedie flies out to some gigs with Alvin, they make sure to cover different textures and different sonic ranges. Alvin will play the bongos with a stick while Weedie's playing congas with his hands. Even though they've got a lot of percussion going on, everybody's frequency ranges are different. What you end up with is a sound that's really full with a lot going on, but not crowded sounding because you have two drummers trying to play the same parts. They've known each other so long that they play really well together; there's not a lot of flamming going on. They know when one's going to go for a big fill, so one of them will just keep playing time through that fill. They're not trying to compete with each other or outdo each other, so they play really well together.
What's great about this tour is you really get the full range of what New Orleans has to offer– Stanton Moore
We've also got the New Breed Brass Band out here who have been a lot of fun. Also Walter Harris, the drummer for Preservation Hall is sounding great. I've had the chance to hang out with him a little bit too. We've got a lot of great drummers out on this tour, it's kind of like a traveling mini New Orleans jazz fest... To me it's kind of like a traveling summer camp, everybody's getting along.
One day Joey picked a spot and we all met up there for brunch and had a nice long brunch together including some of Trombone Shorty musicians and crew as well. Alvin and Joey have been coming and asking me questions for years, so it's been good to hang out with them. I've been getting to practice, learn new ideas from those guys, and work on my new book. We’ve also been hanging on the tour bus all night as we ride from town to town, swapping stories and talking about different music that we are into.
What's great about this tour is you really get the full range of what New Orleans has to offer. You've got the New Breed Brass Band, who have the snare drum, bass drum, second line groove happening. Then you got Preservation Hall, transferring some of that second line stuff to the drum set. Then you have us, where I'm incorporating a lot of the snare drum second line and mixing it with some of the Mardi Gras Indian percussion and playing it from an energetic rock perspective. Then with Shorty you've got Joey and Alvin, and they're leaning even more towards the rock end of things. Through the course of the night, in almost chronological order, the show takes you through the history of New Orleans drumming. You really get to see that whole spectrum and the whole development of the drum set and how we've included all the different elements of everything from European percussion with snare drums and bass drums, to African, West African percussion, and how I'm incorporating a lot of that stuff on my left side. It's a really interesting presentation of all of those different elements of rhythm and drumming, and sonic possibilities that appear in the whole New Orleans lexicon.
I’ve got to get back to the bus now but hope to see you out on the road this tour on a stop near you. If you want to hear what I’ve been practicing or more about my new book, make sure and sign up for SMDA. It’s a great community of drummers and everyone is learning a lot!