show review: Mouth Captain, Cheer Accident, Guzzlemug – Empty Bottle (150809)

150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

Scrolling through my weekly Empty Bottle shows I saw that Cheer Accident was playing a $5 show.  These guys have been around since 1981.  When I was first exposed to them they it was through some epic 20 minute jazz rock track.  Little did I know that this was the not the same iteration of the band.

150808 Mouth Captain, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Mouth Captain, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

Mouth Captain opened the show and are 2 dudes playing lap guitar with a loop pedal and a drum set, and 1 dude doing video with a giant projector in between the the performers.  The videos fit very well with their music and their style is sort of a slow building, elongated mellow style.  My biggest gripe about this band was they used a grasshopper throughout the films but for some reason they didn’t have a shirt with a grasshopper on it. WTF? It was a fun stop motion character of a once alive grasshopper and would be the perfect cross merchandising tie in.  The music was cool. What’s probably always mentioned is the dudes have some affiliation with Blue Man Group and thus their musicianship reflects that.  They don’t play a lot of shows but if you do see them in the listings for a venue they’re worth checking out.

150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

This was the Cheer Accident we got on Saturday. It was 4 of them, 2 ‘origianl’ members and 1 gal and 1 guy all wearing track suits, sunglasses and playing keyboards.  There were sporadic times through the set when they’d sprockets and dance, or play trumpet, but it was mostly keys with drum machine.  The music sounded like the 80’s with vocals out of the 60’s.  Their harmonies were very nice and they hit a lot of great 2 part harmonies.  Halfway through the set I moved from the outer edge to the middle of the crowd and had a better time with the music, joke or not.  I think this was more of a performance art piece instead of being a truly musical thing but I don’t really know enough about them to understand what they joke about.  As an outsider watching this based on what I’ve heard previously that’s the unofficial conclusion I cam eup with.  At various quiet moments in the set the main dude spoke, then they all looked out at the crowd while pre-recorded ‘thank you’s’ would play. It was good times.

150808 Guzzlemug, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Guzzlemug, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

My previous band arbogast had the pleasure of playing with Guzzlemug at Burlington and Ultra Lounge 2 years ago.  When I first saw them their drummer was clean cut and was wearing a beret.  He chewed gum and was ripping through his set with the greatest of ease.  On Saturday he was channeling his inner Andrew WK wearing white with hair down to his shoulders.  The drum mix was quiet which is unusual for the Empty Bottle, which is unfortunate because he’s really good.  The mix would’ve made their set better because the drums, and I may be biased, provide some nice grooves to get you into the weirdness of their music.  If they’re not heard enough you can lose track of the timing and then the guitar and bass are just in sync.  It just provides a nice overall sound.  Guzzlemug is a progressive jazz rock style band, which can go off in out there directions.  They have 17 minute tracks and full releases with just 1 track. It’s a shame this was their last show but sometimes this is the way of progressive bands.  It’s hard for them to catch on but they still leave the world with their music, and hopefully in time it can be found again.  I’d highly recommend their last 2 releases (as those are the only ones I’ve listened to).

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show review: Jojo Mayer & Dave Weckl, Drumming All-Stars night 2 – Martyrs (150811)

150811 - Steve Smith & Benny Greb on the sidewalk in front of Martyrs: Photo by Drumnmike
150811 – Steve Smith & Benny Greb on the sidewalk in front of Martyrs – At one point we were just watching them through those guys’s phones and tablets: Photo by Drumnmike

We walked up to the venue at 8pm and the line was halfway down the block on one side and about 30 ft on the other.  Not being a fan of lines and assuming we wouldn’t get a table anyways we walked to the closest bar for a couple drinks.  After 20 min we walked back to Martyr’s only to find the line still there.  We waited for a little, then a random dude told me they’re doing sound check.  Fine.  We went back in line and waited for 5 minutes.  I suggested going to a different bar but wise Kathryn said we should stay “what if they let people in?” “it’ll take 15 minutes to get everyone in anyways, we won’t miss anything”.

Eventually I convinced her to walk to the bar and if something happens we’d come back.  We had just crossed the street when Benny Greb and Steve Smith walk outside with 2 snare drums and 2 sets of brushes.  Benny apologizes for the delay but said they were going to entertain us with a brushes only rendition to one of my favorite songs of all time “Salt Peanuts“.

We stood on the street leaning up against a car with Benny and Steve’s backs to us.  They tore it up and little did I know their quirky duets would be a running theme throughout the night.

Shortly after they let us into the club and we took our spots, just to the right of where we stood on Friday.

150811 - Jojo Mayer & crew at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Jojo Mayer & crew at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike

Jojo Mayer came out first with the group and played a mid tempo song, playing a fairly steady beat for the majority of the song before getting into ‘his style’ of playing, with a small solo.  His solo was crazy, not in the style of Weckl hitting all the drums but his smoothness, and even some of his ‘tricks’.  At one point he put his foot on the snare to dampen it while he was doing a 1 handed build roll.  He’s not an all or nothing drummer, but he has a nice groove and when he let’s loose he has some great chops.  One of the wildest things during his set was yes it’s a drum show and yes everyone wanted to watch him play drums, but Jojo jumped off the drums and let the singer Chrissi play while he sang Otis Redding’s  (Sitting On) The dock of the bay.

150811 - Jojo Mayer singing at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Jojo Mayer singing at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike

Sure I would’ve liked to see Jojo play that song or another song but he had a nice voice and it was pretty cool to see that.  She also wasn’t too bad herself on the kit.  It was totally unexpected.  When they finished she got back onto the microphone and said to make sure you get out of your comfort zone because that was where life begins.  They played another song which Jojo tore up. During his last song I was distracted from the 2 members standing 5 feet from us, Steve and Benny.  I had a hard time watching Jojo because I was thinking this might be my one time to shake their hands and I would’ve kicked myself for not having the guts to do it and regretting it when I got home.

150811 - Benny Greb & Steve Smith - Mr & Mrs Hi Hat: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Benny Greb & Steve Smith – Mr & Mrs Hi Hat: Photato by Drumnmike

When Jojo got off the stage they took it.  Benny described a heart warming story seeing Steve at a clinic years ago where he performed Mr Hi Hat, a song by Max Roach.  Eventually Steve taught it to Benny and well, the 2 of them played it.  If you watch the video you’ll get an idea what it was like and watching the 2 of them do it was remarkable.  Their rendition was a lot longer than the video but it definitely didn’t feel like it.  They would alternate through some of the front and back sticking, then putting the sticks on their arm for 1 handed rolls, then off of their legs keeping the rhythm.  Steve was able to trip Benny up a few times on some of the stick ‘tricks’ but it was a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

150811 - Dave Weckl and crew - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Dave Weckl and crew – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Then Dave Weckl was up.  He said a few words thanking everyone for the show/camp and then tore into the songs.  This man is nuts.  Being late to the party on this guy (as in this year) the song Got a Match? got me really into his drumming.  My biggest regret is that I didn’t have his music earlier in my life so I could have something absolutely insane to practice to and inspire me.  However the universe presents you with material when you’re ready so now must be the time that I can more fully appreciate it.  My best quote from Kathryn to explain how remarkable his playing is was when Dave was doing a solo and he was hitting all drums possible and she asked ‘where is the cowbell coming from?’.  Dude is just so nuts that he was able to keep time on every other quarter note with it while doing his solo.  Watching him perform was very inspiring.  His set was more jazz and rock, but he didn’t keep still and was at the top of his game.  His player made him a great closer for the 2 nights.

150811 - Benny Greb, Steve Smith & Ironing Board - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Benny Greb, Steve Smith & Ironing Board – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Dave left the stage and Benny and Steve went back up with an ironing board.  Steve mentioned how one time in a hotel he went to another drummers room and they riffed on an ironing board together. Steve and Benny took the liberty of playing the ironing board with brushes, making the ironing board sound the best I’ve ever heard out of an ironing board. As they finished 2 folks put 2 glasses of red wine on the ironing board and they did a small cheers, hugged and left.

150811 - Dave Weckl & Bass player - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Dave Weckl & Bass player – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Jojo and Dave went back on the stage for an amazing rendition of Superstition. Near the end of the song Jojo and Dave were soloing at the same riff that Mike Mangini was tearing up on Friday, and these guys did the same.  The sheer intensity coming from Dave’s set and Jojo’s grooves were amazing to watch together.

I was able to shake Jojo’s and Benny’s hand.  I saw that Steve finished his wine and thus offered to buy him another one.  Steve walked with me to the bar and he ordered the red wine.  I stood next to him for a few minutes and he played a drum roll with brushes on the bar counter.  Only now in my clear head were there questions I’d like to ask him as we waited for the wine to be given to us, but instead I just took a really low light selfie.

150811 - Steve Smith & DrumnMike selfie at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike
150811 – Steve Smith & DrumnMike selfie at Martyrs:Photato by Drumnmike

The entire event really was like a camp, with people getting together from different corners of the globe to teach 5 days of drumming. The performances were all fun with the drummers and band members hugging and shaking hands on stage as they would finish their sets.  It was a group of people who became new friends through their love of music.  Both nights of the show were great and for fear of choosing a favorite child I’m going to say I enjoyed them both, although secretly I have a favorite.

show review: Benny Greb, Steve Smith, Mike Mangini – Martyrs Chicago (150807)

150807 - Benny Greb - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 – Benny Greb – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Out of all the Chicago venue’s that I’ve either played or watched a show this was the first time I was at Martyrs.  It’s a fairly small, or for higher selling point ‘intimate venue’, with tables and chairs setup in front of the stage for this show, with standing room surrounding the seating area.  There were actually 2 bars on each side of the place which made it very convenient.  There were 3 drum sets setup on stage and once Benny took the stage we moved to the other side of the venue to make sure he wasn’t blocked by the conveniently placed posts throughout the venue. There were maybe 20 women at the show, including the woman who sang.  Sadly I think they were just there with their boyfriends or husbands, like mine was.  There could be an opportunity to get more girls into drumming.

Benny Greb is mostly an educator in Germany, although he recently released the awesome album Moving Parts as a trio. After hearing that album I was pissed to find out he’s not a big touring dude so the chance to see/hear him at Martyrs as part of the drum night was awesome and dumb luck it happened so shortly after hearing about him.  The drummers chose the songs that they played with the bands for the evening.  Benny started with Remember the Time, then a song that I’ve never heard, something about putting your money into the gas tank, an amazing drum solo, I shot the Sherriff then Day Tripper. The drums are just a weird extension of this man and he just messes with odd timing on the slow and fast side and triplets walking around the fine line that is the steady beat.  His solo wasn’t just crazy rolls but a mix of awesome groove and then some crazy fills.  As I’m now listening to this song it’s not exactly what his solo was, but this gives you an idea how he solos. My biggest complaint is that he didn’t play longer.

150807 - Steve Smith Sticks - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 – Steve Smith sticks – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

As we were clapping for Benny Steve Smith walked up on stage and sat right next to the pole.  This was my view throughout the whole time he played as the venue was looking full at the other side. Steve’s position was funny when he’d play his right hand on the high hat and his left hand on the black snare just to the right of the pole.  I wish I would’ve gotten a picture of that.  Steve’s main credit for drumming is his early work with the band Journey from 1978 – 1985. Although that’s his most well known credit he’s really created a whole new life for himself with drumming since then as a session player, jazz player, educator, etc. Modern Drummer magazine voted him all around best drummer 5 years in a row.  Steve’s set consisted of jazz pieces, first a song with sticks, then with brushes,then back to sticks.  Eventually he picked up an African style drum and played with his hands on the drum and the set.  For his last song he started scatting into his microphone, mimicking drum fills and beats. Then he started playing set along to this.  This was insane.  His scatting was better than some playing that I’ve heard and I didn’t hear any word trip ups in what he was doing, and he was flying through it.  It was awesome.

150807 Mike Mangini - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Mike Mangini – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

As we were clapping for Steve Mike Mangini took the stage.  He’s the current drummer for prog band Dream Theater and during 2002 – 2005 set 5 worlds fastest drummer records. He started smoothly leading into Stevie Wonders ‘Superstition’, followed by a brief guitar lick to lead into You don’t have to be rich.  He played Higher Learning with an extending ending including riffing back and forth between bass, keys and drums.  Through out his playing he mostly focused on his groove, which was more straight than swing and showcasing his double bass/fast hand fills.  At one point he was doing a single handed roll which was insanely fast while he accented over the toms with his right hand.  It was an awesome display.  As he was finishing up Steve and Benny were next to the stage and I had a feeling what would happen next.

150807 Greb, Mangini and Smith - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Greb, Mangini and Smith – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

When the band finished their tune they walked to the side of the stage and Steve and Benny took place at their drum kits.  Steve started scatting again and all 3 drummers played along.  They each played a brief solo throughout the short performance and it was really cool to see the 3 distinct styles playing along to Steve’s voice.

When they finished their tune they started a simple rhythm on the snare drum, and Dave Weckl and Jojo Meyer walked onto the stage.  They setup in a line from right to left of Mike Mangini, Steve Smith, Dave Weckl, Benny Greb and Jojo Meyer each with a snare drum in front of them, and a sideways bass drum in between Jojo and Benny.  The band joined them briefly for a rendition of When the Saints go Marching in. Then the band stopped to let the drummer play off of each other starting with an 8 bar snare beat from Mike on down the line.  A few times Benny was caught up in the fun and missed his starting point but he quickly caught it and it was a humorous instance between everyone.

150807 Meyer, Greb, Weckly, Smith and Mangini - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Meyer, Greb, Weckly, Smith and Mangini – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

It was awesome to watch the masters play off of each others style and see the fun the drum community can have with each other.  Each style is slightly different and each drummer brought their unique style to the snare drum.  I’m excited for the 2nd show on Tuesday!

I am sad that Benny didn’t come out of the back as I would’ve loved to shake his hand and get a selfie.  Such is life, it was still awesome.

album review: Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree

Buy Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree | listen to Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree

And now for something kind of different.

Although this came out in 1997 it was referred to me almost a year ago when Still Machine was having our breakup night chat.  I still love those guys.  I also just found out when I was going to link to the page that they put up the album with 2 listenable songs on bandcamp.  Not sure if I missed that a while ago but if you’re curious in some non-metal-mike drumming check it out.  I’m curious to know what you think!

Being that this is one of his earlier releases there’s also a different feel to the music.  If you look at his spotify artist page or hear his newer albums you can see/hear what almost 2 decades of a small underground project can turn into when EDM is now on the main stage and played at festivals with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance.  This is a review of his earlier material.

Having now looked it up, this album is a compilation of the 2 previously made EP’s.  Although this video states the Amen Break, one of the most famous sampled drum beats ever is used on his song Vic Acid. However I swear it’s used on the opening track and even one of the later songs on this release as well. Heck, he might have even used the samples to piece together the drum sounds for most of these tracks.

Drum and Bass has been a style of music I’ve always enjoyed but have never been able to fully explore and admittedly my knowledge on the subject is fairly small.  However, I do enjoy this release for what it is. Finding out that this is a combination of some of his earlier works makes me appreciate the release even more as I feel like I’m going through that initial journey of audio exploration with him. Being an early in his career release it has the minimalist feel, trying not to overwhelm himself with too much going on at once and letting the drums breathe.

The drumming is the most constant throughout the release with keyboard and bass accompanying the beats with a few sporadic sounds and noises to add extra dimensions.  The keyboard and bass parts compliment the songs and you can feel that drums are his first instrument and he builds the melodies and bass truly around the beats, instead of the beats around the instruments.  Being a drummer I appreciate someone giving drums the first love instead of vice versa.

For those not too familiar with the Drum and Bass genre this is a good start to get your feet wet.  It could easily go on a Jazz or party playlist and could also be used at the gym or on a running playlist.

Buy Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree | listen to Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree

album review: Benny Greb – Moving Parts

Buy Moving Parts here | Listen to Moving Parts here

Benny Greb is another drummer that I heard about via Drumeo through their free educational videos. Each week they seem to get an even cooler drummer onto their show/site and they do a great job having their finger on the pulse of some really talented drummers.

Like Snarky Puppy and Mark Guiliana, this is one of the newer dudes, at least that I’ve heard about, that is doing some amazing stuff and making me eat my words with the type of jazz that’s going on lately.  It’s great and I love eating my words on this subject.

Where drumeo has their finger on the pulse I’m definitely the one that’s out of date.  Scrolling through product lists for Benny he has a Meinl Cymbal Seta Practice Pad, Promark Hickory 5BG Wood Tip drumsticks and most recently his 2ND(!!) dvd the Art and Science of Groove. I need to pay closer attention to the world of drumming. (and full disclosure yes I’m an Amazon affiliate)

Either way, his stuff, starting with the Drumeo video, is great and will easily get you hooked on his playing.  He’ll do some fairly interesting fills but his grooves are nice and sweet.  He lays back in the pocket but provides a unique style to the beats.

Moving onto the CD it’s a laid back smooth jazz style recording with drums, keyboard and guitar.  It’s airy yet direct with the melodies and grooves.  Benny is of course the standout, but I’m probably biased.  Tracks like Bunker show a more ‘out there’ and loose Benny, but it’s never over the top.

A common theme throughout the recordings are his ability to walk a fine line between playing the tempo straight, then incorporating triplets or other off tempo style feels to the playing, whether playing in front or behind the beat.  It’s a fun way to hear how he plays off the beat(s).  All the songs can be used as examples of what he does Barking does a great job of using a typical beat but spicing it up to a point that it’s familiar, but clearly something he’s made his own.

The album works as a whole and an educational piece of drumming music.  It could easily fit on a jazz or a sunday playlist with a few songs able to fit on a party or upbeat playlist. For drum students it’s a great album to see what’s possible with some traditional instruments and an open playing style.  For other instruments it’s great to hear what can happen with the drums to be able to still play fluidly with some uncommon types of playing.

And to briefly brag, this Friday I’ll be seeing Benny as part of Vic’s Drum Shop all-star drum show at Martyrs in Chicago.  Needless to say I’m pumped. But in the meantime I’m off to practice drums.

Buy Moving Parts here | Listen to Moving Parts here

album review:Thomas Lang & Conrad Schrenk – Yumaflex

BuyThomas Lang & Conrad Schrenk – Yumaflexlisten here.

If you’re going to scour around the internet for some of the top drummers today you’re going to come across Thomas Lang. He’s the ‘Terminator of the drums’ (he’s Austrian).

Being a contrarian when I hear so much about someone and how great they are I want to ignore it and move on to someone else to give them my attention, but really after even just watching his Drumeo video it’s easy to see why so many people gush over him.  His technical prowess is one to be admired and something to aspire to as a drummer.  If you were to take ‘The books’ that drummers and drum teachers would suggest to learn (Stick Control, 4-Way Coordination, etc) and learn to play them like a robot the culmination would be this dude.  He plays so smoothly between both sides/all limbs and he’s clearly just practiced these books. This would make you think he can just sight read and play like the page suggests, with no style but just how the greats before him wrote it.

So how can he play with a group?

Pretty well.  His discography includes a number of musicians he’s played with as a session player. As technically savvy a player as he is you could assume a session would go very smoothly, with a “hey do this” and bam it’s done in a take or 2.  That’s always fun but releases like this are where someone with that broad of an experience can let loose and have fun.

As shown in Yumaflex it’s almost an exercise in the style of all his interests, starting with rock metal, moving over to a Primus/Meshuggah style metal, onto the beach, into the desert, and well, you get it. It almost plays like a demo reel of all the styles Thomas is capable of playing. This release proves that he can groove with the best of them, especially over such a diverse range of genres.

This release will most likely appeal mostly to the drummer, but there is some shredding on the guitar that could appeal to the string lover in your life as well.  Whether you’re looking to improve your playing or just looking to expand your horizons this release is a great gateway into what drummers can be capable of doing. Although it may be wishful thinking on our parts that this is where the bar is set. I just need 5 more words.

BuyThomas Lang & Conrad Schrenk – Yumaflexlisten here.

show review: Deafheaven – Wicker Park Fest (150726)

150626 - Deafheaven, Wicker Park Fest: is a shitty pic better than no pic?:photo by drumnmike
150626 – Deafheaven, Wicker Park Fest: is a shitty pic better than no pic?:photo by drumnmike

“You don’t mix emo with black metal.  The Norwegians would kill you.” said one accented chap as I was following the massive herd towards the exit when they were finished.

To the purists he might be right, but considering the large group of people watching something like this on a Sunday night at 9pm the majority tends to think it’s good.

Since i’m writing about the show, I find myself in the latter.  I must admit when I first heard their stuff I was hooked.  I really like the shoegaze, spacey aspect of them and I also dig the fast black metal drumming.  I’m starting to fade on insanely aggressive metal screaming, but for the time being it works for me.

If you’re not familiar you can check their highly acclaimed album Sunbather (released in 2013).  You’re either into the black metal style or not.  Seeing them live gave me more appreciation for them, but mostly the drummer.  The guitarists had a fairly mid tempo to faster strumming, while the drummer was insane about 70% of the time playing extremely fast 32nd or 64th notes with his blast beats, then moving over to fills, essentially playing very fast fills for the duration of songs.

One of the 2 founding members and vocalist George kept the crowd interested with his energy while the string instruments mostly stood around jamming.  George would dance around, rally the crowd into applause and cheers, and provide theatrical movements to the builds and punctuation in the songs.  He’s no stranger to being on stage and his excitement showed.

As with most festival/outdoor shows when I’m blown away like I was I’m upset I didn’t get to attend their indoor performance at SubT the previous night.  Seeing their intensity in a small space would have been overwhelming but it could’ve been a heck of a show.

They do a nice interpretation of the black metal style with an affinity for other styles of music which can help break up some of the monotony of black metal.  Although the monotony can be half the fund of it, their style blending adds a unique touch to what they’re doing.

George teased and then on July 28th the band confirmed their new album New Bermuda will be released in October. Looking forward to it.

show review:Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion – Thalia Hall (6/14/15)

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Photo by Clayton Hauck

“So do you have a huge jazz boner right now?” Kathryn asked.
“No, it’s more of a historical boner”.

Ginger Baker played Thalia Hall with his Jazz Confusion on Sunday, June 14th and we were fortunate enough to get tickets.  The floor is typically standing room with balcony seating around the hall, they set out rows of chairs on the floor for first come first served.  We sat about 10 rows back. Within seconds we realized no one was sitting in these chairs because the AC unit was dripping onto the seats.  We slid our chairs back 2 feet back to get away from the dripping and had wonderful seats for the show.

150614- ginger baker - thalia hall:photo by drumnmike
150614- ginger baker – although every picture i took of him makes him look like a ghost. Probably pale skin/bright lights in action- thalia hall:photo by drumnmike

The lights dimmed and Ginger and the other 3 members walked onstage. His percussionist helped a slow moving Ginger onto the drum riser, catching him when he stumbled up the stairs.  The percussionist sat at a set of 2 bongos and 2 spiral thrash cymbals at a height reminiscent of John Stanier. At one point Kathryn asked who had the idea first.  I’ve taught her well.

Although Ginger is in his 70’s, he’s playing as if drumming is the one thing he can still do fluidly. When he spoke between songs he’d have trouble breathing every few words, but he would quickly jump into the next song as he was finishing his next sentence.  The band would follow along, typically starting with a saxophone melody, then bass solo, then percussionist and ginger solo, then the full band would come in to bash it into the end.

Midway through the set when Ginger was speaking to the crowd he remarked that he had just gotten out of the hospital 10 days ago, and was livid that Thalia hall had so many stairs as that was one of the things he couldn’t do.  Although after watching Beware of Mr Baker movie spending time in the hospital and then playing shortly after is something that he routinely does, hearing him speak about it now can make someone wonder how many more times he’ll be able to get away with it.

They played a 40 minute set, took a small break then got back on the stage within 10 minutes to play for another 30 minutes.  They walked off stage then the percussionist led a very African style chant of “gingah bakah” for one last song.

The most reflective point of the night was Ginger’s brief intro before the 2nd to last song ‘Why‘.  This was the one song with vocals and he asked the audience to join in the chorus.  It was a slight build and everyone was to yell ‘Why!’.  Before starting the song he referenced the fact that he’s lost everything in his life so many times, and upon reflecting he appeared to have remorse. It seemed to be very painful for him to see the path of destruction that he left behind him.  On our way home Kathryn was enthralled by him and looked up more about him on the internet.  One very positive mention was that he saw his son either the previously night or around that time, so he might be taken the song Why to heart and taking some steps to right some of his wrongs.

150614- ginger baker - thalia hall:photo by drumnmike
150614- Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion sign – Thalia hall:photo by drumnmike

movie review:Stones Throw – Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton

My latest interest in movies has been the documentary, educational type.  Kathryn (wife) is very good at predicting movies as they’re as a problem occurs, calling the climax, resolution, etc but she still loves watching them all the way through.  She’ll even force herself through something that she knows sucks, just to do it.  Years ago my buddy and I would rent old horror movies and eat taco bell.  Since time has passed I’m mostly over that and get antsy watching movies that don’t grab my attention, or help me feel like I’m learning or gaining something.  I also have a hard time caring about the characters and displacing them from their ‘actor’ counterparts.  Even when there aren’t too famous actors in the roles.  However, I do like watching pointless cartoons and comedy sometimes, but that might be my search for joy.

This flick was educational and inspiring.  My main exposure to this label came with Madlib and his Beat Konducta series, as well the Yesterday’s New Quintet stuff. It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit but my knowledge of them was fairly surface level, although if you’re going to fall into something that’s some good stuff to fall into.  I’ve heard of Madvillian, MF Doom and of course Jay Dilla, but I never really dove into them.  I hope to correct this very soon. The flick follows Peanut Butter Wolf, founder of Stones Throw Records through the beginning of the label to when the movie came out.

The label started with PB Wolf’s (because we’re cool together) relationship with Charizma.  Wolf and Charizma were best friends until Charizma was shot and killed during a car jacking.  After a short period of time Wolf wanted to release the music the 2 of them made and thus started the label to release the material.  This eventually grew to him finding Madlib and the different projects that he helped spawn, as well a slew of other releases.

These guys lived in a house in LA and all the hip hop stars as of late would either be hanging out or living there with them. In the house there was a room that was originally built as a bomb shelter, so being a bunch of creative types they setup a studio inside of it and called the studio the Bomb Shelter. They would just hang out at the house making music. One of the main residents was Madlib.  That dude is freaking prolific. Looking at his discography you can get an idea just how into music this man is.  It’s embarrassing as I don’t know if I started now if I’d ever be able to create and be a part of as much as he is, all the while making it half as good as what he’s done.  Dude deserves his own documentary.

For lack of a better word, the climax of the film was the death of Jay Dilla.  After Jay Dilla passed Madlib, etc stopped making music like they were.  It was a big hit to the musical community to lose him and they all mostly lost it with him.  Half of the people interviewed felt like this was where the label turned away from hip hop into other releases, while the other half of the people interviewed thought Stones Throw was always putting out eccentric releases and not just hip hop.  It was most likely the bigger hip hop names that were getting press, so once that stopped the focus was back on the more eccentric releases they were doing.

The most inspiring thing to me was the fact that PB Wolf stuck to his guns and never sold out his label.  Since opening in 1996 a lot of changes have happened in the distribution of music, but he’s proof of finding your community and catering to them.  Near the end of the movie he mentioned that he releases these records for a handful of people and the others he doesn’t really care what they think.  Although that is somewhat of a luxury to say at this point, it’s clearly been something that he has stuck to and only releases the music that he’s been interested in releasing.

Overall the movie was great. My biggest complaint was that they could’ve made it 3 hours long and it still would’ve been interesting.  The movie mostly touched on the aforementioned artists briefly, and even more briefly touched on the more eccentric releases the label put out. The thing that this really did was inspire in the business and ethic sense as well make me want to dive into their catalog a lot deeper, and don’t bend your beliefs when a scare shows up in your industry.

Buy Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton – This Is Stones Throw Records

show review: Marinoan, Bardus, Those Dirty Thieves (7-20-15)

150720 - those dirty thieves - grandbar:photo by Drumnmike
150720 – those dirty thieves – grandbar:photo by Drumnmike

In time I’ll get to the point where I’ll pitch my shows before I actually play them, but in time.

Those Dirty Thieves drew my attention before they even played with the drummer and his wonderful picture on his bass drum.  After talking with the drummer he showed me the wood burned design that he had on his bass drum, which was possibly almost cooler than the bass drum head!

150720 - those dirty thieves bass drum - grandbar:photo by Drumnmike
150720 – those dirty thieves bass drum – grandbar:photo by Drumnmike

When the band took the stage they tore it up.  Dudes play a thrash metal punk type of thing, with most of their songs in the faster, aggressive yelling style.  The singer had a good sense of humor, keeping the crowd engaged between songs.  They kept it quick in between without a lot of down time, key to keeping folks engaged in the live setting.

150720 - Bardus - Grandbar:Photo By Drumnmike
150720 – Bardus – Grandbar:Photo By Drumnmike

Bardus, some dudes out of Philadelphia, are doing a semi tour and found there way in Chicago with us.  Through the coincidence of it being a small world after all I received a text a few days ago saying my buddy Nate knew Ari, the bass player in this band.

When they kicked into their first song they were in the same heavy vein as Those Dirty Thieves, but there was an almost psychedelic groove to them, playing more mid tempo.  For a 3 piece they made a lot of noise and had a big sound.  Their drummer had an awesome Gretsch drum set with a 26″ (!!) bass drum.  Mine is a 22 so dude definitely had a massive kick.  They’re continuing their tour in Milwaukee tonight, Michigan then Ohio.

150720 - marinoan - grandbar: photo by drumnmike
150720 – marinoan – grandbar: photo by drumnmike

and then Marinoan played.  We played our soon to be released EP in it’s entirety. I’m sure I’ll be posting about that in the weeks/months to come…