So a few weeks back we were in LA to perform on the CBS tv special “Teachers Rock” featuring teachers doing wonderful things and all. We along with Garth Brooks, Josh Groban, Fun, Carrie Underwood and others did their respective ‘thing’ and we did too covering Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”…wait..no. I mean Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” which is a Bob Dylan tune with a few of Stewart’s embellishments. I had a little time the day before so me and my drum tech/where are we guy, Jay Ballinger, drove to Oxnard to spend some time with one of the greatest guys in the drum biz Scott Garrison, AKA Garrison…just Garrison who is the artist rep at DW Drum Company and our personal grand tour provider. I bought my first DW kit in 1995 and have cherished that kit as my first real professional kit because of its DW sound. Fast forward a few years..: ) and now I’m a bonafide member of the DW drum family and have been on the artist roster for almost a year now! So I was very excited to see the factory in action. You can check out the history of DW by clicking on this link DW Drums or the DW logo on my home page so I won’t go into that detail. We arrive to meet our gracious host and waste no time in seeing the goodies. The DW facility/compound is gigantic. The main building is huge. I can’t begin to guess the size but I bet you could fit 100 Starbucks in there. “How ’bout put one right over there!” They weren’t receptive to that idea. These folks get their buzz with the smell of the building of drums. The show room is exciting featuring many different kits in different configurations and shell packages. The basic manufacturing principles of the drums is similar to other companies but DW always takes each process one step further in the name of quality, if not science. John Good, Senior Vice President, ‘tone taps’ each shell finding its fundamental note to match with other shells to complete a drum kit. Shell design is unique to DW. They have their own machine shop lathes to manufacture every thing from plastics to tension rods and pedal/cymbal stand hardware. Time and care is taken to recycle as much unused material as possible and their paint and finish department takes things to the extreme by recirculating and filtering air that is way beyond EPA standards. With all the friendly faces you can definitely get the sense that this is a great place to work. Everybody knows Garrison, he knows all of them as well…smiles all around! The doors are open to the public on Thursday afternoons for tours so if you’re in the area I encourage you to take the tour even if you’re not a drummer. Its an experience you’ll never forget! Check out the video which goes into further detail of the manufacturing process. I managed to snap a few picks but its hard to remember to take a pic when grinning ear to ear. Thanks for stopping by! Steve
This blog has very little, ok nothing to do with drumming or music directly but was such a neat trip I had to blog about it. Balsam North Carolina…never heard of it. Then my wife comes to me with an itch to get out of town and a Groupon. Ok! So we pack a few things for a 3 day trip and head eastward on I-40 about 4.5 hours to Balsam North Carolina and The Balsam Mountain Inn. The Inn is an old historic wooden Victorian Hotel built in 1905, one of many railroad inns at the time and is currently one of only a few of its kind still in existence. It was restored in 1990 by Merrily Teasley and registered with the Dept of Interior so it’s historically certified. The rooms are quaint with wooden floors, slat walls and slat ceilings. Every attempt has been made to keep it as true to what it was back in the day. No cable, no tv and some internet. Air conditioning is your open window which is fine because it gets down to the mid 60′s in the mountains at night and mid 80′s during the day this time of year. There’s a full restaurant with many styles of wines to choose from as well as a library, fire place, puzzle room and many small nooks to sit with a book or relax on the porch in a rocking chair and watch what doesn’t happen around here. In other words, lots of quiet. There’s plenty of hiking which we didn’t get a chance to do but we did get to do some zip lining with Adventure America in Nantahala Gorge. This particular adventure had 13 zip lines in the woods complete with some points of interest and random facts which added to the fun. After that was tubing in which you get bounced down a fast moving river amongst boulders. You probably can’t get killed doing this but you can get hurt pretty easily as we witnessed paramedics rescuing a tuber who got slammed against a rock…fun for some! Me and my wife consider ourselves foodies and we didn’t expect much in that way considering we weren’t in some metropolis but we were quite pleasantly surprised! This area of North Carolina is not just Bed and Breakfast central. The breakfast at the inn was fantastic both days but we fell in love with a place in Waynesville called the Frogs Leap Public House. Southern cuisine with what they call a “local backbone and home grown libations.” Most of their produce, meats, dairies and “libations” are bought from local growers and makers. They are also an environmentally friendly business. They lead by example by printing on recycled paper, converting used cooking oil into bio-fuel and are proud to say they have no dumpster since they compost or recycle everything. Fantastic service and unbelievable collard greens should be noted as well!! Waynesville also has a couple other restaurants that score high marks too so we will explore those next time. The Inn, the restaurants, the outdoor activities made this trip a really great, quick weekend getaway that me and my wife will surely revisit again and again! Thanks for stopping by! Steve
So I’ve been interested in checking out Brooklyn for a long time now. Happens that we have a few days off in Manhattan so I’m taking the F train at 34th to the York station (on the first try!) so I can explore a really great area of Brooklyn known as Dumbo, which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The area is generally between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and continues East. Local residents came up with the name in the late ’70′s hoping to deter developers with such a ridiculous name. Today, it is an official historical art district with galleries, shopping, restaurants, a chocolate factory and a park right on the East River. A photographer friend of mine, Jim Wright recommended the area and said there would be plenty of things to shoot…he was right. So I put on my newbie street photographer cap and started aiming! Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by! Steve
It’s summer so it means it’s that time of year! Fair date touring season! County fairs and the like cover our schedule like that barbeque Billy’s hot sauce all over your shirt. But last weekend was a little different. Last weekend we played at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas. New Braunfels is known for its beer and brats…and tubing!! Being that I’m originally from and grew up in not too far Houston, I can remember several times going with my folks and some friends tubing down the Guadalupe or Comal river. It was always a ‘Texas’ kinda-hot-summer day as I would drift slowly down the river with my arms and legs baking and my butt nice and cool, daring to go down the Chute! Fun stuff! Whitewater Amphitheater sits right on a river near Canyon Lake and is surrounded by big beautiful cypress trees and all the things that make this part of Texas great. We knew it was gonna be a great show and it was so I’m glad I was able to get some shots of the this distinctive river landscape. Thanks for stopping by! Steve
Sammy Davis Jr. is my second entry into the Drummer of the Month. As I’ve mentioned, I’d like to feature a drummer and bring to your attention the talents of someone who has not been thought of as a drummer first. This month’s drummer, Samuel George “Sammy” Davis Jr. was born in Harlem, NY in 1925 and died in Beverly Hills in 1990. His incredible 60 year career clearly earned him the title, “Mr. Entertainment” while overcoming huge racial barriers in the process. He started in Vaudeville at the tender age of 3 touring with his father and uncle and a few short years after, started acting and singing in several movies. By the late, 50′s Mr. Davis was invited to be a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” along with entertainers Joey Bishop, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford headlining in Las Vegas. He appeared and starred in a variety of TV specials throughout the years and is well remembered for the songs “Candy Man” and “Mr. Bojangles”. Many popular entertainers of the time, prior to the 80′s let’s say, got their start in Vaudeville. So Mr. Davis was adept at a variety of skills in entertainment. He has been known to be quite the tap dancer but also played guitar, piano, trumpet, vibes and of course, drums. Here in the first video he plays in a tribute to Eddie Condon, a tune called “A Message From Mr. Goldfinger”…what’s interesting too is that he says he considers himself a novice at drums…his playing is ANYTHING but novice …check it out.
Here Mr. Davis plays drums and vibes on the Ed Sullivan Show yet again, “killing” it.
This past weekend ended the Country and Cold Cans Tour featuring the Eli Young Band, Will Hoge and Cadillac Black. Lots of talent on that stage with the Eli Young Band winning the ACM song of the year award for “Crazy Girl”, Will Hoge being the writer of EYB’s latest hit “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and Jaren Johnston who wrote “You’re Gonna Fly” for Keith Urban and “The Woods” with Dierks on the new record. Starting at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and ending in Tupelo Mississippi, we hope we did our part in helping folks feel the need to Tip It On Back and have a good time! …maybe even Come A Little Closer to Feel That Fire without asking themselves What Was I Thinking… sorry, I started that and couldn’t stop. Here’s a few picks I fired off of Cadillac Black and Eli Young Band with my new Sony NEX 5N camera!. Thanks for stopping by! Steve
Look who’s pic is next to one of my favorite drummers!! Josh Freese!! http://www.vater.com
I love being with Vater percussion. Great sticks with great people at the helm. Check out their products page for new cool stuff! I’ll be doing a blog about the stick mate shaker as soon as I get my hands on one! Thanks for stopping by! Steve