Posts Tagged ‘band’



February 13, 2011


Interesting that my first post in nearly a year will be about an idea that came to fruition, only to see its extinction two years later.

It’s certainly not uncommon, and statistically it’s inevitable, but that does not change the sadness one feels when the day arrives. You think back to the dozens of auditions, hundreds of hours of rehearsals, the camaraderie, the long discussions and finally, the performances. All of this runs through your mind, like one short film after another with flashes of the current “scene” intermittent throughout.

Time spent on trying to understand what happened is useless and unproductive. It is what it is. Living in the moment keeps things in perspective and the “should’ve-would’ve-could’ve” thought process at bay. You quickly look inward, trying to find that still small voice, that has guided you well in the past, to once again move you forward. Lingering is not an option.

Fortunately, you have many good memories in pictures and video, all of which capture the project’s essence for future generations thanks to cyberspace.

Now comes the longing to fill the void – not right away – but soon. It does not have to be a replication of what just passed, but certainly needs many of the same elements or you won’t be “fed.” You start thinking about people you’ve worked with in previous projects and ask yourself if you should cross any of those bridges again. The answer does not come immediately, which indicates possibilities. On the other hand, you realize that whatever issues caused those projects to end, could and mostly likely would manifest themselves in a new one.

So this journey called “life” continues – one ride ending and another beginning.




March 19, 2010

Dismay and disappointment will take this post from observation to rant to lecture.

Just grin and bear it. 🙂

On February 11th, our band, Powerline, had “the conversation” with our original drummer. (See Letting Go.)

We posted an ad on a couple of different sites.

Our first audition was six days later, February 17th, and we found our drummer  nearly a month after that.

We wouldn’t have believed it if we hadn’t just lived through it. The five of us auditioned so many unskilled drummers, we were starting to wonder if we shouldn’t program a good drum machine.

True, we are not playing run-of-the-mill classic rock, but we stated that clearly in our ad. You certainly wouldn’t know these drummers lacked the requisite skills to play at this level, based on the introductory comments they sent us.

“30 years of experience, great equipment , Very good time and groove. Jazz, rock,r&b,funk,country no metal. I am looking for a band that plays with some dynamics and a great overall sound. Very quick study I will learn your tunes on my time. Rehearsal is for putting the music together. Lets talk see if we can make something work


“I want to play rock music that people want to hear and sound like the original when we play it. I do read, so if I get stumped on a song I can usually find the sheet music and figure out the time changes and breaks.”




“hi  g——  here semi pro drummer . lead and backup vocals pro dw kit  pro  rehersal studio  30 years experience / connections for gigs  if intrested  call or e mail thanks for your time. G——,  —/—/—- . i know  most of what you do”


“I promise It would be worth your time to have me come and play with you.”


“if I can hear it, usually I can play it.”  


“I am a seasoned percussionist…” 


End result? Out of 32 possible drummers, 15 auditions scheduled and 13 auditions held, only 4 actually qualified, based on their skills. One of the four was eliminated because he wouldn’t commit to the project. The other three were the last to audition. Of those three, one would have to travel over an hour each way to rehearsal, twice a week. From the two remaining drummers, the one we selected was the only one who came to the audition completely prepared, knowing all the material well and having the skills to execute the “signature” parts with authority. His congenial personality and willingness to commit to the project was obviously second-to-none.


We learned the hard way that much of the musical talent in this city – a city with so many excellent players when I first started performing – has become very mediocre. After doing some research, we discovered this “shrinking-pool-of-skilled-musicians” phenomenon is not unique to Columbus.

The Local Music Industry  across the country does not have nearly as much high-level talent as it did even twenty years ago. This explains why people who enjoy live rock are gravitating to bands that can perform the classic rock of the 70s and 80s well. Back when those original recordings were made, most of the artists were skilled enough to perform in their own recording sessions. In the case of one band, “Boston,” not only were all the musicians high-level talent, but the actual recording itself – which was done in the guitarist’s home – met the standard of quality set by Columbia Records for all their recordings, and was shipped as is – no changes made. It was their debut album and sold 17 million copies.

The musical environment is certainly very different today, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why.

Here comes the lecture.

Pay attention, would-be musicians: if you’re serious about music, this is for you. It’s also for your teachers, if you’re taking lessons and your parents, if they’re paying for those lessons.

Regardless of what instrument you want to learn, if you do not learn it practicing to a metronome, you’re wasting time and money. You will not learn meter (playing in time) by just playing the correct notes, or in the case of drums, the correct hits. Meter has to be engrained in your sub-conscious or you will never be able to play at a high level and/or with top-notch musicians. They will spot your lack of skills in a heartbeat, especially if you’re a drummer. Any instructor who does not teach with a metronome is doing a great disservice to their students. Any parent that doesn’t demand this in the lesson plan is wasting their money.

To the young and not-so-young musicians who want reward without working for it? Keep reading.

If your dream is to someday get signed to a major label and record your own tunes, you will be very disappointed. Even if you’re fortunate enough to get signed, you won’t be performing in those recording sessions unless you’re an extremely skilled player with extensive experience.

There’s not enough room on this entire blog to tell all the stories of bands that get signed, walk into a studio, only to find their assigned producer saying, “I don’t need you on guitar, I have someone. Same with you on drums. All I need is the singer. If you want a good-sounding CD, this is how we’re going to do it. If not, this session is over. Have I made myself clear?”

I’ve been performing for over 45 years, but that’s not what makes me a good player. It was my initial training when I was an adolescent that makes me a good player. Here’s my State Competition Score and Review when I was in the 8th grade. Those results occurred because I was well-trained, not because I had “years of experience.” That competition was nearly 46 years ago! Family and friends used to say I was “gifted,” but that’s not the case. I was blessed with excellent instructors and had the desire to play well. Truth-be-known, without extensive review, I could not perform “Brahms’ Rhapsody in G Minor” today, even if my life depended on it.

Sitting in your bedroom, playing “made-up” guitar “riffs” for your friends, on your “Flying V” through a “Marshall Stack” means nothing. 

All you’re accomplishing is hearing loss.

If you don’t know what key your in, the time signature (beats per measure) or the chord changes behind those “riffs,” you’re wasting your time. You must learn the “language” in order to “communicate” on a high level with other musicians who are serious about their craft.

No real player wants to babysit your lack of skills.

Thinking you don’t need this “stuff” only reveals your naïveté. If you’re serious about music, buy a metronome and a few good music books and start learning some scales (or drum rudiments) to develop technique. After you’ve acquired some “chops,” learn a few of your favorite songs’ guitar, bass, keyboard or drum parts – note-for-note. There’s a good chance the people playing those parts are highly-skilled session players – not the artists whose names appear on the CDs.

When you can keep up with them, you’re on your way to being a real player.

Okay, I’m breathing normal again.

Thanks for indulging me.


PS – The drummer we brought into the band took drum lessons from the 3rd grade through the 11th grade. (He’s now in his forties.) A few months ago, he decided to get some “refresher lessons” from a highly respected drum instructor. To determine his skill level, he was asked to play “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. (This was also one of our audition tunes.) After he finished playing, the instructor looked at him and said,”You don’t need me. That’s the best I’ve heard someone play that tune in a while. Go home…”