We’ve come to the end of the outdoor concert season and, like everyone else, I will now look to the indoor venues to shelter from the cold as I listen to great music under a roof for the next several months. The outdoor season is particularly fun for me, because I live 5 minutes from Gillette Stadium and only 10 minutes from the Comcast Center (or, as I say, Foxboro Stadium and Great Woods). This works out perfectly because I can meet up with any artist rolling through town who wants to try out some gear. I go through the back entrances, park by the bands, walk in and meet up with people. There is a major theme of graciousness and humility among most of the artists I talk to, and I often end up hanging out with them, having dinner, inevitably talking about every drum and cymbal made since 1942 and just generally having fun. As part of this, most of the artists will generously offer passes to the show, not just for myself, but for friends and family. So, I will end up going with musician friends who know the drill, or my wife who will embarrass me by telling the artists she doesn’t know their music, but loves Tom Petty, or friends who will tell these artists that their daughter plays the French horn and then ask how to get an audition for the band.
Not joking here.
But most often, I go with my daughter who will bring a couple of friends. Unlike the aforementioned people, she actually handles herself with decorum and is respectful, acting unobtrusive in their space while expressing appreciation to the particular artists. For the most part, she does whatever teenage girls do, which is chronicle every moment of their lives with their iPhones and stream their existence on whatever social media site is popular that month. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that many of these postings are competitive among the peer groups and all access at concerts has to rank high on the exclusivity scale. Maybe not, but regardless, I would always rather she enjoy the moments in real time rather than watch a movie about her own experiences in retrospect the next day. To this end, I try to pull her into the conversations and have her engage with the artists on a personal level. Unfortunately for her, this is most often on stage during sound check where a particular drummer is trying out multiple drums, usually snares, so the conversation doesn’t have a lot of appeal to her and will not score points with her virtual friends.
One day, my daughter and I were on stage, during sound check. As is typical, I had brought what the artist specifically wanted to try out plus other drums from our arsenal that I thought this particular drummer would like based on his genre, playing style and tone on recordings. On this day I had walnut, maple, beech, oak and ash drums with me, in different depths and finishes. We were swapping the different drums, tuning, detuning as I described the different characteristics and explained why I brought each particular drum, but ultimately the choice would depend on which drum moved him, etc.
I looked over at my daughter, smiled and said, “Do you have ANY interest in this at all?” “Well, the drums themselves, no,” she replied, “but it is interesting how all of the drums are different and you can describe the specific qualities of each of them. You are like E-Harmony for the drums.”
We all laughed, but it’s actually a pretty good description. A drummer picking his or her instrument is similar to picking a mate (though much, much more important). Every artist and every person has different qualities they are looking for. Choosing is highly individual and it helps to start by knowing what you don’t want and realizing what’s important to you and then looking for it. I help guide artists and help them narrow down the choices based on what is important, their individual style and what stands out the most to them.
If that makes me E-Harmony for the drums, I’ll take it! And, hey, drums last way longer than most relationships anyway....