Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Post Admirals Concert Featuring Rodney Atkins

Rodney Atkins
I'm a hockey fan, but here in Milwaukee we only have the Admirals, a minor league team. Still, the Bradley Center is a great place to watch a hockey game. The Admirals have been doing some interesting promotional events over the years. One regular post-game event is to have a concert. This Friday night Rodney Atkins will perform after the scheduled hockey game.

When I first heard this, I thought "Who is Rodney Atkins?" One mouse click and I was impressed. This guy had four number one hits on his 2006 album, and the song "It's America" from his 2008 album made the top spot as well. This is not some washed up country wanna-be.

The Admirals had the Dropkick Murphys perform post show in 2009. They do come up with some pretty amusing ways to get butts in the seats.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plain White T's Turner Hall Show

Plain White T's
The Plain White T's are coming to the Turner Hall ballroom on January 27. The band started playing basement shows in Lombard Illinois, and went on to find some success with the song Hey There Delilah. They charted pretty high in the US and UK with their next album titled Every Second Counts, but I must admit, I have no idea how any of their songs sound, aside from "Delilah." I stopped listening to commercial radio when I moved my office off of the sales floor at work.

Turner Hall should be a great venue for this band, as it's a weeknight in Milwaukee, in the dead of winter. If 200 people show up, it will still feel like a good sized crowd. If 700 people show up, all the better. These guys played the fest in 2008. That Summerfest show was during their peak in popularity.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Studio Session for Local Guitar Player | Keep Looking for that Perfect Drummer

My neighbor is a guitar player. He's been playing the Milwaukee blues scene for years now. His bands have come and gone, but he continues to perform live and record. He told me that he wanted me to be the drummer on his next recording. Just the thought of a recording session with him makes me nervous. In a polite way, I told him to find someone else. I can't record for someone else's band. Not anymore. I have lost the arrogance of my youth.

I hear every mistake that I have ever made on every recording going back to 1984. How could I possibly live with myself if I did the same thing on my neighbor's recording sessions. The pressure is too great. I can't be perfect, so I'm not going to try. I can screw up in my own band, but not someone else's. I feel like a fraud, when I'm playing with old pros. I play what I feel, but I don't feel it when I'm trying to make others happy. I like the relationship that I have with my neighbor as it stands right now. He's a guitar player, and I'm a drummer. He plays one style, and I play another. I would not want to blow that relationship up by knowing that he could have hired a true session drummer for his project.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Drummers warm up ideas and tricks

There are tricks of the trade that many drummers do to get loose and warm. Sometimes the simple things can make all the difference when playing the drums.

Stretch your hands and wrists. I will admit that I didn’t do stretching exercises for the first 10 years of performing. I would sometimes warm up on a practice pad, but never actually stretch each finger, thumb, and my wrists. Here is a great stretching exercise for drummers. The key is to stretch slowly. Yes, that means that you will have to find the time to do that. Yes, that may mean that you can’t chat up the ladies right before you play.

For winter gigs, splurge on a few hand warmer packets, and crack them open during sound check. Keep them handy as the night goes on. I used to live 30 minutes from our rehearsal spot. Sometimes I would get there just in time to start practice, and my hands would be freezing. I slide the warming packets into my gloves as I drive across town. Warm hands work better.

Speaking of gloves, if your hardware has been in a cold vehicle or garage for days, you can bet that it will take hours to warm up. That means your hands will get cold as you set up your drum kit for sound check. Even worse, you have to take your gear from the car right to the stage to play your set. Wear work gloves while you set up your kit. I know, it’s not rock and roll to wear gloves in a club, but you will thank yourself later when you are warm, and your hands are not filthy from setting up your drums.

Wash your hands before you play. If the venue has hot water in the men’s room, use it. Run your hands and wrists under warm water for a few minutes just before going on stage. It’s amazing what a couple minutes of warm water will do for your flexibility. Basically, stay warm when you play a show, and you will perform better.

Put the cold drink on the bar; don’t hold it in your hand. I’ll bet that you don’t even think about that cold beer or rocks glass in your hand. Trust me, it’s a gig killer. If you grip that drink, you are basically freezing up your thumb and finger joints. Yes, holding on to your drink is very important when you are in a seedy club. If you absolutely have to hold your drink, don’t grip it. Ask for two cups if they serve drinks in plastic. The outer cup will keep your hand from icing up.

Warm Up on the Drums Like the Pros

Part of the reason that pro musicians sound so great live is that they are pampered right up until the moment that they walk on to the stage. If you find a copy of a performance rider online, you are likely to see that the biggest stars require a practice room set up somewhere in the venue. They might run through three songs in that room just before walking on stage. Who wouldn’t love to make their fourth song of the evening their first song in front of the audience? Most of us are lucky to find a spot to bang away on a practice pad.

The trouble is that most of us are not superstars. We spend the night in the same room that were we are about to play in. We are lucky to have a dressing room, or even a storage closet where we can get away, and warm up.

Turn your car into the dressing room. Yes, it sucks to think that you have to go out to your car in order to get ready for a show, but sometimes that’s your only option. Turn on the engine, crank the heater, stretch the joints, close your eyes for just a minute, and visualize yourself on stage, playing a great show. Just keep the booze in the bar when you use the car as your warm up spot. That warm and quiet place can set a positive mood just before you walk back into a crowded and noisy club.