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Sunday, October 28, 2012

There and Back Again-A Drummers Tale


I've been asked a lot of questions about what it's like to play out and  I'm going to try to answer those questions.  But I can only do that from my perspective, that of a working drummer in a jazz band with no tales of drunken debauchery to tell.


I would like you all to get the image of rock band and a rock setting completely out of your head. Jazz clubs, jazz bands and jazz musicians are distinctly different from rock-the terms cannot be used interchangeably. I'm playing music written by people like Miles Davis and John ColtraneSidney Bechet and Charlie "Bird" Parker. This requires a particular set of skills and the music defines the experience. Click on the links and give some of these greats a listen so you can understand what I'm talking about.

So what's it like "out there"? It's not what most people think it is. As the drummer, I'm seated in the back, behind a row of cymbals and my view is the back of the horn players heads.  I don't see the audience, which is fine by me because I like to play with my head down and my eyes closed. Audience contact is something I'm not interested in. I'm interested in creating the musical bridge with the bass player that gives the other musicians the freedom to play what they want, whenever they want and to come back together in perfect time.

In a jazz club, the people are there to listen, they know the music and they want improvisation. They do not want a note for note rendition of something they heard on an album as that would be boring.  Also, it is not uncommon for other musicians to be in the audience and when a girl drummer blows into town more musicians have a way of turning up. Which leads to the best part of the night.

After the place closes all those musicians get together and play with no one but the bartender to listen. Even after 2 three hour sets, the energy is still there and the musical "conversation" that takes places is richer and more interesting than it was with a paying audience.  These other musicians also solve the pesky problem of "where are we going to sleep tonight".  They'll put you up for a few days and feed you as well.  Otherwise you're either sleeping in a van or your staying in a cheap roach motel, hardly a glamorous experience.

I want to address the question about what happens when a guy hits on me when I'm playing out. It rarely happens and for several reasons. I'm not personable when I'm playing, I don't accept drinks from men and I'm always within eyeshot of a bandmate.  Guys in a band don't like it when men approach their drummer and they don't really let people near me. I'm protected by four guys, I'm perfectly safe out there and the Hubby knows it.  My bandmates would never lay a hand on me as they respect me as a musician and I won't tolerate anything less than that.

Now enough of that business. You may have noticed that my blog has had a makeover. I'd like to thank my friend Dezz for making the banner and for helping me with the color scheme.


Next week I'll be back to posting figures as I've gotten 11 of them off the painting table and I'm keen to get them up here.

It's Sunday folks and that means the weekend isn't over yet. So if you haven't made merry, there's still time left for it.  Have yourselves a great day. I know I will.

NOTE: I TRIED AUTOPOSTING THIS BLOODY THING AND APPARENTLY THAT DIDN'T WORK AS ONLY A TITLE SHOWED UP AND NO FECKING POST. I'M SORRY FOR THAT!

50 comments:

  1. How cool to have band mates that are there to look out for you! Seems like you are in good company! Have fun out there on the road and stay safe!

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    1. It was fun, but I'm back now and won't be doing any more travelling for a while. I'll be sitting in at a houseband and may sometimes have to sleep over but I'll be home most days.

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  2. I'm glad to hear you're safe on the road. Jazz is very cool and so is your blog makeover!

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    1. I like the makeover too. It's bright, it's clean and it's elegant. I change this thing every season to provide variety.

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  3. Saw the post earlier...came over to look but nothing had changed since the last post..apart from the spiffing new header. Anyways...I thought I´d re-check a bit later on and I have :-D
    I had fun running about with a band but even as a male there are situations that need care ...spiked drinks being one of them. We always drank our own beer :-D
    A certain amount of "self and group defence/reliance" is always a good thing.
    Cheers
    paul

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    1. That's one of the first things you learn. Never take a drink that is offered to you by someone in a club. Most people are nice, but all it takes is one freak and you may not be able to finish the set or worse you may wake up someplace you don't want to be in.

      I help them as well by keeping the needy women at bay!

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  4. Sounds like an experience to be had and everything works out well. You can hide your face and have a squad of men ready to attack the drunks, if it wasn't for the roach motels, all would be swell...haha About time too, is what the cat has to say to you. Saw the updated blog a loooooooooong time ago. Talking about it, you were ever so slow haha

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    1. Never heard of a post doing that either. I have 78 scheduled to go and all seem to give off my rhyming flow haha

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    2. 78? Really? I'm sure half of them are attacking me, Anne, Dan, Gloria or numerous other of your loyal followers. It is all about us, after all.

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    3. You and Elsie need to tell me how to set up autopost. Both your posts go up while your in bed asleep and the rest of us are out and about commenting. Teach me the secrets of the lazy man's approach to blogging.

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    4. Very easy, go to publish on the right of post and select schedule, then the time and date on the calendar and the hit publish. It will say "scheduled" on the right of your post so you know you did it correctly.

      Pfft, lazy man - ha ha ha - more like "efficient" LOL

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    5. I see. Bloody hell, I'm going to try that tonight and see just how badly I feck it up considering the clocks roll back at two a.m.

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    6. I agree with old one eye, it is just very efficient to do. Plus always at the same time so people know when to expect it to come. Yeah 78 are ready to go, only a few attack you. But one in a week or so, gets all of you in one post. I out did myself with that one. hahahaha

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  5. I absolutely love what Dezzy did with the page, looks fantastic!! Great job, Dezz!

    I have messed up an autopost before - don't listen to the cat, he's an ass. I've posted it on the wrong day a time or two. =)

    You're right, it's nothing like I thought it would be. Everything from being in the back, to not being hit on and not staying in very many hotels. My minds eye had it completely wrong. I did picture the band protecting you though because you mentioned your other bandmates did that for you so I imagined these guys would do the same.

    The best thing of all was reading about the "after show" get togethers and just playing to play. That is great, making all of those connections too. I love it for you, Anne. I'm truly happy you are getting this opportunity.

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    1. He did do a great job didn't he. He's a better eye for design then me. Feck the Cat, he's an arsemonkey.

      What I'm hoping is that this bass player will come over to the house every now and again and sit in with me and the Hubby. We can't find a bass player that's worth a damn around here.

      I'm home now and won't be doing anymore real travelling. Fun but tiring.

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    2. I only did the banner, Elsie, but glad you like it :)

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    3. But I couldn't get a banner right at all. The one I had up was horrid and it wasn't until I talked to you that I found out that you know how to custom this stuff. I'm going to ask you to do my entire blog at Christmas!

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    4. Now that would be a great thing if you could get him to come hang out and play with you and the Hubby. Maybe even record some stuff for us?!

      I'm relieved you're done with the traveling for now. I would imagine it is quite draining.

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    5. Annzie, I did at least dozen of banners around the blogosphere :) Check out for example BARDS AND PROPHETS blog which you have in my blogroll :)

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    6. I'll finally come down and sleep for about a day here pretty soon.

      Dez I want you to design my entire blog for Christmas!! I'll look at that blog then and check out your banner.

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  6. Hello Anne and glad you review, happy that everything goes well for your music, and you never know if you will need a guitarist I am the;) If you like Django Reinhardt
    Greeting
    Vincent

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    1. I love Django Reinhardt! So very gifted and so innovative, he turned the world on it's head. People still speak of him with awe and respect-such a talent. And I didn't know you played as well. It's always a pleasure to meet another musician Vincent.

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  7. such a delightful story, Annzie, I really wanted to hear how it is for you when you go out on a gig. What do you wear in these occasions? Are those fancy places or usual smaller ones? I love that you're enjoying this, you deserve this!

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    1. I wear jeans and a shirt with fitted sleeves so the drum sticks don't catch in the cuffs. I play barefoot too as I need to feel the pedal underneath my feet to control it. These are upscale but not large. Maybe 100 people on a weekend night, but they do pay the bands well, which is hard to find.

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    2. but you do come to the gig in high heels, hm? :)
      That is quite a nice crowd, Annzie! When you first said you're going on tour, I didn't know it was jazz, I thought it was death metal or something :PPP

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  8. Nice post, and nice to know how the band takes care of you while on the road! Must take a worry of the hubby's back then eh? Also cool to see the other side of that scene also!

    Nice new theme also!

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    1. The Hubby was out on the road without me for a year once. I only saw him once a week if I was lucky. We're both used to having to do this every now and again but it's so much better when we can go together.

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  9. nice...i would love to hear the aftershow honestly...i do like jazz...and improv though....glad you are safe among your bandmates or they keep you safe...love the new header...it is very cool...

    so how is hubs doing?

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    1. The Hubby now has his brace off and thank you so much for asking Brian.

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  10. I liked how you explained jazz so simply but effectively, glad you enjoyed cailin...you deserve it!

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    1. The change of scenery did me some good and you snuck in a few dot dot dots on me didn't you!

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  11. awesome! we (and I mean, I) need to see some videos of your band playing, pronto.

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    1. That won't be happening anytime soon. I'm not interested in shooting a vid and certainly not a vid that is done cheaply by a hand held video cam, which is all I have.

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  12. I did wonder what happened to the post this morning. Sounds like your having a great time playing in the band, when are we gonna hear some of the music??

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    1. I should have dealt with the issue of recording in the post. The equipment needed to record five musicians live is very expensive and these guys don't have that. Also, I'm a temporary drummer and to do a recording with me and not their regular drummer would be an insult to him and it would create huge problems for all of them.

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  13. We have a musician in our company....a multitalented girl, Anne! :)

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  14. That's what I love about jazz: improvising: a joy to do and to listen to. To hear someone create something new with existing material, make it their own, bring their feel for it out-it's such incredible art because you're their at the moment of it's creation, your listening and appreciation is part of it, because a musician feeds on that from the audience. Sounds like you had a great time :)

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    1. I haven't played anything note for note in years. To play it the same way each time is so dull and will kill you as a musician. The improv is important and when there's a good audience that understands and appreciates it, you do feel it and it brings the level of musicianship up.

      You guys have the best drummers on the West Coast. Wackerman and Bozzio are two of my favorite. I'd kill to sit in with Alan Holdsworth's band.

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  15. Lovely to hear from you Anne, it would seem all is going well, but you must be glad to back to the homestead once in a while. Looking forward to seeing what is on your painting table.

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    1. Thank you Michael. I've been home off and on for the last couple of days and now I'm home permanently. I'm planning on posting a figure tomorrow and maybe one more later in the week. I've got plenty of them painted!

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  16. Hi, Anne: thanks for the 'insiders' view of a jazz band. Looking forward to seeing your miniature handy work.

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    1. I've gotten a lot of painting done this last month. Not posting really helped me get things done. I'm really in the mood to post some figures!

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  17. That sounds so cool with the hours of improv music and the community you can build wherever you go. I'm sure there are drawbacks, but it seems like you've built family (your four brothers-in-music who stop the creepers from trying anything untoward) and friends (those you jam with...sorry, I'm interminably unhip). Also, instead of saying, "I'm cool like Miles Davis." I'm now going with, "I'm cool like Anne O'fucking Leary." Or maybe I'll be less vulgar about it...naaahhhh.

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  18. Still sounds a hard time for you out there. Glad your guys are protective, hate to find out you had to give some guys a kicking LOL

    Ian

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  19. A lot of this I expected.. but now I know, even if just for a little while.. I want to be the bartender of a jazz club. This.. WILL happen..

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  20. Thanks Anne. I enjoyed reading this post. Being totally useless at music I will never experiance this sort of thing. Good at playing CD's though. Glad you get some good times between sleeping in vans and crap motels.

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  21. The "Hobbit" Anne is back from her journey! And that's good news! Thank you for sharing the inside look af a Jazz band on the road!

    PS: nice make over of your blog!

    Greetings
    Peter
    http://peterscave.blogspot.be/

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  22. I love the word picture you painted here Anne. I really could see it all as I read. And I am glad that your band mates look out for you. Oh to be the bartender...

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