Read Exclusive Interviews written for Drumhead, Modern Drummer and Off Beat: Troy Luccketta – Steve Goold – Daniel Glass – Garrett Goodwin – Steve Smith – Dan Needham – Kelly Keagy – Scott Pellegrom – Brandon Scott – Mike “Woody” Emerson – Ben Barter – Rich Redmond – Sean Fuller – Jason Hartless – Robert Sweet – Keio Stroud – Tommy Taylor – Frankie Banali – Bobby Z – Danny Seraphine – Dino Sex– David Abbruzzese – Marisa Testa – David Thibodeau – Robert Perkins – Sarra Cardile – Bill Stevenson – David Cola – Ran Levari – David Raouf – Eric Selby – More to Come
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any history on the blog. Today I’ll share the story of one of the oldest veterans ever to survive the Revolutionary War, Alexander Milliner. Too young at the time of his enlistment for service in the ranks, he was enlisted as drummer boy; and in this capacity he served four years, in George Washington’s Life Guard. He was a great favorite of the General who used to frequently, after the beating of the reveille, come along and pat him on the head, and call him “his boy.”
Milliner was at the battles of White Plains, Brandywine, Saratoga, Monmouth, Yorktown, and some others. The first of these he describes as “a nasty battle.” At Monmouth he received a flesh wound in his thigh. One of the officers came along, and, looking at the young drummer, said, “What’s the matter with, you, boy?” “Nothing,” he answered. “Poor fellow,” exclaimed the officer, “you are bleeding to death.” Milliner survived the wound and continued to serve, suffering with his comrades at Valley Forge.
After the war Milliner maintained his affections for his Commander-in-Chief. In an interview published in 1864 he recalled:
“One day the General sent for me to come up to headquarters. ‘Tell him,’ he sent word, ‘that he needn’t fetch his drum with him.’ I was glad of that. The Life Guard came out and paraded, and the roll was called. There was one Englishman, Bill Dorchester; the General said to him, ‘Come, Bill, play up this ‘ere Yorkshire tune.’ When he got through, the General told me to play. So I took the drum, braced her up, and played a tune. The General put his hand in his pocket and gave me three dollars; then one and another gave me more – so I made out well; in all, I got fifteen dollars. I was glad of it: my mother wanted some tea, and I got the poor old woman some.” (His mother accompanied the army as washerwoman, for the sake of being near her boy.)
In all, Milliner served six years and a half in the army. The following is a copy of his pension certificate:
UNITED STATES of AMERICA – WAR DEPARTMENT [Pension Claims.]
This is to certify that Alexander Milliner, late a drummer in the Army of the Revolution, is inscribed on the Pension List Roll of the New York Agency, at the rate of eight dollars per month; to commence on the 19th day of September, 1819.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the War Department.- JOHN C. CALHOUN.
Milliner lived to be 104 and died in 1865. A drum belonging to him is on permanent display in Rochester, New York at the Hervey Eli Chapter House, which is maintained by the Irondequoit Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
For more on Drummer Boys, see The Long Roll. This exclusive 50-page eBook presents the history of the Civil War Drummer Boy. DOWNLOAD HERE (PDF, must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view)
Ringo Starr was born a lefty, but—as with many left-handed children born in a certain era—he was taught that a dominant left hand was incorrect. His grandmother “converted” him to write righty, though he still preferred his left hand for most other tasks. Having to adapt to right-handed equipment and instruments is a part of what made his drumming style so unique. The reason his drum fills usually include a pause between high hat and toms is because he needed time to get his left hand in position. It’s hard to listen to Beatles songs like “Come Together” or “Tomorrow Never Knows” and not be astounded by Ringo’s drumming. In both cases, the beats make the songs instantly recognizable.
So why didn’t Ringo ever adjust his kit, especially after the Beatles made it big? It might have been because, after years of playing drums with a righty set-up, he became proficient leading with his left hand despite the challenges. The backward playing also helped give him a signature sound. That different sound and feel contributed to some signature drum riffs, such as his mini-solo early in the Abbey Road song “The End.” Ringo’s “backwards” playing style emphasized feel over technical virtuosity. This influenced many drummers to reconsider their playing from a compositional perspective.
In an interview on Conan O’Brien’s show:
“I was born left-handed, and my grandmother thought that was not a good sign, and so she turned me right-handed. So, I write right-handed, but anything else I do left-handed; golf and whatever. So, I have a right-handed kit, but I lead with my left. It makes it weird because I need time to do a fill … [Conan’s drummer] can roll from the snare to the tom-tom to the floor tom, where I can’t do that because I’ve got to come under [my right hand] all the time. I can go this way [to my left] really good.”
Ringo had that old school backbeat. Consistent and deep sounding, it anchored the Beatle’s biggest hits. With the signature left-handed fills and licks, you know he was the right man for the job.
If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of commitments in your life between your family and your work that ultimately affects your time and ability to practice the drums. My practice life couldn’t get any easier as I am fortunate to have a drum room in my house that is located downstairs and is virtually soundproof. I have an acoustic kit and an electronic kit to choose from and I am spoiled for sure. So, what do I do? I ignore the drums in favor of life’s responsibilities.
I still think about the drums. This blog and Facebook posts keep my mind sharp on the subject, but my chops suffer due to a lack of muscle memory. I’ve posted before about my Practice Notebook. I have a notebook sitting right next to my drums that I record my practice session in. I write down what worked, what didn’t work, and what I need to work on. Not only does this tell me what I need to do, but it also holds me accountable. It’s been a while since I’ve had to record anything. So, what are some ways I can get off my butt and get back in the saddle? Here’s some suggestions:
- This is an important one and may help solve my problem: Set aside a regular time for practice and stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key.
- Don’t try to learn too many things at once. Master one thing before moving on to another.
- Practice with a metronome. Always work on developing a sense of timing and rhythm.
- Listen to music. Give yourself ideas for things to try in your own playing.
- Try using a 5/5/5 rule: five minutes of rudiments, five minutes of independence, and five minutes of jamming to a backing track. (Add more if you have time.)
- Remember that ten minutes of genuine, focused practice is way better than twenty minutes of scrolling Facebook.
So, there you have it. Now I don’t have any excuses. I just need to get off my butt, get in the drum room, and get to work. Some practice is better than no practice. It’s time to knock the dust off.
Big Modern Drums are back! This time with even more loops, multitracks, samples, grooves, tempos, and feels. Featuring live studio performances by Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean, Nashville and LA sessions), Big Modern Drums Volume 2 serves up some of the most powerful and punchy beats and sounds that we’ve ever released.
About Rich Redmond Big Modern Drums:
Recorded at Graybox Studios in Nashville, Big Modern Drums features 10 unique sessions, each covering a different feel, tempo, and sound. Do you want 100% control of the drum mix? Just select the Multitrack Edition and get instant access to all 9 audio channels including kick, snare, toms, overheads, and even multiple room mics, allowing you to dial in the perfect drum mix for your production.
The Stereo Loop Edition features 2 mixes of every beat; “dry” and “wet”, providing you with either a “tighter” or “roomier” drum sound based on your needs. In addition to the loops, samples of Rich’s Drum Workshop kit and Sabian cymbals (again, in both “dry” and “wet” mixes) are also provided, allowing you to easily program your own beats with Rich’s signature sounds.
Want to save over 90%? Download The Ultimate Bundle and get instant access to every library in The Yurt Rock catalog!
Today I want to take a quick moment and talk about the Internet. Ever since the development of social media sites to include YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. people have communicated online with reckless abandon. The concept of posting comments in a virtual setting using a pseudo-anonymous personality has opened the door to both positive and negative comments. In many cases critical analysis of one’s work is understandable, even welcomed. That said mean and hurtful comments also come with the territory. By “putting it out there” one has opened themselves up to an assessment. I have found that often a balance can exist between the constructive and destructive. I am experiencing this trend over on my YouTube channel. Folks either like or dislike my posts with no feelings in between.
Fortunately for every negative comment that is posted I usually receive a positive one. As a result I welcome these online reviews and the remarks they represent. Good or bad. There is an old saying that goes “you can’t please everybody all of the time.” This is true. These comments can only make me better as I strive to improve my playing as a drummer both on and offline. Instead of becoming discouraged I am encouraged. I recommend maintaining a confident attitude no matter what people think. Don’t let the negative vibes overcome the positive. We all play drums for a variety of reasons and our journey with the instrument takes us down many paths. Stay steadfast regardless of others reactions and you will move forward. Here is an example (*click image for full size):
Creative Percussion is the perfect name for a company that produces some of the most creative products in the drumming business. From ching-rings, and stacks, to hammered cymbals, shakers and bass drum beaters, there is a unique, hand-crafted product for everyone. You may remember we reviewed CP’s exceptional Twisted Hybrid Rods in a past post (Get Creative). CP was nice enough to send their Lotus Jingle for us to try out. The combination of this Hi Hat FX accessory consists of a Lotus Jingle, a Utility Clutch and a Rebound Clutch.
The first thing you notice about CP’s products is the craftsmanship. Everything is put together so well. Some of these contraptions are very strange but they are also user friendly. I appreciated the construction of the Lotus and the ease at which it was installed on my hi-hat stand. The product’s two clutches that are also included are a great addition. They do not to interfere with the vertical motion of the hi-hat. They really improved the spring’s rebound and it didn’t add much weight so the action of the pedal remained quite natural. You can adjust the space between the Rebound Clutch springs by moving the top spring higher or lower to achieve a faster or slower bounce.
Creative Percussion’s tagline says “Making our own sound in the drum world with products you never knew you were missing.” This is a true statement. I would have never looked at the Lotus Jingle but now that I have one I can see using it in a variety of situations. The sound it produces is a great addition that accentuates the hi-hat and really makes it stand out. All of CP’s products are American made and this makes me appreciate the company even more. CP’s website is extremely well done and does a great job of presenting their products. Stats for each item are posted.
If you are interested in unique, quality constructed products that can make your sound stand out, visit creativepercussion.net.
Today I want to discuss the effects of technology on music. No doubt the Internet has changed the way musicians communicate with one another. Nowadays, fans can email their idols, students can study with teachers abroad, and bands can audition new members from anywhere in the world. Thanks to the World Wide Web, musicians never have to be in the same place at the same time and the possibilities for collaborating are endless. Social media sites, to include Facebook, YouTube and Skype, have enabled musicians to connect to an infinite audience by posting videos or sound bites. Anyone can showcase their music, anywhere, at any time, to anybody. This capability can be a double-edged sword. I read an article lately that said that Google, despite being a great tool, has had a harmful effect on the learning process. The theory is that many people no longer feel the need to learn things as they can just look them up on the Internet using a search engine. I am guilty of that.
According to a Braathe Enterprise article titled Is Technology Ruining your Education? “Our generation’s experience with ever-developing technology is nothing short of mesmerizing; it is a process that simply cannot be ignored. Today, a four-year-old child is just as likely to play games on a portable tablet (navigating it with ease), as they are to pick up a set of Mega Blocks. As time goes on, the trends of using and heavily relying on technology for entertainment and education are becoming increasingly popular. Even though the advances in technology are truly amazing, many people worry that it is not only altering the educational experience, but hindering it as well.”
When I co-authored my first drum book I knew the print audience was our target demographic but once the book was released as an eBook the digital format opened up a whole new world. Readers could now download the book and corresponding videos instantly and view them on any device they wished. It is the speed in which we can acquire and discern information that makes the ‘Net incredibly powerful and scary all at the same time. We must remember that the foundation of music is the musician’s connection to their instrument. We must still learn how to play, cultivate our skill level, and practice. We must never let technology trump musicianship. Remember that learning is the foundation of all that we do and not all answers can be found on the Internet.
Off Beat would like to congratulate our friend Daniel Glass on the release of The David Glass Trio’s new album BAM! The Trio is made up of exceptional musicians Daniel Glass on drums, Sean Harkness on guitar and Michael O’Brien on bass.
According to Glass the trio has been playing together off and on for more than six years. It took the pandemic to create the impetus for the band to capture their “musical mission” in a studio setting. The end result is BAM!.
Daniel has been a close confidant of this blog appearing as our interviewee in DRUMHEAD magazine twice and as the writer of the Foreword in our book The Long Roll.
Since 2010, Daniel has been the Monday night house drummer at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club in NYC. For 19 years, Daniel was a member of the powerhouse swing septet Royal Crown Revue, who are credited with pioneering the swing resurgence of the 1990s-2000s.
BAM! captures Daniel’s gift as both a drummer and composer. According to the band’s website This album showcases the trio’s high-powered, freewheeling approach to group improvisation. Features an enticing blend of originals and some truly unique covers (including a wicked take on “Smoke On The Water”).
For more information, or to download the album visit: https://www.drumminginmotion.com/dg-trio