It is with great pride that I announce the release of The Long Roll. This 50-page book presents the history of the Civil War Drummer Boy. In appreciation of the support that I have received on the Off Beat blog I am currently making it available here for FREE. I only ask that you share this post with others and leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts on the book. I appreciate any insights or conversation that this book instigates. As a drummer and historian my goal with this project is to educate and inspire. I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy!

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Read Exclusive Interviews written for Drumhead, Modern Drummer and Off Beat: Troy Luccketta – Steve Goold – Daniel GlassGarrett Goodwin – Steve Smith – Dan NeedhamKelly KeagyScott PellegromBrandon Scott – Mike “Woody” Emerson – Ben BarterRich Redmond  – Sean FullerJason Hartless – Robert Sweet – Keio Stroud – Tommy Taylor – Frankie Banali – Bobby Z – Danny Seraphine – Dino Sex– David Abbruzzese – Marisa Testa – David ThibodeauRobert Perkins Sarra CardileBill Stevenson  Next Up: Stan Frazier – Mel Gaynor

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September 9, 2016 · 10:30 am

Feedback for The Long Roll

Some reader reviews are starting to come in for The Long Roll. It seems to be getting positive reviews. That said, for the amount of downloads I’m getting I wish I was getting more feedback. Out of several hundred downloads I’ve received so far there are no comments on the blog. Here’s some of the quotes I have received over on Facebook or via email so far:

Michael your work is superb, great writing along with the photos of these boys and the other information you have on your site. Very neat and composed. – Joseph Dupree (Facebook Reader)

It was a pleasure to be associated with this project. It’s an EXCELLENT work on the subject matter. Best of luck with it, Michael! – Daniel Glass (Historian, Drummer, Foreword Writer)

Awesome! Congrats and thanks for sharing. – Mike Dawson (Managing Editor, Modern Drummer magazine)

I just downloaded it and found him! Thanks for including my great-great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Cole! – Richard Cole (Reader, Contributor)

Wow! This is fantastic! Great job Michael. What a subject to write about. I’ll be reading this today! – David Thibodeau (Drummer, Waco survivor)

Great read. I highly recommend. – Dave Shockley (Facebook Reader)

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Shake It Up

“Convenience” is a big word in my book. Especially when it comes to drumming. Drums are the only instrument that requires all four of your limbs so what do you do when you need to play that fifth piece of percussion? What fifth instrument comes to mind? Chances are the shaker is at the top of your list. How many times have you had to play that tight Brazilian groove with one stick while trying to manage the accompaniment with a shaker? It sucks doesn’t it? You never quite get that smooth transition between stick and shaker, or that perfect balance in dynamics. Most of the time you fake it and then move on to the next song part. The folks at Shakerstix™ recognize this problem and have come up with a great solution. Why not combine the drumstick and the shaker to create a single instrument. The idea is so simple and they have executed it perfectly. I had the pleasure of trying out the entire Shakerstix™ line and I was extremely impressed.

The SSRT1 was the first style that was designed by the company and is their flagship stick. It is similar to a 5A and the shaker is located a few inches up the 16” stick from the tip. Contrary to what you would think the stick isn’t too top heavy. The drummer can still use the tip or strike with the shaker itself. I found the response and rebound to be good regardless if you were hitting a drumhead or a cymbal.

The SSDR1 is a rod style stick that I found very interesting. The shaker sits in the same location as the SSRT1 and adds strength to the tightly wrapped rod. I found that you can strike hard with the rod or use a lighter technique and still get the benefit of the shaker. This would be perfect for a gig that requires low volume. The rods look very durable and should last a long time.

The SSMT1 has a felt mallet on the back end and a shaker in the same location as it is on the SSRT1. This makes the SSMT1 a three-in-one stick as a standard 5A, shaker, and mallet. The felt mallet on the end is hard. The rest of the stick has the same balance and response as the SSRT1. With one of these in your bag you’ll be ready for a variety of playing conditions.

The SSBE1 has its shaker on the butt end of the stick making it similar to a maraca. The drummer that uses this would likely hit with both ends based upon the playing situation. It is probably the most evenly balanced of all of the sticks and would probably take the most beating. I tried it using both ends on drums and cymbals and the response was loud. These sticks would also be great if the situation called for maracas. I wouldn’t see a drummer using these all the time but they are a great option to replace faking it with a shaker. If the song called for maracas I would definitely use these.

According to Robbie Destocki, President & Creative Director of Shakerstix™: “There is no other stick on the market like ours that adds that smooth, rhythmic shaker sound without sacrificing creativity. We’ve given drummers the freedom to play as they would with traditional drumsticks while adding that shaker sound all in one stick! No more taping egg-shakers to your sticks or playing with an egg shaker in one hand and a drumstick in the other, those days are over.”

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The Big Guns

When I was growing up I played in the Symphonic Band. This gave me an opportunity to play a variety of percussion instruments including concert snare, bass drum, timpani, marimba, glockenspiel, and auxiliary instruments like shaker, cowbell, triangle and go-go bells. I favored the timpani and concert snare, sucked at the marimba, and had too big of an ego to respect any of the other instruments. We performed at school functions and concerts. I was also in the marching band, stage band, and percussion ensemble but the Symphonic Band was the most challenging.

It was also an actual class that I took each and every day. It was considered an elective course so I practiced more for that band than any of the other bands that I played in. Symphonic Band required the most reading too. That was when my reading chops where at their strongest. One of the songs that we performed every year was Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 Overture. That song was a lot of fun.

The required percussion for that composition includes: timpani, orchestral bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, carillon, and a battery of cannons. Our bass drum player nearly broke a head while simulating the cannons being fired 16 times. Originally Tchaikovsky used actual field pieces. During a live performance precision in placement of the shots required either well-drilled military crews using modern cannon or the use of sixteen pieces of muzzle-loading artillery. The time lag alone required sixteen 1812-era guns.

According to the meaning behind the cannons “Tchaikovsky’s 1812 was written for the consecration of the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Redeemer, which had been built in the early 1880s to celebrate the 1812 victory over Napoleon. The music of the overture is supposed to depict a culminating battle between the opposing armies, and it includes special effects such as church bells and cannons because Tchaikovsky had been asked to make the finale as thrilling as possible, and knew that he would have access to those resources because of the location and nature of the intended event.”


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A Good Monument Story for a Change

With all of the controversy surrounding Civil War monuments here is a great story that is inspiring. A group of students from a fifth-grade class from Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg, Ohio raised $5,000 to restore the damaged drummer boy which is part of the Ohio Monument atop Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They also raised another $7,000 for the 475-mile trip to attend a rededication ceremony.

Several years ago, when students Derek Hinkle and twin brother Doug traveled to Missionary Ridge to retrace the steps of their great-great-great-grandfather they came upon the area where Pvt. George Hinkle of the 98th Ohio Regiment lost part of a hand while charging up the ridge against Confederate fire. While visiting the park, the twins also came upon the Ohio Monument, which features four statues: an infantryman, a cavalryman, an artilleryman and a drummer boy. In 1977, the drummer boy had been vandalized, restored, then damaged again in the late 1980s. Since then, he had been missing his right hand and the drumstick in his left.

Upon their return to school the twins and fellow students started a drive to earn enough money to fully repair the statue. By March 31, 2014 they had raised the $5,000 which amazed the nonprofit Friends of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. After their donation the drummer boy’s missing pieces were restored.

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Book is complete

Now that I have completed my eBook on the wartime experiences of the Civil War Drummer Boy I have a newfound respect for them. The courage that they had to muster in order to perform under fire, as well as the skill level they needed to possess as a drummer was exceptional. Much like the experience I had writing books about the Confederate Army and Southern Civilians I have come away with a sense of appreciation for what they endured.

At over 40 pages I haven’t found anything online as definitive as this study on the subject matter of Civil War drummers. If you are a Civil War enthusiast or a drummer with an interest in the history of the instrument this is the book for you. If you are a reenactor who plays the role of a Civil War drummer I want to hear from you. My goal with this book was to educate and inspire. Now that I can look at the finished product I think I managed to do just that. The mentions of drummer boys who made the supreme sacrifice and gave their lives is especially poignant. Most people forget to include them when discussing the casualties of the war.

My favorite part about writing books is the research stage. The writing part is simply mechanical to me. I love finding hidden gems that no one has seen in many years. This book has a lot of those: quotes and letters, as well as photos that are not commonly known. I only used the best resolution for the best quality. The release of The Long Roll is just a couple weeks away. The yellow box above will be replaced with a special downloading post where you can access the book for free. I hope that you will share the link and comment on the book so I can get some conversation going on this far too overlooked subject of Civil War memory. I want to dedicate the book to all of the boys who went off to serve their country in a man’s war. Stay tuned for the official release.

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The Infant Drummers

While assembling a series of drummer boy photos for my eBook I came upon this image from E & H. T. Anthony of Master Allie Turner, the “Infant Drummer.” Here he is at the age of four years-old, dressed in his uniform, and posing with his patriotically decorated drum. Turner performed drum solos at Barnum’s Museum in 1865. Fanny Turner, the female drummer (relation unknown), performed with Allie prior to the plays that were performed in the afternoon and evening. Turner paved the way for other child drummers such as Buddy Rich. Before he turned two, Rich was part of his parents’ act on vaudeville. He was on Broadway as Baby Traps the Drum Wonder at age four.

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Discovering Danny Carey

I know, I’m the first to admit that I’m late to the party. I’m only now discovering the wonder of Tool’s Danny Carey. I’ve been familiar with his reputation as a master of the odd time signature. I dug the fact that he uses roto toms and classic electronic pads. I respect that fact that he’s a rabid sports fan with his own basketball jersey. All that said, I only recently became aware of just how good he really is. I “re-discovered” Carey after watching a three-part video on YouTube that was put together by the folks at Vic Firth. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

That led me to look up a bunch of live performances which simply blew my mind. Tool has a reputation of being an avante guard progressive metal band with an eccentric singer. The musicians tasked with complimenting this eccentricity are extraordinarily talented. Carey seems to weave in and out of time like a metronome on acid. Songs like “42 and 6” showcase the band’s off the charts creativity and Carey is the driving force behind it.

Carey often uses polyrhythms and polymeters. According to his bio on “He has mentioned in past interviews that he uses his feet as he would use his hands. He also likes to attempt snare drum solos with his feet in order to improvise upon his double bass drumming and make his foot independent and more useful. He loves experimenting with new techniques and hence studied tabla with Aloke Dutta. Danny has also recorded the tabla parts himself in the studio. He loved to feel the pulse of a given time by trying to drum to the feel of the song.”

Drums are only part of what makes up the psyche of Danny Carey. While he was attending the University of Missouri–Kansas City, he began expanding his studies in percussion with theory into the principles of geometry, science, and metaphysics as well as delving into Sacred Geometry and certain hidden aspects of life and the occult. This symbology has found its way onto Carey’s drums.

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Foreword Friend

I feel very fortunate to have my friend and drum historian Daniel Glass writing the Foreword to my upcoming eBook on the wartime experiences of the Civil War Drummer Boy. Daniel has made it his mission to preserve and present the history of American drumming and I can’t think of anyone more perfect to write the introduction to my book. I met Daniel when I wrote a feature on him for DRUMHEAD magazine and he was one of my favorite interviews. Here is the article in its entirety available for viewing online:

Cicero once said: “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” This is a timeless proclamation that the Roman philosopher used to warn us that, before any generation can effectively grow in the present, it must first acknowledge the contributions of its past. This theory of “looking backward in order to move forward” is no more evident than in the arts, where poets, painters and musicians routinely draw upon their predecessors in order to develop inspiration and more importantly, a foundation. Therefore it is no surprise that the inspiring sources for many successful artists can be found by examining the legacies of their forefathers.

Daniel Glass under-stands Cicero’s philosophy. It has guided him through a diverse career as an award-winning drummer, author, historian and educator. Few percussionists have done more to preserve and present the roots of American music than he has. From his 19 years as a member of the pioneering swing-band, Royal Crown Revue, to his side work with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Bette Midler and Liza Minnelli, Daniel is the embodiment of the classic American drummer. READ THE REST

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A Rant

It’s not often that I rant on here. In fact, I’m not sure I ever ranted on here before. This time I need to get something off of my chest as it directly affects this blog. Last week I had one of the best interviews of my life. Stan Frazier, the drummer from Sugar Ray and a renowned chef, and I had a great conversation that covered everything from drums to food. Stan’s experiences with drumsticks and culinary knives was extremely interesting. As usual I recorded the discussion on my iPhone using Voice Memo. Apple had recently updated the program to be less user friendly in my opinion but I used it. I usually have two iPhones going but this time I only had one as I had to use the other iPhone on speaker for the call.

When I went to play it back the recording would not play. It showed that it was there and the proper length and file size but it would not play back. I tried everything that I could find online and then I called Apple. They told me, get this…that their engineers were aware of a bug that periodically corrupted Voice Memo files and they were quote “working on it.” What? Then “Why did they release the program?” I asked. “I have no idea.” was all I got back.

I’m an Apple user. I have a Macbook, and an iPhone. My kids have iPods. I am loyal. But this really pisses me off. Thankfully Shane was understanding and we are doing it again using Voice Recorder Pro. We are striving to make the second interview better than the first. This time I will be more cautious. My point is a warning. Be aware that Voice Memo may not always work. Losing files can be catastrophic. There were people on the Message Boards who lost classroom lectures and speeches. I lost an interview. I’m pissed but not ruined. End of rant.

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