As this year comes to a close I want to thank each and every one of you for your time and consideration. This year saw this blog growing to over 10,000 visitor views split across 30 countries. Over the last twelve months I’ve conducted several exclusive interviews, had opportunities to put on my historian hat and share some educational videos that we all can learn from. I feel that I have grown as a drummer and a blogger and I hope that my words have helped or inspired you in some small way. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have some exciting things on the horizon for 2017 and I look forward to resuming after the first week of the year. Until then, I invite you to browse through the last year of posts and comment on your favorites below. I will use them to measure the topics that you enjoy and continue to work in that direction.
Monthly Archives: December 2016
Today’s post is more of a brief rant…
It was announced yesterday that Pearl Jam is to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is a complete travesty to find out that David Abbruzzese has been left off of the list of PJ players being inducted. David was the touring and recording drummer during the band’s seminal years (1991-1993). His work included the Ten tour as well as the Vs., Vitalogy, and Unplugged albums. It is no secret that a conflict between David and other members of the band led to his dismissal but regardless one cannot overlook the contribution he made to the band as a musician and songwriter. I have always been impressed with his power and finesse as a player. His performance on MTV’s Unplugged is still one of my favorites. (I have been in contact with David and will be interviewing him in the near future. Our interview will focus specifically on drums and drumming.)
Reacting to the snub from the HOF and his former bandmates, David has stated “The members of Pearl Jam have got to know what’s the right thing to do. They can’t justify ignoring my contributions. Like me or not. If there is still a part of that band that remembers how hard we worked, how much blood and how much sweat … They will do the right thing. It’s just a fine opportunity to see what Pearl Jam has to say in response. Let’s see if they do the right thing. It’ll be interesting to see the spin that is put on it. That band and its management have never been ones to shy away when an injustice is done. Let’s see if they still have the courage to fight the good fight!”
If this continues and the band ignores David, I call upon all of you to protest this absurd decision by refraining from purchasing any further Pearl Jam music or tickets. It may be a small gesture but it is a gesture nevertheless. Let’s abandon the band like they’ve abandoned David. This is quite unfortunate as PJ has provided so much good music to reflect on but their refusal to seek justice on David’s account is extremely disappointing. There is an online petition you can sign on David’s behalf. Of course if Pearl Jam has a change of heart and does find a way to include David in their induction I will recant my post.
You can follow David on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/david.abbruzzese
Bridging the Gap
By Michael Aubrecht
At seventeen, an up-and-coming breakout artist named Lorde performed her signature hit “Royals” during the 2013 Grammy Awards. Her single-song concert reached beyond the immediate room to an audience of millions. Standing on a small stage amidst the crowd, Lorde and her two-person backing band drifted in and out of the shadows. Her hypnotic voice was accented by the pulse of electronic drums. One could not help but notice the drummer providing that pulse, while crouching behind a minimal drum kit. His eerie rhythms rounded out the vocal perfectly and provided a perpetual beat for the audience response.
That drummer, Ben Barter, complemented the song much like he does with all of his gigs. Whether backing a live singing sensation or touring with Jarryd James, Broods and doing sessions with Producer Joel Little, Barter is at ease with whatever is required. According to his online bio, “Ben is well recognized for his solid, yet swampy pocket style of drumming. He finds a tone to complement his style of bold bottom end grooves…”
Barter took time out of his busy schedule in LA to share his story.
MA: Let’s start from the beginning. What led you to the drums?
BB: I came from a musical family. My dad played bass. He played in R&B and rock bands while he was growing up. My mom sang too, so I always listened to different types of music. I would go to church and I think it is quite a common story for drummers today to be exposed to drums in church. I was drawn to the drummers. I used to sit on their knees and they would teach me things. I got my first kit when I was five. I think it was called a “Ranger.” I got some lessons from friends and then I got really good lessons in high school from a great drummer Michael Franklin Browne. My parents had a little family jazz band. We’re not talking about Weather Report or Miles Davis, but the old standards. We played in restaurants and book stores. It was a way to make some extra money. During that time, I learned to play very quietly. It was my first shot at dynamics. I played in different bands in high school. So that’s where it all started.
MA: Did your school have a music program and did you participate in any bands?
BB: There was more of a big band scene in school. We played some funny stuff…mixed up big band and jazz. New Zealand is not big on marching bands which is unfortunate. I’m always seeing these players with amazing hands. I guess I’m trying to make up for lost time now. I was into art more toward the end in school. I really liked photography. Of course I still played in bands but my focus shifted in school. I studied architecture, so I went straight from school into architecture. I studied for three years, but as drumming took more and more of my time I started to play professionally. I still worked as an architect for several years. It was always a battle between drumming and architecture. I was lucky that I had great bosses who would let me take off a month to tour. They were excited for me and I think they even got a buzz out of it.
MA: What are some of these early bands that you were doing these tours with?
BB: The one that I started touring properly with was a bunch of good friends who I still play with from time to time. We were called Kingston. It was kind of a power pop style. We were really influenced by The Hives. It seemed to be catchy stuff and we got good enough to get a manager and start touring. Our manager had American connections so we would come over to the States. At first we didn’t do too well on the radio or live but we did do well on TV ads so were able to tour of the back of syncs. We did an album over here and we would come back and tour for three months then go home and then back again. Due to some circumstances, we lost the momentum of the band. From that experience I made some really good connections. The rest of the band has moved to the States as well and are working on projects. It was a really good stepping stone for us.
MA: How many bands have you been in?
BB: I played in some early bands The Royal Christie and Robot Tigers and Kingston, and then the hip-hop thing started. I played in a group called Kidz in Space and another one called No Wyld that is made up of some really talented guys who got signed in New York. I did the hip-hop and alternative thing for a while, jamming with other people. I will still do one-offs, studio work and some touring. Lorde, of course, is my current job.
MA: How did you get the Lorde gig?
BB: The band Kingston’s manager started overseeing her really early on under the managing company Saiko. At the time I was working in different bands and working at an architect’s office. A year previously I was told about this amazingly talented girl. I also knew her producer and I had told them I would be available if they needed a drummer. He said they would be cool with that. I didn’t hear anything back for a year. Then they posted one of her first songs online. Right as she was blowing up she averaged something like 10,000 downloads a week and after a month I think it was over 50,000. I started hearing her on the radio all the time. At that time I was struggling with my direction with drums and architecture. I remember sitting at my desk and getting the call that they were auditioning drummers for Lorde. It was really exciting and I actually auditioned with three of my friends. One of my best friends Jimmy Mac ended up playing synth and I got the drums. I stayed up until 2 am every night that week learning the songs and I remember being really sick at the time. I managed to get it. I played really simple and I had an understanding of triggers. They are an amazing tool. I think a mixture of that and the fact that I played the songs exactly as they had been recorded made the difference. That was very important to her as she wanted to stay true to the music on the record.
MA: Her music is so original and hypnotic. She is truly a groundbreaker. Did you know that you were going to be part of something special?
BB: I didn’t at first. I knew that it was going to be big, but had no idea it would be as huge as it was. I remember the first time we toured the States. She had just turned sixteen I think. We landed at LAX on one of the first trips and one of the construction workers there recognized her and said, “Hey, I love your music.” That just blew us away. We were thinking what on earth is going on when this construction worker knew who she was. I don’t think she had much press out by then. I don’t even think there were any real photos of her at that time. They were using an illustration to promote her that a friend had drawn. From then on it happened so fast that we didn’t have time to think. It was very surreal and it was a crazy and nerve-racking experience. We were constantly put in these situations that we could hardly take seriously. That is how we dealt with it. All of these award shows, television appearances and private parties felt like an out-of-body experience. We held on for dear life and got it done.
MA: It is amazing that you only have a two piece band (synth and drums) and the body of music that comes out of the two of you fills the space behind her vocals. You really support her performance.
BB: Her music is very minimal to begin with and she is really good at controlling her parts. In turn, I think we managed to translate the album’s music exactly to the live show. We also have some minimal things on backing tracks that we have to effectively play with. We do as much as we can until we run out of fingers and toes. I think it is important for an artist like her to be super honest and real about what she does. She has a lot of credibility for having a lot of integrity. We wanted to present that in the live show as well. The live drums contribute their part, but it’s the triggers that make it. Instead of me simply playing electronic pads with a live kit underneath, I am able to bridge that gap between the two. We played live at the Grammys and VH1 Awards etc. They were nerve-racking for sure, but we always pulled it off. It is so rewarding to play live when a lot of bands tend to mime at award shows. Our music lends itself to that environment.
MA: As a minimal guy myself, who favors extremely small kits, I absolutely love your drum set. How did you develop it?
BB: I guess I didn’t need too much in the way of drums. I have added a few things as I needed them, but for the most part it’s been the same throughout. I play Ludwig drums and I wanted the live kick, snare and floor tom to add that punchiness and fill out the bottom of the electronic sound. I never have the kick or snare without a trigger on them, so during the whole show it beefs up the volume during a chorus or bridge part. That’s when I can lay into the real snare and the kick. I also have an electronic KD-9 Roland electronic kick which is to the right of my live pedal. I also use several sample pads. The dynamic between having the pads and live drums works very well. You can marry the softness of electronics with the punch of live drums. I’ve only got hi-hats in the way of cymbals. I haven’t heard the new album yet but I’m hoping I can add some more. I’d love to have some Zildijan effects cymbals as they are doing some amazing things. Sometimes I feel like the laughing stock of Zildijan artists as I only have a pair of hi hats (laughs). My fingers are crossed for this next tour.
MA: You have a unique style that seems to bridge the gap between traditional and hybrid drumming. I imagine that it’s a challenge to fit in with different genres. How did you develop your style and versatility?
BB: I guess when the hip-hop thing came in I was really fascinated by the drums. Questlove for example blows me away how he can play such a simple groove and make it sound larger than it is. Drummers like that can make anything sound good. I am inspired by them and have borrowed as much as I can. I am also very interested in tone as I think that is so important. Especially in hip-hop drumming. The overall sound of the drums is key. I am also obsessed with feel and playing around, before and after the click. I like making those slight adjustments to make things more interesting. I really concentrate on where to place the snare and the kick. It is what brings a beat alive. The drums for Lorde were all programmed. The fills they added were not what a normal drummer would come up with on a kit. It was a great challenge to figure out how to translate them live. I am forced to do things that you would not do naturally. Sometimes it would take me a long time to interpret. I would put on a loop, write out the notes and look at what was required. At times it would be a real brain-buster, but it was also fun and exciting. I had to make programmed beats feel real. I really respect Ted Reed’s Syncopation book for teaching me independence and thank Michael Franklin Browne for taking me through that book. Another thing I strive for is musicality. When you’re young it’s all about having chops, but as you get older you realize that it’s all about the feel. I’ve never been asked at the professional level to play chops, maybe once or twice. I’d estimate that 2% of my entire career has required me playing something crazy. Once in the studio and once live is all that I can recall. Steve Gadd is the perfect example of what it’s all about. Play whatever you play as simple as possible and maintain that feel. Anything other than that has no point to it in most situations.
MA: On the Lorde gig, is there ever any room for improvisation or is everything set in stone?
BB: There are a few moments where we will extend a song such as the bridge. For one part I wrote this crazy soundscape of white noise that we put on the track. Then I played against it. There are a few fills that I can play differently, but for the most part we are striving to replicate the album as closely as we can. Consistency and integrity are very important to her. Sometimes we will do a cover. Often in those parts there are times I can mess around and do different fills. Not that often though. I’ve always been a believer that in a live show, watching a drummer lay it down with a strong groove is better. They may do an interesting fill from time to time, but they are playing for the foundation of the song. That is what catches my attention. Using chops from time to time dynamically is way more effective than playing them start to finish. Contrast matters to me and creates moments in the show which people remember.
MA: Other than replication, what challenges do you face as a live player?
BB: That’s a good question. I like the challenge of adjusting the feel with different bands. Adjusting to what the song requires while maintaining a sense of groove keeps me on my toes. As I said, I love playing against the click. Sometimes you can hear the crowd respond when you slightly change it up. Playing a straight beat and then making it swing or putting a bit of a shuffle on it. You can see how the audience responds to it as they tend to start moving a bit more. It can be a great challenge to maintain the beat of a song and then to know where to deviate from it. When you nail it, things can get quite exciting. Of course all of this takes trial and error. When you listen back to yourself you can judge if things worked or if they weren’t quite right. That is how I practice in my studio. I record myself and then I listen back and critique it. That enables me to be aware of my playing and to see how I am sitting within the beat.
MA: Do you use a different playing approach between the acoustic and electronic drums?
BB: I take all of the velocity off of the pads. Sometimes if there is a specific pattern or a snare swell or a part that needs velocity, I will keep it set on, but for the most part that is the different setting between the two. I try to keep my playing with consistent dynamics, so one doesn’t overpower the other. I do little tricks. Sometimes I like to play my live hats in a manner that mimics electronic hats. On the acoustic kit there is a different approach. I hit the drums differently as there is a different rebound from the stick. I tune them in a manner that they can add depth beneath the pads while giving that bottom end. That may change in the future. They are doing some incredible things electronically with improving range and dynamics.
MA: What drummers inspire you now?
BB: Questlove is obviously one of my favorites. I’m inspired by a lot of the older drummers, James Gadson, Bernard Purdie and Clyde Stubblefield. I’ve always been a huge fan of Matt Chamberlain. I really like Chris “Daddy” Dave who is everyone’s favorite nowadays. That said, I think it is really important at some point in time to develop your own style and do what works best for you. It’s great to have influences, but you don’t want to simply copy them. It’s great to respect them but don’t emulate them too much. Find your own place. Cultivate your own personality. It may take me twenty years to find that, but I hope I am getting closer. I love to practice. I practice for hours a day and it’s always fun for me. I always say to love what you are doing and enjoy the process. It may take time, but it can be a rewarding experience.
MA: Your own skill of bridging that gap between replicating and creating has inspired others to follow your work. I know I am extremely impressed with your versatility and the ability that you have to go back and forth as an independent artist and as a backing musician for Lorde. You essentially take mathematics and turn it into art.
BB: Well thank you.
MA: What kind of advice would you have for up-and-coming drummers who are striving to achieve greater levels of success?
BB: I’ve always been kind of shy so I’m not that good at putting myself out there as far as advertising myself. I think from a drumming point of view, get super focused on what you have to do to get to where you want to go. Chops can help get quick attention perhaps, but working in a studio and on stage requires precision and feel. Have a balance of the two. Listen to Steve Gadd. I got incredibly lucky, but that was because I had a relationship with the right people. Have genuine relationships with the people who can give you the opportunity. Networking is good, but people will see through you if you’re just trying to get something out of them. I’ve gotten all of my stuff from genuine relationships with contacts. As a touring drummer it’s 90% off the stage. You must be able to get along with the people you are spending all that time with. Be chill, relatable and a nice person on the bus. Off-the-stage is so important. You can lose the gig and I’ve seen it happen. Don’t have an ego, and appreciate the opportunities you are given.
Good things happen to good people.
Visit Ben Barter online at:
Zildjian Artist Bio: https://zildjian.com/artists/ben-barter
Ludwig Drums Bio: http://www.ludwig-drums.com/en-us/ludwig/artists/ben-barter
As a Fredericksburg resident, I pause this week to remember the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862). In commemoration of this event I recall the story of the “Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock”…
Perhaps the most photographed drummer boy of the American Civil War, Robert Henry Hendershot, was known as the “Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock.” His nickname supposedly came from his reputed heroics at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December of 1862. Hendershot enlisted in Company B, 9th Michigan Infantry in March of 1862, and was taken prisoner that July at the Battle of Stones River. After his release, he joined the 8th Michigan Infantry, although he suffered from regular seizures.
While awaiting discharge for epilepsy, Hendershot arrived on the banks facing Fredericksburg where the Army of the Potomac was preparing to attack the city. The Army of Northern Virginia was waiting on the banks of the Rappahannock River, defending the city while pontoon bridges were being built. The delay enabled General Robert E. Lee to move the Confederate army into a formidable position. When the Union engineers arrived, they came under attack from rebel sharpshooters, so on December 11, 1862 the 7th Michigan Infantry volunteered to cross the river under enemy fire and drive the rebel sharpshooters from their nests. According to an account of the events:
[Hendershot’s wanderings had taken him to the riverbank that morning. He later claimed that he helped push off the first boat, slipped when he tried to climb aboard, and made the voyage across the river while clinging to the gunwale. A dispatch from the scene describes “a drummer boy, only 13-years-old, who volunteered and went over in the first boat, and returned laden with curiosities picked up while there.” A correspondent for the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune wrote that the boy belonged to the 8th Michigan Infantry. Reports of the episode appeared in the press.
The young hero remained nameless until late December, when Hendershot visited the offices of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, claiming to be the “Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock.” Hendershot’s story was repeated in national papers, including the New-York Tribune. Its publisher, Horace Greeley, presented Hendershot with a silver drum. For the next eight weeks Hendershot performed at the P. T. Barnum museum, and then spent a few weeks more in Poughkeepsie, New York, at the Eastman Business College, which had rewarded his heroism with a scholarship.]
Many historians have questioned the story of the “Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock.” The only ones who knew the truth were the witnesses who were present at the boat’s launching and Hendershot himself. Following the war in July 1891 Hendershot posted a letter to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) newspaper, the National Tribune, restating his claim to the title “Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock,” as well as that of “youngest soldier.” He was by then one of the best known veteran drummer boys in the country. Despite the ongoing controversy Hendershot always stood by his claims before dying of pneumonia on December 26, 1925.
For a detailed recollection of Hendershot’s post-war experiences visit History.net’s essay “America’s Civil War: Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock.”
For related posts search the term “Civil War.”
Today’s post takes a look at “Where are they now?” The answer is disturbing. Dave Holland, a pioneer of Heavy Metal drumming joined Judas Priest in August of 1979. He played drums on many of Judas Priest’s platinum albums, such as British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Defenders of the Faith, and Turbo. Ram It Down was recorded with the use of a drum machine, although Holland was credited with the parts. In 1989, personal problems (health and family issues) and musical differences forced Holland to leave Judas Priest. According to an online bio “Holland was found guilty in 2004 of attempted rape and several indecent assaults against a 17-year-old male with learning disabilities to whom he had been giving drum lessons. In an interview during the criminal proceedings, Holland revealed that he is bisexual. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. In late 2006, Holland, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, revealed that he is in the process of writing a tell-all autobiography. He was scheduled for release in 2012 and was reportedly out by June of that year.” This news is very disappointing as Holland was one of the most influential drummers during my Heavy Metal stage. I remember watching him perform at the US Festival in 1983. His tasteful playing was a perfect backdrop for Priest’s signature dual guitars. He was also one of the first to make the double bass a mainstay in the genre. It is unfortunate (and disgusting) to hear the charges against him. If they are true he deserves to remain in prison. Here is an update on Holland courtesy of Eddie Trunk.
Every once in a while I like to give drummers who don’t get a lot of credit their due. You may recall the post I did on Beach Boy Dennis Wilson a while back. Today, I want to present a brief look at The Osmond Family drummer Jay Osmond. Jay has been playing the drums since the age of two and was voted one of the top drummers of the country in the 1970’s. Even John Bonham respected Jay’s playing and took his son Jason to see and meet the Osmonds. Along with Bonham, Osmond was one of the first drummers to embrace the Ludwig Vistalites. In addition to drums, he sang lead vocals on the group’s hit Crazy Horses, a hard rock song that fit Jay’s voice better than the family’s usual lead singers. When the Osmond Brothers act began to die down after Donny’s solo career sparked, Jay also participated on the Donny and Marie Variety Hour as the show’s musical director and dance choreographer. Fifty years, 30 gold albums, and 77 million records later, Osmond opened up about his personal life and longstanding career in his biography titled “Stages.” In it he presents his experiences behind and in front of the drum set. You can visit Jay’s official webpage at: http://www.jayosmond.com/ . Here’s some footage of Osmond performing with his family:
Rudd rehearsing with his new bandmates at his home studio
Just an update for those of you overseas: Phil Rudd (one of my all-time favorites second only to Papa Jo Jones), has just announced the dates for his upcoming tour in support of his re-released solo album titled “Head Job.” You can listen to the complete album over on YouTube. The album delivers exactly what you would expect from the former AC/DC drummer…good old fashioned rock-n-roll with a heavy backbeat. I think it represents some of his best playing, similar to his epic work on AC/DC’s Back In Black and For Those About to Rock. Unfortunately there are no tour dates in the states. One can only hope that Rudd will return to America. As this blog reaches an international audience I am posting the current tour dates here:
Phil Rudd 2017 Tour Dates:
3/31 – Hard Rock Café – Oslo, Norway
4/01 – Musiik Kielleren – Jossingfjord, Norway
4/07 – Storlian Rockfest – Storlian, Sweden
4/28 – Bonfest – Scotland, UK
5/02 – Kaufleuten – Zurich, Switzerland
5/03 – Arena – Vienna, Austria
5/04 – Cinema Paradiso – St Polten, Austria
5/05 – Phenomenon – Novarra, Italy
5/06 – Legend Club – Ravena, Italy
5/07 – Durer Kert Big Hall – Budapest, Hungary
5/10 – Lucerna Music Bar – Prague, Czech Republic
5/11 – Brno Semi Lasso – Brno, Czech Republic
5/12 – Livinov Attic Music Club – Litvino, Czech Republic
5/13 – Jablonec N/N – Eurocentrum, Czech Republic
5/16 – Bratislava Rock Café – Dudravka, Slovakia
5/17 – Ostrava Barrack Club – Moravska Ostrava, Slovakia
5/18 – Zilina Dom Odrobov – Ziliana, Slovakia
5/19 – Sk Presov – Pko Presov, Slovakia
5/20 – Pardudice – Zluty Pes, Czech Republic
5/21 – Band On The Wall – Manchester, UK
5/24 – The Brook – Southampton, UK
5/25 – Concorde – Brighton, UK
5/26 – St Albans Arena – St Albans, UK
5/27 – Underworld – London, UK
5/28 – Corn Exchange – Edinburgh, UK
Lately I’ve been focusing on playing consistently with brushes. Playing with a soft touch and achieving a sense of delicacy is an art form and it is very challenging to effectively produce a steady brushing sound. Peter Erskine shot an excellent lesson on brushes for Drumeo, the net’s most popular drum education website titled “Playing Brushes with All Styles of Music.” In it he exhibits how to get started using the brushes and establishing a foundation. His examples show a masterful sense of smoothness and finesse. Another great source for learning about the brushes is “The Art of Playing with Brushes,” distributed by Hudson Music and written by Steve Smith and Adam Nussbaum. The book includes a play-along CD and features the expertise of the authors as well as Joe Morello, Eddie Locke, Charli Persip, Billy Hart and Ben Riley. The opening paragraph by Nussbaum outlines the importance of the lesson:
For many, the brushes in particular have been a mystery because of the different kinds of motion required to articulate the time. The brushes can be played in vertical motion like sticks. But their truly unique trait is in the way they can be played in a circular or horizontal manner that creates wonderful feeling. When the brushes are played in this way, you’re not only articulating the beat but also playing the space between the beats. This creates a legato flow that has made me aware of hearing that space. This has had a positive effect on my stick playing as well. I’m now more aware of the width of the beat.
My all-time favorite drummer is Papa Jo Jones. This brushwork video depicts his legendary skills whether striking the head or “stirring the soup” as some refer to it. The speed at which Jones is able to play while maintaining a sense of groove is remarkable. He plays with a sense of urgency that is perfectly restrained. One trick that Jones integrated into his brush playing was shaking salt over a calf skin head to amplify the texture. Some players utilize different rough surfaces such as suitcases. Steve Gadd shot a wonderful video of him playing brushes at the studio on an empty tape box. It has also been said that Buddy Holly’s hit song “Peggy Sue” was recorded with the drummer playing on a phone book.
Our friends at ProLogix® have developed a pad that caters specifically for brushes. In addition to a special head there are inserts available that outline the positions for different types of brush motions. The ProLogix® “Multi-Brush Practice Pad” is a must have for all drummers who want portable practice tool to study the brushes with using any of the ProLogix® Brush Map Sets or just want a great tool to study brushes on.
Yesterday I watched a panel discussion on CSPAN which included some colleagues of mine. The topic was “Civil War Blogging” and the event took place at Gettysburg College as part of the Civil War Institute’s Summer Conference. Each panelist was a respected educator who ran their own blogs. As you may know I have an extensive background in regards to the subject of the American Civil War. I have produced a documentary film and published five of my seven books on the subject. I hosted a Civil War (and later a Revolutionary War) blog for almost 10 years. I love it when I get the chance to incorporate the subjects of Civil War and drumming. Just do a keyword search on this blog for “civil war” and a dozen entries will pop up.
What struck me about the conversation is how much it applies to my current blogging efforts and for that matter, all blogs in general. One issue revolved around the validity of information posted on blogs and the lack of vetting and standardization. In other words the information posted online is only as accurate as the person who posted it. Thanks to Google, the tendency is to become overly dependent on the technology. Internet search engines dictate what is available and the speed at which they produce results enables one to acquire a “quick fix” of information.
Often this data is incomplete or incorrect and the user falls victim to propagating improper facts. The other tendency is to give authority to a source that has not yet earned it. This results in a false sense of security. Hence the risk that one takes when researching information online. It would do one a great service to investigate the information posted online from additional sources to verify their accuracy.
This is not to say that there are not reputable sources on the Internet where one can get truthful and thought-provoking information. Of course there are. It simply means that it is very dangerous to assume everything posted on blogs are accurate or true. Many blogs are based on the opinions of the blogger and often times it is emotions that dictate the material and not logic. These posts must be taken at face value. A quick review of past posts should prove or disprove the focus of the blog.
My blog features three kinds of posts: 1. Informative. 2. Historical. 3. Instructional. Number one consists of interviews and events. Number two includes pieces on the history of drums and drumming. Number three presents practice and playing instructions. Each one serves a different purpose. Although I post about subjects and people that interest me, I do not do so in an emotional way. It is not an opinion that presents the history of drumming or an intimate look at some famous drummer. It is what I believe to be factual information. My background as a historian has taught me to use primary sources whenever possible and to fact check in order to maintain credibility.
Each time I conduct an interview I share the final draft with the interviewee. This is done for two reasons. #1. I want to verify the accuracy of what has been said. I do my best to transcribe the discussion. And #2. To ensure the subject approves how they are being presented to the public. Each time I write a historical piece I strive to use multiple sources to ensure I have not propagated incorrect information. I contribute historical pieces from time to time to a reputable blog titled “Emerging Civil War.” Each time I include the sources at the end as one would do with an academic study. This validates my post and provides a listing of additional information if one chooses to pursue it.
I feel a great responsibility as a blogger and I am grateful for the thousands of hits I receive each month. I am also thankful to bloggers (like this panel) who have blazed the way for newer bloggers to follow. Their examples of how to conduct one-self is invaluable (Civil War Memory, Crossroads of the Civil War). My primary point with this long-winded post is to reinforce the notion that you should never assume that everything posted on blogs are true. Whenever possible do your own follow up until you trust the source. Once the blog has been confirmed you will be able to focus on the material and not the credibility. I hope that you find my blog to be in that category. Your trust in me is what makes me continue to blog.