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.
Monthly Archives: April 2019
The Infant Drummers
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 FreeDrumLessons.com: “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.
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
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.
Saving the environment
I don’t consider myself a textbook “tree hugger” but I do respect the environment. I worked for a successful environmental consulting firm called Marstel-Day for a short time and it was during that time that I became aware of things like recycling and sustainability. I was so interested in those practices that I co-produced a video about sustainability in the drum manufacturing industry with my co-author and friend Rich Redmond. I also endorsed a drumming product that was made from reused materials.
Our first video below was filmed at The House of Blues studio in Nashville and presents the sustainability efforts of REMO, Pro-Mark, DW and Sabian. The interview is conducted by Rebecca Rubin, founder of Marstel-Day. The second video is an introduction to a product called “Eco-Toms.” This drum is made from 100% recycled materials. Available as a snare or tom configuration the sound is impressive and I highly recommend that you look into the product. No matter if you are a “tree hugger” or not respecting the environment helps everyone and everything.
New Team Member
Today I am very proud to announce that I have been accepted as a member of the Educational Team at Salyers Percussion. I never considered myself to be an educator even after I co-wrote an award-winning instructional drum book but someone much smarter than I am pointed out that creating educational material is exactly the kinds of things that educators do. That made me feel very good to know that I was acting in the capacity of a teacher. As a published historian I also impart knowledge about the subjects I write about so I guess that makes me an educator too. As a member of the Salyers team I will be acting in the role of a drum set educator sharing ideas and exercises for teaching the instrument. I’ll keep you apprised of any exciting projects. I want to thank Bruce Salyers for inviting me to sign on as a member of such a prestigious team.
Sketching out a Drummer Boy Book
I’ve wanted to write a book on the history and experiences of the Civil War Drummer Boy for quite some time. Over the last few years I’ve written dozens of posts here on the subject, collected nearly 100 images, and acquired many first-hand accounts. Clearly I have enough material to create something good if I can organize it in a way that’s worthwhile to the reader. I’m looking at a 50 or so page e-book that incorporates photos and narratives in a graphic format. There are several sections I envision for the book. A dramatic introduction, overview of the drummer boy’s origins, stories of noteworthy individuals, quoted first-hand accounts, some specifics on drums and drumming, and a look at monuments and graves.
There are some challenges. I don’t want to write an academic book although I want it to be educational. I want it to be creative and visual but no too “coffee table.” As a drummer I need to refrain for getting technical. I can promise there will be some debunking of some previous myths that even I fell for, as well as some stories of individuals that have been long forgotten. The end goal is to give credit to a far too neglected individual in Civil War history, boys who left home to participate in a man’s war. When I wrote my books on Confederate Campsites in Spotsylvania County and the Historic Churches of Fredericksburg I came away with a whole new understanding of the plight of the everyday soldier. I hope to have the same experience while writing this e-book. I have tentatively mapped out each section. Here is an interesting quote I recently found that presents a take on the stories about drummer boys that isn’t favorable:
Marvelous stories are still related of “drummer boys.” I see they are very ridiculous. I have never yet saw a dead drummer boy—not even a wounded one. The little rascals take care and remain far enough in the rear, and are really of no use during an active campaign except to carry water to the hospital. Few of them do this, being employed chiefly in “going down on knapsacks” that are thrown away by wounded soldiers. Drum corps have more mischief in them than in all regiments besides. – William H. Moody, 139th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
If you have any archived material (memoirs or images) that you would like to have included email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The 11th Ninja
The latest album by composer/producer Attila Domos (featuring yours truly on drums) is now live on iTunes. If you’re into highly original techno music this is your jam. Listen and purchase here. While classically trained, Attila’s real love is experimenting with as many genre of music as possible. Attila has also scored film projects ranging from shorts to full length features and even corporate videos. Over the years, Attila added his own studio, under Hun Productions, where he writes, performs, records, mixes and produces all of his own music.
Take a CRASH Course
Our best pal Rich Redmond has a remarkable book coming out titled CRASH! Course for Success: 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Personal and Professional Life. Based on Rich’s tremendously successful CRASH Course which stands for: C—COMMITMENT R—RELATIONSHIPS A—ATTITUDE S—SKILLS H—HUNGER this book has something for everyone who wants to get ahead. According to the book’s promo on Amazon Rich delves deeply into the five CRASH! principles and illustrates how to utilize them at work, at home, and at play. He also shares how using these five key concepts influenced his life, describing key milestones helped him along his journey. Part self-improvement guide and part memoir, C.R.A.S.H. Course for Success will entertain you, engage you, and challenge you to CRASH! through whatever barriers are between you and your best future. Available in Kindle and print on demand format.
Visitors from 156 countries
Today I was looking at the stats tables on the blog and it showed that 156 countries were represented in the yearly visitors section. I am blown away. To think that this project has grown to connect with such a large audience has validated all of the hard work that goes into coming up with worthy material on a regular basis. According to the Internet there are 196 independent countries in the world and to see that we fall just 40 short of that is amazing. Perhaps even more amazing is that we have no formal advertising or sponsorship other than links on a few other blogs. That means the vast majority of our traffic comes from social media and visitor ‘word of mouth’. I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and pledge that I will continue to work hard to earn your attention. Let’s try to get those 40 remaining countries and take over the world. Click image for full-size