The story of my drums would start with the burning of my old drums.
My old drums were an old set of Slingerland drums and I had gotten them around high school graduation. They replaced my first set- a well worn Maxx drum set I had bought for $400 at Portland Percussion one winter early in high school. The Slingerland kit was fun and junior year of college, with some of us living off campus, the drums came down to Baltimore with me. This beat jacking one of Goucher’s kits whenever the mighty Jahronee had a show. Joey T had turned his third bedroom at his place into a rehearsal area. So the drums lived there until one delightful fall Saturday afternoon, when fresh off of a wine tasting at the Melting Pot, I got a call that smoke was pouring out of Joe’s windows.
The story of my current set of drums would essentially start around the moment when I kicked through my bass drum shell.
It was a few months later when I got my drums- this time at the much preferred Drum Shop. A nice & durable Yamaha kit; not exactly what I wanted, but something to get me through. I was told they would hold up well, travel well and play well. The kit was green and sparkled.
The drums came to Baltimore with me for senior year, living mostly in cases- traveling to empty rehearsal rooms on campus, Joe’s house above the dentist’s office, and most frequently to the Psych Annex, the small house on the back side of the loop road, where we were allowed to play on nights and weekends. Moving back to Portland the following year, the drums set up camp back in the friendly confines of the Drum Room- the room in my parents’ basement, designated for the drums and all of the noise that came with them since back in high school.
The flicker of the lights meant stop. The pounding that sometimes followed meant stop NOW.
For the first year or so that I was playing with Christian- joined by a few other dudes before we found Corey, we played in the Drum Room. It was fun. The room was small and we hung show posters up on the walls. There would only be trouble if someone nicked the wall. Farts smelled terrible in there- but I’d learn that this was the case in every single rehearsal room I ever played in.
There then came a time when we really couldn’t have the kind of rehearsals we wanted without making my parents’ life miserable. They missed Christian’s singing; didn’t really like the yelling. So once again, the drums were on the move. We were playing out quite a bit, so they were in their cases most of the time anyway. For a brief stint the drums lived in an old, broken down space run by the dudes from the Horror that had neither heat or hospitality. Sometimes we felt like the Beastie Boys. Sometimes we felt like annoying younger brothers. Often times we felt like we were cold. When the opportunity to move to another spot came up, one with heat, we jumped at and for the next year- the drums set up camp in an old business building. After 3:30pm, the rooms were free to use and if you needed to, you could unlock your door with a credit card.
In Philly during the early months, the drums mostly lived in the back of the Blazer- it’s tinted windows were tinted enough to make me feel that they were safe. Those months were the Craigslist months. I missed playing in a band and really wanted to get into a new one- even better if it was something that paid. So I trawled the musicians page, looking for something that at the very least, sounded tolerable. I briefly played for this Sharon Little gal out in the burbs, high up in this dude’s attic, and around the same time, was playing with a fella named Raven down on Columbus Boulevard. In the following months, there was Squirrel Mike in University City and the rapper Drew Deckah at the World Cafe. During the winter, I was playing out in Willow Grove with the first of two soft rock, reggae bands I’d play in and in between rehearsals, the drums were stowed away in Bernie the Bass Man’s closet. As luck would have it, shortly after resigning my post in the B Side Prophets, I started working for MSI in their lovely and secluded warehouse.
What I think saved the drums was working for MSI and being able to at first, just keep my drums at the warehouse and then eventually having them set up right next to my desk. The drums were happy; just a little dusty from the lack of travel. But that happens to all of us. For the past two years, they haven’t traveled much at all- the majority of the kit spending most of it’s time in the office. Snare drum and cymbals logged some travel hours, but that was about it. They were retired baseball players or old sci-fi actors- only coming out for the card shows and comic conventions. They could still shine if needed, but it seemed like their best days were behind them.
And now, well now the drums are back in the cases- stowed on a pallet, high up on one of the racks. If needed, they can be forked down but for the most part, they’re just chilling. I have promised Kim, the love of my life and lady I’ve been luckily enough to get to marry me, that I never want a Man Cave in the house we eventually are going to live in. I don’t even want to say Man Cave. I don’t even want to write it. For some reason I capitalized it and I’m not sure why. But I am sure that I don’t want one. But…in exchange, I would love to have the drums come live with us. Electronic drums will never do. I need the crash of the cymbals if I’m going to play and they have to be real cymbals.
There isn’t a better sound in the world than a cymbal crashing.
Quiet cymbals now, tucked away in their bag- standing by for the next Bernie’s closet, Drum Room, or empty garage to present itself. Until then, the steering wheel will have to do.
Categories: Life Lessons, Music
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