Great Hands for a Lifetime!

February 14th, 2011

I’m back!Lifetime DVD front

After two years and loads of live music with some recordings thrown in, I’m finally ready to get back to this blog of groove.

Probably the most noteworthy event of late was my participation in the making of Tommy Igoe’s latest instructional DVD Great Hands for a Lifetime; an instructional DVD that teaches the basic rudiments of drumming and Tommy’s  Lifetime Warmup.

For the uninitiated, the Lifetime Warmup is one of Tommy Igoe’s teaching tools for his private lessons. It is a sequence of the basic rudiments of drumming all stuck together with rolls. It’s like playing scale chains on the piano. On the surface, it seems like an obvious exercise. However, the way in which the Lifetime Warmup has been constructed makes it not only a great warmup, but also a perfect device for  building endurance and advancing technical abilities.

Back in the summer of 2009, Tommy called me up and asked me if I’d like to help him with a new DVD he was recording. He didn’t tell me what the actual subject matter was but cryptically asked me if I remembered how to play the Lifetime Warmup. I’d gotten away from it in recent months but still remembered how to play it. I just wasn’t sure how well. Well, I needn’t have worried. The combination of time spent playing and the resulting buildup of technique was plenty to allow me to perform well on the DVD.

There were five of us that were either former or current students of Tommy’s participating each with a slightly different set of skills. When you watch the group sections of the DVD, you’ll see that each of us has a slightly different technical approach to playing. That is the point of having us in the video; to show how well the Warmup applies to each skill level of player.

For me, the best part is the fun we had playing in a group setting. Six drummers playing together isn’t something you normally see outside of a marching band. Since both Tommy and I have played in drum and bugle corps, it’s a natural setting. The other players quickly fell into the groove and we all locked in pretty tightly. It was fun. You can clearly see that we were all very relaxed and having a good time. Any drummer who picks this up can play along with us and have fun, too. Ideally, you could call over some other friends and play together.

So any of you drummers out there who want to up your game, pick this up and get to playing. You won’t be sorry.

The DVD is loaded with information (a trademark of Tommy’s) so there are plenty of things to work on.

The nearly four-hour DVD includes Tommy demonstrating the basics of his system, Matched and Traditional Grip, Fulcrum Concepts, Rebound Strokes, Singles and Doubles, Check Patterns, The Five Families of Rudiments, and group demonstrations with five of his students, including all three versions of the Lifetime Warm-up.

You can read more about it here.

Buy it here: Tommy Igoe’s Great Hands for a Lifetime

Gig News

December 2nd, 2008

I’m heading over to Osaka, Japan for a week of gigs in January 09. I’ll be playing at Azul January 19, 20 & 22 and at Wazz January 23rd.

These dates are with the awesome jazz pianist Phillip Strange. If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello and hear some great jazz.

Dennis Chambers Shuffle

September 28th, 2008

YouTuber Perchiss asked me if I could break down the Dennis Chambers shuffle in this video.

Here are the transcriptions: PDF  Screen Image

And here’s the video:

Love Lies & Skye

September 4th, 2008

A few years ago I played some drum tracks for singer, song writer Skye Pixton. Those tracks are now part of an online EP release from Skye. Head on over to Skye’s MySpace page and give ’em a listen. Maybe buy them if you like them. She’s a great talent that I’ve love see come over to the East Coast for some exposure.

Skye is based in Portland Oregon and a big hit on the northern west coast music scene. You can read about her at

The tunes I played on are: Don’t Be Runnin’, Baby Love, Only You Know, Weight of the World and Away From You. These songs are also available for download from

And by the way, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but many new videos are in the works.


June 17th, 2008

This is just temporary while I rebuild my database. You’ll notice the old posts slowly come back online as I rebuild.

Please standby.

In the mean time, check out some music by composer Alan Sentman.

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The Three Laws of Drumming

May 27th, 2008

What Asimov did for robots, I now humbly attempt to do for drumming.

Of course, the last thing I want to do is stifle someone creativity by placing a bunch of rules about what you can and can’t do while performing your music. However, in order to clarify what needs to be heeded in order to play respectable grooves, I submit the following:

Rule #1: A drummer must Respect the Groove
Rule #2: A drummer must follow the ensemble except where such action would conflict with the First Law
Rule #3: A drummer may embellish as long as such creativity does not conflict with the First or Second Law

It’s very simple. The order of importance: groove, ensemble, self. The rules establish the order of importance for the three main elements in drumming. Rule number 3 refers to self and ego. Many drummers mistakenly place this first on the list of importance and the groove suffers. Rule number 2 refers to the group as a whole. The group must play together for the music to sound good. But a drummer must never sacrifice the groove to follow an ensemble that is not playing good time. You”re the drummer, show them where the pocket is! Rule number 1: groove. It is most important and should not be sacrificed for ensemble or self. Easy, right?

As a friend me told upon reading these laws, “we’ve got an awful lot of rhythmic criminals running around out there these days.”

YEA! Big Band

May 13th, 2008

I’ve been asked to lend my drum set chops to the annual spring concert for the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps on May 25th at Springfield High School in Springfield, PA. For those of you who don’t know, the Cadets preview the music selections for their summer show along with a few Cadets classics.

I’ll be playing for the Cadets and Friends Big Band lead by Cadet alumnus Brian Wilkie (Brian and I marched in the Cadets together in the early 80’s). He”s picked out a couple of Maynard Ferguson charts and the Buddy Rich chart, Channel One Suite. This is going to be fun!

An Evening with the Cadets begins at 7:30 p.m. at Springfield High School in Springfield, Pa. For more details and ticket information visit the Youth Education in Arts website.

See you there!

The Future of the Music Business

March 6th, 2008

Times are changing and the way people get their music is changing, too. It has already drastically changed from ten years ago. Seth Godin, blogger, bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change has posted his recent talk to a gathering of music industry professionals on the future of the music business. He clearly illustrates the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of how people consume music and how the music industry dispenses it. It’s a good read and worth your time if you are interested in playing/selling music to the masses. You’ll be inspired.

Here’s an excerpt:

So, what’s next? And where do we go from here? I want to start by saying this really clearly. Music is not in trouble. I believe more people are listening to more music now than any time in the history of the world. Probably five times more than twenty years ago…that much! But, the music business is in trouble. And the reason the music business is in trouble is because remember all those pieces of good news?…every single one of them is not true anymore. Every. One. Now, if you want to, you can curse the fact the Solomon’s couldn’t figure out how to keep the tower going. You can curse the fact that it’s really easy to copy a CD. You can curse the fact that we don’t care about the American top 40. You can curse the fact that there isn’t top 40 radio that matters. What good is that going to do? Or, we could think about the fact that you have more momentum and more assets and more talented people than any body else. [And], at the very same time that people are listening to more music than ever before. That’s really cool. And, so when we think about transitions what we know is that timid trapeze artists are dead trapeze artists. And, that the only way you get from here to there is to just do it. Now, you might be wrong but the alternative is you WILL be wrong.

Read the whole talk at Seth’s blog. Or you can download a PDF transcript of his talk.

Buddy Miles 1947~2008

February 28th, 2008

I was sad to hear of Buddy’s passing yesterday. He was an early influence on my groove. I remember listening to Buddy on Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album (a vinyl LP). I also remember seeing the Buddy Miles Experience on Don Kirsher’s Rock Concert TV program. Read about Buddy at Wikipedia or at DrummerWorld.

New groove videos in the works. Thanks for being patient.

Dennis Chambers groove

September 24th, 2007

Last week while I was trolling YouTube for new drum videos I stumbled across the Dennis Chambers In The Pocket video of John Scofield’s So You Say. For those of you who want to hear and know deep pocket grooves, Dennis is the man to check out. Dennis kicks off the tune with the groove I’ve transcribed below. For reference, you can watch Dennis play the groove with John Scofield, Gary Grainger, and Jim Beard over at YouTube. You should also checkout the studio version of So You Say on John Scofield’s CD Blue Matter.

I’ve transcribed the opening 8 bars so you can play this one too. I played it through twice in my video: once at 80 bpm and then again more up tempo at 102 bpm. (It wasn’t until I finished the video that I realized that 102 is just a bit under the tempo Dennis plays it in his video. Oops!) Well, I think you get the idea.

A message about interpretation. The cowbell in this groove can make or break the feel. If you just pound out each cowbell note, you’re not going to get a very satisfying sound. Listen to the YouTube video closely to see how Dennis plays it and how I play it. I over emphasized the strong and weak hits a bit to make them clearer. Use your ears to pick up the subtle differences of the accented and non-accented notes. Good luck.

Choose your transcription:
On-screen chart
So You Say printable PDF