Favorite Drummers

Favorite Accompaniments


I wish I could go Back to the Future and play these tunes with my mom & dad.

I'd love to get in a time machine, step out in the mid 70's, put on my Angel Flights, fat heeled tall heeled 70's shoes, a polyester shirt, and sit down behind my pre-faded, pre-painted 1960 Champaign Sparkle Ludwigs with all that flakey pre-80's American hardware. If Sounds Unlimited could play all these tunes, again, the way we were. And ride to and from the gigs in the station wagon, I'd only need about a thousand more nights. I loved the spin we put on these songs better than a lot of these records. I guess you had to be there! Wish you had been.

What The World Needs Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTrmYakCWGM as a jazz waltz, after the Cowsill family sang it during their Sunday broadcast, It's a Family Thing. They did this totally straight family musical hour. At the end Susan said, We Cowsills have had a marvelous evening. It was lovely getting your family together with our family. We're only sorry that our brother Dick couldn't make it tonight. He's with the armed forces in Viet Nam and we sure miss him. So, we'd like to dedicate this next number to him. They did an acapella version of What the World Needs Now, while cutting to Vietnam bombing footage. It was incredibly powerful. I don't know if they were taken off the air right after that. But in my memory they were cut right away.

And with my parents + brothers and sisters (as soon as they could hold a mike they'd start singing with us): Love Will Keep us Together, Our House in the Middle of the Street, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Suzy Q, Give Said the Little Stream soft rock version, Eensee Bitsee Spider, What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?, Born On a Mountain Top in Tennessee, Put Your Hand in The Hand, Top of The World, Take 5, Rhumba Girl, Incoherent Blues in which I would scat-sing, and last but not least: Copa Cabanna. Great times waching my little brothers and sisters become performers, and watching my parents grinning with such pride as we played along.

Dream Drum Set

Canary Yellow DC California paper thin 5-ply maples. I own them! I endorse them. I've got to get a picture of me with that set for this site and for DC California's website. The compliments don't stop flowing at the gigs on how beautiful they look and sound. But they've kinda cramped my style: I'll never be able to spray these beauties with whipped cream, or kick them off the stage at the end of a set.

Favorite Music Styles

  • Jazz in all its forms (except: breeze, new age, world beatless, mcjazz, and wimpy background music jazz --99% of the jazz players today!)
  • Hip Hop
  • Rock
  • Latin
  • Banda de Sinalo
  • Funk
  • Alt Rock (even though it is about as anti-drummer and over the top guitar-only as country, I love it.)

Favorite Drum Solos

Favorite Tunes to Play

Favorite Drum Teachers

  • Bob Gullotti (Phish, Keith Jarrett, The Fringe, Bergonzi, Garzone, Surrender to the Air)
  • Jim Chapin, watch this, this, this, and this
  • Gary Hobbs (Stan Kenton Clinics '70s)
  • Billy Cobham & Louis Bellson Drum Clinics
  • Billy Ward 
  • Dennis Griffin (USU)
  • Jan Hyde (George Shearing)
  • Dad

Favorite Gig Moments

  • Age 12, New Years Eve, Country Western gig, Elks Lodge, Logan Utah. It was my first gig without mom and dad. 50 bucks. An infantry soldier jumped on stage brandishing a switch-blade knife in my face because I refused to play a drum solo. Like rats, the band jumped off the stage, leaving me to fend for myself. Man did I play a drum solo. No pacing whatsoever. I played for my life. That went quick. He danced precariously to my beats, doing a drunken hip-swivel dance while stabbing decorative balloons all over the stage, and sternly pointing at the drum or cymbal he wanted to hear next. I was wearing a kind of tight polyester jacket. My arms and wrists quickly locked up. They just kind of twitched. He'd point at a drum and I'd stand up and kind of swing my arm at it from the shoulder. Mom and Dad didn't let me out without them for quite a while after that.
  • Everytime I played Louie Louie with Mom on bass. I don't have any idea how she did it, but she made those moments immortal. I can still hear us in the high raftered open lodge of Beaver Mountain Ski Resort playing that song into another world. Same thing with the Hollies' Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress.
  • First Jam Session at Tufts University. I saw a video of it. I'm no longer like this, but, I moved with the agility and acrobatic violence of Myron Grombecker of Pat Benatar. It actually scarred me to see myself in action. It was definately what I was shooting for back then, but it my mind it was an unreacheable goal. But, on that video I saw myself high kicking my right leg over the toms with my snare cracks in one section. During a 2 bar break, I locked my feet in the pedals and then fell backwards on my stool, then sprang up around count three in a quick sit-up, twirling both sticks with my arms flailing up and down, then crash on count one. It freaked me out. I'd have asked for a copy, but I thought it was only the beginning, but it was really only 8 years before the end of my acrobatics.
  • The Used Blues nights that I sprayed whipped cream on my drums and soloed till I'd bathed entire clubs in white. It was such a humbling joke trying to hold onto the creamy slippery sticks. The whole idea of playing on whipped cream is to get the audience's undivided attention. So there I am, fully in view with my sticks flying out of my hands. It didn't seem to matter. The effect was incredible. No one escaped the whipped cream shower. At a great Irish pub in Jamaica Plain, cream flying from my drumheads splatted all over a huge American Flag behind the stage. I cleaned that place till 4am. I even cleaned whipped cream off the liqour bottles behind the bar, 50 feet from the stage.
  • The night Used Blues caused a riot at Harper's Ferry in Alston, MA at the Boston Blues Battle. We had to stand on the edge of the stage, arm in arm, bowing, while the audience screamed at us like we were Van Halen. They booed the next band for even stepping up the ladder to the stage. We lost because we came across too much like a stadium rock band, instead of like a blues band.
  • I had another all time favorite moment during that set. In the first verse of Mistreated, just after the first line, "Have You Ever Been Mistreated," I proceeded to act out a suddenly escalating meltdown. I grabbed both cymbal stands in my hands and stood up with them in the air. Growled through clenched teeth, "YES." I then trashed the stage with my cymbals, followed by the rest of my set, yellling "I've" crunch "been" thwap "totally" kaborsh --and then fell to my knees and hissed "mistreated". The music had stopped. The audience and I locked eyes, 800 of them, wide eyed and silent, looking at me like they were going to cry. In their eyes I saw fear, agony, and empathy. For that second, we were the same. Then John Putnam, a blood-brother, who'd have stood by me through anything, nodded at me and the audience, motioned toward me with his big left hand, and belted out a stunning acapella, "Ned knoweeoweeows what I'm talking about." The audience took a deep breath. Then boom. The men in the audience erupted a contra-bass bomb. You couldn't hear the rest of the verse over their roaring as I took my time reassembling my set. For the guitar solo we did a creschendo to end all creschendos. We started with a near silent press roll, the bass and bass drum playing quarter notes, next verse a little louder with bass and bass drum playing 8ths, next chorus 16ths, by the end of the solo we were playing so fast and loud, then came that boom again from the audience and we were gone.
  • Acting in the Brad Anderson movie, The Darien Gap, and in 1940's Radio Hour
    The first reverent but reverberant slamming drum solo I took inside Christ Episcople Church Jazz Mass in Coronado.
  • Playing with Dad in the USU Glen Miller Orchestra the winter and summer before I became a missionary. He was always checking with me to make sure I had the right music ready for the next song. It was really cool to be fathered just a few last times.
  • Every solo and every song that went through my head, riding my 10-speed as a Seattle missionary. I vowed, if I ever got home from my mission alive, to always be a flashier drummer, lose my concern for coming across as too wild. I kept vowing to be a joyful drummer who celebrates his freedom from religion and his single shot at living well with every note! It was 10-speeding in Seattle that I taught myself how to play reggae in my head. I was so inspired to come home and just play raggae. I didn't even know it was called raggae. I think I heard it coming out of a passing car radio. Imagine my shock at getting home and hearing the Police for the first time. Stewart Copeland was thrilling.
  • Every drum competition I've ever played in. I still compete whenever I get a chance, just to feel my blood again. Win or lose, there is always plenty of joyful agony to motor me along afterwards. When I play my very best and lose I feel incredible, but misunderstood. When I play my best and win, I feel the universe is in order. When I play under my capacity and win, I feel off center and like I've ripped us all off--yet incredibly relieved to have won. When I play below my ability and lose, I feel like I've completely misled everyone about who I am. But even then, the joy of being counted, of getting zapped and beaten is still life-affirming and assures me that I have not yet turned into a quitter, or a talker who never puts his money where his mouth is. I recently won the first night of preliminaries for Guitar Center's Seattle Drum-Off (Sept 20th, 2006). Finals are on October 10th. Are you going to come and see me get creamed by some great 18 year old? I guarantee it will be a blast.
  • The night Calamity Jane auditioned for CBS at SIR Studios in Hollywood. We were so completely ruined by the experience that we could barely lift our equipment into our pickup in the alley behind SIR. Four of us were piling into the front and Jonah got in back with the equipment. Shane was in the driver seat pushing the clutch in to start the truck. Andy was in the middle and didn't realize he'd placed his left foot on the gas pedal. Mike was sitting on the passenger side and I was standing in the open passenger door, just about to get in. Shane started the truck and thanks to Andy's foot on the gas, the RPMs quickly climbed. Andy started yelling at Shane and tensed up--unwittingly flooring the pedal. His leg was locked and Shane was trying to pry it up. Andy was hitting Shane and screaming like a girl. Shane and Mike yelled at Andy, but the engine was as deafening as the sound and the fury. I fully expected piston rockets out of the hood. I looked down at Andy's leg and noticed the gear shift nob was in reverse, which was not good for me standing in the passenger door. If Shane lost his senses and lifted up the clutch I'd be killed. So I sprang across their laps, knocked the nob into neutral, and turned off the key. Being an ex-hot-rodder, I knew the truck would back fire, as all cars do when you rev them up and turn off the motor at high RPMs. I don't know what possesed me to yell, "He's got a gun." There was a split second of confusion, then the backfires reverberated the alley like they were going through us. Andy screamed, "Gun, gun. Oh my God. Gun." Shane: "Where?" Andy: "He's. He's. He's got a... Ned, you ______."