Tag Archives: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Five Drummers That ROCK

What makes a great drummer absolutely legendary?

Is it rock-solid timing? Is it stick twirls and flashy licks? Is it the ability to string together a sick solo or add that driving edge to a song? Isolating what makes these guys special is difficult, but they each stand out in their own special way.

First at bat is Keith Moon of The Who, whose volatile drumming style was only matched by his personality and the hi-jinks he got himself into. Early on in his career he scrapped most typical rock beatss, trading them in for waves of fills and double bass. “Moon the Loon”, as he was sometimes called always sprinkled in a little dose of crazy into whatever he did. At the time he died, he was banned from multiple hotel chains – mostly for exploding toilets with dynamite. True story. Check out this performance of “Baba O’Riely”:

Watching the video, you can get little glimpses into Moon’s wild energy. For instance, if you watch him in the dark before the drums come in you can see him filling madly in the background – furious 16th notes all around the kit. This whirlwind leads directly into that first cymbal hit, almost shocking that he comes in on time.

Now here’s Keith Moon a slightly different environment, and mood. In this video, The Who is covering The Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” with Keith manning that ear-piercing falsetto. Wearing what looks like a 1920’s bathing suit he really lets loose for some hard rocking out with guitarist Pete Townshend. Take a look:

Next, taking out the bass drum and a few others pieces from Keith Moon’s kit, we’re left with what Violent Femmes drummer, Victor DeLorenzo, played on in the band’s ground breaking debut album Violent Femmes. Using a standing, Tito Puente style of playing, he rocked out on a snare drum harder than anyone ever had before. He was also a genius in creating great hooks, most notably those two eighth note hits throughout the Violent Femmes’ most famous song, “Blister in the Sun”:

In the innovation department, we have Roy Wooten a.k.a. Future Man, Victor Wooten’s older brother and fellow member of the fusion band Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He’s the only drummer on this list to invent the instrument he plays – dubbed by him the “Drumitar”. Underneath a mass of drum machines and samplers, the Drumitar is Metallica singer James Hetfield’s SynthAxe. This isn’t the only instrument he’s created, however, he’s also credited for constructing the “RoyEl”, which as far as I can tell is something like a piano but it plays funkier notes.

Here’s Future Man soloing using some samples of African folk songs. And surprise! – There are some real drums in front of him, too:

Finally we get back to the heavy arsenal. First, Mr. Neil Peart of the progressive rock band Rush. First inspired by The Who, Peart is a drumming god in terms of face-meltingness, mind-blowingness, and other made up adjectives that can only hope to capture the extent of his technical ability. He would take the songs composed by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, and then sit at his desk and write the extensive drum parts to complement the crazy time signatures that the band came to be known for. Peart’s solo in this performance of “YYZ” (the canadian version of the Morse “SOS”) says it all. The bell melody Peart plays at the beginning of the solo has become widely known and quoted.

And at long last we have come to my personal favorite, John Bonham, who with bassist John Paul Jones formed the backbone for Led Zeppelin. From his quick-footed bass drum work (he never used a double bass) like on “Good Times, Bad Times”, to his powerful, demanding beats (“When the Levee Breaks”); from his psycho-noise breakdowns (“Whole Lotta Love” and “Dazed and Confused”) to his original ideas and rhythms (“Fool in the Rain”) he played with an extremely varied style. But like YYZ, nothing speaks to his talents better than his solos – and there is none more famous than his 20 minute “Moby Dick”. Here’s a clip of him performing (less than half of) it live:

For the die-hard fans, here’s the original recorded solo in its entirety:

You can’t rock harder than that. All of these videos really make me wish I had a drum set in my dorm room, but with floors 1 and 2 below me, and 4 and 5 above, I’d probably irritate the whole building. WWKMD?

What would Keith Moon do? Somehow I think I’m going to stick with tapping the hell out of my desk for the time being, and let the kids who walk past my door think what they will. Oh is that my neighbor knocking on the wall, imploring me to stop? TOO BAD.

Rock on.

~Josh

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PEAK KEYWORD: FACEMELTINGEST

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Concert Watch November 2009

…And the horseman roams the streets at night… restlessly searching for his missing head.

That of course, is from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow – one of my favorites, although no one knows how the ghostly Hessian soldier actually lost his head. I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that maybe if he had known about all of the great concerts going on in November in his own backyard, he could have found some solace.

Segue!

I think he just saw the Horseman!

Pete Yorn

November starts off with a bang – Pete Yorn, who performed live for the peak in 2006 will be playing at the Ridgefield Playhouse TOMORROW the 1st. He just released his fourth record¬†Back and Fourth this past June and if you look at the fine print, you’ll notice that Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes helped produce it. What’s more, Yorn put out another album right after that, with Scarlett Johannson this past September – Relator. And coming off touring with Coldplay throughout the summer Mr. Yorn is doing quite well for himself – make sure to catch him in Connecticut!

Too bad harmonicas aren't semi-automatic.

Popper visiting the troops

On November 4th, Blues Traveler is rolling through town. They’ll be playing a show at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza in the city. They’ve been going above and beyond recently in an effort to support the troops in any way they can. For instance they are offering a free download of “Forever Owed” – the first track of their 2008 record North Hollywood Shootout. This song was written for the troops, and they ask that in lieu of paying for the track you make a direct donation to the USO. Blues Traveler visited the troops in 2004, and in a letter to the men and women of the Armed Forces, John Popper writes,

“… you who serve are not only a part of us but the best of us. I will carry my meager taste of honor with me for the rest of my life.”

In addition to the free download, they have been giving away free tickets to their shows for servicemen and women through the USO. So support this noble band by seeing them next wednesday.

"Alone, we are just your average indie-folk superstars... but with our powers combined, we form: THE MONSTERS OF FOLK!" (theme music plays - some light guitar strumming)

The Monsters of Folk

Going back to Mike Mogis for a sec, the indie-folk supergroup, the Monsters of Folk, are playing at the United Palace Theater up in Washington Heights next friday, November 6th. These monsters include Mike Mogis and Connor Oberst, both prominent members of Bright Eyes; M. Ward – well known from his partnership with Zooey Deschanel called She & Him; and Jim James the singer from My Morning Jacket. I know, it’s a lot of names for one band. But it’s going to be a great performance. If you do miss them Friday, it wont be too late – they’re playing again at the Beacon Theater on Nov. 8th a week from this Sunday.

Is Nils Lofgren floating on the left?

Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 2003.

In the end, however, no one compares to the Boss. That’s right, Bruce Springsteen is blazing through town after his tour de force performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week. Brucie and the E Street Band will have two performances at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and Sunday, the 7th and the 8th.

Yes, we do have a Grammy award winner behind that window.

Rob Thomas Peak Performance at ACME studios on Sept. 5th, 2009.

That should tide you over for a few days, at least. We return then to the Beacon Theatre, where Rob Thomas will be performing a series of three shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the 12th, 13th, and 14th respectively. ¬†You may know that Rob Thomas came into the studios this past September, and he’ll be one of the featured artists on the Peak Performances Vol. 2 that’s coming out this December.

And there’s so much more! The Cranberries will be playing at Nokia Theater on the 18th. After that, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones will be performing at the Community Theater at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts on Friday the 20th, and the Smithereens will be following tham at the Community Theatre the on the 21st.

Also, Ani DiFranco will be playing at Town Hall on the 21st as well. New York’s backyard will also be graced with three shows from the Pixies on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Pianos suck.

Guster's "Lost and Gone Forever" 1999

 

Then November goes out with a bang, too, with two sold-out shows from Guster on the 27th and 28th back at the Beacon Theater. They’re touring right now for the tenth anniversary of their ’99 album Lost and Gone Forever. They’re playing two sets each with one set being the record in its entirety. That album has some truly great tracks like “Barrel of a Gun” and “Fa Fa”.

So happy concert-hunting, and if you do seem to have misplaced your head, then let some great world class rock steer you home.

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Peak Keyword: ICHABOD

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