Funk Pioneer Smokey Johnson Passes
New Orleans giant Smokey Johnson, an influential drummer in funk and r&b, passed away October 6, 2015 at the age of 78. Johnson is well known for his years recording with legendary pianist Fats Domino in the 1950s and '60s. He also is known for his 1967 collaboration with producer Wardell Quezergue on "It Ain't My Fault." The song, which kicks off with second line rhythms and introduced a new style to drummers everywhere, has been covered endlessly by brass bands in New Orleans (Ed Note: see our Spotify playlist of covers below). Johnson's light touch on the top of the kit, and insistent bass drum rhythms, left an indelible mark on the history of drumming.
Prior to working with Domino, Johnson--who grew up playing trombone before switching to drums--was active with bandleader Dave Bartholomew's rhythm-and-blues band, and worked as a first-call session player. He was also active in the local jazz scene after his time with Domino.
A musical tribute to Johnson will be held Friday, October 15, 2015 at Charbonnet Family Services Funeral Home from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Funeral services will be held on Saturday.
For more information click here.
Jason Ward Hospitalized In Florida For Several Days
Ward was admitted last Thursday evening while on tour with an unknown infection, and has been held for several days of tests and monitoring. Having dodged a pretty big bullet and following several days of treatment and observation, Jason is healing quickly and anxious to get released and back out to regroup with guitarist Cheryl Manner and bassist/vocalist Jon Case later this week, in order to play through the remaining dates with Inter Arma, Indian Handcrafts and headliners, Kylesa, which runs until October 25th.
IRATA is touring in support of their groove-laden new album, Sweet Loris, which was just released on CD and digitally this past Friday via Kylesa's own Retro Futurist label. Recorded by the band at The Jam Room, produced by Phillip Cope and engineered by Cope and Zac Thomas, and completed with artwork by Santos and design by Phillip Yeary, with equal amounts of thunderous doom-inspired uproar as there tranquil and melodious organic rock segues, nearly forty minutes of new material is born in these seven new tracks.For more information please visit IRATA's Facebook page.
Up-Drums Announces Rick Latham Snare
Decade-old drum crafters Up-Drums have just announced the launch of the Rick Latham signature snare drum. The Italy-based snare builders collaborated with the famous funk drummer when he fell in love with their work and requested a team effort to create a unique instrument in honor of his 60th birthday.
The Rick Latham "Apex" Signature Snare Drum will be a limited edition snare drum, meaning only 60 of them will be manufactured. The drum will be hand crafted in Italy, with an incredibly sensitive feel and sound, and a new "fusion-hoop technology." The snare will be made of exotic African zebra and American walnut wood with a stave shell construction.
Tony Royster Jr. Masterclass Highlights
With less than one week left to register for the Drumeo.com Masterclass with Tony Royster Jr., DRUM! has had a sneak peek at the online lessons and pulled together our favorite video highlights!
Speed & Control
Tony Royster Jr. has some of the fastest hands in the world - and throughout the masterclass he shares his tips and techniques for improving your speed and control in the kit before demonstrating exactly how it works. And yes, as the video shows, it works!
Bass Drum Technique
It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of kicks he’s wearing on his feet, Tony’s a master with a single pedal or double-pedal, and he highlights his expertise along with insights on how you can improve your own foot technique as well.
Improving Your Timing
It isn’t always about counting. Tony explores his inner pulse that he has developed over time, and how you can work with a metronome to push your boundaries and embed better timing within your own playing.
Tony shares the rudiments he relies upon the most in his playing, and how he practices them to develop the consistency and feel that’s required when he plays in front of crowds of all sizes.
The Music Business
As the go-to drummer for superstar Jay-Z as well as performing with Joe Jonas, Joss Stone, and many others, Tony has gained valuable insights on how to make it in the music business: from playing with a band, becoming a seasoned musician, and building key relationships that will help you achieve your drumming goals.
While these are just short video clips to highlight some of the material that’s covered, the full masterclass will include three hours of exclusive video with Tony Royster Jr., exercises and demonstrations, and three play-along songs. People who sign up will also get three masterclass bonuses including a signed 8 x 10 photo, a six-month access pass for online lessons at Drumeo.com, and a pair of Vic Firth drumsticks.
Click here to register today: http://www.Drumeo.com/TRJ/
Own A Piece of Beatle History
More than 800 items owned by Ringo Starr and his wife, Barbara Bach, are going to auction, including rare Beatles memorabilia like his three-piece drum kit used in over 200 performances and a Rickenbacker guitar known as the "Beatle-Backer" that John Lennon owned and later gave to Ringo.
The unprecedented number of Beatles-owned objects will be offered Dec. 4-5 at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California.
"We have so much stuff and a lot of it we haven't seen in 20 to 30 years," Starr, 75, said in a phone interview with Bach from London.
He said the idea for the auction came after The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles asked to do an exhibition about his life and music in 2013-2014. "It started with me looking at storage units we have all around the world it seems ... we found we had so much stuff," he said.
Like his book "Photograph by Ringo Starr," coming out later this month, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the couple's Lotus Children Foundation, which focuses on social welfare issues around the world.
The couple, who have been married for 34 years, said they decided together what items to auction, an effort that was wrought with emotion and nostalgia. After deciding to let go of certain items "we'd take them back," said Bach, 69, a former model and actress. "But then we'd say, 'Where are we going to put it' and realized it would have to go back in storage, so we said, 'OK, let's put it back in the auction.'"Highlights and their pre-sale estimates:
- Ringo's first 1963 Ludwig Oyster black pearl three-piece drum kit that he used in over 200 performances and recordings between May 1963 and February 1964, including for hits such as "Can't Buy Me Love" and "All My Loving." Paul McCartney also used the set on his first solo album, "McCartney." $300,000-$500,000.
- Lennon's 1964 Rose-Morris Rickenbacker with a fire-glow sunburst finish that he played during The Beatles' 1964-1965 Christmas shows. He made a gift of the guitar, known as the "Beatle-Backer," to Starr in 1968. $600,000-$800,000.
- A 2000 Mercedes Coupe, first owned by Harrison and acquired by Starr after the Beatles' lead guitarist died in 2001. $60,000-$80,000.
- A seven-tom drum kit inspired by drummer Hal Blaine and commissioned for Ringo by Harrison in 1968. Only five of the custom kits are known to exist. $10,000-$20,000.
Highlights will be on display for a week at The Hard Rock Cafe New York in Times Square starting Nov. 16. They also will be shown at the Museum of Style Icons in Ireland and at Julien's prior to the sale.
Julien's anticipates the sale could top $10 million. "It's really a once in a lifetime opportunity. Ringo will never do this again. They are the only items he's letting go," said auctioneer Darren Julien.