Top 10 Drumming Mysteries

…of those great emails, from Master drummer Ed Greene:

#10 The Stick Bag Metamorphosis
Having spent half an hour in the music store selecting the perfect pair of sticks, rolling, tapping and weighing them, you pull them out at the gig that night to find that one of them suddenly feels like a #2 pencil, while the other feels like a softball bat.

#9 The Inverse/Pay Ratio of Gigs
The gig on which you can play exactly the kind of music you want (to an adoring crowd) and on which you find yourself accomplishing things on your instrument that would mystify Buddy Rich, pays $20 (which you will receive in your mailbox three months later). The gig on which you play utterly boring music, work with inept musicians, drop a stick every twelve bars, and perform to a crowd that apparently hates every note, pays  $300 (in cash, in advance).

#8 The Mysterious Cymbal Bag Transformation
The $400 cymbal that you test in the music store sounds like a choir of angels. You excitedly rush it home and put it in your cymbal bag. That night at the gig, you take it out and begin playing it, only to find that it has been mysteriously transformed into a piece of Kryptonite that clashes with all other instruments in all keys.

#7 The Suddenly Obsolete Equipment Part
At the exact moment a piece of equipment breaks, replacement parts disappear from every music store in existence. At the same, the piece is discontinued by the manufacturer. Attempting to find a substitute part at a hardware store, you are informed that the threads on the piece are incompatible with every known thread configuration in the history of machining. (This only happens if you use a common brand of equipment. If you are using a 1961 Trixon set, you will find an abundance of parts at any 7-11 store.

#6 The “Evidence That There Is Evil In The Universe” Bass Drum Pedal
Your trusty pedal works flawlessly through hundreds of hours of merciless stomping. Then one night, an agent who is able to get a million dollar record contract for your band comes in to hear you play your super-funk-fuzoid original tune. At the exact moment the bass player begins the incredibly syncopated figure you spent two months rehearsing and perfecting together, the pedal spring breaks.

#5 Multiple Vaporizing Drumkeys
The five drum keys in your stick bag, the two on the floor tom tuning lugs, and the one on your key chain simultaneously vanish-as you sit down to play for a crowd of ten thousand people and find that your snare drum batter head is split down the middle. (If you play a set with slotted tuners, all screwdrivers and coins will also vanish).

#4 The Equipment Schlepping/Weather Syndrome
You get a call for a gig with a high-powered rock band. You load your 10-piece, 26-ply rock ‘n’ roll kit (the one with the seventy-pound bass drum and forty-five pound triple-braced cymbal stands) into the car and drive to the gig. There, you are informed by a security guard that you must park in the employee parking lot (which is a mile away), drag your equipment to the building, and go up six flights of outside stairs  because the elevator is broken. As soon as you receive this news, the worst thunderstorm in recent history begins. Conversely, you get a call to do an hour of background music at a ****tail party. You bring a snare drum and a pair of brushes. Upon arriving at the gig, you find that you are able to pull your car up to a door that opens directly onto the bandstand. The weather is perfect.

#3 The Famous Drummer/Unknown Drummer Sitting In Syndrome
A world-famous drummer, who has recorded several hundred albums, been on the cover of Time Magazine, and authored two dozen books, comes into the club and is invited to sit in. As you cower nervously in the corner, he gets behind the drums and picks up the sticks. He then proceeds to play too loud, and with unutterably bad taste, while dragging the tempo down to half of what it originally was. After one tune, the band politely ushers him off the stage. Conversely, an unknown drummer walks in the club and asks to sit in. His claim to fame is two months on the road in 1958 with the Claude Kochanowski Polka Band. You graciously allow him to play, assuring the other band members that you will return after one short tune. You leave the bandstand with a knowing smile on your face. Then your smile disappears as the drummer proceeds to play things that would send Vinnie Colaiuta back to the woodshed. The band urges him to play the rest of the night as you sit in the corner mentally calculating how you’re going to pay this month’s bills now that you are out of a gig.

#2 The Wrong Drumkit Phenomenon
You show up at a gig with your new $10,000 hand-made African teakwood-finished drumkit. You find that the gig is outside, next to a swimming pool. Kids are in the pool, throwing tidal waves of water on your set. Their parents are dancing directly in front of your drums, stepping on your front bass drum hoop and leaving black rubber heel marks all over the front head. It is 110 outside, and pits are already beginning to form on the drums’ chrome from the sweat pouring off of you. A waiter, carrying a tray of food, slips in a puddle of water and dumps guacamole all over your tom-toms. The bartender, who is right next to you, accidentally knocks the lid off the blender while mixing a batch of Brandy Alexanders, plastering your beautiful wood-finished shells with sticky brown goop. Since you had to disassemble that kit to clean it up, you have to make the next gig with your spare kit-the thirty year old no-name kit with the missing bottom heads, peeling chrome, and bubbled pearl finish-that you bought at a garage sale for $25. A smiling bellboy helps you remove the drums from your car and carries them piece by piece into a large ballroom, where you will set them up on an eight foot riser under a twenty-foot wide bank of dazzling white stage lights. Steve Gadd will be sitting in, and the gig will be televised.

And the #1 drumming mystery (drum roll please)…..

#1 The Incredible Leaping Drumstick
At the precise moment in your drum solo when you have brought your press roll down to a whisper-quiet level at which it sounds like a piece of tearing silk, and you could hear a pin drop because everybody has stopped talking and every eye in the room is trained on your hands, one of your sticks suddenly…….. Well, you know the rest.


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