Play Softly And Carry A Thin Pair Of Sticks, Or A Drummer’s Guide To CNY Venues, Part 1: The Buzz Cafe, Syracuse

This (what I hope will be a) series of posts stems from a gig that changed the way I approached all the songs I played that evening (specifically, this gig). Changed in the kind of way that I wish the band had had proper notice of the situation we (well, I) were walking into in terms of the room, the acoustics, and the management. On the plus side, Syracuse is undergoing what I think is a slow expansion of mom+pop places that open their doors to live music. This is just fine for most styles of music and small groups. On the down side, these tend to be small places. This is just fine for most styles of music and small groups.

This can be a problem for a set drummer, which can then be a problem for the rest of the band. You rehearse and rehearse with a group at one volume, playing at a level at which you are comfortable playing all the complicated fills and patterns you like. Everyone gets used to hearing certain things and you get use to executing those things. Then you find yourself at a venue with your full kit and an owner who doesn’t seem to like loud noises. And by loud noises, I mean sounds generated by the lightest sticks you own using little more than your fingers to propel them several inches. And I understand the hesitancy an owner might have when confronted by a drummer they’ve never heard, as I’ve certainly sat near my share of drummers who didn’t adjust their playing volume to the room. But with this new adjustment, you’re not playing the same song you (and the band) have grown accustomed to. Now, the whole band may find itself reacting to this new dynamic from the drummer, while all the others in the band had to do was turn their volume knobs down a bit.

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The Excelsior Cornet Band At Canastota Public Library, 4 October 2009

“I know only two tunes.  One is Old Hundredth, the other one isn’t.” – Abraham Lincoln

Nearly six score days ago, the Excelsior Cornet Band performed in Canastota, NY as part of the Art & Music series at the Canastota Public Library.  As reported in the Fall 2009 edition of  “Check It Out!” (the library’s newsletter, of which a copy of the Fall 2009 PDF is saved locally at 2010january_excelsior_checkitout.pdf)…

On October 4, a concert is planned with “The Excelsior Cornet Band”.  “The Excelsior Cornet Band” is New York State’s only authentic Civil War brass band.  Founded in 2001, the band consists of a group of upstate New York musicians who are dedicated to the performance of original Civil War music on actual antique brass band instruments of the 1860’s period.  They will be performing their Abraham Lincoln Program on Sun., Oct 4 at 2 pm on the second floor of the Library.

Is this thing on? – Jeff Stockham


The Excelsior Cornet Band. Tintype photo by John A. Coffer.

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