Well it's been a busy couple of months, I guess it all starts with getting ready for Burning Man! Last year I went to Burning Man and was a part of the Ambient Drummer's Collective. The Ambient Drummer's Collective is a group of drummers and percussionists that accompany groups of Fire Dancer's that play just before they burn The Man.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band were in town for the inauguration of the Preservation Jazz Hall West here in San Francisco.
Sam Adato's Drum Shop. I make sure and go to his shop every now and then. I picked up a sweet Zil-Bel bell for a fraction of what they go for a while back and he has the best sticks for playing guagua/cata/palitos. Anyways, Sam hooked me up with some nice pieces of hardware to mount the cymbal to the drum.
Well the white wrap on the Ludwig shell was a mess so I decided to replace it, but when I took it off I saw the drum was made from a nice Maple ply, so instead of a new wrap I stripped the old wrap from the shell and the black paint from the hoops and left them a natural wood color with a simple finish of clear ployurethane. Next I drilled a hole for the cymbal hardware, and the drum was ready for Burning Man, and looking pretty good too.
the French Quarter and the other was a whimsical event called The Billion Bunny March, where burners dress like bunnys to protest humanity and "The Man".
At Mardi Gra at the French Quarter I went as a member of The Burning Band which is the longest running marching band on the playa and famous for their flaming tubas!
My next favorite gig was the Billion Bunny March. I went there after the meeting for the Ambiance Drummer's I mentioned previously. I was very touched at the Ambiance Drummer's meeting. I offered to lead a group again. After I introduced myself and did a little audition, I got more people asking to be in my group than last year and more than any other group leader. Not only that, but two drummer's from last year's burn joined my group again.
Anyways, after the meeting the Billion Bunny March meet up spot was right around the corner. So I took my drum, put on my bunny ears and started playing along to the music. Just as the march started the two leaders came over and said to me "You're leading the march!". I am? Well okay, let's go!
So that was Burning Man and my Ludwig bass drum. The best $50 drum idea I've had!
So when I get back, I'm taking a day off and just browsing through the Craigslist Ads and I stumble upon this ad selling several marching bass drums from different manufacturers and of a variety of sizes, models and ages. I looked through the pictures and saw something that caught my eye; a large vintage bass drum in good and complete condition. Anyone that is into vintage drums knows they just don't make them like they used to and that is because they can't, The types and quality of woods just aren't available like they were 50 years ago.
Ohio Design right here in my neighborhood of The Mission in San Francisco had bought several drums from Dixon Elementary school, and right there in the photo above is the drum that caught my eye. Among other drums they were selling was this 40" orchestral bass drum, which I admit tempted me, but my apartment is just too small for a 40" drum! But the 28 incher, that I could handle.
I made the call and went on over to Ohio Design. As an architect I was impressed with the quality of their furniture designs and the wonderful atmosphere of their old Mission District warehouse studio.
I looked over the drum and it was in better condition than I had hoped, no cracks and all the lugs were present and straight with very little rust. A little haggling and the deal was done; sold for $80 with no shipping or waiting, what a deal!
Well when you get an old drum the choices are; do nothing and leave it alone, refinish it and keep the patina intact, restore it to as close as original condition, or refurbish it with some modification. I figured I already had a light colored drum with the 24" maple Ludwig, so I decided to do something different with this drum. I chose to stain this drum a darker color to contrast with my maple bass drum and also to highlight the wonderful art deco stylings of the metal lugs. I stripped the drum of it's old finish, applied several coats of Watco Danish Oil to the shell and stained the hoops darker. Finally I applied a gloss polyurethane coat to the hoops for additional protection. I rubbed the metal down a bit, but decided against polishing it too much, as I liked the grey matte color. Finally I ordered some new Remo Powermax heads.
I think the drum came out really beautiful. And it sounds phenomenal; a deep dry bass thump! The oil really brought out the color of the mahogany. The matte oil finish of the shell is a nice contrast to the glossy rims and the dark stained color of the rims really highlights the floral shape of the lug hooks.
Rebirth Brass Band. Keith uses a beautiful wood finish bass drum with black heads for a very striking appearance. I recently saw Keith Frazier and the Rebirth Brass Band perform here in San Francisco and I was able to ask him about his drum as I didn't recognize the manufacturer or model. Keith Frazier told me that he made it. Apparently Keith Frazier put his bass drum together himself! So the maple Ludwig got some nice black REMO Powermax heads as a kind of homage to Keith Frazier and the beautiful drum he has made and the music he makes with it.
Dia De Los Muertos celebration, an event I had played rumba at for two years previously. We always played rumba in Garfield Park where the altars for the dead are, and I hadn't yet joined the procession, so this year I formed a marching band to play in the procession jazz funeral style.
As I was studying the Star Wars song, I remembered seeing art where a Stormtrooper helmet was decorated like a sugar skull. Sugar skulls are the theme for Dia De Los Muertos, so I painted a large Stormtrooper "Sugar Skull" on one of the drum heads.
This drum was also an altar, I had some mementos and belongings from two of my friends that had passed away, KC Mitchell and Lisa Forman, attached to this drum.
Eventually the 28" drum will get a cymbal too, but I'm saving up for one of Frank Epstein's "Cymbelts" because the 3 ply mahogany shell is not quite robust enough to mount a cymbal by drilling a hole in the shell in the same way as my 24" Ludwig's maple shell.