Saturday, November 6, 2010

Accepting one’s DNA

As a pre-teenage boy, my one passionate desire was to play drums in a successful band; touring, recording, appearing on television…. At age fourteen, I received a small but functional drumset for Christmas and by the time school reconvened after New Year’s, I was in a band with a few of my schoolmates.

As I progressed through high school, I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where I was playing every weekend and getting paid quite adequately for my efforts. As I entered my twenties, I began to become disillusioned and disenchanted with the music business and decided to quit, the first of several attempts to "retire."

By the time I had turned twenty-five, I was back at the drums, bigger and better than ever and by October of that year I was preparing for a tour of western Canada with a group who only a month earlier I was enjoying on the radio.

As I entered my thirties, I found myself married and “settled down” in a situation where touring was not an option. (That marriage ended poorly because I refused to allow someone else make my choices for me)

As a result of being “off the road,” I began to teach. In retrospect, I can only see that as a blessing because as I taught, I learned! When I once again began playing, I had a great deal more knowledge to apply which made me more versatile and well-rounded.

At that time, I was freelancing; playing with up to four bands and teaching at the same time. Slowly, the playing tapered off and the teaching was less than I had wanted it to be. When a fire broke out in 1997 and wiped out the space I had been renting as a teaching studio, taking everything musical I owned, I was convinced my career was over. However, a fundraiser was held and I came home with a new drumset, the same ones I use today.

It took a while to become re-established as a player, and I suffered many “dark days of the soul” while the Universe completed her plans. Once the planets lined up properly, I was once again playing steadily and touring great distances.

As in the past, the situation changed, and in the fall of the year 2000, twenty years after I had first become a professional drummer, I was a drummer no longer.

For whatever reason, drumming jobs were no longer coming in like in the past. I tried moving to another location to search for gigs, but competition was great, and I was running out of money fast. I chose to return to my current home before the opportunity to do so was no longer available. I repeated this behaviour in 2004, again with no success.

In 2005 I received a call to join a band I had been a part of briefly in 1989. It was not a touring or recording act, but there would be a degree of regular income, and very little pressure. By July 2006 however, I was becoming concerned with the damage to my hearing from the volume of the band and I chose to once again “retire.”

I returned to teaching, this time for a local music store, meaning no overhead to pay. The situation was ideal for many months but I was always open to better offers. When one such offer came, I took a “day job” as a writer in Fredericton NB and took my future there with me. Early in January 2010 that situation also changed.

It was after returning yet again to my current home and enduring several months of wondering what was next that I received yet another call from Bad Habits. Initially I was to fill in for two weeks while they searched for a replacement for the chap who had replaced me and who was now unable to play due to a health problem. The option was always open for me to become their full-time drummer if I chose and after the initial two gigs, I chose to stay on.

That has been a very long preamble to say that I am now ready to accept the fact that I was born to play drums. It could be said that drumming is in my DNA. I have also decided that in my own particular case at least, DNA stands for Do Not Argue! I am once again in my element, feeling more fulfilled than in many years, and taking pride in what I do. A very dear friend of mine who is a few years older than I has never lost his passionate desire to drum. In many e-mail conversations, we have discussed our roots, our motivations, our obstacles, and our eventual, inevitable realization that we do not own and play drums; we are servants to our drums. Our drums have chosen us wisely to extract from them the sounds and vibrations that they need to express. Our drums ask us to help them entertain, to love, to heal our planet, and set the pace for those who are sensitive to our rhythm.

Am I up to the task?

~Still Wandering…


  1. Beautifully written jones - thanks for your honesty and passion- you've also transformed many lives in the process with the informal music lessons you gave via your record player to aspiring musicians. That period of my life provided a groundwork that I still use today teaching popular music after a PhD in musicology. You are a drummer for certain and also a great and inspiring teacher.

  2. Shit Mike, I think I'm gonna cry!

    Coming from you, that is high praise indeed. I never intended to become a teacher, but knowing my influence has led to so much for you, how can I disregard the teaching now? In fact, I'm doing online lessons for a gentleman on the other side of the Atlantic. How cool is that?

    Much Love my Brother. Hugs to your lovely wife as well.

  3. a great read, Lonnie, as always. for good or for ill, i am also bound to write music. rock, roll, groove, bounce, jive, waltz, etc. on!!!!

  4. Lonnie as you know I've known you since before the "real set of drums" entered the picture .I remember the cardboard ice cream cartons and your passion to bang on something ,even with broken and sometime taped up drum sticks left over bands at high school dances.And how this passion has guided your life to many adventures both good and bad. One thing for sure you are and always will be a talented drummer ,to pass on this talent thru teaching will assure you passion lives on for many years to come.Peace my friend Gary S ,Vancouver

  5. Gee Gary, between you and Mike (halfsharpmusic) I'm starting to get all sentimental... Well, mental at least! lol

    Yes Gary you have been there since before the beginning, lighting the way for many years. Somewhere along the way you provided rehearsal space as well. If we lived closer to each other, I'm sure we'd still be hanging out together, trading tall tales and remembering what can only now be known as the good ol' days.

    Sometimes I sit down and play along with the old records we grew up with. They were my education for so long, and today remind me of the "why" in my drumming.

    Thank you my dear friend. Peace to you too. Say Hi to Dianne for me.

  6. As always Lonnie, I enjoy reading your wanderings. It is funny how we come back to what resonates in our soul (or drum). And our journey following our path goes in many directions and puts us in touch with so many people. Just remember how many places you've been, all the things you've seen, because of your drumming. Let the journies continue. Barb


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