As previously stated, I grew up in a small community in the middle of New Brunswick, on Canada's east coast. I think when school was in session and the students were at their desks, the population of the school was larger than the population of the rest of the community!
Our school was very basic; grades one to six were fundamental arithmetic, reading, spelling, social studies, and the like. In grade seven, the boys got introduced to “shop” (today's Industrial Arts – woodworking and electrical) and the girls got introduced to Home Economics – sewing and cooking. It was at that time that we began going to the school dances as well. When I was in grade seven, there were a lot of “sock hops” that featured records of the most up-to-date top forty with a few older favourites thrown in as well. Occasionally there would be a special event where a Disc Jockey from the nearest radio station would come and play the Music. This was a big deal, for in those days, Radio ruled and to see the guys whose voices we heard (sadly, they were all men back then) was a pretty big deal.
Sometimes a live band would come and play, but I didn't actually see any except the local guys who had played for our Friday lunch hour sock hops. The first live band I saw at our school was when I was in grade nine! The Drummer of that band was my friend “W” who lived next door to my cousin. (mentioned in part one) The band was quite large, with two Guitars, Keyboards, Bass, Drums, and Vocals.
Since our school was, as I mentioned, rather basic, we had no Music or Band program, so I watched the drummers who came through on these Friday night dances. By the time I finished school, I had seen a number of drummers who all offered their knowledge to me. I lost touch with the majority of them after school, but some are sill friends to this day.
Each one had something unique to offer; a speciality, if you will. This was also the time of the extended Drum Solo, and when that would happen, most of the dancers would leave the dance floor, some would go for a Coke or hit the washroom, and I'd RUN to the front of the Gym, lean on the stage and watch intently. At home, the next day, I would try to emulate what I'd seen the night before.
Another source of my education was the records I bought. The big Rock bands of the time all had great Drummers and trying to “cop their licks” was a challenge I willingly took on. I'd listen, try to replicate what I'd heard, listen again, until the record was virtually unplayable! When I went to the Music Store in the city, I'd stand transfixed, staring at the Drums. If another Drummer should come along, I'd strike up a conversation, even if I'd never seen him before.
There were many opportunities to see live Music in the late '60s and early '70s, much more so than today. Besides our school dances (which were admittedly a pretty small deal in the larger picture of life) to in-store promotions at department stores and car dealerships, to fairs and exhibitions, I always stayed to talk to the Drummer. I don't recall ever meeting one who wasn't willing to share knowledge and the Joy of Drumming with me. Some even managed to squeeze in an informal lesson if time allowed.
As time went on, I gathered a rather large repertoire of ideas, and “licks” to use in the gigs I played. At that time I hadn't learned “discernment” and much of what I played was totally the wrong thing for the song, or situation, and I often overplayed, but I was growing and testing my wings, getting a lot of stuff out of the way to allow for more refinement as I grew older. Yet, I still had a burning desire to learn and play, and I always approached the stage with a sense of wreckless abandon; like a drunken skydiver screaming, “Let's see where we end up THIS time!”
~ Still Wandering...