Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Radio Kings

I don't know if you checked out Mr. Whoamus' recent post entitled “Charlie Mac Attack,” but it concerned my old (I mean really old) set of Slingerland Gene Krupa Signature Radio Kings. The badges on this set date it to the mid to late '40's. (For more info on how to date drums by their badge style and type, go to www.vintagedrumguide.com). The “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey once famously intoned, is this: sometime in the fall of 1963, when I was 12 years old, I went over to my friend John's house to dink around. Sitting in his basement were the Slingerland's, owned by his father, I'm guessing, from new. Although I'd never played a drum set before, I was intrigued, and sat down and pounded out a basic beat. Well, I was hooked – I moved on to get a cheap set of Silvertone drums from money saved up raising pigs on the farm, and I watched John play these drums in various bands through junior high and high school. He got a new set of Ludwigs (ironically enough, I owned those, too, for a few years) and I lost track of the Radio Kings. In 1972 I had moved back to my home town for employment, and happened to see the ol' Slingerlands in a pawn shop for 75 bucks. They weren't in real good shape, but for that amount of money, I snatched them up, and they've been with me ever since (except for a short period of time when they were used by Mr. Whoamus' son in his early drumming years). As you can see from the pix, they've gone through some changes:

Here's another pix of the set from last December, that shows a bit more. They used to be yellow marine pearl (same color as a lot of Krupa's sets), but I had to remove that finish more than 15 years ago when it started to chip and peel off.

Here is the set the day I brought it home (being played by a 21 one year old, 1972 version of yours truly as well)

Here I am holdin' down the backline of my band “Too Much Fun,” circa 1975 (I'd kill to have that hair again!)

Here I am all greased up and rockin' during our '50's set, pic taken in 1976 or so. Yow!

So fast forward to 2010, I'm just glad to be still rockin', and still playin' the ol' Radio Kings.

Gene Krupa would approve.

P.S. What happened to my friend John? Well, he's still rockin' as well: check out his band “Echos V” (www.echosv.com) down in West Des Moines, IA. As you can see, old guys (and old drums) never die, they just keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Only You Know and I Know...

... and if you were there, you'd know how difficult this song is to play drums to...Sunday night at the open mic at McCracken's in Burnsville was Valentine's Day, and featured several female vocalists, and one couple, who did this song. I was fortunate to be behind the skins for this song, and it was a real rave-up, for sure - saw lots of wide grins on the players...so here's the original done by Delaney and Bonnie back in '69. Enjoy, and we'll see you back at McCracken's on the 28th...keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That Old Beat Up Guitar...

There seem to be a fair number of songs out there that guys write about their guitars. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison, "Perfectly Good Guitar" by John Hiatt, and "That Old Beat Up Guitar" by Jerry Jeff Walker are three that come to mind. So, while I'm not going to write one about mine, I do want to point out that I got a new guitar today - well, new to me, anyway - a 1979 vintage Yamaha FG331 in pristine condition. Got it for a song, as they say...I seem to have pretty good luck finding the bargains out there; right before Christmas I got an Amigo acoustic-electric bass (with case) for a hundred bucks, and this Yamaha was quite a bargain too. I like its bright, chimey tone, and body size, somewhere between a folk guitar and a dreadnaught. So, while it's not beat up, it's pretty old, so let's listen to ol' Jerry Jeff sing about his prized possession; and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feelin' Alright?

… feelin’ pretty good myself! Coming off a bad cold that dogged me all week, and a an unintended 3 week hiatus of my band (scheduling conflicts kept us from getting together), and faced with no music action until our next gig at the Ugly Mug on 2-20, I was bored and itchin’ to play. So I did an exhaustive study of open mics and jam sessions south of the river here in Mpls/Paul, and have discovered the mother lode of undiscovered gems. Sunday night it was the open blues jam at McCracken’s Pub in Savage, hosted by the Big River Blues Band, where my good bud Mr. Whoamus and I checked out some excellent singers, pickers and drummers – great talent there; I got up on stage and played along with the house band on “Got My Mojo Workin’” and “Ain’t Superstitious.” Last night it was the open mic at the American Legion in Apple Valley, hosted by “Hydraulic Woman,” featuring Kristin Schuldt and friends in the house band. I arrived late, but still was able to get up on stage to drum on “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Gloria,” “Hey Bartender,” and the set-closing rave-up “Feelin’ Alright?” An excellent time was had by all, and I want to thank Kristin and the gang, especially “Ron,” their drummer, who was forgiving when clumsy me knocked over his hi-hat just trying to get off the stage. It also goes to show what a small world the music scene in the Twin Cities is – turns out I had met Ron before when he played a show with the K G Band at the Contented Cow in Northfield last September, and Blaine Prout, lead guitarist for Roger Holmes and Rockers’ Lament, another of my fave bands, has played in Hydraulic Woman in the past. So enjoy a little “Feelin’ Alright?”, played here by Dave Mason and friends at his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 – I echo his sentiments in his acceptance speech – it’s great to be playing this much music at my age! and keep on rockin’!
P.S. See you at the jam at the Savage Legion Saturday night – so many places to play, so little time!