Audio: At Percussion Podcast

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It was a delight to speak with Karli Viña, Casey Cangelosi, and Ben Charles on the @ Percussion Podcast a few weeks back. We discussed a variety of topics including playing both orchestral percussion and drum set, touring, subbing on musicals, life as a drummer in New York City, and why equality matters. Give a listen here or wherever you get your podcasts!

In The Studio: Sing Shalom

I had a nice time tracking at MONOlisa Studios, recording music for Music Together’s Sing Shalom classes with my dear friend Solomon Hoffman (artistic director of the Songwriter’s Orchestra.) We recorded about 8 tunes Saturday and are doing a few more tonight. In addition to drum set, I played some dumbek, which I don’t believe I’ve ever played on a recording! Pictured above is the house kit, which is a 70s Ludwig kit with Slingerland snare. The studio had great vibes! Thanks for having us, Denise.

Happy Opening, American Morning!

Timothy Huang’s American Morning opened last night at ART/New York Theatres. The show runs for the next two weeks and is presented by Prospect Theater Company. It has been fun, challenging, and rewarding to develop this drum book. Special thanks to our fearless MD, Julianne Merrill, for her patience and guidance!

Hathaways @ Pine Box Rock Shop

Last week I played at Pine Box Rock Shop with Hathaways in celebration of the release of their new EP, Hologram. Give it a listen! Here’s a little clip from the gig. This song is about the spectral classification of stars. They also have one about Clara Schumann. That’s the kind of nerdiness I can get behind!

That's a Wrap: Hundred Days

What a journey the last seven months have been. I’ve played Hundred Days 120+ times and I would be happy to double that number! This show and the people in it have changed my life in ways that I'm just beginning to process. Thank you especially to The Bengsons for embracing me and bringing me into their family. And thanks to the AMAZING all-female/POC crew at the Arsht Center for this spectacular chalk drawing!

Interlochen!

I recently reunited with one of my cabin-mates at Interlochen from NINETEEN YEARS AGO! We haven’t seen each other since that amazing summer, but I still feel like we are and will continue to be lifelong friends. Here’s what Andrea — an outstanding horn player and music teacher — had to say:

This is a little late, but on Valentine’s, Ryan Vella and I went to see “Hamilton” at the Straz in Tampa. And if you know me, you know how much I love it, but that’s not why I’m writing this post. The best part of the night was when I first opened the playbill, and to my complete surprise, it flipped open to a photo of one of my cabin-mates from Interlochen Arts Camp ‘00, Ashley Baier who is performing in “Hundred Days,” which is running next door to “Hamilton.” So, after 19 years (seriously, how has it been that long!?) and yet again, thank you to Victoria Guyre, we got to see Ashley’s performance last Friday. Even though we could only chat for a little afterwards, it was wonderful and surreal to see you, and like you said, I hope we don’t wait another 2 decades until we see each other again! Congratulations on a beautiful performance - you all certainly give the Hamilton casts in Tampa (and NYC) a run for their money. If you’re reading this and in the Tampa Bay area, go see “Hundred Days!” They’ll be there until the end of March. ❤️

Here are some pics Andera shared as well:

I’d never seen this picture before! Me in the center with Erin to the left and Andrea to the right.

I’d never seen this picture before! Me in the center with Erin to the left and Andrea to the right.

Our awesome cabin! So many amazing ladies in this group. Can you spot me?

Our awesome cabin! So many amazing ladies in this group. Can you spot me?

Andrea and I outside of the Straz after the show. It was so nice to catch up and meet her husband.

Andrea and I outside of the Straz after the show. It was so nice to catch up and meet her husband.


Back at it: Hundred Days

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The latest version of Hundred Days is up and running at the Straz in Tampa. We had two days of tech and open Tuesday. My friend from college, Scott Crawford, provided the rental — a beautiful, brand new Pearl Session Studio Classic kit. It sounds great! Scott is a fantastic percussionist and all-around great guy. It was a dream come true to have him tech for me on Sunday. I can’t wait to hang with him some more on this 2.5 month stint in Tampa.

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Down the Mountain

Here is one of my highlights of the Grinch. “Down the Mountain” starts and ends on timpani and has a rockin’ tom part. This scores the scene in which the Grinch sleds down Mount Crumpit, cracking the whip (as played by Key 2) at his dog, Max. It is always a thrill to play.

Rig Rundown: The Grinch

The Grinch is off to a good start here in Green Bay. Let’s take a look at my setup for this season:

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This year I’m playing a Champagne Sparkle DW kit It sounds great for this particular show. Beefy toms! I’m using a variety of Zildjian cymbals.

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Using the always trusty Roland SPD-SX with 9 different kits programmed (woodblocks, gong, tambourine, bass drum, chimes, glock, sleigh bells, triangle, finger cymbal, ratchet, and one timpani patch are all programmed). Two Adams timpani (29” and 26”). I also have an acoustic cowbell and Jam Block, but they didn’t make the pictures.

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Mmmm… I love a good metal station. Mark tree, two triangles, one finger cymbal, and three Miller Machines.

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Delvcam mounted on my music stand so I can see the conductor when I’m reading the music.

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Stick tray with a variety of multi-sticks, timpani mallets, brushes, triangle beater, sus mallets, and two caxixi.

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And finally, Aviom land. Each band member has their own channel in addition to a conductor mic and onstage mic.

That's a Wrap: Hundred Days

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My time performing in Hundred Days at La Jolla Playhouse was a dream come true. It was a pleasure to get to work each day with some of the most artistic, compassionate, and talented people I've ever met. I can't wait to start up the show again in Tampa in January. Until then, I'll be walking, I'll be walking.

📸: Lindsey Augusta Mercer

Rig Rundown: Hundred Days

The cellist is naked! The throne is falling off the riser! What kind of show is this??? Let’s take a look at my setup for Hundred Days here at the La Jolla Playhouse!

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La Jolla Playhouse provided me with this black Gretsch Catalina maple kit. It was amazing not having to worry about schlepping drums across the country or setting up a rental in San Diego. The kit sounds great. We are expecting some new heads to arrive any day now.

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AVIOM land is a good scene! I have two running here: One for each instrument and voice and a dedicated one for just the drum mix. We are all using in-ear monitors which has been a godsend. I may never be able to go back to a wedge again!

Drum key and Moon Gels in an accessible position in case of emergency.

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I’m using my trusty SPD-SX for this one. I’ve built 12 kits (some of which are just running click tracks). The electronics add a nice element to this show. All sounds were provided by the composer, Shaun Bengson, except for a few 808 bass drums and claps. I’ve enjoyed working with our sound designer, Nicholas Pope, on dialing in levels and effects for each sound. I have a few glow dots on the machine so I know where to hit during two black out sections.

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I’m running a pedal trigger out of the SPD-SX for bass drum and other sounds and using a foot switch to turn the click track on and off. More glow dots!

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I finally get to put those contemporary percussion ensemble skills to use during a song that features bowed crotales. It’s a nice effect for the piece and serves as a few meditative minutes for me to re-center and think about what’s coming up next.

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Oh yeah, I’m a singer now! I sing harmony on a few songs. It has been a challenge for sure, but I’m surrounded by many amazing and supportive singers who are always uplifting.

The show runs in San Diego through October 21. If you are in the area, come on out to a show! Otherwise, perhaps I’ll see you this winter in Tampa or Miami!