31 August 2009

A Drum Set for the Ages

This is a follow-up to Barbara Washburn's post below on drummer Jim Tilton. Jim wanted to add a description of his drum set -- a work of art for the ears and eyes. Here's Jim's description:

My Drum Set
By Jim Tilton

After forty plus years of playing the same set of Ludwig drums, a decision was made in the winter of 2007 to treat myself to a new set. It took a lot of self-convincing and excuses to place an order for one of the most extravagant drum sets available. The set is a Drum Workshop Collector’s Series, custom built, with an exotic finish.

The set is a fourteen piece maple construction with built-in matched low timber tone. The wood finish is Macassar ebony vertical grain, and is highlighted by twenty-four karat gold plated hardware and stands.
The set consists of 5x10, 6x10, 7x10, 8x10, 9x13, 10x13, 11x14, and 12x14 suspended toms; 16x16 and 16x18 floor toms, two 18x20 bass drums with beta 52 internal systems, and 5x13 and 7x14 snare drums of 10+6 maple construction.

The cymbals are Amedis Zilijian 15 inch new beat hi-hats, 6, 8, and 10 inches, a custom splash 16 and 18 inches, a custom fast crash 16, 18, and 20 inches, and a custom medium crash, along with an Amedis Zilijian 18 inch China High. Completing the cymbal set is a Sabian 22 inch paragon fade.

Rounding out the set is an assortment of five Latin percussion cow bells. All drumheads are DW coated and clear heads. Mics are Sennheiser Instrument and Drum, sticks are Pro-Mark Portnoy, jazz, and 727 as required. Finally, the most important parts are the SKB fabric and foam-lined cases for every drum.

22 August 2009

From Garage Band to Opening Act: A Remarkable Man’s Journey Through Life in Music

Gold Coast Bluenote is glad to welcome guest contributor novelist Barbara Washburn (Chasing Carole, 2008). This post is entirely her work.

Jim Tilton was born in Baltimore City, MD on August 30, 1950, and grew up there and in the surrounding county. His interest in music began around the age of five, when he received the gift of a set of toy drums. It wasn’t long before he moved on to the real thing. He could soon play his Ludwig drums, the trumpet, and keyboards. Piano lessons were part of his education at Catholic school, and trumpet mechanics followed at the Peabody Conservatory (of Music).

He grew up surrounded by music: Glenn Miller, the Dorseys, Benny Goodman, Lawrence Welk, and then Elvis and the fifties artists who followed. His personal influences were the big bands, jazz, the British Invasion of 1964 and onward.

Jim married on January 18, 1974, and joined the Navy on January 12, 1976 to support his family and further his educational goals in electronics. Taking advantage of the Navy’s emphasis on higher education, Jim studied electronic engineering and computer science.

The music was always there, almost part of his soul. From his days at the Peabody Conservatory he’d loved the music media of the past, collecting 78, 45, and 33 RPMs, and his collection of LPs is staggering. He also has a dazzling collection of cassettes, CDs, and sheet music.
Jim is not simply a collector and appreciator of the works of others, he’s a gifted musician in his own right, a drummer par excellence. His first real garage band was King Solomon’s Minds, a playful tip to the times.

And a fine band they were. They opened, in 1969, for the Jeff Beck Group, back when Rod Stewart was a member. They next opened for BB King and Canned Heat at the Baltimore Civic Center. In 1971 his new band, Theodus, opened for The Association at Towson State College.

As happens to most of us, life grew hectic. In the late sixties and early seventies, Jim moved from group to group, doing tours handicapped by poor booking agents, recording sessions with lost masters, and five nights a week gigs.

Jim changed with music, adapting easily to the advances in technology. Quality improved with better electronics processing, better and improved instruments and microphones, and new recording techniques.

The music remained topical – boy meets girl – but it also took on social commentary and current events. New musicians sprang from the groundbreakers of the sixties. “It’s good to hear new and creative music,” Jim said. “Riffs still being developed, and not being just transposed or plagerized.”

He was there and part of it when the music that spoke for a generation broke free and flew. Looking at today’s music, he says
I find it inconceivable to have a life without music, even if one can’t sing or play an instrument. You can still contribute by supporting musical artists. Music can channel feelings, sooth emotions, and provide stress outlets. Music is an outlet and an accompaniment that, if appreciated, can last from the beginning of life, throughout, and to the end, and provides comfort in each stage.
Sitting in Jim’s garage, watching his feet move to the music in his head while listening to his stories and absorbing his knowledge, I believe him. I feel it. And I so wish I’d been part of his journey from garage band to opening act, living the dream. Jim Tilton is a strong, remarkable man who lived and played in remarkable times, that era we all call, with some nostalgia, the sixties. I dream it, he did it, the drummer with the feet that still play even when he’s just chatting. Had I been so lucky, so gifted, I doubt I’d be so modest about it.

13 August 2009

Les Paul Passes On

The inventor of the solid body electric guitar, virtuoso Les Paul, died today. I'll be the first to say I owe him a debt of gratitude. Mr. Paul, rest in peace.

John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchel -- Together


Long before the then unreleased Rolling Stones' Rock 'n' Roll Circus was released, I remember seeing a black and white still photo of this performance. I was blown away.

Here are the lads performing "Yer Blues". Though I was a teenager at the time I saw the photo, I believe my instincts were good. See what you think.

03 August 2009

Lord Jim: Conrad's Book and Brooks' film

Jim (Peter O'Toole): I've been a so-called coward and a so-called hero and there's not the thickness of a sheet of paper between them. Maybe cowards and heroes are just ordinary men who, for a split second, do something out of the ordinary. That's all.
Though truly divergent works of art, with more than a few threads of a central theme, Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim (1899-1900) and Richard Brooks' 1965 film of the same name are both adventures worth taking. Each work stands on it own merits.

I read the book first and highly recommend starting with it. Then the film may serve as, not an equal, but a fine supplementary work of art. Supplementary in the most important sense in that it is an action adventure film with its serious themes stripped down, but still looming. While Conrad's novel is a meticulous examination an array of the elements of the human character and and "simple twists of fate." While the novel brings the characters into sharp focus, the film's cast truly bring the characters to life.

So take a South Seas adventure from the 19th century and learn a little about what heroes and courage are really all about.