It’s a drummer thing: sticks in the car, striking the wheel or taking it out on the dashboard, ideal stress relievers when paused at the world’s longest traffic lights: Anaheim, California. Or maybe whisked out with time only for a ruff and a drag while awaiting a school bus flashing.
I ‘m no closet drummer, I get out there…
My sticks don’t sit unblemished and on display in my basement. Okay, so they might not see action (a proper gig) for an entire week. That ain’t right.
No sticks stand straight and proud. When you allow them idle time, they begin to daydream about new companions—they want to have a go at some new batter head or cymbal.
Now I’m obviously guessing here. I don’t talk to the things. I may utter a quick goodnight to the Satoyama snare drum but not to some disposable wood dowel. What is certain is that if I let these slim hickory dudes languish too long, they get aberrant. You might say that in lieu of suffering breakage, they get a little bent. That’s because (yes, I know, bad grammar) they’re straying from their mission, their purpose, their raison d’être—this being to act as liaison between drummer and drum.
Take a closer look at the pair of nylon-tipped 5B hickory sticks. Not the 3As, look again. See a dent or graze? That’s some sad sheet. The scars of battle.
Especially these lonely souls. They’re imprinted with the delightful “stick man”, unfortunately abandoned by Regal Tip. They await the whims of their owners. They are limbo.
No wonder the complexion is pale. Many of their kind slip into some nook or cranny, in the dark recesses under the couch. Behind the work bench, where, in dank and moldy cellars they slip into solvents and vile substances. Or they sit under glass watching mutely as their owners pick up new, younger, skinnier models.
I think I speak for them when I say they want to seriously slap somebody silly.
“Set me free, why don’t you babe?”
So if it can’t be a club gig, I get them out—sniffing the sniffing forest air or setting their butt in the shallows of the river. For them, this is a picnic. They get home, they feel better. I throw them in my Drummers’ World green leather case (a whole other tragic story) and they gain hope. And meaning.
So many sticks, heads, drums, and cymbals. And so many neglected. They come to this world with a burst of excitement and languish unable to realize their potential. Many are trophies that for their owners make material a career they know will never materialize.
Last thing I did when I blew a tire, and a wheel, coming home from Montreal on a moonless night and meeting with a stiff oak tree then bouncing into a swamp, resting in water up to the rear view mirror? Grab my two Regal 3B sticks and my Nikon D700. The smoke might not have ignited anything given the car was damn near immersed in water. That’s what the army tech who stopped and raced over carrying a military blaze extinguisher suggested. But you never know. It was good I survived, he said. From the looks of it, and had the laws of cause & effect prevailed, I’d been one sorry ass …. Well, lest we venture into the spiritual realm, let’s say I survived and rescued my funky old lenses, funky digital camera, and really funky 3Bs. I don’t even endorse them but I endorse them herein. They are chunk little bastards that are graced by a slender, but not brittle neck, and by shoulders that … again, I digress.
I lived and my sticks lived for another day and another drive. Perhaps a gig, even.
Until then, I treat my sticks to an outing and document it. You see Orleans, Canada here but I’ve bundled them up to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, to various temples in Kyoto, and to Newport Beach in Southern California. Tijuana—that’s a night out for a stick. Drive ‘em across the invisible border past San Diego and they’re standing tall. Unlike Oslo, which is kind of chill. I mean, why the long face?
I believe that you should get your gear out there before you purchase another snare drum, cymbal, entire drumset, or clamp thingy to hold your yellow jam block because, well, why hit the thing with a pedal? What is that? Again, I digress. I guess there’s a thread that runs through this yarn.
If you can’t walk them into their natural habit, walk them, at very least, into the natural habitat from whence they came.