The Red Drum of NOLA

Piscatorial Green, Gold, and Blue

New Orleans is famous for a few things like Bourbon Street, the Bacchanalian human debauchery that is Mardi Gras, Zydeco music, boiled crayfish, and the brother pirates Lafitte. Rumor has it that somewhere in the swamplands south of New Orleans the Brothers Lafitte stashed their gold away and every once in awhile after a good storm, hidden gold will wash ashore in the backwater tidelands around the city of Lafitte. So, the search begins.

Theophile (pronounced toe-FILL) Bourgeois, like his accent, is back bayou Cajun through and through, an expert finding Lafitte’s treasure, and a practical joker.

If Theophile says, “hey, the drinks are in that ice chest.”

You should say, “No thank you. I had a drink early.”

Then ask your fishing buddy to grab you a drink. Make sure it is one of your buddies that has wronged you in some way and you need to exact some type of quick, innocent retribution.

Ice chest surprises aside Theophile’s Bourgeois Fishing Charters is, however, no joke. Theophile’s Cajun Vista, the launching pad for bayou excursions in search of Lafitte’s gold, is a century old schoolhouse that was refurbished after Hurricane Katrina which wiped out most of the surrounding neighborhood. The Vista is cozy, well appointed, and is the perfect resting place between a morning and afternoon prospecting run.

“We’ll get ya up at 4:30 or 5:00 and get out on the water come in for a quick lunch and nap, and then hit the water again.”

So starts a typical day at the Cajun Vista.

Bourgeois’s operation runs a typical guide cadre of twenty-five boats and some of the most experienced and professional guides in the delta. He runs his staff like a well-oiled, fish finding team of piscatorial warriors. With the hum of his 250hp Mercury as a backdrop, cell phone beeps preceded staccato voices calling out hot positions.

“Fish on. Reds on the Point at six feet,” Captain Chris Pike’s French induced Cajun twang reports. Pike held the illustrious honor of the youngest guide in the region for a number of years starting at the ripe old age of nineteen and after five years with Bourgeois Charters, he is an old, experienced salt and a hell of a duck guide to boot.

Another captain interjects, “Trout on the South Rigs.”

The twist and turns of the Delta basin are a structural angler’s wildest dreams come true. Each turn and twist offers an opportunity to fish another point structure and all the banks drop off offering edges for the wariest reds to cruise. And although the water is very much tannin stained, the relative shallowness, 1 to 3 feet along the edges, it still offers incredible sight casting opportunities for reds and trout. One simply has to adjust to instead of casting to the actual sight of the fish to the slightest movement. If you think sight casting to a tailing red or to a flash of blue-silver flashing across a blonde sand pocket in gin-clear water is a rush, try looking for a contra ripple or watch a ripping V-wake ply down a long rock groin outcropping. The blow-ups are just as spectacular and can, at times, even offer more of a thrill than actually watching the fish turn and approach your lure-the surprise takes your breathe.

“Sounds like we got our pick today. What’s your poison? Reds, trout, or largemouth,” Bourgeois asks.

Remembering an embarrassing moment back on the porch with a non-descript icebox I am hesitant to take the bait on the largemouth.

“Yeah! Right! Largemouth.”

“Seriously, man. We can catch largemouth bass right in sight of the New Orleans skyline.”

Lafitte is roughly three miles south of Lake Salvador off the Barataria Bay Waterway and just as the delta offers a multitude of types of structure-points, gravel to sand, mud to gravel, submerged reefs and sunken barges that service the hundreds of miles of pipeline and rigs that dot the delta-Salvador offers thousand of century old cypress trees, sawgrass reeds, and typical fresh water structure. The thought of unique, cross salinity slam sounded appealing.

“Alright. I’ll bite. Let’s catch some largemouth.”

Bourgeois spun the twenty-four foot Champion northward and we sped through the labyrinthine complex of canals and cuts at white-knuckled speed. One deft left hand turn through a dogleg that would make Augusta National jealous and the canal opened into a vast, humidity-hazed lake right in front of us. And as promised, like a phoenix rising through the caloric heat waves of a blistering June Louisiana summer day, New Orleans glimmered and danced in the distance.

“Let’s try that cypress stand over there.”

We make our way along the rolling shoreline tossing Zara Super Spook Jr.s to lolling bass under the hanging limbs of cypress. The peaceful sauna bath we are fishing is interrupted and we wave at an airboat of tourists as they buzz by with bobbing heads and ridiculously oversized and beaten earmuffs mindlessly waving and unaware of the idyllic scene they are disturbing.

“You know, they come down here to see an alligator or two and feel the ambience of this place but they don’t get it,” Bourgeois laments, “it is a catch-22. It’s the uniqueness of this canal system that allows us to fish for trout, reds, and bass. But it is disappearing.”

Bourgeois and Pike are witnessing exactly what all sportsmen are seeing in their local waters. The bayou delta is losing roughly 500 acres of marsh and shoreline a year through saltwater intrusion, wind and rain erosion, and lack of silt replacement from the diverted Mississippi River. Pork belly surplus and irresponsible resource management is threatening the survival of one of the few remaining truly wild coastal areas in the United States.

“It’s sad. When my kids are my age this may not be here,” Bourgeois says.

The cheerful banter dies down with the dire prognostication and the focus becomes fishing. The Captain catches a few largemouth and the inward reflection quickly wears off. You see Captain Bourgeois is a type A personality and although he tempers it with his good and proper Cajun upbringing he is always chattering about fish, his wife, his kids, alligator wrestling, or food.

“Hey man. We’re having crawfish for dinner. How’s bout we get some reds to go with’em?” He says.

Like his racing personality, he guns the heftily powered Champion and we motor back through the maze of canals.

“This rock wall is like a red fish highway.” He says.

I have to squint into the setting sun to catch where the disembodied voice is coming from. We work the east/west groin and only see a few rafts of scattered mullet. We whistle off a few eighties tunes in an impromptu name that tune game as the sunsets somewhere behind the lengthening shadows of Naw Lean’s towers and as the gloaming of the evening takes the edges off the dying heat. Bourgeois is still faithfully working the red and white Spook he caught the last largemouth with in Salvador, as the first V-wake appears 100 yards away.

“Here they come,” he screams!

Right behind the first wake appears another one. We wait. Rods pointed at 45-degree angles ready for launch. We wait. In unison, we cast towards separate wakes and in a lazy Louisiana backwater canal in the mosquito buzzing heaven a cacophony of duel explosions break the water as our search for Lafitte’s gold comes to an end.

Importance of buying drum set for kids

Importance of buying drum set for kids

It’s very important to learn about some of the behaviors you can expect during the years of kids’ rapid change. Temper tantrums, thumb-sucking, and nightmares are common issues in children during the toddler age. Knowing what to expect can help you to be patient and get through the hectic moments. One of the best ways to help your kids is getting them kids drums set.

Apart from only showing love and affection, helping your kid to grow intelligent before started going school is one such advantage to see him/her brilliant. While a pre-schooler learns multiple things at home, it is parents’ responsibility to direct the kid in right yet in an advanced pathway.

Offer your child different set of playing drum sets

The best drum sets for kids can get anywhere in the toy shop and online, in which it is your will & wish of buying big ones or small ones. Make time for your child to be active and happy. If possible limit them from electronic & mechanical life and try enhancing their motor sense organs.

Raising a pre schooler can be a challenging job indeed. What works or is right for a 2-year-old may not be right for a 3-year-old. Taking a parenting class will help you definitely that to learn how to deal with such concerns as and when they arise.

Drum sets not only keep the kids engaged but also help them inducing their touching, hearing and other sensory organs enhanced. Also, you can make your child play with other children. Preschool or play groups can be a great way for children to learn to interact. However, setting limits that help your child feel safe and secure but that also allow your child to explore. Parents must think from multiple angles while buying play toys for children. Toys must not be the only object to make the children play & happy but also an object to make them learn while play.

How to Mic a Drum Set

How to Mic a Drum Set

I’m going to explain some techniques used to mic a drum set for live performance. I am not, however, going to get into the details on how to mic the kick drum in this article.I devoted an entire page to the kick drum by itself because of its great importance and role in the music. Once you have the kick right, move on to the rest of the drum set.

Lets start with The Snare and Toms:

If you own a drum mic kit then you should have clamps and mics for each of your toms and the snare. However, some drummers have bigger drum sets then others. Some have four toms, two floors, a couple snares, and maybe even 2 kicks. Obviously your standard drum mic kit wont have all the mics needed for such a big set or you may not have a kit at all.If you don’t have one, try using a Shure SM57 mic for the toms and snare. It is a moving coil mic and a lot of guys I know like to use it.

Place your mic 2 inches above the rim of the drum head at a 45 degree angle towards the center of the head. Hit the drum and see what it sounds like. If your getting a “thud” then your mic is too close. You may want a brighter “pop”. Moving the mic slightly farther away should give you that brighter sound your looking for.

Be careful though. The drum set is a loud instrument and you want each mic to only pick up the sound of the drum it is miking.If your mics are too far from the drum it will pick up the sound of the other drums of the set, like the kick or the cymbals.

Be sure to place the microphones out of the drummers striking path. When your into the groove, the last thing you worried about is hitting the mic with your drumstick.

Hi-Hat Cymbals

For the hi-hat you might try a condenser mic with a low trim frequency so that you get the bright highs your looking for. The Shure SM81 is a good mic for this. Place the mic about 4-6 inches above the outside rim of the hi-hat and face it down. Condenser mics have a power boost on them and can be very sensitive. Make sure your not picking up too much of the snare or toms through this mic.

Overhead Cymbals

You will need 2 boom mic stands and 2 condenser mics for the overhead cymbals. One for the right side and one for the left. Place the mics around 2 feet above the cymbals and pointing down. If you have more then one cymbal per mic,then you should place the mic in the middle of the cymbals. A good mic to use is the Shure KSM32. I have also seen the AKG C1000 used for this.

These are the basics for setting up your drum in a live performance. Play around with it all and find what works for you.

Drumming Circles Create a Sense of Community

Drumming Circles in St. Louis, Missouri

According to an article in Time Magazine, drum circles are gaining in popularity in the United States. No longer seen as just a pastime for the tie-dyed T-shirt set, drumming has become more mainstream and has even found its way into corporate boardrooms and medical facilities.

Drumming is the oldest form of communication and the beat of the mother’s heart is the first thing that we hear in the womb. A drum circle can be defined as “a group of people working together to create in-the-moment music using drums and percussion instruments.” In this way a drum circle differs from a class on drumming or a group performing a written piece of music. It is about creating a mutual sound rather than re-creating a piece of music.

Drumming circles have been recently used to compliment addiction therapy when other counseling therapies have failed. It has also been shown that drumming boosts the immune system and creates feelings of well-being and has healing effects for Alzheimer patients, autistic children, and nursing home patients. It can relieve stress and anxiety, reduce hypertension, and help with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. And in addition to all of the above, it’s just plain fun.

There are a number of different types of drumming circles around the St. Louis area. Some have a Native American theme and some are structured to promote group consciousness and healing, while others are just jam sessions with no particular theme. Below are a few of my favorites:

If you head down to the Loop on Delmar Ave. about 4 p.m. on Sundays, you’ll hear a rhythmic beat as soon as you get past the two lions guarding the gates of University City. The drummers usually play in the courtyard by the Market in the Loop. The session starts at around 4 p.m. and lasts until whenever. It is a mostly freestyle group often led by Sky Kimgsland, whose group often plays at various venues around St. Louis.

Robert Burgert, a local musician and owner of Mountain Peak Studios in Kirkwood, leads an eclectic drumming circle every first Friday of the month at Pathway’s, 11419 Concord Village Ave.  from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. No drumming experience is needed to join in on the fun, and there are usually a few extra drums around for those who don’t have one.

If you hang around Tower Grove Park at Arsenal and Grand near Mokabe’s Coffee Shop on Wednesdays, you might encounter the Rainbow Family Drum Circle. The drummers usually start gathering around 8 p.m. and the drumming goes until well after dark. Be prepared to expand your mind and pound some skin.

The Mountain Bear Drum Circle is usually held the last Friday of the month at the Soul Esteem Center, 105A Progress Parkway ion Maryland Heights, Mo. Ph. 314-275-SOUL. This circle has a Native American theme with a potluck supper served at 6 p.m. and the drumming starting around 7. The facilitator starts a rhythm and the others in the circle join in. After the drumming, a talking stick is passed around for everyone to share what’s on his or her mind.

The Center For Spiritual Living is the sister organization to the S.E.C. They are located at 12815 Fee Fee Road. 314-576-6772. The drumming circle here is sort of freestyle with a spiritual bent. Sometimes the group also chants while they are drumming. After each circle, the participants are invited to stay for a group meditation. Call for details, because sometimes this group will break for a month or two during the summer.

The second Tuesday of the month is the time for drumming at Rockhaven, 7621 Rivermont Trail, House Springs, Missouri. 314-671-3623. This outside circle takes place in a beautiful setting overlooking the Big River. The outside air adds serenity to the meditative drumming. Hint: be sure to bring some mosquito repellent.

Not really a drumming circle, but a lot of fun nevertheless, master drummer Adam Rugo teaches djembe and Afro-Cuban conga technique at a couple of different locations around town, including the Focal Point in Maplewood. Adam plays with the percussion group Nuclear Percussion and teaches Afro-American studies at Washington University.

Sowah Mensah: Ghanaian Master Drummer – a Night of African Drums at UVM

Sowah Mensah: Ghanaian Master Drummer – a Night of African Drums at UVM

Ghanaian Master Drummer: Sowah Mensah

On Wednesday, February 24, at 7:30pm, a master drummer by the name of Sowah Mensah came to the UVM recital hall. This concert featured various styles of African Drumming accompanied by the University Concert Band , the Percussion Ensemble, the Adenkum Ensemble, and Ghanaian Dancer, Patience Boni Atkinson. The concert first began by Sowah explaining what kind of music he was playing and how he had grown up with it.

He then started playing various songs in which he displayed his mastery of the drums by leading the whole group and going off on improvisational spurts of genius. After every piece he explained what he was trying to convey to the crowd through his drumming and what it meant to him.

It seemed like he had a great passion for the music and truly loved what he was doing. During some songs a dancer came out to move to the music he was playing. It looked like she was embodying the music that was being played and really brought the performance to another level. During this whole time the various UVM groups were accompanying Mensah with his songs, and let me tell you they did a very good job. Professor Toner was leading the group with Mensah while some freshman percussionists like Andy Gagnon and Will Charron took on bigger roles in the student section.

Even though they were accompanying Sowah, they all seemed to have just a big of a role as he did. A lot of African drum music is based off of Call and Response and this was done by having Sowah call and the younger group of musicians respond with their own rebuttal. This made for a very entertaining show. Even though it was a small show placed in the Recital Hall, I feel like it was a great performer showing people what Ghanaian drumming is all about.

Heavy Metal Drummer Holds Free Drum Clinic in Upstate New York

Heavy Metal Drummer Holds Free Drum Clinic in Upstate New York

Shadows Fall’s drummer Jason Bittner held a drum clinic on April 21st at the beautiful Waters Edge Restaurant and Inn in Glenville, NY. The event was hosted by Drome Sound and was offered free to the public.

The clinic began with Bittner introducing himself to the crowd by pounding out a 15 minute solo drum jam. He then brought to stage and showcased his second band, Burning Human, an entity that Bittner said has been around for 12 years and has just released their first cd. To allay any fears of his fans, Bittner emphasized he has not left Shadows Fall and that band will be releasing a new cd within a couple of months.

He spent roughly an hour going over the technical aspects of drumming, and reinforced his theory that it is not speed that was important to focus on, but ability. If one doesn’t have the coordination down to play something accurately at a slower tempo, then speeding it up will only produce worse results. “Drumming is not an endurance sport” he said, and made note that young upstart drummers fall into the trap of gauging their playing ability by playing machine gun-speed double-bass and forget the basic rudiments of paradiddles , flams, rolls and gallops.

To recap the evening, Bittner tied his lessons in with two recorded Shadows Fall songs coming from the p.a. and his live drumming. The techniques he covered in his syllabus were readily identifiable in the popular songs he played.

Bittner loves what he does and knows he’s fortunate to have the success he enjoys. His current schedule includes recording with his two bands, various drum clinics, a teaching gig at Drome Sound in Schenectady, NY, an upcoming video shoot for Shadows Fall and touring in support of both new releases. Amongst his itinerary, Bittner made mention of his wife’s upcoming birthday; a brief statement that shows his grounding in real life and not the Spinal Tap rock-god lifestyle.

Bittner pleaded to parents to nurture and support their children in their efforts to take up music, and encouraged them to ‘be supportive of what they do’. Familial support is a big deal in Bittner’s life as was evident by the fact that his father and wife were both at the clinic.

Bittner is a Berklee graduate and admits that he continues to take lessons when his busy schedule allows to ‘stay ahead of the curve’. Bittner loves his craft and explained that he wants to always make a living in music to some capacity. Currently, he is aspiring to teach and wishes to solidify his teaching skills so he can do just that.

The event ended with a question/answer period and the handing out of door prizes. Some of the merchandise included Meinl t-shirts and hoodies, Jason Bittner signature drumsticks and a Meinl Byzance 16″ china cymbal valued at $200.

How to Make Your Home Drummer Friendly

How to Make Your Home Drummer Friendly

  1. The first step is the simplest, just try and choose a room to drum in, that is the furthest away from other living areas in the house and from your neighbors.
  2. If you still live at home, talk to your parents. Maybe they would let you use the garage to practice in. All you would need is a small heater.
  3. If one of your siblings has a room, more out of the way, ask whether you can trade. This should keep everyone happy.
  4. Talk to your family about sound proofing the room. Although it is very expensive to professionally sound proof a room, there are steps you could take to reduce noise.
  5. If you are allowed to use the garage, that would be best, as sound proofing isn’t always pretty.
  6. Talk about what budget is available for sound proofing and look at your options from there.

Here are some options that you can use for sound proofing:

  1. Acoustical foam can be bought from music and hardware shops. This is rather expensive, but when attached to ceilings and walls does a great job at sound proofing.
  2. Extra insulation will also help.
  3. Carpeting will help reduce sound waves. Generally speaking, the rougher textured carpets will absorb more sound waves.
  4. Egg crate mattress pads also absorb sound and can be attached to walls.
  5. Fabric furniture pads are often used for sound proofing and are available from furniture shops. Try to avoid the flimsy furniture pads, as these will not work as well.
  6. Add a thick rug to hard wood floors.
  7. Thick rubber mats, or gym mats can be used to stop vibrations, under your drums.
  8. Ask your local movie theatres whether you can buy used draping. This is a very thick material and works very well. Used products are also a lot cheaper.
  9. It is very important to install a smoke alarm and make sure you never use candles in your drum room. Some of the sound proofing equipment would catch fire easily and could end in disaster. However with care, this can easily be avoided.
  10. Keep your room clean and dust free.
  11. If you are buying used materials, you may want to hang them outside for several hours, to get rid of any odor.

Downy Woodpeckers Use Drumming to Communicate, Find Food and Attract a Mate

Downy Woodpeckers Use Drumming to Communicate, Find Food and Attract a Mate

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker that lives in North America. These friendly birds may be found in your yard in all seasons. They also like to be in open woodlands, parks and suburbs. You can identify this kind of woodpecker by the mostly black upperparts and wings. The wings have white spots on them. Their back, throat and belly are white. There is a white bar below and above their eyes. You can tell the difference between an adult male or female Downy Woodpecker by the red patch on the back of the male’s head. Even though Downy Woodpeckers are quiet, they’re very social with people and other birds. In the winter they stroll along with other kinds of birds and have been seen gathering with them on fences, in the woods and in orchards. They especially love to travel with black capped chickadees.

Drumming or tapping is associated with woodpeckers. Their hard and sharp beaks beat on surfaces such as hollow tree limbs. The Downy Woodpecker is a slower drummer than other woodpeckers. They drum for a little and pause and then repeat it. A Downy Woodpecker pair uses their drumming as a way to communicate. They inform other Downy’s that they occupy a certain nesting site. They fly around the nesting site and drum short, quick tattoos on dry twigs or other resonant objects. Downy’s will tap gently on tree bark when they want to find food. The sound of the pitch will be a sign of a hollow spot under the bark. Wood boring insects make these hollow spots. The wood boring insects are a favorite food of the Downy Woodpecker. In the spring the drumming becomes unbroken because there are not just trying to find food. They now want to attract a mate.

When Downy Woodpecker drum their face is close to the wood because they have a small bill. A pad of spongy elastic material between their bill and skull protects their brain so they don’t hurt themselves. Tiny feathers at the base of their bill keep them from inhaling wood chips up their nose. Their thick skin protects them from tree bark and insects that bite. The Downy has short legs and two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backwards. This gives them of a firm grip for climbing. They have spines on the ends of their tail feathers that are used as support or a brace as they climb. Downy Woodpeckers can go upwards, downwards and sideways at a fast speed.

ABBA Drummer Ola Brunkert Found Dead at 62

ABBA Drummer Ola Brunkert Found Dead at 62

When I see “ABBA” in my list of call assignments, my heart starts to beat faster. I then found out it’s the news about the ABBA drummer Ola Brunkert. But it’s still a sad news, a tragedy. The news I found is from CNN. You can go to CNN.com and click on entertainment. You will find the Ola Brunkert’s accidental death news in top stories section.

Generally speaking, it said Ola Brunkert, who was 62, born in 1946, died accidentally in his home in Arta, Spain’s Mediterranean’s island of Mallorca late Sunday. He fell against glass partition that separates the garden and his kitchen. The glass broke, fatally cutting his throat. He bled to death, police said. However, the cause of death is pending until the result from autopsy.

Back in the ’70s, ABBA was a well-known Swedish singing band, sweeping continents of Europe, North American and even into Asia. I started to listen ABBA’s songs in my college years (1974-1978). It was comprised of four Swede men and women, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaues, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Faltskog. They were two men and two women, women were wearing high heeled knee length white boots, blondish hair, mini-skirts, men with golden hair, handsome polished, all four with harmonic, nightingale’s voice, along with lengthy, story-telling lyrics, well spoken English singing “Thanks for the music”, “Waterloo”, “SOS”, “Fernando”, “Dancing Queen”, “Money, money, money”, “Chiquitita”, “The name of the Game”, “Winner takes it all”, “When all is said and done” , “Knowing me, Knowing you”, “Mamma Mia” etc., too many to mention… Every song is full of pop, life — like a young woman’s experience. It’s a mature young woman with dreams plus reality of cautiousness.

For 30-plus years, I have listened and trained with classical music. Whenever I want to get away, my first download songs are always ABBA’s. I know I am in my 50’s but I never get tired of it. It’s never out of date. It brings back all those young woman’s first love, first experience and moments of joys without needing to take any drugs. It has songs about dreams, secrets, hope, reality of life. Many of ABBA’s songs have been improvised by the famous contemporary pianists such as famous French pianist Richard Clayderman and Italian pianist Marradi Giovanni, songs like “Fernando”, “Chiquitita”, “Winner takes it all”, “Dancing Queen”, etc.,

Many of the ABBA songs became contemporary classics. The influence is enduring. The goodness of listening to ABBA’s songs is when it finishes. When you need to get away, you want to listen ABBA’s songs again. During the time, Agnetha and Bjorn, Benny and Frida married, became couples then divorced again separate times. It’s life. They still work as foursome team even after divorce. It never changes my impressions, feelings about their songs. The lyrics are so poetic and story-like. The music is so pleasing to the ears. Their songs stand throughout the time. ABBA still tours Japan today.

Ola Brunkert is drummer of ABBA’s band, not the famous ABBA Four but with his musicianship, ABBA came alive for so many years. I am one of ABBA’s fans who wishes Ola Brunkert peace and happiness in heaven. He will never have any sorrow or sadness but heavenly music every day.