Sunday, September 18, 2011


As a drummer now for 4/5th's of my life, going back now 40 years, I was heavily influenced by drummers of the sixties like Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell. Not that I play like either of the two, au contraire, but if I could I certainly would. Yeah, I can play their parts on most of their works, but having seen videos and listening to some of the stuff they laid down that wasn't more commercial in nature, I know well what these folks are capable of. Massive hyper-technical drumming that would blind the drummers who play the massive hyper-technical zillion drum and cymbal setups.

A brief example of this virtuosity can be found in the double Sonor bass drum kit phase that Mitchell briefly visited in the late sixties, the album of which escapes me but I'll try to update late. Sheer lightning drumming of a blinding nature, unlike anything else he played with Hendrix.

What Mitchell and Baker share are several things. First, both have a strong jazz backround, which they merged with a hard blues drumming style to make what became the blueprint, if you will, for hard rock and roll drumming in a trio format.

Second, taking their respective jazz backrounds, they each had their own take on setups. Mitchell's became much emulated (24" bass drum, one wing tom, snare, two floor toms and one ride and 2 or 3 crashes, and a high hat) while Baker's double bass kit was more idiosyncratic with stacked cymbals and such. Both players used kits were mostly Ludwigs.

I'll say this: if you have the right folks in the rock trio, meaning guitar-bass-drums, it can be no tighter musically. Three people can merge better than four, anyday of the week. Sometimes four or more is better, but with the right three members, you can't beat a trio.

And therein lay the lesson of Baker and Mitchell. Be simple, be sparse, but when you do speak, speak loudly and say something worth hearing.

The whole origin of this post just came when for some strange reason today I recalled an article I read in a music magazine about Baker way back in the mid-80's. It was a short interview piece with Baker, who by the way my good Irish friend Patrick and BIG "THE CREAM" fan calls "JEN-JAR BAY-KURR". It was one of a now defunct group of magazines, like Musician or Rhythm, that had the article. I tore the article out and stuck it in a notebook that houses a few other articles I've been struck by over the years, and perhaps one day I'll update this reference as well.

At the time, the mid-80's, Baker was living in Italy outside of some small village on an olive farm. His home was a plaster and rock type home, if memory serves, on top of a huge hill on his property. There were pictures with the article showing a relaxing terrain with a white washed plaster house on a hill, perhaps a several hundred year old home, with large windows cranked open.

His Ludwig White Marine Pearl double bass set was also in a picture or two, more or less what he played with Cream. The article said that when Baker would jam out, that his neighbors and the nearby villagers would gather and listen as his sounds resounded through the hills and valleys.

At the time, Baker had released a great CD with Bill Laswell producing called Horses and Trees, an instrumental CD I still listen to regularly. The story was that Baker just walked into the studio and laid down tracks on the drums, and then Laswell came in with a crowd of NYC and Middle Eastern and African musicians and laid down the music. It's a great CD and it rocks like nothing else.

The focus of the article was not all of that, however, but involved Ginger's pontifications about "How all time moves in Four", with which I agree wholeheartedly in terms of music. Mr. Baker does understand his mathematics when it comes to applying them to music and various time signatures, all root based in four.

When you think of four, and play in four, and subdivide four, and play different parts of the count of four, then you're moving in time and you're making time. Add to that, a drummer has four limbs, capable of playing independently of each other. They call that four way independence.

So all of those thoughts have been floating around my head today, thinking of various Baker tunes moving in four. And how I'd like, right now, to be esconced in that Italian hilltop home from that article, with a nice drum set and nowhere else to be but there, watching the olives grow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Funny how you can stumble upon very informative web pages, just what you were looking for but not finding in your googling, and BAM! COOL WEB PAGES.



No, it's not like Elmer Keith himself is writing a compendium of history of the .357 Magnum, but the author does a very nice job of concisely covering the history and guns of the .357 Magnum in a very interesting short read. I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about the .357 Magnum, which is much forgotten by many nowadays it seems, and for them I say go read the ballistics testing again.

The site has some great pictures of some great guns, some old and some new. I like the S&W tricked out Performance Center gun with a laser under the barrel and a red dot atop the gun. It would be nice to see the Performance Center do a gun for sale based on the XXX S&W Performance Center gun carried first by Vin Diesel then by Ice Cube in the sequel.

I realize the gun used in the XXX movies was a S&W Model 629 in .44 magnum, but the concept remains the same.

Or how about the simple but cool scoped S&W Model 67 4" barrel revolver from the Escape From New York movie? You could make that now with the very cool S&W Performance Center Model 67 and a holographic scope and update it a few decades. Just for grins. Throw a green laser and small flashlight on it too.

Last year I wrote about this cool gun, the Smith and Wesson Peformance Center Model 67 Carry Comp and it could only be cooler as a replacement for Snake Pliskin if he ever does a follow up to the Escape movies.

The past year has been a .357 Magnum revival for me personally. My slavery to cheap 9mm ammo has overwhelmed much of my shooting time and dollars the past few years, by virtue of finding good and cheap 9mm ammo in bulk. I can shoot 3x's as much right now with the 9mm ammo I have versus what the most reasonable but decent 38 Special ammo is going for. And we can't even talk about .357 ammo prices without shaking our heads in disbelief. It's almost unAmerican how expensive ammo has become, for the guy like me.

Nonetheless, I've been scouting and finding deals on .38 Special and even .357 ammo. Finding a screaming deal on an Australian police trade in Model 66-7 with a 2 1/2" barrel in just great condition. It looks much carried and little shot, and an exam of the innards seems to confirm that theory. 

It's as tight as the day it walked off the assembly line, and on that day S&W disabled the dreaded safety lock that lies next to the cylinder release. It just turns and turns and does not lock up the gun in any way. Web lore says you can get this fact noted in a S&W factory letter, as police guns apparently can have this feature deactivated at the factory.

I thought it was cool in this day and age that a department was still issuing revolvers and that they were the Model 66-7 in .357 and not some bogus .38 Special +P "rated" revolver. I found reference to the practice of governments trading in old service weapons for new and the controversy it can relate about these very pistols. Various social critics in Australia just think these deals enrich the gun companies. And maybe they do.

But what else are you going to do with hundreds or thousands of basically combat level handguns, guns issued to police to keep public order? Who does the agency sell these weapons to once they decide to change or upgrade?

In any event, for the past year or so, these Australian Model 66-7 police trade in's have been making the rounds. I've since seen several 4" and one 6" version of these guns, and although their bores looked a little more used than the 2 1/2" version I bought, the guns were uniformly in excellent condition with really, really nice trigger action.

The Model 66-7 didn't go into production until  sometime into the early 2000's, so I found it cool that ten years ago or so a major Australian police agency STILL went with revolvers, some 10-15 years after pretty much every other police agency IN THE WORLD went with Glocks and Sigs and other brands and 9mm's and then 40's. 

Behind the times, yes, because of course they traded in the Model 66-7's on new S&W M&P semi-autos some twenty years after the rest of the world.

Sounds like my kind of place. I'll write more about the gun and department later. Happy Labor Day, fellow laborers!