Friday, January 11, 2019



Truth be told, after playing for
40 years, I still barely possess
the skill to even hold sticks and
chew gum at the same time. But
I thrive on engaging with other
drummers  especially sharing
insights and talking kits. FYI,
for like-minded enthusiasts,
today, I got my brand new kit!

After being retired from playing drums for the last several years, I was offered an unexpected recent opportunity to join a developing new music project — a Florida-based "outlaw" country combo called the Blue Diamond Band. Honestly, at age 55, I simply no longer had any interest in joining any band — especially given my alarming array of escalating physical limitations. Heck, my arms barely even work anymore. And the often frequent numbing and trembling in my hands only enhances my already erratic meter. My kick foot remains reasonably solid, it's just the rest of my body that's disintegrating. As a result, I informed Blue Diamond's founding frontman / guitarist, Thomas Tritt, that while I was flattered by his offer, I definitely wasn't the guy for the gig. But bless his heart, ol' Thomas just wouldn't take "no" for an answer and I caved. "Alright," I conceded finally. "Send me a song list and a rehearsal schedule."

Playing a warm-up showcase with
the Blue Diamond Band in October 2018.
Clearly, the old dusty "knock around" kit stashed out in my garage wasn't gonna cut it for long with the Blue Diamond Band. In fact, with our official full-length debut performance on January 30th rolling up quickly, Thomas called me recently and gave it to me straight. "Dude, you gotta step it up and get a new kit. PRONTO!"

Bye bye "knock around" kit!
(You served me well.)
In short order, I began perusing area music stores and gear-related websites, pondering which "proper" new kit I would purchase — cymbals, hardware etc. I've played several different sets over the years — impressive-looking kits created by leading drum manufacturers, as well as a couple of amazing boutique companies. But when my son approached me several years ago regarding his own drumming aspirations, I sold off ALL of my gear in order to get him his own personal kit. It's just the sorta thing parents do you for their kids. So, with Thomas now putting me on notice, I was pretty much starting from scratch in terms of assembling a quality new kit.

Although I do like Evans and Aquarian, I've
returned to the tried and true Remo brand.
Since joining Blue Diamond, I've discussed possible endorsement opportunities with reps from various drum companies. Opting instead to buy my new kit, I went with the legendary brand I had used in the past — the brand I truly wanted to play once again. I chose Ludwig. The Element Evolution series provides Ludwig's renown craftsmanship at an affordable price. And the classic chrome lugs and rims pop beautifully off the spectacular-looking white sparkle wrap.

Welcome home Ludwig.
I've missed you.
My personal configuration of choice  9" x 12" rack tom, 16" x 16" floor tom, 18" x 22" kick and a 5" x 14" snare. I've used Ludwig hardware exclusively for nearly 20 years. Hence, all the hardware on the new kit is Ludwig. Consisting of a combination of Zildjian and Sabian, my cymbal arsenal includes 14" hi-hats, (2) 16" crashes and a 20" ride.

I've been mocked by "good" drummers frequently in recent years about my rather unorthodox stick modification. The reality is, my decrepit hands and frail arms require the lightest sticks possible, so my weapon of choice is the 7A. I compensate for the lightness of the stick by playing with the butt ends. However, standard sticks are typically so long, when I turn them around, I get poked in the wrists by the tip end. To remedy this problem, I measure and hack off each stick at precisely 13", then I use half-inch gaffer tape to create an effective grip that minimizes my stick dropping. Say what you will, it works excellently — for me. I call my unique design the "Long Short-Stick."

13" is plenty of wood for anybody.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I will confess openly that I likely would not have said "yes" to Thomas' offer in 2018 had I not been inspired by seeing Mark Chesnutt drummer, Darla Rae Perlozzi, play live in 2017. Described best (by me) as a "whole package" performer, Perlozzi hits 'em hard, with bad-ass precision and urgency, while "playing for the song" like few others. And with her groovy-looking shades, fabulous fashion-forward threads and shaggy blond coif blowing in the electric fan-generated breeze, she looks like a bona fide superstar while doing it. Although she plays a different brand, with a slightly different finish, my current drum presentation was inspired almost entirely by Perlozzi. "What would Darla do?," I asked myself when choosing my new kit.

(See what I mean?)
Another of my current favorite players is 17-year-old Payton Taylor, drummer for the Dallas-based duo, Sweet Chaos. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Taylor perform live with Sweet Chaos in Orlando over this past holiday season and I was knocked out completely by her youthful, rock-ribbed passion and undeniable personal cool factor. Equally proficient in both rock and jazz, Taylor is a world-class musician who inspires me to stay in the game, while prompting me simultaneously to throw my sticks in the trash and burn my kit — she's just that freaking good.

So, back to my shiny new Ludwigs — it's the first new drum kit I've owned in nearly a decade. And as you might have surmised, I'm pretty darn psyched. I just hope they sparkle as intensely onstage with the Blue Diamond Band as they do perched upon my riser in our rehearsal studio.

The OFFICIAL Blue Diamond debut.
Come on out and see us, if you can.
(Just don't laugh at me - please!)
Okay, now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite drummers and or drum-related brands? Have you ever been drop dead giddy over getting a new kit? Feel free to share your personal stories and insights in the "Comment" section below.

-Christopher Long
(January 2019)



C'MON! -

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