Easter Parade and Drumming

The older I get the more I find myself wondering why I became a drummer. Drums were my third instrument maybe even my fourth if I include rejection of the clarinet, that metal tube with the stick that made me gag like a doctor’s probe which I abandoned in high school for a trumpet, my second instrument after the piano which I practise daily: music of our high-flown European heritage; not the jazz, the bebop with its hipster zoot suits and pork pie hats and lingo that percolated throughgout the jitter bugging America I was thrown into, that infectious swinging rhythmic setting that permiates the psyches of Jack Kerouac’s characters wandering the streets and roads of 1940’s America owning nothing but the haunting stimulus of its rhythmic drive. A music that I have come to believe is nearly the age of the drum set itself, jazz the unique achievement of American culture shaped and driven by the rhythmic, sometimes chaotic pulse of drums, a music, which classical music cellist Yo Yo Ma at the Lincoln Center during this year’s birthday bash praises as a music that even today inspires composers of the classical European tradition.

This one of my many attempts to understand what possessed me to devote most of my teenage years and early youth to drumming was provoked by my finally viewing, the entire 1948 movie,Easter Parade, set in sumptuous upper class 1912 surroundings, curiously the same 1948 new year celebrated by Kerouac’ s destitute characters half way through On The Road. One of Easter Parade’s many frivolous dance scenes caught my attention, probably because I am a drummer; Fred Astaire extended his tap dance by transferring his shoe tap rhythms to his hands with a pair of sticks. His drum-like solo was intricately polished with ruff-like embellishments(tiny rolls), added I think to triplet (3 beat phrases). These varied rhythms especially with grace note ruffs are difficult to execute and take years of practise to perform as precisely as he was doing; so I asked my wife , a dancer, if she thought dancer Astaire was really the one performing these intricate drumming sounds. I had learned and practised these Astaire-displayed ruffs that decorated his melodic drum-stick rhythms whether or not I believed that drumming seriously equalled singing, piano, sax or guitar playing. For despite the prevailing anyone can play drums attitude, sometimes apparent in performances by guys in tee shirts flailing at an expanding circle of “tubs” and cymbals, something drove me to practise the 26 snare drum rudiments: varied rolls and ruffs, paradiddles, flams, radimacues; triplet eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, and even sixty-fourth note patters, accented, dotted and slurred; and to hold the drum sticks as precisely as seemed necessary to execute those patterns.

So in retrospect I am learning that my study of drumming, not percussion, had itself taught me that there was more to drumming than arbitrarily hitting things and that my impulse to become a drummer and to learn that instrument’s technical niceties more than equalled the study of keyboard, conducting or even singing, because for me the study of drums was the study of rhythm and all its mathematical intricacies: music’s essence.

 

The Consuls

Ford Consul MkII (204E) 1956

1956 Ford Consul(*)©

 Our repertoire and sound were established by rehearsals at Bruce’s house. Norm’s swing/rock’n roll tunes became the climax of our shows, and Bruce’s vocal renditions of Huey Piano Smith’s and Fats Domino’s songs were the essence of our style and could be heard at any point from the beginning to the end of every Consuls performance.In a sense the driving off-beat of Norm’s tunes provided the rock element, and Bruce’s relaxed piano accompanied song styling added the roll. Gene sang the Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers tunes. I sang Little Richard’s Jenny Jenny, Elvis’ Laudy Miss Claudy up front while Norm took over the drumming duties.

Through 1958 we performed mainly at dances in the Long Branch/New Toronto area. We played at two Club Dancelands, one at the Met on the north side of the street over a store front in Mimico/New Toronto, and the other Club Danceland on a street north of the west end of Lakeshore.There were also engagements at the Polish Hall, and the Hunt Club on Lakeshore near Browne’s Line. Throughout this period, January 1958 until June 1959 when we disbanded, we were rivals of a West Toronto group, the Wildwoods. Bobby Dean and the Gems were also part of this rivalry which seemed almost amicable despite each band’s group solidarity. In fact when we, the Consuls, had the good fortune to be invited to Bell Sound in New York City by Dion and the Belmonts’ record company to record, it felt as though everyone was behind us even the Wildwoods. At times it seemed that our manager, Roger Kennedy, and the Wildwoods’ manager, Peter Harrington were partners offering their support and revelling in our successes.

The Big Apple

(Bell Sound)

We were all excited about this opportunity to become as, we understood, the first Canadian group to record at Bell Sound.

We arrived in New York in a rented station wagon just before sunrise after driving all night through a snow storm that started outside of St. Catherines, Ontario where we skidded off the road into a snow bank, and ended as we approached the skyline of the Big Apple. We were soon in the studio recording Bruce’s “I’m Happy” and “Runaway”. The recording studio at New York City’s Bell Sound in 1959 appeared a lot more basic than I had expected considering this was where Dion and the Belmonts, Elvis Presley and other big pop names were said to be recording, and because our Buffalo, New York recording produced by Hernando, of his radio show Hernando’s Hideaway, was considered to be inferior in sound and possible record sales to what could be produced at the Bell Sound studio. I recall how difficult it was in those days to record a proper balance of my drums. We had to cover my bass drum so that it would not dominate the other instruments. I have a feeling that the reason I can’t make out my drum beat on “I’m Happy” is that they hadn’t at that point in the session been able to figure out how to get a balanced drum sound without completely muffling the drums. The drumming in “Runaway”, however, is much more precise and musically satisfying: I can hear the rhythm and blues snare drum off-beat with the triplet cymbal feel which is reminiscent of the way I thought I had learned to play some 20 months after I had purchased my first drum set in April or May of 1957, and learned my first drum rhythms by copying Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk part one” off-beat by striking the cymbal and snare drum on only the 2 and 4 beats without playing the 1 and 3 cymbal rhythm, sort of a pause bang(cymbal&snare)pause bang(cymbal&snare).That evening most of us went over to the Little Garden Theatre to visit Dick Clark and his “American Bandstand” while I remained at the hotel trying to catch up on my sleep.

Some weeks later that winter, we performed in a rock and roll show with Dion and the Belmonts, the Royal Teens, Jesse Lee Turner, and other stars promoting their latest hits at the Oakville Arena in January or February of 1959 where the ice on the skating rink remained hard and slippery. But someone from an Oakville paper showed up, and did an article on the Consuls with a photo of me identified as Jesse Lee Turner of “Little Space Girl” fame on the front page singing “Jenny, Jenny, Jenny”.

Robbie Robertson becomes a Consul in the spring of 1958.

Shortly after the Oakville show we became aware of a guitarist, Robbie Robertson, whom some in our group wanted to recruit as a bassist to replace Leonard Stubbs. We went to see Robbie perform at a place called the Landsdowne Assembly Hall on Lansdowne Avenue just north of Queen Street and The Green Dolphin restaurant. Robbie’s group,” Robbie and the Robots “, with his buddy Pete Traynor on bass, Robbie’s name scrawlled across his guitar( his “Robbie guitar”), played through amplifiers adorned with little arials sounded unimpressive. “The Robots’ “unimaginative repertoire consisted mainly of Bo Diddley-like instrumentals led by Robbie.

Robbie joined the Consuls that spring. We then had two guitarists, Gene MacLellan, and Robbie Robertson who would not accept the role of bassist for which he had been recruited.

In June of 1959, disappointed that our New York recording had produced only a small quantity of 45’s under an unknown label, Delta(**), without the promotion, or broad distribution we had anticipated, the Consuls disbanded after a final performance at a dance in an Oakville auditorium. next: The Suedes
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(In this photo Pete Traynor/Thumper is on bass to the right of guitarist Don Doyle .)


(*)The term, consuls, was originally used to denote two leaders of Rome’s Republic elected for terms of one year, though I think I recall that our group’s labelling itself “The Consuls” was actually inspired by a British automobile, the Consul. Obviously I had nothing to do with applying that name to our band, and have always believed that Bruce Morrishead had originated it. Some time after Robbie, Gene, and I left the “The Consuls”, the new group formed around the two remaining “Consuls” became known as “Little Caesar and the Consuls” the new name inspiring a kind of imperialist air, surprising me because I rightly or wrongly had always believed the name had more mechanical/commercial or even democratic origins than evoked by reference to the autocratic, lifelong rulers of the Roman empire.
(**) “Abel” is in fact the name of the label linked above to the tunes we recorded in New York City. I recall that I might have eventually received a 45 rpm copy with a blue “Delta” label that quickly disappeared. Several years ago I was surprised to find the tunes Online (then removed) placed there by a self-declared Doo Wop fan from Spain of all places.Though the tunes may sound like Doo Wop today, I do believe that the Consuls were oblivious to the Doo Wop designation or even the pop classification of tunes like “Earth Angel” “Come and Go With Me” “The Great Pretender” etc. we now call Doo Wop. I think we saw ourselves more as an instrumental Rock and Roll/Rhythm and Blues group than a 4 or 3 part Doo Wop-like vocal ensemble.

Peter De Remigis

Impoverishment or Inequality/Majority or Middle Class

December 18,2013 am

Over the past two days on Canada’s BNN(Business News Network) I heard that Canada’ s family indebtedness has reached a record 163% of gross income, and that the Province of Ontario has recently sold 6 billion dollars of bonds to eager American investors to finance its tax secure triple A minus provincial debt. I also heard that there has been no serious inflation in Canada or the US since 2008 because the Core CPI does not include rising food especially anti diabetes vegetable prices; and resources fees such as energy(+7% electricity) and water or services such as the arbitrary more than 50% rise in the postage stamp price announced with a cut back in mail delivery service.

I also heard that Ontarians despite their families’ 163% debt to income ratio and downtown Toronto’s more than 30 years of street people are wealthier than ever with their highest net worth on record. I also heard a statement about a corporate investment recession as corporations sit on money, frugally investing in dividends and stock buy backs while fearing investment in employment increasing research and development because there are not enough people to buy their products at their less than inflationary prices.

Then yesterday(December 17) evening I read Paul Krugman‘s December 15 article “Why Inequality Matters” in which he begins by alluding to the 1987 movie Wall Street, though maintaining that today with his article and the recent arrival of Democrats Warren and De Bassio, and recent comments by Democrat president Obama that perhaps at last inequality really matters.

Media Theater of the Absurd(Are there any media PHD’s?)

October 4,2013

This bit below popped up about 4:30 pm when I put “Shut down” into Google. It’s from Canada’s CBC and supported by a well used Toronto Star photo with a woman holding a placard saying “Hey Congress Do your Job” But about 30 minutes later the same header appears at the top of search results with a different photo this one by another of Canada’s papers, The Globe and Mail. But it too opens to the same Associated Press article.

Republicans push for talks to end US government shutdown

CBC.ca ‎- 37 minutes ago

U.S. Republican House Leader John Boehner on Friday pushed for dialogue on ending the partial shutdown of federal government services as …”

When the link opens 30 minutes later another header appears with The Associated Press authorization, and times back to 10:44 AM. The article begins with that same tired line that I’ve read since the shut down began about the president not going to Asia so that he can be home to deal with the shut down. There is also a photo with a caption giving credit to a Reuters(?) person as follows

“U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor listens as House Speaker John Boehner addresses reporters during a news conference with fellow House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 4, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst /Reuters)”

“U.S. government shutdown: Democrats urge Republicans to unite

Crisis keeps president from summits in Asia

The Associated PressPosted: Oct 04, 2013 10:44 AM ETLast Updated: Oct 04, 2013 4:01 PM ET”

Seeing this CBC, Associated Press, item assisted by photo’s from the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, a media conglomeration authorized by Canada’s public broadcaster tells me that this shut down of the US government is likely just a kind of distracting theater that could make the debt ceiling debate a piece of cake and the Syria threats and Egyptian coup things that never happened.

——————————————————————————–

October 5, 2013

“New York Times

1.

Republicans push for talks to end US government shutdown

CBC.ca ‎- 14 hours ago

U.S. Republican House Leader John Boehner on Friday pushed for dialogue on ending the partial shutdown of federal government services as …”

Today, one day later yesterday’s October 4 CBC header, “Republicans push for talks to end US government shutdown” is accompanied by a NY Times photo where yesterday Toronto Star and Globe and Mail photos supported this header; the header opens a link to

“U.S. government shutdown: Few signs it will end soon

Crisis keeps Obama from summits in Asia

The Associated PressPosted: Oct 04, 2013 10:44 AM ETLast Updated: Oct 04, 2013 10:16 PM ET”

Note well: the Associated press authorization for this October 5 story is identical to the authorization of yesterday’s October 4 article.

On reading through the article one begins to see that this entire mish mash has been made available by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and like yesterday’s mish mash seems aimed at Republicans including a link to Neil Macdonald’s bit on war within the Republican party:

Read CBC’s Neil Macdonald on the Republican party civil war“.

Reaction to an Online Retailer Buying a Newspaper

When newspapers first appeared about the age of Victoria the literate wrote that papers would dilute literacy. Marshall McLuhan mid twentieth century media critic foresaw newspapers extending the technological reach of advertisers who would eventually pay people to buy papers to extend their reach . Today newspapers have Online circulation, but frequently some of those Online reports seem identical regardless of the newspaper publisher’s name. And too often those identical reports on world events bear the Reuters & Associated Press labels nullifying any chance that these old newspaper publications are providing varied opinions of these important happenings. And in order to read these globally diluted opinions we must persevere through the blitz of advertising that might have been dismissed in papers by turning a page or looking askance. Online news also demands much greater focus on readers’ awareness of what one needs to know, to be sought , and diminishes the possibility that important less reported events might turn up hidden in the centre of a paper fold. Even paid subscriptions for Online news seems restricted to a linear battling of advertising imagery and: the, where did it go? I thought I saw it earlier, maybe yesterday, or was it last week?

Newspaper Buying

Newspaper Buying

Watching the August 6, 2013 PBS News Hour presentation about the sale of The Washington Post newspaper to Mr. Bazos the father of Amazon, the Online retailer, reminded me of my view that fewer people purchase newspapers because fewer people can afford to.

Central to the some 83 odd year ownership and sale of the Post by the Graham family was a clip in which a woman is interviewed saying she no longer subscribes to newspapers; she gets her news Online. This clip appeared before the interview about the Graham family’s selling the paper to Mr. Graham’s 15 year buddy Mr. Bazos of Amazon, and was referred to by Mr Graham to confirm that the Post was having difficulty avoiding financial losses because more people were likely getting their news Online, and not because they had less money for newspaper subscriptions.

So selling the paper to Mr. Bazos seemed to further illustrate that competition with Online digital news was the usual reason print newspapers like the Post were losing readers and money, and so the Washington Post had to be sold to Graham’s old friend Mr. Bazos who better understood the newer electronic world. The Graham family’s apparent competition motives for selling their paper presented in the video clip and the Graham interview is one perspective about the demise of print reading losing to the increasing availability of Online news. But since business loss appears central to this sale and not better news coverage: free electronic news rather than directly purchased print news subscriptions, my view that papers are making less money because fewer people can afford subscriptions remains.

In a sense the decline of print and the rise of Online information may appear both coincidental, and perhaps causal, but regardless fewer people have the money to purchase things not necessary for survival. And the prices of all things have been rising for decades while incomes have stagnated for growing numbers of people not of the middle/professional class. The prices of some books have risen astronomically, and now in Canada the sale of books is taxed. Toronto’s Star has just doubled the price of its Thursday and Friday papers. And I recall some 20 years ago I used to purchase The Globe and Mail, Toronto’s most expensive newspaper, on my way to work. About 15 years ago I could not afford the expense. Twenty years ago the latest daily copy of The Globe and Mail used to litter public lounges. I can no longer recall when I last saw a discarded Globe, now priced nearly 10 times what it cost when I used to purchase it on my way to work.
This entry was posted in Economy, Media and tagged Amazon, Bazos, Graham, Newspaper Buying, Online, prices of some books, The Washington Post on August 7, 2013.

Income Gaps

July 28, 2013

I, once not too long ago and even some time ago, said that “impoverishment” had not been an election issue in either the 2011 Canadian federal election when the NDP once considered a socialist party called communists by some became for the first time Canada’s official opposition with the Quebec Bloq’s help, or in the US.”fiscal cliff” president’s race of 2012.

But now Ms. Clinton’s starting early for the 2016 Democrat primary president race saying there’s a gap between the middle classers (professionals ?) and the better off classes that’s hard to ignore like OECD’s gap in Canada between haves & have nots, and Mr. Obama now days in a row in the NY Times hoeing & planting the gap for Ms. Clinton to reap for Democrat middle classers surviving on just $450000. a yr..

And today, August 22, 2013 a NY Times article is announcing that there is a determination among both Democrat and Republican political representatives to limit recent higher than inflation increases in college tuition fees by better supporting those institutions’ whose graduates earn the most money, thus saving money for American taxpayers, and graduates who have accumulated an average twenty-six thousand dollars in debt. Though one of the conditions for high government ranking and support includes the number of poor students enrolled, it is difficult to imagine more than a sprinkling of poor people with adequate pre university schooling who could even dream of taking on the average $26,000 debt for tuition.

Certainly, college tuition is a bipartisan middle class issue that should with other middle/professional class issues dominate political debate for years to come..