AK

Those are the only two initials you will ever need to know when talking about custom metal snare drums and they stand for one man…Adrian Kirchler. A craftsman of the highest caliber and one of the nicest folks on the planet, his snares are known throughout the world, from major symphony drummers to jazzers and modern rock players alike. I happened to hear about him a couple of years ago while speaking with a friend of mine about having recently scored an old 1920’s Ludwig “Stipple Gold”, made of the same 2-piece brass shell the original Black Beauty’s were made of. The one I got had been refinished with all of the original stipple finish removed down to the straight brass shell and it looked & sounded amazing.

Ludwig Stipple Gold, 1920's-era -- 5.5 x 14.

Ludwig Stipple Gold, 1920’s-era — 5.5 x 14.

Probably one of the best drums I’ve ever owned and aside from a few extra holes, there were a couple of issues that needed to be addressed. First of all, I noticed that several of the brass hoop clips (also, original from the 20’s) were cracked and in need of replacement but that wasn’t too big of a problem. I just wanted the drum to have some kind of regular hoops on it, as my knuckles were coming down hard on the tops of the lug screws, which stood up over the top of the 10-lug hoop fairly high, making it difficult for a backbeat drummer like me.

In addition to that, the throw-off wasn’t really working either and that’s when my friend recommended I check out AK’s website, as he not only makes his own beautiful drums but handcrafts reproduction parts for snares just like mine. Of course, as you can guess…once I went to his site and saw this truth for myself, I began an email dialog with Adrian and realized I needed to place an order for not only a repro throw-off but some of his custom brass hoops as well. He did not disappoint…

AK handmade throw-off, exact replica of the Ludwig P-338

AK handmade throw-off, exact replica of the Ludwig P-338

AK 4mm, solid brass single flanged hoops with a copper hand-rubbed finish. Gorgeous!

AK 4mm, solid brass single flanged hoops with a copper hand-rubbed finish. Gorgeous!

These parts aren’t easy to come by and since AK is all alone in a small shop in Olang, Italy, which sits at the northeastern tip of the country, there is a bit of a wait but he let me know right away that he’d get to them as soon as possible. I realized quickly that there were many others ahead of me, who were also waiting on much bigger prizes, so I did my best not to hurry him along, as it’s best not to rush perfection. It was well worth it too, as the package arrived just last night and so I wasted no time in getting everything on my drum. Check it out…

I cannot tell y'al how amazing this drum sounds with these hoops and I can finally play this drum out with out any issues. This is art!

I cannot tell y’all how amazing this drum sounds with these hoops and I can finally play this drum out with out any issues. This is art!

Wow, I am amazed and cannot wait to get this baby on my next gig.

Stay tuned, y’all…

Xoxo

Make It Happen

The first official drum lesson I ever got was from a great jazz drummer in Memphis named, Richard Cesani. Really cool guy from New York, the Bronx, actually…amazing player, too and we’ve remained friends for all these years since. Wonderful teacher, very funny. He taught me a lot. Anyhow, I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time and my dad took me to see him at his lesson studio over on Poplar Avenue. It all seemed strange to me, going somewhere else besides our garage to get a drum lesson, when I’d already been studying with my dad for several years, playing along to records just fine…I figured I had it all going on, as cocky as I was back then but I’m sure it was also exciting to be getting real lessons from an old-school jazz cat, which I’m sure was costing Dad some hard-earned bread. But I know he wanted me to learn from the best, so…

What a guy.

We get to this place, kind of an old office building, it’s dimly lit inside and when I walk into his studio, all he has sitting there is a bass drum, a snare and a big ‘ol ride cymbal. Wow! I honestly cannot remember if there were any hi-hats on the kit or not but I’m thinking there wasn’t. It was kinda funny looking to me cause I’d never seen a setup without any toms before and I remember looking up at him and asking where the rest of the drums were and Richard’s response is forever etched into my brain… “It all starts here. If you can’t make it happen with just two drums then you won’t sound any better when you’ve got more!”

Words to live by.

This is all you need.

This is all you need.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Xoxo

War & Pierce

This band…wow, I am so stoked they have asked me to play with them on some of their shows because they are great! Comprised of singers, Sunny War & Chris Pierce and bassist/producer Jared Faber, War & Pierce have created a wonderful, haunting, soulful and very unique sound. Joining me in the rhythm section is badass keyboardist, Roy Shakked and we’re having a blast!

Y’all, dig this video…the incredible Michael Jerome Moore is killin the drums!

We’ve only played two shows together as a band but both were really fun and I can’t wait for this Thursday evening, when we kick-it once again at the world-famous Hotel Cafe, so come on down, if you’re in LA this week.

Xoxo

War & Pierce -- Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, April 12th, 2015. L to R: Roy Shakked, yours truly, Sunny War, Chris Pierce and Jared Faber.

War & Pierce — Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, April 12th, 2015. L to R: Roy Shakked, yours truly, Sunny War, Chris Pierce and Jared Faber.

Working

I’m super jazzed to be busy once again in this fine city of Los Angeles, playing with a lot of wonderful folks, so please check out the “shows” page and if you’re in town, please come see me!

Practice kit! 1930's 12" x 18" Ludwig & Ludwig field marching bass drum, 1920's 5.5" x 14" Ludwig Brass Beauty, 20" Istanbul Agop Crash/Ride and 14" Istanbul Agop (Pre-Split) hats. Love it.

Practice kit! 1930’s 12″ x 18″ Ludwig & Ludwig field marching bass drum, 1920’s 5.5″ x 14″ Ludwig Brass Beauty, 20″ Istanbul Agop Crash/Ride, 14″ Istanbul Agop (Pre-Split) hats, Vater brushes & a pair of headphones. Love it.

Much love & respect,

-G

Worth The Wait

Who in the heck is Poncho Stevens? I don’t really know but I was in the studio with him over the weekend, recording basic tracks for his upcoming debut album and we had a ball. He sings, plays guitar, writes cool songs and delivers them with a voice somewhere between J. Mascis & Neil Young. Fragile, humble & honest. I liked him right away. He greeted me with a smile and warmth usually seen in older, more seasoned folk and I knew right away we were gonna be friends.

This is Poncho.

This is Poncho.

My good friend, Jason Soda has a wonderful little studio here in LA that he’s been producing music out of since 1998 and I wanna live there.

Jason Soda at the helm.

Jason Soda at the helm.

Killer room. It’s got everything you’d want or need, including great old gear, warm tones, good vibes, analog tape (!) and lots of laughs. In fact, other than a few snare drums and cymbals I brought with me, there was a bitchin’ little kit already setup and waiting for me when I arrived that sounded amazing!

Istanbul Agop, Ludwig, Slingerland, Leedy, Craviotto and (of course) Rogers, were all in attendance at the party.

Istanbul Agop, Ludwig, Slingerland, Leedy, Craviotto and (of course) Rogers, were all in attendance at the party.

My partner in crime on the bass was, Steven Mertens, whom I’ve recently begun working with and this cat lays it down smooth with no b.s. Super nice guy, too.

Steven Mertens, contemplating his next move.

Steven Mertens, contemplating his next move.

As of this post, unless you live in his hometown of St. Louis or already know him on facebook, Poncho is a bit of a mystery. You can’t buy his music, he doesn’t have a website, no one’s really heard about him yet but he’s on fire for this music and I can promise you, when the record is finished, I’ll be encouraging all of my friends to go out and get it cause I know it’s gonna be good.

Good crew. From left: Steven, Jason, Poncho & yours truly.

Solid crew. From left: Steven, Jason, Poncho & yours truly.

Xoxo

In An LA State Of Mind

Home.

It’s a good thing. No matter how much I love to travel, getting back to the comforts of my own little nest is always so rewarding. The island of Saint Barth is one lovely place that I hope to be lucky enough to visit again in the future. We played, we swam, we ate, we swam, we sunbathed, we swam… it was extraordinary. And the coffee was great, too!

It's just too bad there wasn't anything to see. HA!

It’s just too bad there wasn’t anything to see. HA!

Back to work. Check out my shows page to see where I’ll be!

Xoxo

Happy Island Times

My friends can’t believe it when I tell them I’m headed to the French West Indies next month for a two-week stay…well…a gig, really but I think it’s probably gonna be hard to call it work when I’m playing music with a great band and living on a tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean, right? Right. So, yeah, I can’t believe it myself but there it is and in a few short weeks, I’ll board a plane headed for beautiful St. Bart’s, where I’ll be backing up a badass youngster whom I’ve known for a little while now, Jonah Smith.

He can sing. He can write and he can damn sure play. Dig it,

Should any of you fine folks happen to be in the neighborhood while we’re there, come to the Baz Bar and say hi! Meanwhile, I’ve got sunshine on my mind…

Saint Barthélemy

Saint Barthélemy…courtesy of St. Barths Online

Later.