NEWS

THANK YOU!

Posted on February 22, 2015 by tomv2513 in NEWS

One of the greatest things about playing with Robert and the band is that we have never really made the same record twice. Each one is a work unto itself, a place in time, and never formulaic. This makes it so much fun as a musician because we always get to create each record from a blank slate […]

One of the greatest things about playing with Robert and the band is that we have never really made the same record twice. Each one is a work unto itself, a place in time, and never formulaic. This makes it so much fun as a musician because we always get to create each record from a blank slate and simply allow ourselves to go where the songs and the music takes us without the worry of having to achieve any stylistic expectation.

That being said, I have to give a HUGE “thank you” to our fans for embracing our latest record, “Happy Prisoner”, and the ensuing shows with enthusiastic, open arms. The venues have been packed and the fans are so gracious and receptive to the bluegrass show, including the re-invented acoustic versions of “the hits” from Robert’s catalogue. To be honest, we were a little nervous about the possible reception we would get, but after playing the first song at the first show, those fears were dispelled.

Far too often, a performer’s fans will find it hard to accept a new artistic direction or experimentation, often leaving to follow the “next one” that sounds like the previous. But, Robert’s fans have consistently embraced every new record and each new direction we have gone. You keep your ears and minds open to his constantly evolving writing and artistic direction – truly an exception to the rule.

For a musician, it is the most amazing feeling that you all “get it” and are with us on this incredible journey. I truly hope this “road goes on forever” and I am happy we have such great people with us to go along for the ride.

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Keeley Case Pics

Posted on July 5, 2014 by tomv2513 in NEWS

Thanks to Ivan from Keeley Cases for these awesome, lightweight and strong cases…. and for coming out to the show. Awesome guy making great cases!! Here’s few after show pics:  

Thanks to Ivan from Keeley Cases for these awesome, lightweight and strong cases…. and for coming out to the show.

Awesome guy making great cases!!

Here’s few after show pics:

 

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Keeley Custom Cases Endorsement

Posted on May 20, 2014 by tomv2513 in NEWS

I am proud to announce that I am now endorsing Keeley Custom Cases. These cases are solid, sturdy, but very lightweight due to their innovative design and use of new materials. The cases don’t retain moisture, delaminate, have poorly cut corners, or expand with temperature and humidity changes as traditional cases can. They are up […]

I am proud to announce that I am now endorsing Keeley Custom Cases. These cases are solid, sturdy, but very lightweight due to their innovative design and use of new materials. The cases don’t retain moisture, delaminate, have poorly cut corners, or expand with temperature and humidity changes as traditional cases can. They are up to 1/3 the weight of traditional flight cases and, yet, twice as strong. Great cases for fly dates -especially with all the “over-weight” fees the airlines charge these days. You gotta check ’em out! Just click on the link above!

PLUS….. Keeley Cases are 100% green as each item used is completely recyclable and all scraps from the construction process are recycled.

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Gear Geek Questions Answered

Posted on April 3, 2014 by tomv2513 in NEWS

I have had a lot of people ask me over the years about all the sticks, percussion and electronics that I use during a Robert Earl Keen show. I do use a lot of different types to create the right texture and sound for a particular song, as well as triggering loops and percussion tracks […]

I have had a lot of people ask me over the years about all the sticks, percussion and electronics that I use during a Robert Earl Keen show. I do use a lot of different types to create the right texture and sound for a particular song, as well as triggering loops and percussion tracks from the records. So, without further ado, here are a couple of pictures and descriptions of what is in them.IMG_0628

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This first picture shows my stick bag and percussion tray. In the bag, starting from the left, are a bunch on Promark 5A sticks with a round wood tip – pretty standard, but I like the cymbal sound of the round wood tips. The blue tipped stick are Promark Matt Savage “practice sticks” that have a rubber tip. I use them to get loose before and during soundcheck. They are also great to use when tuning the drums. Next are the Promark Hot Rods and Regal Tip Fat Cat nylon brushes. Moving along are spare Broom Sticks, brushes and a pair of Thunder Rods (just beefed up Hot Rods). In front of those, are a pair of Promark SD7 – a stick/mallet hybrid, some older prototype Promark timpani mallets and a pair of “shaker sticks”.

In the tray, from right to left, I have “hand” mallets I made. They are updated from the originals that I made in the studio while tracking “Feeling Good Again”. I wanted a hand drum sound, but with more “cut” (and to save my hands). So with an old pair of Blastics and some duct tape, I created these for that song. Next are Promark Broom Sticks followed by a pair of Flix Rods. These are GREAT! I use them all the time live and in the studio. They are like a pair of Blastics, but they have a nylon stick tip in the middle. This allows you to get a cymbal sound and also get a nice attack when crashing a cymbal. I use all of these, as well as different combinations during the shows – example…. sometimes having a Flix in one hand and a stick in the other (“Gringo Honeymoon”) or a shaker stick in the right hand and a mallet in the left for the backbeat (“Lay Down My Brother”).

Also in the tray, I have a Promark Rattler to get a sizzle on the ride cymbal on certain “acoustic” tunes. Next is a Swan Percussion shaker. These offer SO many sounds from one shaker – an amazing product. I also keep a roll of that spongy, flesh colored first-aid tape in case I start getting a blister during the show. It is also great substitute for Moon Gell if you get in a pinch. Next is my HiHat Shaker that I made from 4 LP One Shot Shakers that I mounted on an old HiHat Tambourine frame. This is a great alternative sound source for the left foot, adding a different texture to the HiHat. Underneath is the tempo list that I refer to from time to time (especially if we haven’t played the song in about a year). I remember most of them, but having a backup is always good the older you get.

To finish up the percussion part, there are a few items I keep on my left side that you can see in picture #2. On the far left is a Meinl HiHat tambourine. I have come to use my left foot a lot to add a little “drive” on certain sections of some tunes and this just adds to the available color palette. Leaning against the case are 2 important items. The first is what I call the “Cymbaline” – another creation of mine. It is a cracked, old, beat up 10” Sabian China Splash to which I riveted Tambourine jingles. I place this on the rack tom and it is the “up beat” sound that I use on “I Gotta Go”.  Lastly, there is a used 12” Aquarian RSP2 that I place on the snare drum (upside down) on a few tunes. Doing this deepens the sound of the snare and when I strike it with a mallet, I get this huge, FAT snare sound.

 

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Now to the monitor and electronics set up. I have been using in-ears for a LONG time now and they have saved my ears over the years. I can hear everything without having to crank up the volume. Also, they are essential for being able to hear and lock in to the loops that I run during Robert’s shows. The heart of this setup is a Mackie 1202VLZ mixer. The inputs: Ch#1 is a band/stage mix, Ch#2 is just REK’s guitar – allowing me control to turn it up when he starts a song “fingerpicking”. Ch#3 is my vocal and Ch#4 is a line from the Roland SPD-SX which triggers all the sounds, loops, etc. Ch#5 is the click. I have used the Tama Rhythm Watch for years. It’s easy, programable and very road worthy. Most of the time, I only use it for starting tempos, turning off the click within the first 8 bars of the song – once we are all “locked in”. This just makes the songs and the show more consistent from night to night. The only time I use a click throughout the song is if I am triggering a percussion loop on the chorus of a song so that I will be at the same tempo and locked in with the loop. Otherwise, we do not use a click throughout the songs while playing live – never have/never will. (more on that in a later blog)

Also in the picture are Shure E-315 ear buds, a Boss pedal for an on/off switch for the click, and of course, the Roland SPD-SX to store and trigger all the sounds, loops, percussion tracks, etc. Most of the loops and tracks that are used are the actual tracks off the records. A few are ones that I created in my studio as we “morph” and change up the tunes over the years (example – intro for “Dreadful Selfish Crime”) To Robert’s credit, he was one of the first Americana/Country artist to embrace using loops as far back as 2003 on “Farm Fresh Onions” (“Train Trek”) and I’ve been using the Roland SPD-S and SPD-SX live ever since.

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I hope this answers some of your questions. If you have any other specific questions, email me through the “contact” page of my website.

Carmichael Drum Thrones

Posted on November 6, 2013 by tomv2513 in NEWS

I am please to announce that I am now endorsing Carmichael Drum Thrones. The ergonomic design frees up the compression and pressure of traditional drum thrones on the spine allowing hours of pain free drumming. I highly recommend you check out this long overdue product advancement. Your back will thank you – trust me!!!

I am please to announce that I am now endorsing Carmichael Drum Thrones. The ergonomic design frees up the compression and pressure of traditional drum thrones on the spine allowing hours of pain free drumming. I highly recommend you check out this long overdue product advancement. Your back will thank you – trust me!!!

Modern Pop Music = Fast Food

Posted on May 13, 2013 by tomv2513 in NEWS

I may sound like an old man (after a few glasses of wine) , but much of today’s “modern” popular music is the musical equivalent of fast food. It is the 1lb Taco Bell burrito that hails not as delicious, but as a “full pound of ‘ingredients’ to fill you up”. Much of the music […]

I may sound like an old man (after a few glasses of wine) , but much of today’s “modern” popular music is the musical equivalent of fast food. It is the 1lb Taco Bell burrito that hails not as delicious, but as a “full pound of ‘ingredients’ to fill you up”. Much of the music leaves my soul as emotionally empty as eating a Big Mac leaves my body nutritionally empty. There is very little available out there that makes you want to savor and enjoy every musical “bite”. —- When is the last time you “wore out the grooves” of a record (figuratively, I know) trying to absorb every drop of music, soul and artistry that you could? —-  Most music is now produced for quick consumption, merely to “wolf down” while occupied doing other things – later feeling more stuffed and miserable, than fulfilled and satisfied – causing the listener to fall into a “coma” rather than feeling light, inspired and energized.

Like the process of mixing overly processed “food”, chemicals and fillers to create any fast food, the over-use of technology to “fix it in the mix” has brought on a generation of “artists” with little or no musical ability, rewarding their style over their substance. Singers who can’t sing, players who can’t play and the deterioration of songwriting to the lowest common denominator is rampant in the music industry and has become the “norm” rather than the exception.  Granted, I may be a bit spoiled playing with an amazing songwriter for the last 16 years, but the problem is prevalent. The quality of the songwriting coming out of Nashville right now it atrocious and just plain dumb. The “over-processing/compression” causes songs to come across as a lump of squashed white noise instead of a group of instruments playing individual, integrated parts.

Just as I hate to use the word food in conjunction with fast food, I hate calling some of some these folks singers and musicians and their product music.

 

Lone Star Music Awards

Posted on April 29, 2013 by tomv2513 in NEWS

We had a great time performing and listening to all the other great acts at last nights awards. It was also great to see friends we haven’t seen in a while. We were humbled and grateful to get the award for “Best Live Act”, especially considering the pool of talent that was not only nominated, […]

We had a great time performing and listening to all the other great acts at last nights awards. It was also great to see friends we haven’t seen in a while. We were humbled and grateful to get the award for “Best Live Act”, especially considering the pool of talent that was not only nominated, but just present in the room!  

#1 Song of last 15 years

Posted on July 9, 2012 by tomv2513 in NEWS

Wow… #1 of the last 15 years in Texas music? “Feeling Good Again” – Robert Earl Keen… thank you Dallas Observer!

Wow… #1 of the last 15 years in Texas music? “Feeling Good Again” – Robert Earl Keen… thank you Dallas Observer!

Interview with 307 Live

Posted on June 3, 2012 by tomv2513 in NEWS

Drummer to Drummer Talk:   http://www.307live.com/2012/06/drummer-to-drummer-talk/  

Drummer to Drummer Talk:

 

http://www.307live.com/2012/06/drummer-to-drummer-talk/

 

The Man Behind the Drums

Posted on April 19, 2012 by tomv2513 in NEWS

Man Behind the Drums – Robert Earl Keen   We left New York City, with nuthin’ but a song, she’ll be coming’ ’round the mountain when she comes. We wound up in Woodstock, at an old time jamboree, came to see the man behind the drums.   Levon digs the doghouse, playing in The Band, […]

Man Behind the Drums – Robert Earl Keen

 

We left New York City, with nuthin’ but a song,

she’ll be coming’ ’round the mountain when she comes.

We wound up in Woodstock, at an old time jamboree,

came to see the man behind the drums.

 

Levon digs the doghouse, playing in The Band,

when he locks in to that backbeat it ain’t hard to understand.

Get your body movin’, celebrate your soul,

Levon digs the doghouse, that’s sho-nuff rock and roll.

 

Son of a plain dirt farmer, from southeast Arkansas,

he was born in a bare ramblin’ shoe.

Up and down the highway, and all around the world,

laying down the rhythm and the blues.

 

We were hangin’ from the rafters, singing every song,

that big barn band was hot as it could be.

Up there in the spotlight, the man behind the drums,

was takin’ all the load off for you and me.

 

Yea, Levon digs the doghouse, that’s sho-nuff rock and roll.

 

 

This song was written after we had the privilege of playing with Levon and his band at one of his “Rambles”. It was an amazing, memorable night.

After our set Levon took the stage and KILLED it. I was sitting less than 3 feet behind him the entire show. He was singing and playing like someone 1/2 his age. Though his voice was not what it used to be, he still had SO much soul. I was sitting next to Sara Watkins (fiddle player from nickel creek) and she kept nudging me saying “can you believe we are here watching this?”. You could literally hear his life history and every gutbucket place he ever played, not only in his singing, but in every backbeat he smacked. His pocket and groove was gritty, huge, smooth and levitating, all at the same time.

Then, for the encore, he invited us up to sing and play “The Weight” with him and his band. I still get chills to this day just thinking about this moment in my life. My eyes never left him the whole time we were playing, drinking in the joy with which he played and sung every note only stopping to look back at me and crack a big smile. After the show, we were invite to hang with him in his apartment at the studio. Though frail and fighting a cold, he was full of life, laughter and stories.

When we recorded this song, I did my best to channel Levon while recording. I put towels on my drums and even taped my cymbals, futilely trying to get “that sound”. Trying to emulate Levon’s feel, I even switched to traditional grip using the butt end of the stick on the left hand. I tried to use a lot of Levon type fills in the song and even raised my shoulders the way he would while playing and singing. All for naught, for no one can or ever will have that soulful sound, pocket and groove that was just Levon.

Levon… thank you for a once in a lifetime memory for me and sharing your music and your soul with us for so many years.