Authors Posts by KEN “K BO” BIEDZYNSKI

KEN “K BO” BIEDZYNSKI

KEN “K BO” BIEDZYNSKI
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Senior Editor, Beato's Blog

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Although there are many drum schools out there–online and otherwise–as well as many qualified and talented teachers there is one online drum school which stands out to me and that is Thomas Lang’s Drum Universe. Lang, a multi-dimensional player who has mastered such things as match and traditional grip playing, double bass technique, cymbal play, showmanship and so much more, is arguably one of the best soloists/clinicians in the world.

It’s difficult to pinpoint Lang’s watershed moment in his musical career because he has constantly re-invented his playing styles as well as adapting to and mastering many techniques over time. (The good news is that Thomas is not showing any sign of slowing down either). Nevertheless, the following video pretty much demonstrates Lang’s phenomenal drumming abilities.

So, what makes TL’s Drum Universe different than others? First, it’s Lang himself. Few drummers are as fluid and dynamic in their visual performance as Lang. Furthermore, Thomas is very diversified and rarely do you hear the same solo twice so being stale or repetitive is not an issue for TL. Lang also seriously maximizes the use of all four of his limbs to such an extent that the listener often thinks there is more than one performer in play.  The interdependence of the limbs becomes a significant factor because Lang effortlessly toggles between right and left hands or feet which often leads the listener to wonder “where did that sound come from?”

Second, the caliber of a teacher that the student gets for the price is more than fair–it’s just $30.00 a month or $249.99 a year. To have access to ridiculously cool patterns and techniques from a master player for such a price is very reasonable.

Third, as Lang explains below the school is interactive which is really important. As far as teaching goes, having an interactive forum is a must as feedback from a pedagogue is the only way for the student to actually check him or herself.

Fourth, although much of what Lang plays may seem complex (or it is simplistic in nature but played at a fast tempo which makes it sound complex) I find that Thomas’ patterns and material are actually very useful for working drummers. In other words, I have found use for many of Thomas’ patterns in my own gigging which is refreshing because frankly, not all teaching material is exciting and to actually utilize what you learn and/or practice on a live gig is nothing short of exhilarating. 

Finally, one cannot overlook Thomas’ sound which really enhances the experience. Lang’s fantastic sound is due in large part to the folks at DW Drums and Meinl Cymbals. Since Thomas relies on his feet so much the tones and punch of his bass drums–courtesy of DW–are particularly compelling and it further helps to reinforce and substantiate Lang’s heavy reliance on his feet. Make no doubt about it, Lang’s sound is a big factor and that plays perfectly into his style.

In the end, there are many reasons why Thomas Lang’s Drum Universe is the one of the best of the online schools out there and I certainly recommend it for players of all ages and skill levels. I don’t think Thomas Lang knows anything other than excellence in playing and performing and that’s the kind of teacher that I want and so should you.

So let’s hear from Thomas himself as he talks about his drum school:

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

Antonio Garcia Martinez
“You may not believe it but it’s coming, and it’s coming in the form of a self-driving truck that’s going to run you over.”—-Antonio Garcia Martinez

The other day I was moved by an interesting piece that ran in the Daily Mail which quoted Antonio García Martinez, a former Facebook product manager, when he was talking about the future of “A.I.” or “artificial intelligence” in our world. Martinez was speaking ahead of a BBC special which went deep into the happenings in Silicon Valley.  (Read the Daily Mail piece here). In essence, Martinez had this to say:

“Within 30 years, half of humanity won’t have a job. It could get ugly – there could be a revolution. You don’t realize it but we’re in a race between technology and politics, and technologists are winning. They’re way ahead.”

As pessimistic as Martinez is he is surprisingly not alone. For example, earlier this year Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, told The New Yorker that around half of all Silicon Valley billionaires have some degree of “apocalypse insurance.” Furthermore, Pay-Pal co-founder and influential venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently bought a 477-acre bolthole in New Zealand, and became a kiwi national as well. Apparently, New Zealand has been effectively selected as one of the premier apocalyptic getaways for the well to do’s should the end of civilization come about.

I am not privy to the Silicon Valley circle and I am sure not many of us are but I do pay attention to my world in so far as when I notice how dependent on technology we have become in this digital age. It’s an age where we all seem to live on our phones, rely on more and more apps to do our jobs and our thinking and, most importantly, personal communication is quickly becoming as passe’ as yesterday’s newspapers. Therefore, I do not think that it’s a stretch to presume that some portion of what Martinez and the others are saying probably is, to some degree, true. After all, even the Obama Administration predicted that with the advent of self-driving vehicles that 3 million people would lose their jobs.

So where does that leave us if what Martinez and others say is true? Frankly, I am not qualified to discuss a solution to that problem.  To answer that question one would need to know the true intentions of the technocrats, the real inner workings of Silicon Valley, as well the complicated principles of economics and probably much more. But, what I am able to do is to raise awareness and try to start a dialogue on this subject for us, the common folk. You know, that portion of the population that cannot relocate to New Zealand on a dime or that segment of citizens that does not have a helicopter gassed up and ready to take us to a faraway place once disaster strikes. Yeah, that group.

We all have heard rumblings about which industry is the next one to venture into extinction at the hands of robots or “A.I.” and anyone who is not thinking about this issue in our rapidly advancing technological age–where technology is growing at a rate greater than ever before–is simply putting their head in the sand. We need to think–and talk–about it. Now.

Otherwise, prepare for this to be your typical musical entertainment:

Editor’s Note: We do not mean to demean or disrespect the accomplishments of the creators of Compressorhead which is a robotic band which came out of Germany circa 2013. However, by the same token the point is that robots–in all facets of life including music–appear destined, to some extent, to replace many functions, jobs, and tasks previously performed by humans. Is that the right result?

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

We had a minute to catch up with David Demeter, our friend, colleague, and the owner of The Drum Lab (Laguna Hills, CA), as he spoke out on the eve of his masterfully planned drum camp which starts tomorrow. (We previously ran a piece describing and talking about the camp which you can read here). The camp, which features such marque players/teachers as David, Gregg Bissonette, John Ferraro, Sean Winchester, Ray Weston, Walfredo “Wally” Reyes, Jr., and, the iconic Joe Porcaro himself, stands to be one of the standout teaching events of the year.

So David, on the eve of your camp kicking off what are your thoughts?

David Demeter and happy students
“Frankly, the outpouring of support and attention to this event has been a bit overwhelming. Really. I am beyond excited to get underway and I think others feel the same way. We are going to be bringing some great players and teachers together with students of all ages at all levels. In fact, we are even offering–for those drummers who have day jobs–a “clinic brunch” which is a lunch/brunch clinic which runs from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is very reasonable so if you are essentially a drummer at any level at any age and you are looking to get involved we do have a spot or two open so call us. Otherwise, I am ready for this camp. It has been in the works for a while and its developing better than I expected. I have to thank so many people for their support.”
David with student Kristina Slezacek

We cannot say enough good things about David and The Drum Lab’s camp and we certainly wish David and TDL the best with this event. It is very refreshing to see such two-way enthusiasm between student and teacher. We too have witnessed nothing but support for this event which is nothing short of encouraging for the sake of young and upcoming drummers. Great job David.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

David Demeter in action
“Musicians today have a harder time because of fewer available opportunities. But when a young drummer comes to me at The Drum Lab and I see that inspiration and drive to excel I perk up; I call it “the curse.”  The curse being that the student has NO CHOICE but to play. This is the kind of spirit that I love to find in a young student.  If he or she has that in them, then I give everything I have to help them realize their vision.”
David Demeter, Owner, The Drum Lab
A young student hard at work at The Drum Lab

Our friends at The Drum Lab (David Demeter) are hosting a unique and special drum camp next month and we wanted to make mention of it because of the caliber of teaching talent being offered as well as the promoter’s keen intent on helping young musicians better their craft. David Demeter–the owner of The Drum Lab–has long been known as a special teacher in part because of his passion for the art but also in part because of his burning desire to connect to students in the hopes of making a difference in their career. Frankly, The Drum Lab’s reputation precedes itself and David himself is recognized as a teacher who is selflessly devoted to sharing information to develop talent for players at all levels. Therefore, we really were not surprised at the reaction from clinicians and artists alike when The Drum Lab put the word out about this camp. In fact, below you will hear from some of those clinicians who happen to be renowned performers themselves.

However, let’s start with the date and contact information for this magnificent event. Below is a promotional banner for the camp being held by The Drum Lab.

In explaining the impetus for this camp, David Demeter told us this:

“Teaching is my passion, hands down. Thus, I’ve stepped up and we’re having a major drum event called the “Last Minute Drum Camp.” Don’t let the name fool you; it’s been a year in the planning and I’m hoping this is the first of many on an annual basis.

A crowd of students looks on at The Drum Lab

Many thanks to all these amazing drummers and educators. Gregg Bissonette, Sean Winchester, John Ferraro, Walfredo Reyes Jr. and what an honor to have Joe Porcaro here.  I’m speechless.”

Now, remember we told you that the faculty for this camp is outstanding and rather than take our word for it, we thought we would let you hear from some of the clinicians themselves. Check out what these major players are saying about this terrific camp. We start with Chicago’s own Tris Imboden who had this to say about this event:

“I want to tell you that if I were able to go to this event wild horses couldn’t keep me away!!! This, for me at least, would be the equivalent of finally getting my college music degree which I was never able to get!

(Photo courtesy of Audrey Arturo)

Every one of these guys have universes of real experience in the music world, have played between them with nearly every major act and artist in the world, and in fact are the best themselves on the planet!! It just doesn’t get better than this as an opportunity to take your playing and your career to the next level!”

Here’s what Walfredo “Wally” Reyes, Jr., master percussionist with Chicago and an accomplished drummer himself, had to say:

“There a teachers, and there are teachers!! David Demeter is an amazing dedicated Master Teacher who I truly respect. When I go to The Drum Lab to teach, when I’m not touring, David gives me a specific update on all the students and is amazing to hear this. It’s an act of caring and being invested in the success of his students. He truly loves watching a student progress, grow and meet goals. I’ve known David for many years, since the 80s. He has always been involved in every aspect of music, from drumming, composition, song writing, sound, and all this is what he brings to The Drum Lab, not just technical drumming… but making music thru drumming! I can’t wait to visit The Drum Lab again and get all the rhythm vibes and exchange of information and knowledge from David and all the students!!”

Last but certainly not least, here’s what iconic drummer Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr) had to say about David and the upcoming camp:

Gregg Bissonette hard at work teaching at The Drum Lab

“Hey everybody, I just want to say a few words about my drum brother David Demeter and congratulate him on 16 years of owning and operating The Drum Lab in Laguna Hills.  Besides his private teaching he hosts incredible master classes and clinics with industry professionals like Ray Luzier, John Ferraro, Tris Imboden and Walfedo Reyes Jr. and I’ve been there almost 30 times over the years.  It’s like a taste of LA in Orange County.  If I was looking for a drum teacher in Orange County, The Drum Lab is the only place I’d go.  Look for me and my brother Matt coming there soon for the 2nd Bissonette Brothers Bass & Drum master class & clinic.  Dave, you are the best!”

The more technical side of The Drum Lab

I guess we could go on but you get the point. Students will be treated to a teacher whose passion and commitment is to teach to the outer limits; a faculty comprised of internationally recognized and renowned drummers; and, a state of the art studio that offers all the amenities that a drum student could want. Does it get any better than that? Actually, we did forget one thing. Below, check out this all-star lineup of sponsors who have put their name behind this camp. If this list is not a ringing endorsement for this great event then we don’t know what is. These sponsors are the best of the best.

In trying to sum up what I thought was different about this camp–and hence why we covered it–instead of me writing something I thought the following picture would speak volumes as to what students can expect at this camp. Imagine the learning opportunity that a setting like this presents for young students who sit face to face with a teacher like Gregg Bissonette.

Gregg Bissonette teaches in an intimate setting at The Drum Lab

We wish David Demeter and The Drum Lab the best of luck with this camp; it should be nothing short of a smashing success.

For more information please visit The Drum Lab website here.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

As a drummer I learned a long time ago that to truly measure an act you have to consider all of its members and not just the “star” performer who is “out front.” In other words, quite often the supporting cast is just as important as the main actor–sans the accolades and attention–and without such professionals many featured performers might not be where they are today. Therefore, I learned early on to pay attention to everyone on the stage and not just to simply follow the beam of the spotlight to take in the entire show.

Having said that I really enjoy finding those outstanding musicians that surround and support the featured performer as quite often their story and talent is such a gem that their discovery is nothing short of exhilarating. L.A.’s own Kitten Kuroi is one of these musicians. 

Kit 9Kuroi, a Cal State-Fullerton graduate, is a terrific and multi-talented vocalist and songwriter. She is also a makeup artist, vegan, and activist for many worthy causes. Kitten, a naturally beautiful woman, could probably foster a career of some sorts on her appearance alone. However, the woman is a multi-talented vocalist, which–when coupled with her dancing abilities–makes her a riveting performer whose captivating style commands attention much like the iconic Zelma Davis did in her outstanding visual performance in C + C Music Factory’s 1990 smash hit, Everybody Dance Now, (except that Kuroi could have also sung the part as well as dance to it). Kuroi’s work with Elvis Costello corroborates this premise.

Editor’s Note: In the 1990 hit Zelma Davis was credited for the visual performance in the song’s video however, the track was actually sung by crooner Martha Wash.

Kitten Kuroi with Elvis Costello

However, despite outward appearances don’t let Kuroi fool you; she is a hardcore and seasoned musician whose talents have not gone unnoticed by national performers. Indeed, just ask Elvis Costello, Englebert Humperdinck, AJ Hobbs, Natasha Bedingfield, Rickey Minor (Whitney Houston), Jon B, Frenchie Davis, Lou Gramm (Foreigner), Pixie Lott, Darren Criss (GLEE!), LeAnn Rimes, Forrest Whittaker, Andy Samberg, Chris Isaak, Queen Latifah, and Ashley Roberts of the Pussy Cat Dolls, just to name a few.

Editor’s Note: For Kitten’s tour information please visit her website here. She is currently on tour with Elvis Costello.

In addition to all that Kuroi is driven….very driven. She is perpetually touring and working. In fact, her work ethic and respect for her chosen profession is what I find to be her most redeeming quality. Check out her social media and you will find a talented, no-nonsense, determined, and dedicated young musician whom you just know is going to succeed.

I also appreciate her musical diversity as Kuroi can effortlessly toggle between jazz to R & B and everything else in between. I can see this performer in many places. For example, I could have envisioned her singing Noelle Scaggs’ part opposite Michael Fitzpatrick in the smash hit The Walker (Fitz And The Tantrums). I also could see her following in the footsteps of other contemporary R & B artists such as Ledisi, K. Michelle, and Janelle Monae.

And there’s more; Kuroi is good to her fans. She’s interactive and she gives them attention and nowadays that’s a must for any performer.

In the end, I have a lot of respect for the likes of Kitten Kuroi and others like her. I would even go so far as to say I admire her. She has all the right qualities–youth, talent, discipline, drive, and ambition–and in my estimation she intends to maximize each of them in the pursuit of her career and that’s the way it should be. Keep an eye on Ms. Kuroi; she’s going places….lots of them.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

 

For most touring musicians and their fans the “tour bus” holds an allure that is all its own. Although inquiring minds want to know, not much gets out about what happens “there” and apparently many artists adhere to the principle that what happens on the tour bus stays on the tour bus. After all, if you are traveling or touring for considerable lengths of time the tour bus is the only place than can remotely resemble home. It might also be one of the few places that you can score a moment of privacy too, for whatever reason.

However, despite the hoopla and excitement of pre- and post-game activities there is also the mundane. It goes without saying that touring band members typically spend considerable down time on the bus and what they do with that time is up to them although they are clearly limited. As you can imagine, after the newness wears off it is in fact a “bus” after all, isn’t it?

Interestingly ,a new feature on Facebook–hosted by various members of the legendary band Chicago–has seemingly put the myth and legend of the tour bus on display for all to watch….for once. The show is affectionately called “Bus #2” and as you guessed it, the name politely makes note that this is not “Bus #1” (according to guitarist and host Keith Howland, there is another impetus to the name that hails from Buffalo).

However, before we meet the cast we should probably check out the studio setting for this show which is indeed, Bus #2.

Bus #3

Now, meet the cast of Bus #2:

Cast

The format for Bus #2 is pretty simple; there is no format and that is what makes this show a really good watch.  It’s basically a show about seasoned and very talented musicians bringing their fans “on the bus” with them while they travel between shows. Although it is in its infancy the cast seems driven largely by input from their fans which is a great concept. After all, what other show let’s the audience interact and decide where to take things? But fans will also get a special treat along the way as they get to see their favorite band member in a different light than perhaps they are used to. For example, in one episode you will come to learn that besides being a master drummer, Tris Imboden can pull off some pretty bluesy riffs on the harmonica. Also of note is Wally “Wally’s World” Reyes’ ability to turn ordinary kitchen items into percussive instruments. I particularly liked the TV show theme challenge with Lou Pardini (query; is Pardini really a jukebox? can he be stumped?).

The cast of Bus #2 in action
The cast of Bus #2 in action

Fans will really enjoy the bantering and also be treated to impromptu jam sessions that although done in fun, exhibit pure talent that is readily evident even when these musicians are simply fooling around. All in all, it’s a good mix and with Howland as host and Jeff Coffey as his co-host, the tandum do a great job to keep things moving at a comfortable pace. Take a second to check out Bus #2; it’s a show on the move for sure.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

K BoHey guys, it’s KBo from The Phil Engel Band and on behalf of the band I wanted to share with you a special campaign that we are promoting. This year the band is celebrating its 8th year together and during those 8 years we have met lots of great people. However, what has been particularly moving were several women that I met who are battling breast cancer. Indeed, statistics sadly show that 1 in 8 women in this country will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.

EvansIn choosing to honor and support these brave women I have teamed up the fine folks at Evans Drum Heads to come up with a beautiful new bass drum head for my drum kit. It is certainly our hope that anyone seeing this drum head will be reminded to remain vigilant for not only themselves but for others in fighting breast cancer as we can all band together to show our support for those afflicted with this disease.

Drums 1

And here’s the best part. October, as many of you know, is breast cancer awareness month. In September, after playing up and down the Jersey Shore during the summer months and being viewed by thousands of people, I will retire this head and have it framed and it will then it be my honor to present it to Mary’s Place By The Sea, which is located in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Marys place logoMary’s Place is a non-profit facility that does wonderful work and it serves as a respite for women who are receiving treatment for cancer. Mary’s Place has graciously agreed to accept the framed head for the enjoyment and benefit of its visitors. It is further our hope that there this head will serve as a reminder to all who see it of our unending concern and support. For more information on Mary’s Place By The Sea you can visit their website here.

Drums 2

So please join me and the band in raising awareness of breast cancer and in offering comfort to those brave women who are fighting or who have fought this disease.

Have a great summer and most of all, stay healthy.

Editor’s Note: I would be remiss if I did not mention the fine drums made by the folks at Canopus Drums which are featured in these pictures. Thanks so much to Shinichi Usada (Canopus’ president) for making such a great product.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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“Bang your head! Metal health’ll drive you mad”

Quiet Riot, Bang Your Head (Metal Health) (1983)

The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, has just finished a study that was initially determined to confirm probably what most of us thought; that listening to heavy metal and punk rock leads to aggressive and sometimes violent behavior.  However, surprise surprise.  What the study really found was the opposite; that listening to such music dissipates such behavior, it does not cause it.

hard_heavy_bang_your_head

The study involved 39 people between the ages of 18 and 34 who regularly listened to “extreme” music which is defined as including heavy metal, hardcore, and punk.  The subjects were put through 16 minutes of “anger induction,” during which they talked about such irritating things as relationships, money, and work.  After getting the subjects agitated they either sat in silence for 10 minutes or listened to 10 minutes of songs from their own playlists. What researchers learned was that those listening to the aggressive music were just as calmed as those sitting in silence.   You can read the study here.

“This study found that extreme music fans listen to music when angry to match their anger, and to feel more active and inspired. They also listen to music to regulate sadness and to enhance positive emotions. The results refute the notion that extreme music causes anger….”

By the researchers’ own admission, the study was limited since it was conducted in a controlled environment and not in a “realistic social setting,” therefore, they called for further study.  However, despite these limitations, the study’s main conclusion still stands: “extreme music matches and helps to process anger” rather than causing it.

Interesting thoughts.  Do you agree with this study’s conclusions?

KEN “K BO” BIEDZYNSKI, Editor

 

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One of the biggest events in music this year is HOF band Chicago celebrating its 50th year of existence. Few bands ever achieve this status so it is only right that any group that does reach it should be specially recognized….in sytle. As it relates to Chicago, drummer Tris Imboden and percussionist Wally Reyes, Jr., the rhythmic backbone of the group, have had the good fortune of being associated with DW Drums and LP Percussion who have come up with a special series of drums and percussion pieces to celebrate this very special occasion.

(Louie Garcia (l.) and Akbar Moghaddam (r.))
(Louie Garcia (l.) and Akbar Moghaddam (r.))

Before we show you some killer pics of the new gear (photos courtesy of Kristy Duff Photography) we should acknowledge the two gentlemen who worked so hard to make these beautiful instruments; Louie Garcia (DW Drums) and Akbar Moghaddam (LP Percussion). (Special thanks and recognition also goes to DW’s John Good and LP’s Jerry Zacarias for making the project possible in the first place).

Wally Reyes, Jr., also wanted to add this:

“I have played professionally for decades and I have seen and played many makes and models of instruments but this–for both Tris and I–is a once in a lifetime experience. What DW and LP did here was nothing short of amazing. It’s one thing to be included in one of the best bands on the planet alongside one of the best drummers in the business, but it’s another to be privileged to be playing such beautiful, beautiful instruments that honor a once in a lifetime event. It’s really special and frankly, I am speechless. I think the pictures say it all.”

Well said Wally. Having said that, let’s get to the photos to show you what he means.

Tris Imboden behind his majestic 50th kit
Tris Imboden behind his majestic 50th kit
Wally antes up with beauties from LP
Wally antes up with beauties from LP
Tris Imboden doing what he does best
Tris Imboden doing what he does best
Wally knows a thing or two about showmanship
Wally knows a thing or two about showmanship
The percussive dynamo known as Wally Reyes, Jr.
The percussive dynamo known as Wally Reyes, Jr.
The man is always smiling
The man is always smiling

Editor’s Note: In addition to LP Percussion, Wally would also like to thank Regal Tip Sticks; Sabian Cymbals; DW Drums; Remo Drumheads; Beato Bags; and, Roland Corp.

Great job guys. Look for Chicago this year in a city near you. You can find their tour information here.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

J Geils Band
The J. Geils Band

Sadly, guitarist John Warren Geils Jr., known to the world as J. Geils, died on Tuesday in his Massachusetts home. He was 71. Geils was the founder and lead guitarist of the wildly popular band The J.Geils Band. The band attained acclaimed status with a string of chart-topping hits in the ‘80s that included Love Stinks, Freeze Frame and Centerfold. Police found Geils dead in his home around 4 p.m. and they said that “a preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes.”

Geils started the band in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts, while studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The group signed with Atlantic Records in 1970.

Peter Wolf
Peter Wolf

The band, led by Geils’ driving guitar and vocalist Peter Wolf, scored their biggest hit with Centerfold in 1981. The song held the number one spot on the Billboard charts for six weeks. Vocalist Peter Wolf Tweeted this:

R.I.P. J. Geils. You were great.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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