Monday, 11 November 2013

Drummers set the beat

Drummers set the beat
11 November 2013

I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with drummers and drumming.  And one doesn’t have to be a Freudian master to deduce that this stems from the fact that my dad had been a drummer.

I grew up in a home where there was always a permanent drum kit, ready and set-up.  And given that, one would think that I would have eventually mastered the art of drumming.  But nought.  Not even slightly.  I’m far too uncoordinated and my arms flail far too much.  I’ve never been able to sync the wrist movement with the ankle movement.  In addition, the choice of which drum and which cymbal to hit at any given time, has baffled me too.  Though to be honest, I spent a fair amount of time, practicing how to throw the drumsticks up in the air and catch them again.  Should the need for drumming flair ever arise, I felt it best I was prepared.  And yip, I was never really all that successful with that bit either.  Once more, I blame my flailing and uncoordinated arms.  Ironically, in my head, I seriously rock the drums – complete with all of the cool moves.  Even mastering the elusive double bass drum.  Why would I not?

For the largest portion of my childhood, we had a permanent music room in our home.  We had a piano, the drum kit and then once Albert starting playing the guitar big time, we even had that.  (Shhh – please don’t tell anyone, but for a while, Albert and I even attempted the clarinet.)  Now the clarinet is a lovely instrument per se, the problem, was rather our abysmal skill or lack thereof in playing it.  Screeching cats is all I’m saying. 

My dad simply always played in a band.  From his early teenage years.  Back in the day, the first band he played with, Black Frost, even won the Battle of the Bands. They used to have gigs in the Town Hall in Somerset West and my mom and the rest of the band WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends), used to man the table at the door, charging entry fee.  I’ve been told that I used to sleep in a little carrycot under the table, whilst a whole raucous and very loud gig was going down.  And given the fact that my folks were teenagers at the time, and moderation in anything had not yet been acquired (in particular noise control), I would imagine that these events were loud and wild.  Apparently I would sleep through each and every set, only waking up once the music had stopped, as I was so unaccustomed to the silence.  However….. I have my own theory.  Who says I wasn’t screeching my head off the entire time and nobody heard?  Teenagers!

Anyway, back to the drumming and my love and appreciation thereof.  In my opinion, rhythm makes a song.  It’s the deal breaker, if you like.  If a song has an awesome beat, played by a fantastic drummer, the stage quite literally has been set for brilliance.

And great is my delight, that my youngest son, appears to be a drumming natural.  He’s forever tapping away.  And I think he hears beats all around him.  The rhythmic swish of the sprinkler, footsteps, the flat spot on a tyre, the washing machine, the creaking of a chair.  There are no limits.  He is never still for long.  He taps with his feet, hands and even his head.  Meal times at the dinner table are never quiet.  He simply can’t do it.  There is always some part of his body jiggling and beating out a rhythm. 

My brother told us years ago, that there was serious talent – just lying there.  And we’ve been toying with the idea of him starting lessons for ages already.  But somehow, life being as crazy, busy and expensive as it is, we just never got around to it.  Until a few months ago.  A very good friend of mine, is the proud owner of a fantastic twelve year old drumming genius of a son.  Brody has been doing drumming with a professional teacher for over six years already.  And Brody is now paying his skill forward by teaching Cole, at a very reasonable fee.  It is so very sweet.  Once a week Cole has about an hour long lesson.  He has his own little sticks and toddles off to drumming, complete with a homework book.  And would you believe it, Brody gives him homework too.  This has also invigorated Brody to a degree and it would appear as though his little drumming school is set to grow to three pupils soon.  So awesome to see kids being entrepreneurial. 

The downside of this, is that Cole is driving us batty.  Albeit rhythmically.  In the car.  Watching TV.  Playing on the computer.  It never stops.  I can even hear him against the shower walls when he’s abluting.

Obviously we’re still years off from fabulous drumming.  But we’ve made a start.  Most importantly, Cole loves it.  He has his own little shine and it is so good for his ego.  We’re not rushing off just yet, to buy him a kit.  He first has to show commitment and dedication to practicing.  With his sticks.  On my couch.  And up to now, job well done.  He’s taking it all rather seriously.  So cute!

Anyway, I’ll include a few clips of various drummers:

Firstly, my little Cole – this was the end result of his very first drumming lesson.  Not too shabby me-thinks -  I just love the innocence of the glass of milk within view shot.

And in the next clip, Cole shows a bit of his flair and flamboyance.  Only had his second lesson, but he’s doing a little drum solo (or his version thereof), including twirling sticks – gotta love him!

Let’s tickle your funny bones, with this beauty.  The clip is called, “Drummer’s at the wrong gig” -  This is hilarious!  This guy is known as The Mad Drummer.  And this particular clip, has had over 25 000 000 views on YouTube.  Insane!  He illustrates perfectly, that flailing arms are not a handicap to drumming.  In some cases they can most definitely be an asset.

Then showcasing the Blues Broers, from a show they did at Oppikoppi in 1998 -  My dad was already quite sick here and is seen sporting his little hat because he was bald due to chemo.

Another awesome Blues Broers gig where my dad is playing the drums, was taken at Ruster’s Valley in 1996 -  This even features the horn section.  So lovely!

However, familial loyalty aside, I am currently completely in awe of a local homeboy, called Cobus Potgieter.  His thing is doing drum covers (as a rule, I am not a fan of covers) of songs.  And he is ridiculously good.  He has been voted the top drummer with regards to YouTube.  He is the most watched drummer on YouTube with over 100 000 000 views already.  Ridiculous, I tell you!  Grant and I google him all the time and he is just so cool to watch.

Here’s one of him doing a Skrillex cover  But Skrillex is perhaps not for everyone’s pallet.

And so I give you one of Cobus doing Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s get it started” -


I remember Grant telling me, shortly after we met, that he had played drums a bit as a teen.  And possibly that sealed the deal for me.

Always had a weakness for the drummers…

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Cole and Brody - super cool dudes


  1. I must send you the pic of Cole playing with Daya and Robin!

  2. I must say, he is a natural. Really charming to see, and makes me think how Daddy would have love it!

    1. You can starrt by buying him practice pads (in fact, as a teen I used car tube and pieces of wood with tacks to make my own). It saves your furniture and I made enough to serve as imaginery cymbals and the like to work out beats. Most importantly, though, it is great to practise rudiments which he has to do a lot of and which requires no more than one pad. I bought one at a music shop that straps onto your leg, which makes a brilliant travelling companion for those times when those urges to tap out rhythms take a hold of him and it is quite a cheap start.

  3. Oh man! Really enjoyed this one!! Fafan is loving THIS!! One of the funniest things I ever heard was when someone asked one of The Beatles if they thought Ringo was one of the best drummers ever, to which the reply was " He's not even the best drummer in the band!". Too funny!