Steve Smith in Lockdown - extra bij hoofdartikel SWK 219
Gelukkig heb ik jaren onder mijn stand geleefd
Lockdown 10-08-2020 19:08
Vanaf komende donderdag ligt ie in de winkel of op je mat, of lees je hem digitaal: Slagwerkkrant 219 (september-oktober 2020). Een bijzondere editie met een bijzonder hoofdartikel."Drummers in lockdown" In 20 pagina’s vertellen 39 nationale en internationale topdrummers hoe ze omgaan met deze gigloze tijd. Hoe houden ze hun techniek op peil? Hoe houden ze contact met hun publiek? Zijn online lessen en livestreamen een uitkomst? Hoe zien ze de toekomst, en tot welke diepere inzichten zijn ze gekomen? Hier op lees je de volledige epistels die zij schreven en zie je de video's en foto's die zij in hun reacties mee stuurden. Je vindt deze artikelen in een speciale sectie, onder de knop "Lockdown". Hieronder het relaas van Steve Smith, en een aantal video's (waaronder die ene).

door Bouke Bijlsma

Hier het volledige relaas van Steve Smith. Voor het hoofdartikel “Drummers in Lockdown” in Slagwerkkrant 219 (september-oktober 2020) lieten we 39 nationale en internationale slagwerkers vertellen over hun (muziek)leven van de afgelopen maanden. Van Simon Phillips tot Mira Burgers; van Martin Verdonk tot Zach Danziger. We kregen 39 uitgebreide en opvallend openhartige epistels met antwoorden. Dat konden we lang niet altijd allemaal kwijt in de 20 pagina’s (!) die we voor dit artikel uittrokken. Daarom lees je hier op Steve's complete reactie (in het Engels), en zie je alle video's die hij doorstuurde, waaronder die ene die er in SWK219 wordt uitgelicht (met organist + zoontje).


Did you go online to continue performing/play with others/promote your music?
I was on tour with my group Vital Information in February and early March of 2020.  I returned to the west coast of the USA on March 16 from Australia after a week performing at Bird's Basement in Melbourne. My Japan and China tours that I had in mid-late March were all canceled. 
Once I arrived back in Southern Oregon, where I have a home in the mountains, I started filming short drum solos and posting them. I use the name "FROM THE PRACTICE ROOM." I do not have a recording studio at my mountain retreat and we have very poor internet reception there, so I am not set up to record actual tracks. I use the stereo mics on my ZOOM recorder so you are hearing the sound of the drumset in the room without any actual mixing. The mixing happens when I play, I balance the kit using my internal balance and I control the overall balance to create a good kit sound in the room. 

I post a new video once or twice a week on four formats:
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. 

There are some PDFs available on my website for some of the videos:  
Here are my addresses for those formats. 
Steve on Facebook
Steve's YouTube-channel
Twitter & Instagram both have the same name:



Some of the videos are teaching videos about brushes, or konnakol and some are solo performance and some are collaborations with other musicians. Here is a sampling of a few of the videos. I started with one camera, went to two cameras and now I have three cameras! When I have a take that I like to send the footage to my friend, and fellow SONOR endorser, Christian Grassart. Christian lives near Nice, France and is a great drummer and a fantastic video editor.  He edits the videos and then my webmaster in LA, Steve Orkin (owner of Drum Fantasy Camp) posts them for me, usually every Saturday. 













Did you use the lockdown to pick up or intensify your drum studies? 
When the lockdown started, I went back to practicing fundamentals. Before Covid when I practiced, I was usually learning music for an upcoming tour.  With no touring in sight I have decided to work on fundamentals, which is always a key for forward motion in my playing. I also work on developing new vocabulary for improvising. I feel the need to constantly come up with new phrases and ways of approaching time playing, especially in ride-cymbal oriented jazz playing. A main challenge is to maintain gig-ready chops. I've always had a lot of gigs on my calendar which maintains my chops at a comfortable level.  Without the gigs it's hard to maintain chops that will last for two 75 minutes sets in a jazz club or one 90-minute set at a festival. I do my best under the circumstances with a combination of pad practice and kit practice. The main chop that needs maintenance is my jazz ride chops. Keeping cymbal-oriented time in up-tempo jazz take daily practice to keep those chops relaxed and fluid. I usually put in about two hours a day, six days a week. I feel that my current practice will help me once I start to play live gigs again. 


Did you teach online during lockdown?
I am not teaching during lockdown. I have been involved in a number of educational Zoom Chats for Hudson Music, Vic Firth, Sonor, Zildjian, etc... and they are always fun and interesting. My internet connection where I live to poor because I live in a remote location. I use a hot spot and reception is inconsistent so it would be hard to teach. I do maintain a correspondence with friends and we trade practice videos back and forth, which helps for inspiration. For example, I've traded videos, and notes, with Dave Garibaldi, Mike Clark, Mike Vanderhule, Russ Miller, Joe Bergamini, Adam Nussbaum, Jeff Hamilton, Mark Griffith and a few others. Plus, I call and stay in touch with many of my musician friends. Keeping in touch with the working musician community, people that I resonate with at a deep level, is key for keeping my spirits up. 

Did the lockdown in a way also have a positive effect on your creativity?
Dealing with the lockdown did inspire me to document some of my playing in my "FROM THE PRACTICE ROOM" series. I have developed a number of new ideas that I most likely would have not developed, or it's possible they would have come much later. 

Did you find a way to keep on earning money during lockdown?
I have not taken advantage of some of the ways to earn money during lockdown. I've had some offers for private lessons and group lessons but I find I am very busy each day working on my own ideas in the practice room. Some of my friends that are doing private lesson are making better money now than before Covid! When I'm not in the practice room I'm spending extra time in the kitchen cooking dishes that take time to make and I'm enjoying spending time with my wife Diane.  Luckily, for many years, I have lived below my means so I have some savings now. 


How do you see the near future? 
I cannot predict the future of the music scene and don't want to try. There will be a new Vital Information album in the future. I have already recorded a 14 track, 40-minute, solo drumset album called "Fabric of Rhythm." I want to release that in the near future.


Did you learn something about yourself as a person, as a drummer as a musician, during lockdown?
Preparing and filming my solos is creative and satisfies a part my drive to perform live. Performing live is a multifaceted experience. The time spent with the musicians I am playing with is an important part of the experience. It's grounding and invigorating to spend time with like-minded musicians and nothing will replace that. The communion that we have on-stage, especially with jazz music -- which is largely improvised -- is a unique and beautiful feeling. I miss that deeply. 
On the other hand, I don't mind being off tour at the moment. It seems that over the last 20+ years I've either been on a tour, just got home from a tour and need time to recover, or I would be preparing for a tour and super busy. Being home for an extended time feels good.  Once I do start touring again, I feel I will make an easier schedule for myself but that may happen naturally because we really don't know how many clubs and festivals will survive Covid. I do have a week at Birdland NYC booked, September 22-26, playing the music of John Coltrane but I am not sure if we will play or if it will be canceled. If the gig is not canceled, I’ll be there playing and enjoying the entire experience!


Lees het volledige artikel met 39 persoonlijke verhalen in Slagwerkkrant 219 (september-oktober 2020) 
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