I have not lugged my drums down to Deep Ellum to play on the sidewalk in a while
There was a lot of construction and they tore up my corner
It was one of the few places where you could fit a drum set without obstructing the sidewalk and it was right in the middle of everything
The corner is back and the weather is getting warmer so I thought I’d take the new drumkit configuration out on the street and spend a couple of hours playing.
My biggest source of anxiety when heading out to Ellum is parking close enough to My spot
Then, there’s a chance that someone else has staked out MY spot
The keyboard guy was there for a while in my absence
The city has removed the parking meters from Elm street and I drove a lap around the area to check out parking
On my second go-round, a single spot opened up right in front of me so I took it
As I got out of the car to go across the street and stake out MY spot, I noticed that the new sidewalk right not 20 feet from where I parked my car was the most perfect spot ever
Not only was it big enough but it is located just to the side of foot traffic
There are 3 different lanes where people can cross my path and it really maximizes exposure
Screw that old spot this is MY new spot
Drums are the best instrument for street performance because they are louder than a vast majority of the instruments used for busking
When there are no clearly defined rules,the unwritten rule is “Early Bird Gets the Worm”. meaning that you can’t bitch when someone takes your spot by getting there earlier.
This adds an element of endurance to the act of playing on the street because getting there early means playing when no one is about
Likewise, it is not cool to set up too close to someone else, especially if you are competing sonically with the person in your vacinity
If you get to your spot first and you are playing drums, you needn’t worry about sonic competition.
That is, unless another drummer sets up….
I built a new ambidextrous modular drum kit for the street and was going to provide pictures and video footage but my stupid ass forgot to put a card in the camera
The new setup is designed to accommodate both right and left handed drummers with minimal fuss
Picture this drumkit minus the electronics
The pipe-triggers were removed and replaced with 2 crash/ride cymbals (the 18″ on the left and the 16″ sitting on the floor)
The floor tom and china cymbal can float around
There is a regular snare in the center and a 10″ Mapex Black Panther snare just to the left than can double as a high tuned tom.
The small snare is better for electronic beats
The cable hi hat can move to accommodate both left and right footed applications
People were telling me that they heard my drums down the street and walked towards the sound to investigate
But it wasn’t until the first metal drummer sat in that I realized the insane amount of volume that the bass drum was getting!
Here’s a brief explanation of my newest and most amazing discovery but first, check out the picture of my bass drum assembly
This is an 18″ marching bass drum that I have performed various experiments upon during the years
It is on a Drum Workshop cradle which raises it off the floor
The two benefits are 1- It raises the center of the head to the height of the beater and 2- It makes the drum more resonant by picking it up off the floor so that the sound waves have room to expand
The people who said they heard me down the street said the heard the bass drum first
Another benefit of the drums as a busking instrument is that even some drunk idiot can bash away at it and not do any more damage than I normally would
That is also why you bring “Guest Sticks”
I usually bring a selection of different weights as well as mallets and “rods” or “bundlesticks” which have the bounce of a stick and yet have the “flap” of a brush
You can really maximize your tips by allowing people to play your drums
Some people will not be that good but many drummers who are gigging in the area will stop by as well
But the point is to let people have fun with your performance instead of them standing there judging the experience based solely on your performance
Audience participation = More tips
I managed to stay out there for 5 hours and made a decent amount of money
It got me out of the house and I did some much needed work on my stamina
I can’t predict when I will go out again but it will be a lot easier next time
I also plan to make a Youtube series out of my experiences