Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Early in the afternoon yesterday, I found out that Billy Cobham was going to be in BR for a clinic later in the evening. I grabbed my tickets and the wife and headed on over. I didn't really know what to expect but it seemed that it would be somewhat interesting. I am not a huge fan of his most famous work (Mahavishnu Orchestra, lots and lots of 70s fusion) but he is a living legend in the drum community, so I went.

It's interesting how many faces I recognized in the crowd, even if I don't know many local musicians. BR is a small world musically, and drummers even more so it seems. There were many difficulties for Cobham on this one. Flight delayed, technical difficulties which compromised a large portion of his planned show, etc. So the show was about an hour behind before it even started. A good size crowd had shown up by then, though, probably a couple hundred people, which for a solo drum performance is not bad.

He came out and played a very musical solo to "introduce himself." It was a nice piece of music, but he was dropping sticks here and there, and admitted in his remarks after that he was exhausted. He must have been, because with the exception of two very short solos at the end of the evening, that was all the playing we got to hear. He opened the floor to questions and spoke to the audience for around 90 minutes. It was interesting, and he seemed a very nice and personable man, but I would have liked to hear him play a bit more. Especially since he seems to have evolved so far beyond his wanking 70s persona. When he played I could literally feel the pulse of his solo, no matter what he was actually playing. This pulse just seemed to move through me, and I hate that I didn't get to experience more of it.

All in all, I am glad I went (though I'm sure Lori isn't) and it was an interesting conversation with the man who has influenced countless others in his field. My favorite moment of the night was when someone asked him one of those bullshit drummer questions: what kind of heads do you use on the tops and bottoms of your drums? He started to speak and then admitted that he didn't know! He looked at his kit and read the names of them back to the audience. For the guys who get caught up in equipment and other meaningless nonsense, I thought that was a priceless lesson, and Lori laughed out loud with me at that one.

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