Nick’s Blog

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Kenny Aronoff, Rock Powerhouse & Technique!

by Nick Dahlberg

Kenny Aronoff is best known for his memorable groove and feel to all the John Cougar Mellencamp songs. He also has recorded & toured with a ton of artists from Melissa Etheridge, Jon Bon Jovi, Smashing Pumpkins and a ton others. He’s a classically trained percussionist who had to take all that technique and adapt to playing to playing hard hitting rock music. Here’s a clip of him showing students his technique for hitting harder using a technique that he developed. Very cool!

Sonny Emory, R&B Groove & Chops Master!

by Nick Dahlberg

In the 90’s Modern Drummer magazine, drum clinics, VHS instructional tapes and celebrity drum method books where at a peak. It was all about Dave Weckl, Chad Smith and Dennis Chambers. Those drummers were everywhere! I’m not complaining but a lot of drummers didn’t get as much coverage as much as those guys. I had the pleasure of going to many drum clinics as a teen in South Florida. Thanks to a drum shop,  Resurrection Drums I got to meet and see a ton of drummers and get a unique education. Sonny  Emory was one of these drummers I was exposed to during a free drum clinic. From note one, this guy was groove in the human form! Amazing chops but completely functional. The clinic was educational, funny and inspiring! Plus, he had to leave 5 mins early to catch a flight because his wife was giving birth.  He is best know as being the drummer for Earth, Wind and Fire during the 90’s. But he’s been on countless tours and records.  I saw this video him and it reminded me how much Sonny Emory is underrated. This guy is truly an R&B Groove and Chops Master!

Rod Morgenstein – Educator and Progressive Rock Drummer!

by Nick Dahlberg

Rod Morgenstein is best known for being the drummer of the 80’s hair metal band, Winger. But for drummers who have been around Rod Morgenstein is a progressive rock talent and a very respected educator. His books and articles have been used widely. If fact, one my drumming books one he wrote called, ” Filling In The Holes.” This was a fantastic book on the art of linear drumming. The book is no longer in publication but it should be found and revisited by drummers. His best example of his musical chops is with the jazz fusion band, Dixie Dregs in which he is a founding member. They blended a unique style of jazz progressive rock and southern rock. Below is a video of Dixie Dregs on the Tonight Show doing a melody of their song, “Take It To Top” and some very recognizable rock tunes. Enjoy trying to pick which songs are included! Also, you have to love a drummer who smiles!

Drummer Antonio Sanchez, Ineligible Of An Academy Award?

by Nick Dahlberg

This is an outrage! I had posted weeks ago that the film world is finally giving drummers some credit. Antonio Sanchez who is one of my favorite drummers composed the music for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film, “Birdman.” It was genius to use Mr. Sanchez as the composer. He even just got a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Best Film Score for it. However, the Academy Awards has deemed that his score was ineligible for this award. Their justification for the ruling?

To be eligible, the original score must be a substantial body of music that serves as original dramatic underscoring, and must be written specifically for the motion picture by the submitting composer.  Scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible.

Basically they are saying he sampled a few pieces of melodies from preexisting music. Here’s why this is a horrible ruling. There have been many nominated and eligible scores with “preexisted music.” Most recent are Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who were nominated and even won the Best Film Score from the Academy for the David Fincher film, “The Social Network.” In one sequence you hear the use of the famous classical melody of, “In The Hall Of The Mountain King.” Preexisted!

The other example is of this ruling being broken is John Williams’ score for the Steven Spielberg classic, “Close Encounters Of The Third.” At the very end when Richard Dreyfuss is in the spaceship fleeing Earth you hear the melody of the Disney classic, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” John Williams even acknowledges that he borrowed this famous melody and it’s on the soundtrack as said song. Preexisted!

Why are Mr. Reznor and Williams’ score eligible and not Antonio Sanchez? Is it the old school thought of drums not being a musical instrument being played by a musician? It’s just a bunch of noise? Antonio Sanchez is an amazing and skilled musician. He has taken his life to perfect his  art of playing drums. He is being robbed of his chance to shine for his craft and for his contribution to this great, innovative film. I beg everyone to share this and contact the Academy! Get their attention and have them go back on this ruling. Long live the drums!

Whiplash and Birdman, Films Giving The Drummer Some Credit!

by Nick Dahlberg

Let’s face it, there’s been a ton of movies about singers, guitar and piano players. Heck even trombone player Glenn Miller got a autobiographical film about him. It’s about time there was a film about a drummer. Whiplash, starring J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller is the story of a young, musician aspiring to be the best jazz drummer. With the aid of drill sergeant-like instructor he is pushed to limits the mind and body can take. You could look at this trailer and reduce it to a story about a drummer. But it goes beyond that. It’s about someone so hyper-focused on their goals that they can hit a wall. It’s about a passion that an instructor could aid or possibly end in a pupil. There’s a lot of ways to read into what this movie is about but it’s so great that the choose to tell this story threw the eyes of an aspiring drummer and his instructor. Classical piano players had the fantastic film Shine starring Geoffrey Rush and now jazz drummers have Whiplash!


Birdman, starring Michael Keaton is a surreal story of an actor whose trying to redeem his career many years his popularity as a superhero film star. Filmed in brilliant one take sequences and awesome cinematography. The other thing to note, no pun, is the composer of the film is a drummer! Antonio Sanchez is an awesome jazz/fusion drummer who’ve I’ve written about in a previous post. The soundtrack is filled to the brim with drums! Works so well with the visuals of this film. Antonio isn’t seen in the film but drummer Nate Smith makes several cameos. Check out the trailer and soundtrack below!


Santana, Michael Shrieve, Drums & Woodstock!

by Nick Dahlberg

This is one of the most talked about moments at Woodstock 1969. Santana’s drummer Michael Shrieve (age 20) doing an awesome solo within the song, “Soul Sacrifice.” This is why you should learn your Rudiments!

Terry Bozzio’s Cymbal Drum Kit!

by Nick Dahlberg

Terry Bozzio is a drumming legend. Making his start in the music business as the young drummer of Frank Zappa. He left the Zappa drum seat to start his successful pop group Missing Persons. After that he had amazing stints with Jeff Beck, Steve Vai and Mike Patton(Faith No More). He has become a solo drum artist that sells out theaters. His innovative take on drum set lay out, drum solos, linear drumming and fresh approach to creative drumming in music is just a small list of why this man is to be honored.

Speaking of innovative, look and listen to what Terry Bozzio did with an all cymbal/gong drum set. It’s amazing!

Keith Carlock, Timekeeping and Soloing!

by Nick Dahlberg

I stumbled across this footage of Keith Carlock doing a foot stomping drum solo during a John Mayer concert. It’s great! It’s a perfect example of how you can do a drum solo and not loose the groove and the crowd. Well done!

Trilok Gurtu, Not The Traditional Drummer!

by Nick Dahlberg

Trilok Gurtu  is an Indian drummer/Percussionist and composer, whose work has blended the techniques and sounds of his native Indian music with Jazz. Making his combination a true meaning of Jazz Fusion. Below is just an amazing treat to see and hear. I promise you will have never seen or heard this blend before. Enjoy this performance that Trilok does with legendary Jazz Fusion guitarist John McLaughlin. Fantastic!

Steve Jordan’s Groove!

by Nick Dahlberg

Steve Jordan is one of my favorite drummers whose not about flashy solos and fills. He’s all about feel and groove! His grooves have helped shape everyone from the Blues Brothers, The Pretenders, Keith Richards to John Mayer. Check out this man’s groove in this video! Plus, love that citrus colored kit he’s playing on!