In the field of Black music worldwide, no other musical instrument is as important as the drums. Not only is percussion the musical foundation for much Black music and dance, but the instrument looms large in the cultural memory of people throughout the African diaspora. So it was only fitting for Arkansas’ best drummers to be honored at an event called The Drummer Is In The House, which was held at the Revolution Room on President Clinton Avenue in the River Market area of Little Rock on Thursday July 10. The event, sponsored by Clifford Drummaboy Aaron, featured performances by current and former Little Rock drummers Yvette Preyer, Rod Pleasants, Steve Bailey, Aerion Jamaal Lee, Jonathan “JJ” Burks and Charles Anthony Thompson. Rather than just a lot of extended solos, most of the drummers played with their individual bands, and even some singers, performing songs from the neo-soul, jazz and gospel traditions. But there were great solos too, including one from Jamaal Lee full of afro-caribbean rhythms and patterns, and one from Charles Anthony Thompson exhibiting extended sticking and tone techniques including pitch bends, and plenty of jazz influence. The final highlight of the evening was an event called the Roundabout, at which drummers moved across the stage from the first drum set, to the second, to the third, while Yvette Preyer kept a basic conga pattern for them on an octapad. As one drummer would exit the stage, another would come on from the left, enabling all the drummers to have an opportunity to shed three at a time, and to play each of the three drum sets. The Drummer Is In The House was truly a major event that highlighted some really great drummers, and a lot of other great horn players, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists and singers. I am told that future events will be held at the Revolution Room to highlight the other instrument families, and I am looking forward to it.
Arkansas blues musician CeDell Davis, born in 1927, overcame both the ravages of polio and the crushing of his legs during a nightclub stampede in the 1950’s, and still today plays the blues, though confined to a wheelchair.
Lucious Spiller performs his original tune “Brighter Days” leading into a cover of Sam Cooke’ s “A Change Gonna Come” at the New Roxy in Clarksdale during Juke Joint Festival 2013
Arkansas blues musician Lucious Spiller performs with his band at the New Roxy in Clarksdale on the Thursday before Juke Joint Festival 2013
Arkansas Record Exchange in North Little Rock is a great place to find that rare vinyl 45 single or LP, but they also sell a decent selection of new compact discs as well, particularly in the soul, blues and jazz genres. It’s definitely worth a visit the next time you’re in Little Rock.
Neighborhood record stores like this one are a precious national resource, and an endangered one. Buy music from your local record store (at Ugly Mike’s Records)
Lace Swap 2012! @LaceSwap
Arkansas’ first and only sneaker convention!
September 8th, 4 to 9 p.m.
Double Tree Hotel
424 West Markham St.
Little Rock, AR 72201
Be there! You know we will be.
B-Side is a hidden gem of a restaurant, a small breakfast spot next to its sister restaurant Lilly’s Dim Sum and Then Some in West Little Rock. Little Rock doesn’t have a whole lot of breakfast choices, and B-Side is worth finding.
Ugly Mike’s Records on West 12th in Little Rock is a neighborhood institution. The old building is full of hundreds of rap, blues, soul and gospel CD’s, many of them out of print, as well as old vinyl records. There is a vast selection of local Arkansas rappers, and posters from local artists adorn the walls.