So I finally checked out one of the local chain music stores, haha, yes indeed, everything (almost) here in AZ is a "local chain." This place, called Guitar Center, is like a sort of upscale music store Target or maybe WalMart. Remarkably low prices. Hard to resist, really. The exact sort of Darth Vader of Retailing outlet that has put mom and pop independents out of business over the past few decades.
Here's the deal: the last time I spent a dime on my drums was maybe 15 years ago, no joke. Maybe even longer. Remo Weatherking Pinstrip drum heads last a looooong time. Somewhere in there I must have bought the Camco bass drum pedal and the used Tama hi hat stand. But I've had the exact same red sparkle Rogers Holiday bass drum and floating toms since 9th grade, the odd setup where both floaters were the same size at 12". The set originally came with the red sparkle standard Rogers snare and a floor tom. Over the years, I bought a Rogers Dynasonic snare, (how old am I? stuff I bought in person, brand new, is now considered "vintage"), inherited a very thin-shelled resonant Yamaha floor tom (somewhere in there I also had the very odd Yamaha pedal tuned tympani floor tom, damn I wish I still had that drum. It seems to be enough of a rarity/anomaly that I can't even find any photos or info about it in the web), replaced the old Rogers ball and socket bass drum tom mounts with Yamaha tom mounts and was given a 24 inch Zildjian Ping Ride by my mother for my birthday. The biggest investment came in 1989, when I used my first ever credit card to buy a Noble & Cooley single ply custom snare drum, only $700 at the time (new, they're roughly $1,400 now, retail). That's it.
This same setup has been through literally hundreds of punishing scenarios. The most punishing of these must have been the stint with the alt/funk/metal/thrash/math trio Purple Circle 7, all up and down the east coast, with Seth Herman's many inches of Gallien-Kreuger bass speakers to compete with, and a reliance on a few pairs of Vic Firth Tommy Lee drum sticks per gig. (the photo doesn't really do justice to the baseball bat nature of these huge sticks, at least one of which would break each time PC 7 played). Some indication of the fury that was PC7 can be heard at this myspace page, featuring PC7 guitarist Alex Bovone.
Many times these drums, never with any cases, were loaded into various vehicles, trucked all over the country, especially the southwest. Left in the car for weeks on end due to a lack of space in apartments.
So it was a red letter day indeed when I visited Guitar Center and bought all new drum heads, new snares, a new snare stand, a new cymbal stand and most exciting of all, a used custom K Zildjian China for $99 and a nice, used Zildjian Splash for $40.
I also took several hours to strip down the drums, lube everything, clean all the metal, clean the shells, etc. The smell of Brasso permeated the house, evocative of factory fumes from the Garden State Parkway in North Jersey. I haven't cleaned up the old cymbals yet, and haven't picked up the new ones. The new ones are on "police hold:" all used gear that comes into the local Guitar Center goes on police hold for a couple weeks, in case it really is too good to be true. Anyway, here's a couple of pics of the kit:
To top off the past couple of days of blissful aural-aesthetics-oriented consumerism, I stopped at a truly local, independent music store here called Hoodlums. I picked up a CD of Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, Safe as Milk, two BYG Sun Ra (The Solar Myth Approach, Vols. 1 and 2) and the classic 1957 (!!!!) Sun Ra Sound of Joy.
I'll have more to say about these CDs soon. But for now, I leave you with a link to the amazing early Magic Band, a live performance of When Big Joan Sets Up/Woe Is A-Me Bop/Bellerin' Pain. Check out the awesome amplifier noise just before Big Joan officially uses her small hands to destroy all preconceptions of what music could be.