Drums and Buyers

So I woke up this morning with a painting concept sorting itself out in my head. I’m just about to start trying to sketch it out, if I can. It’s been over an hour of sorting my desk out to make room for the sketchbook. This is what multidisciplinary Creatives go through, folks.

Anyway, I’m listening to UK, a classic prog rock band that reunited a year or two ago for a series of gigs I couldn’t afford to see, and whom, IIRC, are once again gone into retirement, not even having recorded a new studio album together. The headphones are on. The coffee is half-drunk (*hic*), I am under-medicated, and the sketchbook is in front of me.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was jamming with an amazing young guitarist who was a total proghead, and took umbrage at my suggestion that Bill Bruford was the Ringo Starr of the prog scene? He thought I was insulting Bill’s amazing drum skills. I thought he was insulting the importance of Ringo in the rock firmament, and to the Beatles catalogue specifically. Many people, even fifty years on, still slag off Ringo, utterly failing to understand how essential he was to the formula. Without him, rock wouldn’t be what it is. It’s not important that there were technically flashier drummers on the scene. It’s not important that he was a mediocre songwriter. It’s not important that he rarely ever took a solo during his Beatle days. What’s important is that he made those songs swing like nobody’s business. He was just restrained enough to serve the music he was playing, but still wildly inventive within that very tight framework, and he invented most of the drum beats that kids in pop and rock are still ripping off to this day.

So when Ari stormed out of my apartment in a huff, I felt only the slightest pang of regret that I’d lost a chance to get involved in a truly progressive unit. Only slightly. I can’t abide someone who can’t think outside of the tight little box they’ve squeezed themselves into. Is Bill Bruford a better drummer than Ringo Starr? Well, not at the moment, because Bill is retired and Ringo is still going strong. But technically and on record, Bill is still one of the most inventive jazz/prog drummers in rock history. But that’s not grounds to dump on Ringo, who helped create the metier that Bill excelled in: jazz-based pop drumming. Before that, is was jazz drumming or country drumming. There WAS no rock drumming before Ringo. Remember that, kiddies.

We won’t go into the importance of Keith Moon (whom Bruford didn’t care for) or Ginger Baker or Carmine Appice or Cozy Powell or Mitch Mitchell or John Bonham or Phil Collins or any of those others who came up through the 60s to emerge as rock gods or sink into drug-addled ignominy after the Beatles ended. That’s another story.

Okay, so in other news, I’m trying to put together a Creative Collective here in Hamilton, Ontario. It’s my answer to a lot of things, including:
– the retirement of the Tiger Group, the most steady and innovative arts collective in Hamilton’s history (there, I said it, so we can all relax now);
– the inexorable and ongoing gentrification of the James Street North Art Scene (I’m sorry, gang; that’s what we’re seeing, here. No matter how THEY try to paint it, the buildings are coming down or being bought out or both, and you’ll only understand what really happened when GAP and Starbucks arrive);
– ODSP is being outpaced by inflation on rent and groceries (I know how the world works, so this isn’t a surprise; it’s just demoralizing watching the fairly healthy sum of money they grant Dawn and I, which is invariably gone in the first or second week, leaving two to three months of scraping by; I don’t expect an easy ride, but it’s incredibly stressful wondering where your next meal is coming from)
– Artist friends of mine are all in need of a work space and more art sales;
– Hamilton’s property taxes and rental/leasing/ownership rates are skyrocketing, so if we don’t move now, we’ll probably never have another chance to get in while there is a scene to be part of.

The plan is to get an interesting mix of multimedia people together and start not only painting, but printing and designing and writing and producing stuff that gets us out of the creative ghetto. We have a pool of expertise that should enable us to at least plan any project we need, and we can probably reach out to a handful of other Creatives we know to help do the things we can’t, yet.

One person I’m determined to get involved in the founding of this collective is my very dear friend, Dawn McKechnie. I was going to post my impressions of her CV to the group FB discussion, but decided to post it here instead, to minimize the embarrassment to her. It’s a bit gushy. Here’s what I wrote:

Okay, so I suspect my friend Dawn McKechnie is probably too busy to answer for herself right now. I won’t pretend to be her representative, as she can doubtless sell herself far better than I can, but I’m gonna give it a try, nonetheless (Dawn, I apologize if I get anything wrong):

Dawn and I were very close schoolmates back in Glen Brae and Glendale SS, in the east end of Hamilton. She was instrumental in getting me back into comics, and a lot of my school ambitions as a writer and artist were ignited because of her influence. After high school, I followed her to Sheridan, where she was making in-roads as a student in first and then second year Animation. I failed to get accepted to Animation, but then, I was pretty shaky as a cartoonist back then. I’m a little better now. Dawn, by comparison, is and has always been hands-down the best all-round cartoonist I know (and I know a few who are professional animators and cartoonists, now, thanks mainly to her; personally, I think she smokes them all).

Dawn also amazes me with her ability to build costumes (FYI: she’s a veritable and legendary fixture at nearly every cosplay/fandom convention scene you or I know of, and is heavily involved in the American haunted house, Castle Blood), illustrate Sci-Fi/Fantasy scenery, and mount and research projects and all of the other things I was always lousy at. Whenever I start trying to figure out how to do something I’ve never been very good at, I try to imagine what Dawn would say or do. I rarely give endorsements to anyone for any reason. Dawn is one of the very, very few exceptions. She may not be able to stay with us long, but I honestly believe that her expertise and capability is an immeasurable asset to any project, and even if I can only have her involvement for weeks or months, I’ll take it in a heartbeat.

So there you have it.

As you can tell, I think fairly highly of her, and have trouble imagining getting this ball rolling without her influence. So I’m determined to get her involved, in whatever way possible, while she is still available to me.

Thank you for reading. Have a good day.


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