“It’s a Small World” chapter: March, 2018. I don’t usually wax on w/personal stuff, but hey, it’s my site and maybe you’ll dig this!
In high school in the late 80s, I worked and saved for about 2 years to afford my dream drumset. I ordered it in October my senior year and the little brown UPS truck pulled up with the boxes one cold December day. I was so proud of my new drums that, when our high school went to the PSU (Pittsburg State University) Jazz Festival in late Feb/early March that year, I brought them to Memorial Auditorium, leaving the school’s drums in the band room. We played, then the University band, then the headliner, the premier US Air Force group The Airmen of Note.
During soundcheck, the drummer from the Airmen of Note asked my permission to use my drums for their show. I was blown away! I was honored! It was that of his thinking that they sounded ok mixed with the notion that they wouldn’t have to unload their kit from their touring truck (he did bring onboard his own snare, something thick and deep I’d never seen before). I had always wanted drums that sounded like that, I just didn’t know that for a couple of months I’d had some!
I was mesmerized! He could beat the living snot out of the snare—musically!—with everything he had, but somehow not overplay. He took a few minutes with my 17-year-old rock-n-marchingdrummer self and broadened my everything. He showed me his grip (relaxed, not stiff like I was in marching band); he showed me his technique (smooth, with rebound and grace, not without dynamics like I was when I played too many notes); he showed me his sticks (SD 11s — big but light with great tips for bringing out the click of any ride, not my thin heavy things); he showed me his showmanship (smiles, confidence, intentionality with energy, not my nervous, scared-spitless-on-stage norm).
I don’t remember his name, but the whole thing was just one of those pivotal events in a young musician’s life. His name is C.E. Askew, now teaching full-time at The University of Arkansas at Monticello...and he is the drummer for The Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra, tonight’s headliner for the 44th annual PSU Jazz Festival.
Turns out he’s still just as amiable and kind! We chatted drumbuilding, craftsmanship, musicianship, etc. for most of his warm-up time in the green room before going on to swing the grooves home before hundreds of excited high school kiddos in the Auditorium. It also turns out that he has a thing for playing one of my drumsets every time he’s in town...D#
P.S. If you’ve got it, pass it on. Stay positive. Drench your A Game with humility. You never know who’s watching; make a difference.