The Bobby Rock Newsletter #22 (8-25-2021) - Solo Drumming in China 2019 - Observations and Reflections
The Bobby Rock Newsletter #22 (8-25-2021) - Solo Drumming in China 2019 - Observations and Reflections
Never before in human history have we been able to so thoroughly and effortlessly document and distribute the details of our lives with such pristine clarity. And if you’re in the “content" business—particularly as a performing artist—your body of work is expanding exponentially, monthly, weekly, even daily… whether you like it or not. Such was the rabbit hole of contemplation I visited this past weekend, and that I feature in this week’s Newsletter. Enjoy...
In this issue:
- Musings: Reflecting on the epic life experience of my 2019 solo drumming tour of China
- A "Winning" Tip for Peak Performance: What can we learn from a world champion sharpshooting bad-ass? Plenty!
- Down and Dirty: Dragon Dirt ingredients spotlight on one of the classic must-haves for anyone looking to up their nutrition game...
Solo Drumming in China 2019 - Observations and Reflections
Two years ago this month, I returned home to the states from a solo drumming tour of China. This past weekend, I sat at my desk for a few minutes reflecting on the trip, recalling the shows, the kick-ass audiences, the food, the scenery, the culture, the epic runs and workouts I enjoyed, the extreme warmth of the people, and the stifling heat of the country in July and August! Great memories, one and all.
And then I realized, wait a minute: I did a pretty extensive blog post about that tour. Maybe I should take a peek. I did, and man, did it ever bring it all back!
Fortunately, I had shot plenty of pics and video, and my tour manager over there, Rambo, (yes, that’s his “American” name!) created these super cool two-to-three minute highlight vids for most of the shows I did. Between all of that media, plus my usual journaling, I was able to put together an elaborate documentation of the entire trip on my blog. It is a detailed deep-dive into virtually all aspects of the trip and, as I was scoping it out, three main observations struck me:
No big revelation here, but I’m reminded: the capability of our modern technology is astonishing.
For whatever drawbacks there may be with all of us living with so much tech, let me tell you: to be able to capture this volume of photos and video, with this kind of crystal clarity, man… it just wouldn’t have been remotely possible for all the adventures we had back in the day. Obviously, cameras and video recorders were around in the 80s and 90s, but no one was carrying them around in their back pocket. We had to be much more strategic about when and what we were going to document. This meant that our most memorable and spontaneous happenings and performances would usually be relegated to memory forever. (In some cases, given the times, this is probably for the best!)
These days, anyone who has a smartphone is in possession of both a pro level camera and video recorder at all times, with quality that would decimate any consumer level—and much of the pro level—gear back in the day. And then with all of these cool digital formats that can include writing, audio, photos, and vids, we can easily create these sort of multimedia journal/scrapbook kind of things that are immediately accessible to anyone in the world with Internet access.
Which brings us to a good news/bad news dilemma:
Your New, Default Body of Work
Good News: Every performance is documented!
Bad News: Every performance is documented!
Right after a recent Lita Ford show, the band had just made it back to our dressing room. Minutes later, I noticed that our guitarist, Patrick Kennison, was scoping a video on his iPhone. I could hear the audio. It was us, live.
“Not bad,” I said, “What’s that video from?”
“Tonight’s set,” he replied.
Holy shit. We hadn’t even ended the show five minutes prior, and parts of the set were already posted on social. Again, no big news flash here. This has been the “new normal” for years now. BUT, it’s a stark reminder of how little control any performance-based artist has over their body of work these days… or at least the part of it that is the ever-expanding canon of video documentation out there in the black hole of technology (internet, texts, email, etc.).
Tough night? Tough shit. There are no retakes or edits. It’s out there. Forever.
Fortunately, I have always, always, always approached every show with equal priority, no matter how large or small the audience might be on a given night. So for me, there wouldn’t be a concern for "phoning it in" some night, and then that vid winds up with a million views somewhere. Ain’t gonna happen.
But still, in reviewing the vids on the China blog, an interesting dilemma occurred to me:
Every performance you do these days will likely be viewed by more people than the crowd before you. So really, you are performing for two audiences, in a sense. The live one and the virtual one. The live one is there in the moment with you, wrapped up in the energy of that performance... and you, as an experienced performer, are spontaneously and intuitively calibrating your performance to best communicate with the audience at hand. And should you observe that you are playing for a younger audience, for example, you might make specific musical and theatrical choices in the moment to best communicate with that audience. And hopefully, your efforts will have real impact and the crowd will go apeshit.
But here’s the twist: What about the virtual audience in the years ahead who may have stumbled upon such a video randomly? Will they recognize the specific context in which you were playing and enjoy/evaluate your performance accordingly? And, perhaps more to the point, should we somehow, to some degree, tailor our performances these days to this wider, virtual audience of the world who will no doubt be viewing at some future time?
I actually contemplated this for a few minutes.
But then I said, No. Fuck it. Play for the house, Communicate to the folks in the room.
And if you can do so successfully, then the show will be a success. And if you can string a bunch of those together, then the tour will be a success. And if you can document such a tour with real clarity and authenticity, then your digital documentation will be a success.
Now get your ass back out to the practice room so the next one will be even better.
Pep talk over.
PS. If you haven’t seen the original post—or if it’s been a hot second since you scoped it—it’s worth a peek:
A "Winning" Tip for Peak Performance
In his book, With Winning In Mind, author Lanny Bassham describes a simple, yet counterintuitive, technique he used to become an Olympic gold medalist and world champion rifle shooter. I’ve tried to take this one to heart through the years since reading this excellent book back in the 90s.
After winning the World Championships in 1978 with a near-perfect score of 598 (out of 600), Bassham was giving a seminar to a group of Olympic shooters. One of them asked him, “What happened on those two nines?”
Lanny basically replied, “Do you really want to know the specifics of the two mistakes I made? That will not help you. You should be asking how I got 58 tens.”
He then went on to explain: “Besides, I can’t remember how I got the nines. I do not reinforce bad shots by remembering them.”
I always found this approach interesting. If, for example, I know how to play a drum part correctly, but one night I randomly happen to fuck it up, why analyze what happened? Why replay the error over and over again in my mind, “visualizing” the wrong way to play it? I know what to do and how to do it. THAT’S what I should be reinforcing. In fact, I usually make it a point to not even think about it afterward—like it never happened. And sure enough, it always proves to be one of those rare flukes that we musicians have to live with… but not re-live!
Bottom line: Always return to the correct visual of the performance aspect and let your mind continue to reproduce that for you.
Bonus Reflection: One other super-cool "Lanny-ism" is this, which I'll paraphrase in two parts:
- How much of your sport or instrument or performance activity is mental?
- With this in mind, how much of your rehearsal time is dedicated specifically to your mental game, as opposed to technique, conditioning, etc.?
Therein lies one of Bassham's main contentions as an expert/coach/advocate for the mental game: If what you do is at least 50% mental (and what activity isn't?), why are you spending such a radically disproportionate amount of time on the more traditional, mainly-physical stuff, relative to the mental work?
Down & Dirty!
Earlier this year, I launched my very own custom-blend superfood powder called Dragon Dirt. In this section, we offer tips and insights for our kick-ass new DD community. Our Ingredient Spotlight provides info into the why, what, and how much of our ingredients in the Dirt.
Pop Quiz - Which superfood have I ingested the most of through the years? Hands down, this one, and in hefty amounts, virtually every day since 1993:
As one of the oldest food sources on earth, Spirulina is a blue-green algae that resides firmly at the bottom of the food chain and has gone on to become one of the original superfoods. First discovered by the Aztecs as an endurance-booster for their marathon treks, spirulina is rich in a host of nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium, iron, copper, chromium, and chlorophyll. It also has renowned anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as it bolsters higher levels of alkalinity in the blood. There is a whopping 1500 mg of spirulina in a single serving of Dragon Dirt! Find out about all 18 ingredients at www.drinkthedirt.com
Thanks again, everybody! Connect next week...
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