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The Day I Had No Drum Sticks

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

I want to tell you a true story about a show I was playing, and only minutes before downbeat, I realized I didn't have any drumsticks to play the show.

At the time I was living in Las Vegas and subbing on shows all across the city in different casinos and hotels. If you don't have a regular show yourself, it's common to be subbing for different drummers on different shows throughout the week. I remember I had a string of dates subbing into a show called "The Rat Pack is Back" which was a Frank Sinatra "Rat Pack" style tribute and impersonation show. We played those great classic arrangements by Neil Hefti with a big band (although cut down considerably for $) that we all love so much! Check out the "Live at the Sands" Frank Sinatra record if you don't know what I'm referring to.

Anyway, it's about 30 minutes to downbeat, I have my tuxedo on, and I sit down at the drums and look around for my stick bag, which I had been leaving at the show room because I was subbing in often enough that week that I had been leaving it there. Typically, I would leave it right on the floor tom. I looked down, no stick bag. Hmm. I look around the drum kit, no sticks. I go backstage to the dressing rooms, no stick bag. Panic starts to set in! In all of the subbing I was doing on all of those different casino properties, I must have lost track of where I left drum sticks and where I didn't have any. I didn't know what to do or what to say or who to say it to!! Oh crap, I'm in trouble! I mention it to a friend who played bari sax on the show. He takes me over to the Stage Manager and tells them my issue, and with a smile of relief, she reaches up high on a shelf in one of the dressing rooms and brings down a pair of sticks and brushes. Holy!!! It turns out, the regular drummer had made the same mistake one day and ever since then, had kept a spare pair of sticks and brushes handy just in case. Phew!!!! The night, and show was saved, and I was saved from a huge embarrassing moment from the rest of the band and production!

What I learned from this was, if you have a steady recurring show, always stash a pair of sticks and brushes somewhere just in case you forget to bring yours. In addition, I always have an extra small stick bag on the floor of my car now too. This way, I'll never run into this situation again. I also stash an extra pedal and snare head in the car too. You just never know when it will save the night.

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