Mike Drake's set up for Side Show at the Casa Mañana Theater, in Fort Worth, Texas.
"The yellow piece of foam? The book called for one, and only one, anvil strike in the middle of a tune, and it was a last minute decision. I do not own an anvil, so I had to find one that day! I found a piece of galvanized pipe that is about 6" long and 2" in diameter in my ‘stash’ of things on my workbench. I also grabbed a 1/2 inch wrench extension about 12" long to use to hit the pipe (you can see it on the bottom left of the foam), which ended up sounding great! I then needed something to suspend the pipe. I grabbed a foam sponge that I use to wash my dogs, cut out the inside with a utility knife, so that the pipe would resonate more (don't worry, I have since bought a new sponge for the dogs!) and suspended the pipe in the sponge. I had to play the note in the middle of a groove, so I would keep the groove going with the right hand, put down the left stick, pick up the extension rod and play the ‘anvil’ strike with the left hand, put the rod back down and pick up the stick and keep playing the groove. My improvised anvil sounded really good, and the Musical Director was happy, so, a good decision!
I attached both the (plastic) wood block and tambourine to the music stand, the ratchet to the hi-hat stand, and The Miller Machine to the left cymbal stand. I use my trap case with a towel over it to hold my sticks, brushes, mallets, ‘anvil’, wallet, sweets, junk, etc.
The book calls for a lot of mallets on cymbals, as well as grooves, so what to do? I got a pair of Vic Firth sticks/mallets (I don't remember what model number, I sanded it off), however, the balls were too hard for what I needed so I wrapped the balls in two layers of felt, and tied them off with Trilene XL 12lb fishing line. This threw the balance of the sticks off, so I locked the beads of the sticks in a drill chuck, and holding the drill in one hand and sand paper in the other, I sanded down the shoulders on the sticks to make a great pair of well-balanced stick/mallets, QED! I initially made these mallets to play 42nd Street as I had to play a lot of tympani and kit groove stuff without the luxury of being able to switch between sticks and tympani mallets quickly enough. I then found that they were perfect for Side Show so I used them.
One thing I've learned over the years of playing shows, is that there is no right or wrong way to do a set-up, just better ways, and I am constantly challenged to find new and better set-ups for every show I play. It keeps things interesting, and it never gets boring.
The drums are a Yamaha Custom Recording kit with 12", 14", 15" Toms, a 14" Snare, a 20" Bass Drum, and a mixture of Zildjian and Sabian cymbals.
Shows typically don't have much room for drums, so I always use smaller dimension drums and when miked they sound great!"
Mike is a proud endorser of Yamaha Drums and is one of the drum instructors at the University of North Texas, in Denton, Texas.
Mike has published two books on Jazz drumming.
Out On All Limbs Volume 1: Triplet Stickings can be purchased at Lone Star Percussion.
Out On All Limbs Volume 2: Duplet Stickings can be purchased at Lone Star Percussion.