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Chris Medici to lead Altered Stage as President & GM

I could not be more thrilled to announce that Chris Medici, our friend and brother in music, is taking on the role of President and General Manager of Altered Stage.

It’s a non-brainer decision for us. If you know or have only casually met Chris you know that he is the breathing embodiment of our club. His warmth, creativity, passion for music, and genuine love for the club has been an immeasurable part of who we are today since he joined as one of our three original members. As we evolve to help people live music everyday in today’s virtual-hybrid world, Chris will drive smart growth in a way that I know will maintain our soul.

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Music is freedom

by Chris Medici

It’s natural to feel trapped in these uncertain times. Whether it’s national politics, a global pandemic or a challenging economy, we live in a world filled with tension, anxiety and unpredictability. This is in addition to whatever may be going on in our individual lives – our job, our relationships, our community. And even though it feels we cannot control or influence the circumstances affecting us, we can control what we do in the midst of this uncertainty.

For me, music is my compass on this journey. It is the path to freedom from the pressures of this life – not a means of avoiding them – but rather a way to express my feelings and channel them into something positive, creative and constructive. Music has been my constant companion, comforting me in difficult times and enhancing the happier times of my life – like the spices I use in my favorite recipes. 

I believe we are meant to connect with others, collaborating and encouraging others to evolve and become the best versions of ourselves. I am fortunate that I found a community of people here at Altered Stage that brings out the best in me and encourages me to evolve as a musician and as a person. Altered Stage is not just a place to learn how to play music; it is a way to build and maintain a connection to other people in a world that at times makes me feel like we’re drifting further apart from one another. 

As we saw this year, we had to retreat to our homes to minimize exposure to the Coronavirus; however, Altered Stage and its members were still accessible through online instruction and virtual collaborations. There were even social events such as game night and karaoke. And these opportunities continue despite what may lie ahead. I am grateful Altered Stage is available to us here in Chicago and to anyone in the world with internet access. No matter the circumstances, I and others can connect with one another to make music and express whatever is on our minds and in our hearts. This is freedom.   

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Ultimate Drummers Playlist III

by Dave Agee

Tunes #9-12 have been added to the playlist!  Check ’em out!

I’ll be assembling weekly Spotify playlists for the drummers (and friends of drummers!) who are looking for some material-specific direction in their practice.  Feel free to use these tracks to supplement your own practice goals – here are things to look for in each track…

9. Runnin’ Round – Marvin Pontiac

Sweet spot of a track.  The chorus riff has a great example of syncopated ghost note ideas for the snare drum – for those looking to expand your comping vocab in a natural, groovy way… let these patterns sink in.

10. (Funny) Bone – CHIC

Stop what you’re doing right now and give this track about 10 listens on repeat.  Talk about a super fun, basic groove that never gets old or sounds tired.  Wow.  Lots of drums hookups with the guitar pattern and dig that bass line!

Couple ideas to lay on ya: play the 16ths (slightly swung) on your lap throughout the entire track – then play those 16ths on the hi hat – then transition to hi hat and snare combo – then finally add the kick on all quarters… the groove is built on the hands and the understanding of that slight lilt in the 16ths.

“The whole world’s a circus… don’t you be the clown!”

11. Into The Fire – Sarah McLachlin

16th hands again… but just a touch more swung than the CHIC tune in the #2 slot.  I chose this tune due to the two variations in the verse groove… instead of just beats 2 + 4 on the snare, watch out for the additional “a of 1” and “a of 3”.  Both hands will move to the snare in tandem.  The tempo is a little brisk – perhaps start a few clicks slower to get your hands speaking the language.

12. Immigration Man – Graham Nash & David Crosby

Open hat concepts galore and every fill is worthy of transcribing.  Wonderful classic rock fills throughout – incredibly logical playing.  Spend some time with each 4 bar phrase and do your best to get inside the feel/phrasing of each fill.  I’ll play through some examples and upload them to the Youtube playlist for your shedding delight!

We’ll chat more about these tunes and break them down during the Drums Conversations and Q+A on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.  See you then!

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Ultimate Drummers Playlist II

by Dave Agee

A “fresh four” have been added to the playlist!  Check ’em out!

I’ll be assembling weekly Spotify playlists for the drummers (and friends of drummers!) who are looking for some material-specific direction in their practice.  Feel free to use these tracks to supplement your own practice goals – here are things to look for in each track…

1. Care of Cell 44 – The Zombies

Swingin’ and shufflin’ bass drum patterns.  The pairing of the steady hi-hat on quarter notes and fairly active bass drum playing lots of upbeat 16ths makes this tune worthy of the shed.

2. Bell Bottom Blues – Derek and the Dominoes

This one came up in a class over the last couple weeks – a unicorn of snare drum patterns lives in the verses.  Snare on 1 and 3, you might ask?!  How can this be?!  Well, it exists.  In addition to altering your drumming reality, there are some wonderful 16th note fill ideas throughout and a killer pre-chorus floor tom vibe worth checking out.

3. Golden Age – TV on the Radio

Linear groove alert.  16th-y… and demands the drummer to get comfortable with getting the L hand to the snare drum on the “a of 3” in the pattern.  Sure, try to transcribe and play the verse groove back, note for note… but allow yourself to just listen to the chorus, glean some ideas (w/ toms and a steadier stream of 16ths), and play the style using the vocab that you feel like you have a handle on.

4. Can’t Run But – Paul Simon

(***I’m thinking in “fast 4”) Oooooh man.  Not a typical drumset part, but here’s my list.  #1 – play the soupy 8th notes (shaker sounds) and really try to get inside that swinging feel.  #2 – that marimba/mbira background texture that shows up in the beginning… play a similar repeating pattern like that around the kit, while grooving with the rest of the tune.  #3 – play kick on beat 3 only, and then layer options #1 and #2 on top of it!

We’ll chat more about these tunes and break them down during the Drum Q+A hang Wednesday!  See you then.

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A Message From Our Founder

“My my my I’m so happy
We gonna join the band
We are gonna dance and sing in celebration
We’re in the promised land.”
-Celebration Day, Led Zeppelin
Now that we have Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to move to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois program in place, I wanted to share our plan to get us all back to what we love to do: Jam together.

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