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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Gift Ideas for the Music Lover in Your Life

by Cristina Filipescu


Most of us enjoy listening to music every day. It’s relaxing. it improves our mood, mental alertness and even sleep quality.

For many of us, music is not an accessory, it is an essential part of our everyday lives. We are always searching for new music, carefully curating Spotify playlists for every mood and situation in our lives, binge watching old concerts by our favorite artists on YouTube, attending concerts online (and counting the days to when we can see and experience live music again). And some of us are learning to play and create our own music.

And here we are, December of 2020, and the holidays are approaching way too fast. In fact, the entire year has been a blur, and I should probably make an angry song about it. Oh, 2020, you’ve got to go! There’s not enough wine in the world to make me forget you ever happened. 😊

So… coming back to my original post about music lovers. What do YOU get the music lover in your life??


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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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Pedal Power

by Chris Medici

Once I bought my first guitar I realized that it was only the beginning of my journey towards sounding like my guitar heroes. So, back to YouTube I went, seeking guidance as to how I could capture the sound – that tone that is in my head. It turns out that many others have been on the same quest. In fact, one music store in the UK has a whole series of videos about sounding like their favorite bands. Also, some of the companies that make pedals have produced videos that walk viewers through analyzing and re-creating the tone of a particular song or band. 

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