A Thought Bubble From Vincent , January 2012

I have just returned home from an island which lies opposite Miami in Florida, where the only music I heard was the lapping of waves on the shore, and song from rather beautiful and colourful birds.

After two weeks, my drummers tapping affliction subsided and I stopped looking for potential surfaces that I could make a noise on. In fact, I started speaking a strange language instead, which is a language made up of all the sounds of the hand drums I have been fortunate to play to date. This could loosely be called beat boxing, except I do not have the sounds of the drum kit, which this term comes from.

I did have one musical encounter in Miami with a ‘conguero’. This man had left Cuba when Castro came to power, and his father told him to never return. His father was incarcerated as a political prisoner and unfortunately died, so he never saw him again. This conguero had survived in Miami by becoming an accountant, a collector of Cuban art and traditional drums.

He told me many stories of famous percussionists who have inspired me over the years. The stories unfortunately were sad like his own story. The percussionists had lost their way in their personal lives, losing friends and the trust of their fellow musicians. In fact, their musical journeys had tumbled into either playing only religious music (for their retribution and salvation maybe) or only playing out on the street to earn money for surviving on a day to day basis.

I did not play for long with the conguero as the atmosphere was not conducive to playing spontaneous music. His wife (who was not Cuban) did not enjoy the sound of drums! She also could not understand why he needed 15 pairs of congas. He remarked that he didn't stop her buying a new pair of shoes every week...(aargh, the war of the sexes!) It was time to leave and go listen to the birds again.

This encounter made me reflect on the fact that good music only comes from good communication with fellow musicians. The percussionists who had fallen from the top, fell because of their personal problems which meant that nobody could work with them, and their their talent was not to be shared with the world.

Since I have been back, I have been playing every day, and have been applying myself to put all those drum sounds in my head back onto the skins where they belong.

As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I feel blessed to have a partner who understands the need of a musician to play their instrument, and blessed to play with musicians who have no problem communicating their ideas.

I am looking forward to hearing and playing with what comes out that bread oven, and what comes out of Rogers guitar, when we are back on the road.

Happy new year everyone,


Posted on January 18th 2012

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