Hello, Modern Drummer readers, my name is Jon Radford and I play drums for the Dynamites featuring Charles “Wigg” Walker, a funk and soul band out of Nashville, Tennessee. First let me say how honored I am to be asked to write a blog for the MD Web site. The Dynamites are currently on a northeast run of the U.S. in support of our new album, Burn It Down. We will be heading across the pond to Europe for the month of October for the second time this year.
Playing in the Dynamites is unlike most gigs that I’ve had. In the majority of modern “pop” gigs (rock, country, etc.) you learn material, run down the show at rehearsal, and play what you rehearsed at the gig. The Dynamites show can change at the drop of a hat, and sections or arrangements can be changed at any time. I have to be extremely alert and aware of what is happening on stage. I watch Charles for hand signals and body cues. I also listen for vocal cues and react to them with hits on the snare or cymbal stabs. For a good example of what I am talking about, check out any live James Brown footage. The drummers for James Brown are always alert and reacting.
The second thing I would like to talk about is my kit and my sound. For the Dynamites I’ve tried to put together a kit that I think serves the music the best. To do this I’ve pulled from the Bernard Purdie/Al Jackson bag of sounds. I use 12″ and 13″ rack toms with either Evans Hydraulic or Remo C.S. Black Dot heads and no bottom heads. My floor tom is 16″ with the above heads mentioned. (I keep both heads on the floor tom.) My bass drum is 20″ with both heads and no sound hole. I keep a felt strip on the front head for muffling. My snare drum is the aluminum Ludwig from the mid-’70s. I keep it tuned medium tight with two felt strips under the batter head for muffling. I find that when I hit the drum with a rim shot, it gives more of an early to mid-’70’s Purdie “splat” or “thwat” rather than a sharp “crack.” The cymbals I use with the Dynamites consist of two 18″ Zildjians. One of them is from the ’50s and the other is from the ’60s. My hi-hats are very thin 13″ cymbals from Italy. I find that this setup serves the music best and gives the best vibe for what we do.
Again, thank you to Modern Drummer for giving me the chance to be involved with this blog. I’ve been a dedicated reader of the magazine, and will always consider it to be the best in drumming publications. I would also like to say thank you to Forks Drum Closet in Nashville for being the heart and soul of the Nashville drumming community, and to my Nashville drumming brethren for being the best.
For more on Jon Radford and the Dynamites, go to www.myspace.com/thedynamitesband.