George Strait Drummer Michael Kennedy Passes
He backed the country superstar for more than thirty years.
Michael Kennedy, the longtime drummer with George Strait and the Ace in the Hole Band, passed away last August 31 at the age of fifty-nine.
In a 2015 video posted to YouTube by Zildjian, Kennedy explained that after picking up drums around the age of seven, he played with his dad’s band into his mid-teens. The drummer would go on to play professionally with the country and gospel singer Barbara Fairchild, as well as the country and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs. After his five-year tenure with Skaggs, Kennedy landed a gig with Strait that he would remain in for nearly three decades.
Shortly after Kennedy’s passing, Strait released this statement on social media: “[It’s] hard to put into words how much Mike’s passing has affected us all. Our hearts are broken. It’s going to be very strange not being able to look over and see him there in his spot onstage, and very emotional as well, I’m sure for all of us and also his fans. The band will never be the same. A part of us is gone forever. We all loved Mike and will miss him terribly. He was just as solid a friend to us all as he was a drummer, and that was damn solid.”
The 2018 Montreal Intensive Drumming Day
The event was packed tight with top Canadian drum educators and enthusiasts.
The fifth edition of the Montreal Intensive Drumming Day was held this past September 30 at the Studio LaTraque in Montreal. The event was hosted by the drummers, clinicians, and educators Daniel Bédard and Stéphane Chamberland, and the Canada-based drummer Mark Kelso was featured as a guest artist and clinician.
Chamberland opened with keyboard player Mathieu Fiset by demonstrating songs from their progressive drum ’n’ bass project, Robojazz, and explaining how the parts came to fruition. Daniel Bédard followed and played songs composed by Tommy Igoe and Oz Noy. Bédard shared some technical insights on stick technique and natural body movement using paradiddles. He also discussed ways to get mileage from simple linear ideas by using a few different motion concepts. Kelso closed the day by playing an inspiring musical solo that showcased why he’s such an in-demand sideman and leader. He then talked about how one could become a more musical player by diving deep into topics such as laid-back grooves, click displacements, the art of listening, and more. Concepts like those can be found on Kelso’s DVD, Musician First, Drummer Second, which is available on his website, groovydrums.com.
Plans are in the works for the sixth edition of the Montreal Intensive Drumming Day.
Los Angeles Musician’s Union Honors DW Founder Don Lombardi
A new rehearsal room is named in recognition of the innovator and industry vet.
After opening their new headquarters in Burbank, California, this past May, the American Federation of Musicians, Local 47, recently honored DW founder Don Lombardi by dedicating a rehearsal room to his legacy. Local 47 vice president Rick Baptist presented the acknowledgement to Lombardi in recognition of his contribution to the drumming community.
The union’s new Burbank facility boasts 10,000 square feet of modern rehearsal rooms that are equipped exclusively with DW drums, pedals, and hardware. It replaces the Local 47’s location on Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
“We’re thrilled to offer our members a state-of-the-art space with plenty of room to grow,” Baptist says. “Future plans include a performance-ready theater venue and even more amenities. The fact that we can offer musicians a comfortable place to hone their craft is a dream come true.”
Lombardi also praised the L.A. chapter, which he had joined when he was fifteen years old. “When I had the opportunity to purchase the Camco tooling in our early years, the first place I went to get the financing was the Musicians’ Credit Union,” Lombardi said. “I hold the Local 47 near and dear to my heart.” Baptist added, “When we needed drums, every drummer here wanted DW. It was unanimous. And when we reached out to the good folks at DW, they didn’t hesitate to serve these musicians the way we do. It’s not just that they make a superior product—it’s also the people that make DW what it is. Our renewed relationship with DW is really something special.”