Michael Lloyd Curotto started playing drums in November of 1959, decided that he wanted to be a professional drummer at age 12 and began teaching privately in 1963. The vintage snare drum collecting "bug" bit in March of 1995 after a trade with vintage drum collector/dealer and friend Sam Adato in San Francisco, CA. As of this printing The Curotto Collection numbers 425 + vintage snare drums....and counting.
Read more about Mike on his website, curottodrums.com
Mark Twain once left a crucial piece of advice to all would-be writers: "Write what you know about." With those eternal words of wisdom in mind, I set about to write the stories of drum makers and those who played those drums of so long ago.
The stories are simply what I know and do not always tell the whole story as further research sometime reveals. Growing up in South-Central PA, I lived in a world of the old and that of the new. Nestled squarely between Valley Forge and Gettysburg (and a large Amish community), American History was an everyday reality.
My start was with several of the Drum Corps of the area and went on to be a full-time musician based out of Philadelphia and Nashville, always with an eye on the history and R & D side of the business.
As a percussionist, I was a natural collector. I hope you enjoy reading about some of the history of the craft we all love so much, as I think you might find your future in the past. Any Nation that ignores its history, is a nation lost....
Webmaster's note: Brian's category is split into two subcategories:
The essays contained in the "Victorian Classics" series focus on the drums and related matters of a time known as the "Victorian America Era." This was a time starting at the end of the Civil War that ran to roughly WWI. It was a renaissance period of standardization and innovation that reflected the might of the Industrial Revolution.
"On The Ropes…." is a series of essays focusing on rope drums and many of the things and people associated with them. Within this group are two distinct yet related collections: The “Drums of Music;” and drums of the military, known here as the “Drums of WAR!”……The gig that could get you killed!
Tales and sometimes abstract ramblings of technical stuff, gig stories, Ike Turner-isms, whatnots and sometimes those little tcotchkies you get at gas stations on road trips.
Bill Ray is the guy who makes the donuts around these parts. He's responsible for the artwork, programming and layout and his annual coffee bill is probably higher than your house note. Check out his playing on www.billraydrums.com and were that not enough, his web development company www.oceansites.net.
This is a subset of articles where I turn my "disorder" into an open book for you, the reader to ponder and maybe, perhaps you too can go to the gig and play the walls, the crowd, the vibe of the room just as if it were another element on a page of music. Take from it what you will, this is my experience.
A little more than 20 years ago, John Aldridge's love affair with vintage drums, and especially Ludwig Black Beauties from the early 1920's, led him to learn a skill that had virtually disappeared from the drum world for the previous 50 years.
Upon discovering that purchasing an engraved drum from the 1920s was completely outside his monetary limits, John set out to learn how to engrave with the intention of taking a standard model 20's Ludwig snare and plating and engraving it to turn it into a black beauty. Although he asked several jewelry engravers to teach him how to engrave, none believed that he would stay with it long enough to make it worthwhile to spend their time teaching him.
Recently retired after 30 years of teaching visual arts in the Springfield (Mass.) Public Schools, David Barsalou is a champion to the independent artist and giving credit where it is due by way of his decades-long project "Deconstructing Lichtenstein". Find out more about David on his Flickr Gallery or in his Deconstructing Lichtenstein.
Rick Walker is a professional trapset drummer/multi-percussionist (hand, finger and single line) and multi-instrumentalist who has been on the cutting edge of music for the last 35 years. He is considered one of the founders of the World Beat movement in the 80's and 90's and the International Live Looping movement since the turn of the millenium.
He has recorded, toured and collaborated with master musicians from all over the planet including: Bob Brozman, Martin Simpson, Babatunde Olatunji, Debhashish Battycharya, Hiryasu Takashi, Henry Kaiser, David Hidalgo, Abdoulaye Djakite, Titos Sompa, Michael Manring and many others.
As the author of the multi-volume encyclopedia, 'Global Beats and World Pop Styles', he has also taught thousands of private students the principles of rhythm, timbre and harmony and given lecture/demonstrations at the PASIC, NAMM, the Maker Faire shows and for TedX.
Considered an expert in live looping and digital sound design, he has also toured as a Found/Sound, Live Looping artist in 15.
As an inventor and designer, he has created hardware. software instruments and consulted for Universal Audio, Looperlative, Emu, Zoom, Gibson.
He also creates lo fi, toy video 'animations' for his abstract electronica and live looping compositions and has designed live looping audio and visual instruments intended for low cost,small scale, high tech performances.
He also founded and runs the world's largest international live looping festival (www.y2kloopfest.com) annually since 2001 which expands to 8 countries in the summer/fall of 2013.
He lives with his wife, singer/songwriter Chris Wedertz in Santa Cruz, California.