Archive for July, 2021

Bateman drums: Old school, new ideas from Blasters legend

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2021 by J.J.
Bill Bateman in Drumhead [Photo by Kelly King]
Bill Bateman in Drumhead magazine No. 21, May/June 2010.

Note: This post was first published June 6, 2010. It was revised and updated July 24, 2021.

Bill Bateman is featured in the May/June 2010 issue of Drumhead magazine, mostly talking about the craft of drum building. Bateman began building kits for his own Bateman Drum Company a few years earlier, and he talks, in detail, with Drumhead about the why and how:

“I noticed that some of the drum companies have made choices in their production that aren’t geared towards a better instrument, but rather are a by-product of mass production. Some companies are good. Gretsch still does it the old 1940s way, which is great. Ludwig is kind of imitating what they used to do, but they have all butt joints. They didn’t have butt joints in the old days.”

Bateman is revealed as a true drum gearhead, with an astounding knowledge of styles and companies. He even talks at length about studying Civil War-era snare drums, eventually building two rope-tension snares in the 19th-century style, according to Drumhead. Much of the article is about how he and his brother-in-law experimented with making wood shells. But Bateman always keeps the player in mind, even when selecting hardware (which he gets from old drums): “All of that double-braced hardware isn’t going to fit into the back of your Toyota,” Bateman told the magazine. “Even if it did, your back would be pissed at you the next day.”

What are the odds of you getting a Bateman Drum Company set? Not so great, according to an interview in the August 2008 Blasters newsletter American Music:

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Groanin’ Lester Butler onstage in 1996

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2021 by J.J.
Back with The Blue Shadows, April 17 at Bar Deluxe (LA Weekly)

Look, putting together a weekly music calendar isn’t easy. It can be tedious, boring and frustrating. Sometimes, you have to find your little spaces of joy to keep the whole endeavor from completing sucking your soul away.

That’s how I would like to think the calendar editor at LA Weekly came up with “Groanin’ Lester Butler” back in 1996. I hope it brought him/her a little bit of joy in a thankless job.

Unwanted nicknames aside, the years between The Red Devils and 13 found Lester Butler playing locally around Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Calif., in various versions of Devils, Shadows and unlucky numbers. He found regular work in joints like Bar Deluxe, Jack’s Sugar Shack and, of course, the Blue Cafe.

Here is a collection of calendar clips and bar ads from L.A. papers in 1996, tracking Butler’s moves before his breakout ’97.

April 24 at Bar Deluxe with The Blue Shadows — “formerly The Red Devils, and now rejoined by Groanin’ Lester Butler” (LA Weekly)
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Listen: Red Devils climb ‘Mountain Stage’ for live radio show (1992)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2021 by J.J.

Note: This story was originally published Oct. 18, 2015.

At the height of their powers, The Red Devils were heard live on the popular “Mountain Stage” radio program on Oct. 4, 1992, along with Leo Kottke, John Cale and Juliana Hatfield.

The recording captures the Devils between their opening stint on tour for Los Lobos and their first U.S. headlining club tour dates. In fact, it would be just about a week later that we would see the Devils at the old Jake’s nightclub in Bloomington, Ind.

Like so many other radio programs, “Mountain Stage” is often bootlegged and passed around, and The Red Devils’ set is no exception. The bootleg itself is short, with just four tunes and radio chatter. But, it is crystal-clear audio and a nice touchstone for the band during this time.

All four songs are available here on No Fightin’, including two courtesy of Dominik Ablamowicz on YouTube.

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Incident in Room 410: How The Red Devils were banned from Days Inn, 1992

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 5, 2021 by J.J.

“The Red Devils lived up to their name.”

That was the opening line of a review, of sorts, of The Red Devils’ stop in Chicago in 1992.

Certainly, the crowd at Buddy Guy’s Legends club on Sept. 27, 1992, appreciated the band more than Tom Nelligan did at the Days Inn Near North hotel.

The band’s stay at the Days Inn ended in destruction Sept. 28, according to a fax Nelligan sent to the band’s travel agency.

The problems started with a late check-out request, which caused late housekeeping service, which meant the damage was not discovered until the next day, when the band was safely back out on the road.

“In room 410 they broke an armchair that was part of a set of two armchairs and a round oak table, they broke a wall mirror in a oak frame, which they hid behind the dresser and they tore the drapes on the windows,” Nelligan wrote. “The housekeeper said that she can repair the drapes so we won’t charge them for the drapes.”

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