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Welcome to rionsmith.com!

I’m rion smith, and this is my site-  my place to say what’s on my mind, and share with anyone who’s interested, all the different aspects of my life.

I’m currently a full-time drummer for Blue Man Group Orlando.

I’m also husband to my beautiful wife, Yuki, and Papa to our awesome kid Taiyo (pronounced tie – yo, as in, “you must wear a tie, yo!”)

I’m an artist, world traveler, and I’m currently working on creating my own music, and actively uploading new stuff to YouTube: riondrum on YouTube

So this is the place I hope to share bits and pieces of all these things, and where I feel like I can take some time and get deep with the stuff that’s on my mind-  life, drums, philosophy, family, and how all these things somehow come together to make up my life.

thanks for reading-

rion

2 Years, 4 Moves, and $10,000 later, and Taiyo is finally in.

A little over 2 years ago, I took a tour of a tuition-free Montessori school here in Central Florida.  Paul Smith, our newest string player at Blue Man, had told me about it.  His kids went to school there, and he absolutely loved the school, the teachers, the other parents, and the Montessori philosophy that was implemented throughout.  

This was at a time when Taiyo was still in Japan.  He was scheduled to return to the States ahead of Yuki, and begin 4th grade over here.  But I needed to find a school. 

The 1st move:

I had flown up to Idaho to drive my Mom, a car full of stuff, and her little doggie, Riley to Orlando.  She was moving from Idaho to move in with me, so that together, we could handle taking care of Taiyo.  Working a night time job as a Blue Man drummer can make child care scheduling very tricky.  

The kids in Montessori schools are allowed to be self governing.  Not in a Lord of the Flies, tribal-warring  chaotic manner, but they are provided with a scientifically studied and developed method that works with children’s natural curiosities, and love of learning.  Through this method they learn time management, and self-empowerment, as well as all the nuts and bolts of standard schooling.  From the time I first began learning about Montessori schooling, I knew I wanted Taiyo to be in a Montessori school.  The problem, as it seemed, was that traditional Montessori schools are mostly private, and as such, are rather expensive.  

So when Paul told me that there was such thing as a tuition-free Montessori school, and that it was a great school, I was super excited!   I looked up the school, which had recently changed it’s name from Montessori of Winter Garden to Innovation Montessori Ocoee (IMO), and booked a tour.  At the time, they were located in a kind of dingy strip mall, but had made it work.  On that first tour, I knew that this was what I wanted for Taiyo.  Everything about the school resonated with me.  We snaked thru the rooms as a tour group, and saw kids all busily working, some individually, some in small groups, all a-buzz with activity.   All the kids were engaged, and into what they were doing.   The Montessori philosophy may not work for all parents or students, but the whole thing was a hit for me. 

I knew then that I would do whatever it took to get Taiyo in this school. They take new students based on a lottery. It’s all random, except that kids with Montessori experience and military families get a bump to the front of the line. 

I entered Taiyo into the lottery for the 2018-19 school year. In Feb of 2018 I found out that Taiyo got #58 on the waitlist. Not so good. 

The 1st School:

I began to look into getting Taiyo that bump for Montessori experience.  So I looked into all the Montessori schools in the Orlando area. I went and toured several, and eventually decided on Maitland Montessori School (MMS). It was close enough to where we lived at the time, and looked like a very nice school. But…  it cost $10,000/year!!!   After some quick math I decided to go for it. By putting myself on the strictest of budgets, I would save up the entire tuition cost before the school year started. The fact that my mother was living with me made it possible: she was paying half of my mortgage every month as rent.  

It felt great to walk into that school and be able to write them a check for the entire amount, which also earned me a discount!   Taiyo had a great experience at MMS that year, and I’m so grateful that circumstances worked out for him to be able to attend. 

I entered Taiyo again in the IMO lottery, this time for the 2019-20 school year. With the Montessori experience bump, he got #4 on the waitlist. Much better. At that point, I felt like he would make it in, and Mom was itching to buy a house.  So I made a judgement call-  a proverbial leap of faith.   The plan was to have Mom buy a house in Ocoee (near the school), then have Taiyo and I move in, effectively buying me some time to prepare my house for sale, sell my house,  and at the same time give me time to shop for a new home.  

The 2nd move:

Mom found a house in Ocoee, close to IMO, but a good 20-30 minutes from where I had been living.  We moved Mom into her new house, and at the same time, put most of my family’s stuff into a PODS storage unit, and tried to keep just enough stuff to move in with Mom temporarily.   By the end of the 2019 school year, I was driving Taiyo 45 minutes to school at MMS every morning-  it was a haul, but again, it was worth it.   I would spend days working on the old house while Taiyo was in school, then go to work at night.  I can’t believe how much work it was to prepare that house for sale.  

Sold the old house, and started looking for a new one.  I was thinking that I would have a good amount of time, because of living with Mom, but I was also trying to buy, and be pretty much moved in to the new house before Yuki returned in October.   That time went very quickly.  The right things were said to me at the right times, and I ended up driving down a few different roads than usual, and found a beauty of a home that had some really terrible pictures in it’s listing (so they hadn’t had any lookers), but was beautiful in person.  Mom and Taiyo came with me, and we all fell in love immediately.  I took pictures and sent them to Yuki- she liked it too.  

Bought the new house-  with the intention of making the 3rd bedroom into my studio.  But something about that didn’t feel right.  It would mean that we couldn’t have visitors-  no extra bedroom, so while the house was an upgrade, I would also like to be able to invite people to stay so that we could have visitors from Japan, or wherever.   That’s when this whole idea of building a studio in the garage came about.  I spent a lot of time contemplating if this could be done-  and once I figured out a few crucial logistical things, I knew I could do it.  But it would be the biggest project of my life, to date.  So when I took possession of the house on July 3rd, 2019, Taiyo and I didn’t move in right away.  I went to work on remodeling the garage into a studio.  My plan was to have that done before Yuki returned in late October.  The problem was, I had never taken on a project like this before, and had no idea how involved it was.  Every step was taking days longer than I expected.  Pretty soon, it was clear that I was not going to come close to finishing before Yuki returned, so I had to give in to that idea.  

What about Taiyo’s school?   

When we moved in with Mom, Taiyo had gone down to #1 on the waitlist for Innovation.  So I felt like we should be getting a call any day from the school.  He was the next one, right?  Well, one day when I checked his position on the list, he had gone up to #2.  My heart sank.  How?  Why?   I knew that this school was right for him, and that he would bring so much to this school.  But I couldn’t make them take him.   I tried not to lose hope-  but school would be starting soon.  

His number went to #3…  Then back to #4.  Damn.    

As I learned later, this can happen when siblings are involved.  So, say a 3rd grader gets in that has a 5th grade sibling, well, this then bumps that 5th grader to the front of the 5th grader line.  That’s why Taiyo got bumped down.  

The 3rd move:

While I had hoped to have the studio all built before our PODS unit showed up with our stuff, the summer was quickly ending, and I wanted to be settled in the house a bit before the school year began, so I pulled the plug, and had the PODS unit delivered.  Thankfully for our friends from MMS, Ellis came and we got that thing unloaded, and into the house in a day!  It was a long sweaty day-  but we did it!  We got moved in, in a very basic way, but we did it.  

The 2nd School:

School was about to begin.  I had to do something.  I looked into the possibility of putting Taiyo in MMS again, but they have a $2,500 retainer if you pull your child out in the middle of the year.  That felt a bit excessive, especially while I was trying to build a studio.  I had to look into other options.  I was between addresses-  most of my mail was going to Mom’s house, but I wasn’t on that mortgage, which makes things complicated.  Lots of paperwork, etc.  Nonetheless, I went to the school by Mom’s house, Prairie Lake Elementary and looked into enrolling Taiyo.  I filled out paperwork, and was ready to enroll him, but Yuki wasn’t with me, she was still in Japan.  So the woman at the office asked, “where’s his mother?”   I said she was in Japan. I was told to get custody papers, which put me on a several day tangent of trying to figure out custody paperwork, not realizing that she was assuming that we were divorced.  

At the same time, I was looking into Florida Online School.  A state funded public school where the kids attended classes online.  After much back-and-forth, I ended up choosing the Online School, not realizing what I was getting into, and partially out of a panic with the school year now starting, and having a child who was truant.  Now, having a child in an online school means that the parent has to take on the role of Learning Coach, which is a very involved job.   I’m sorry to say that while I was trying to build a studio during the day, and being Taiyo’s Learning Coach at the same time, I didn’t do a very good job as the Learning Coach.   That’s a whole other story.

But I will say this:  While Taiyo didn’t like his online school, and sitting at home all day, without seeing other kids, he never once complained to me.  And the whole time, I knew he didn’t like it, (mainly because when other people would ask, he was honest, and told them that he really didn’t like it), but he never whined, or gave me a hard time.  So I am very grateful for that.  

The 4th move:

Yuki returned.  After living in Tokyo with her mother for the past 7 years, this was a big move for Yuki back to America.  I had sure hoped to have the studio done before she got here, but that just didn’t happen (and as of the writing of this in late January 2020, is still under way).  What that means for our house is that there’s a whole segment of the house that is taken up by a huge pile of studio stuff.  I can’t put it in the studio, because the studio is a construction zone.  So Yuki returned to one mess of a house, and Taiyo wasn’t in the right school. He wasn’t doing well in his Online School because I had slacked as a Learning Coach.  It was a bit of a rough landing.  I had taken on too much.  

We got Taiyo through the end of his first semester of online school, and were able to get his grades up.  It was rough, but he worked hard on going back and finishing up assignments that had slipped through the cracks (largely due to my lack of involvement).   

Meanwhile, I kept a close eye on his number for the IMO waitlist-  hoping to see some movement because perhaps people were moving because of the new year, new job?  It held firm at #4 for a long time, but finally, his number went down to #3.  A few weeks later, it dropped yet again to #2.  

Then we sat down and talked.  We reconsidered Prairie Lake, the Elementary School by Mom’s house.  Yuki, Taiyo and I took a school tour, and afterwards, asked Taiyo,  would you like to go to Prairie Lake even if it could possibly be for only a month, or week, or maybe even just a day?   Taiyo being the easy-going kid he is, said, “sure.”  So we enrolled him.  

The 3rd School:

I think Yuki was more nervous about his first day than he was.  He did fine (except for a “behavioral issue” on his first day), and was making friends right away.  

The very next week, I had scheduled a tour of the IMO campus for Yuki and I.  I really wanted to see the new campus, and consequently, his number had moved down to #1 again!   So that Tuesday, we took the tour, and were both blown away with the beautiful 18 acre campus which has it’s own nature preserve; how they kept as many of the original trees as possible, the beautiful buildings, and how beautifully the Montessori principles are executed throughout the classrooms, and the entire campus.  I could go on and on about this school-  but back to the story.   It was January 14th, and it was explained to us that this year’s lottery would run until next year’s lottery was drawn, on February 19th.  So there was about a month left for Taiyo’s #1 spot to make it in, meaning that a 5th grader would have to leave in order for Taiyo to get in.  Talk about tense!!  

At the end of the tour I asked about Taiyo’s position, so the registrar offered to take us into her office once everyone else left.  She kindly met with us, and saw that Taiyo was #1.  She explained that they were currently at capacity,  but that should anyone leave, they wanted to make sure that the spot was filled, because the school funding for the next year is determined in February.   Yuki mentioned that we had a white polo shirt that we had bought for Taiyo to wear to Prairie Lake, but that they actually didn’t require uniforms, so we were to return it.  That’s when the registrar told us, “we’re not done yet.  You might want to hang on to that polo.”  

The very next day, Yuki and I were over at Mom’s helping her repair her fence in her back yard.  We heard my phone ring in the house, and I almost said, “I wonder if that’s Taiyo’s new school calling?”  Kind of half joking….  Immediately afterwards, Yuki’s phone rings with a Winter Garden number….

“Answer it!” 

It was the registrar from IMO.  She asked Yuki if she still had that polo shirt for Taiyo, because he was in!!!  

I think we all cried a bit that day. 

Yuki and I walked right over to Prairie Lake, got Taiyo’s withdrawal papers, printed out our enrollment forms and drove straight to Innovation Montessori Ocoee where Taiyo is now a student!  

The 4th School:

Taiyo is currently in 5th grade, and will be able to attend IMO through high school.  Innovation Montessori High School is one of only 17 Montessori High Schools in the US.  The High School portion of the school is currently being built, and if my math is correct, Taiyo will be the 5th graduating class of IMHS.  

I haven’t wanted something, and prayed over something as much as this in a long time.  I just know it feels right, and it was quite a journey to get here, but it’s all worth it, because I know Taiyo is in the right place.  

 

Bearing my soul… a little bit…

This is the first in a video series where I’ll be talking, not playing drums.  But, I’ll be talking about playing drums (a bit), but more than that, talking about the process of overcoming my own fears as an artist-  it’s a hairy beast, fear, and can cripple even the best artists…  but I believe that by talking about it, we can get better…   so, watch this vid, and let me know what you think!

Bali for yoga, NY for Rhythm, Sound, and Magic!

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By the time I went to Japan, for this last trip in April-May of this year, I knew that I would be full-time with Blue Man in July.  So, of course my wife Yuki and I talked at length about what this means, how good it would be for us as a family, and how much of a change it would be for me, as far as my relationship to my time.

While I was part-time at Blue Man, I was almost completely in charge of how I used my time.  Blue Man would approach me, and ask when I was available for the coming month.  So, if I had other gigs, or wanted to take a trip, or whatever the reason, I could make myself ‘unavailable’ for said dates.  It allowed me the freedom to take month-long trips to Japan, or have out of town gigs with other bands whenever I wanted.

As a full-timer, I will be much more on their schedule.  Any time I want to take off will be very official, and there will be paperwork involved, as well as a limited amount of time off available.  This is just the reality of the situation.  I’m entering into my full time work with Blue Man very happily and gratefully, but also aware of what it means to how I use my time.

The truth is that my relationship to my time will be very different.   So, while I was in Japan, and talking over these things with Yuki, I mentioned how my Yoga teacher was leading a yoga retreat to Thailand very soon, and how much I would love to do it.  To my surprise, Yuki actually encouraged me to go for it!  So I immediately began to look into it, only to realize that it was happening just after I started full time, so I would be unable to go.

But I still had it in my mind-  it sure would be good to go and deepen my yoga practice before beginning my full time work, which will be physically demanding, and I will very much need to keep myself in top physical shape to ensure that I can do this for many years to come.

So I looked around for other possible yoga retreats, and thru some searching found a place called Samadi Bali that is a year round yoga shala that offers yoga/wellness retreats that include a room, breakfast/lunch, unlimited yoga, Balinese massages, a few other therapy sessions, and a consultation session to tailor the retreat to my needs.  I was also drawn to this place because of their emphasis on Ashtanga Yoga, which is the style that I’ve been practicing for over 2 years now, and has given me more benefit than all the years prior in which I had dabbled in different yoga styles.

While I was still in Japan, Blue Man Orlando was emailing me to ask what my availability was for June.  So I needed to book this trip, and work out all of the details quickly, which I managed to do.

I returned to the States, and began preparing to go to Bali…. In the meantime I received an email from Billy Martin’s (from the band Medeski, Martin, and Wood) mailing list, talking about his Rhythm, Sound, and Magic workshop/ week-long camp that would be happening just after I returned from Bali on June 16th.  I was booked to play at Kevin Maine’s CD release party on June 17th, where I would open with Hannah Harber & the Lionhearts, and close with Shak Nasti, and Blue Man had booked me for one show, on June 18th, then not again until June 24th.   The Rhythm Sound and Magic Camp was June 19th thru June 23rd.  It just might work.  It seemed that this window of opportunity had presented itself.  I had just dropped some pretty coin on booking the yoga retreat, but for years, I had seen the camps that Billy puts on, and had always wanted to go.  Should I do it?  Could I?  I knew that I wanted to…. Logistically it was a bit crazy, because the transportation to and from was pretty mysterious…. Just fly into NYC, and somehow get to the NYC Port Authority bus terminal, then there was a bus from there that would take me to Big Indian, NY, and somehow get picked up to get to this place called the Full Moon Resort.  Well, I hesitated, and milled it over in my mind, and, even though it wasn’t cheap, I decided to go for it.  I wasn’t sure when I’d have the opportunity to do this again, so I better do it while I can.

And, I’m so glad I did!

I can’t say how grateful I am to have had both experiences, and all with the loving support of my wonderful, beautiful wife of 17 years.  Only my life partner who’s been through so many years and so many life experiences with me would understand me enough to say, “Go!  Do it!”

At a campfire bond with my Samba-Batucada-Low-End-partner-in-rhythm Josh (whom I met at the rhythm camp), summed it up with this:  “When your girl tells you to go to drum camp, YOU GO TO F###IN DRUM CAMP!”

So far, I haven’t posted anything from either experience.  I made a conscious effort to experience both things as much as possible, and not to get tangled up in posting to social media.  I knew my life would slow down a bit once I returned, and before full time work started up in July, so I figured I’d do it all then (which is now).

So, for the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing me post pictures and videos from Bali, Indonesia, and then from Big Indian, NY.  But, I’m not in either place.  I’m here in Orlando, posting some not-so-insta Instagram posts-  but, at least for me, it was well worth the wait.

Much more coming SOON!!

 

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I’m cheezy sometimes-  I can’t help it-

This is a little vid I made quickly in my backyard…  I had filmed some other stuff that day, and wondered about doing a little duet with myself-  so this me on one kit that’s a 14″ snare, and 18″ kick, and a smaller kit with a 10″ snare and a 16″ kick.

I messed with the sound a bit in Logic Pro just to crunch it up a bit…  and had fun making it look a bit different in Final Cut Pro X

word!

The making of: AWESOME SUPERHERO MOVIE…

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This is a project that my 6 year old son, Taiyo, and I decided to do while we were together in Caldwell, Idaho.  I was there to be with my father in his final days, may he rest in peace, and Taiyo was there with me for a month, before he left to go to Japan, where he is now attending elementary school.

We used LEGOs that Taiyo had mostly gotten for late Christmas presents, and because Grammie loves to spoil him, as a Grandmother should!   While there, we watched Big Hero 6, and Box Trolls, and those films got us fired up to make our own movie.  Originally I thought it would be about a 5 minute short movie, but it took on a life of it’s own, and became twice that long.

It began with talking about the concept of a “becoming superheros” movie.  They needed a reason.  With our imaginations leading us, and a bit of focused direction, we quickly had a basic outline of the movie.  From there, we did some rough story boarding, and determined what sets we would have to make, and the basic vibe we wanted for each scene.  We began some early stop-motion tests, and watched some tutorials online for “brick films” (I guess that’s what they call LEGO stop motion animation films).   We built the first set- the mountain scene, worked out our lighting, and got to work.  The rest was learning in action-  each day we would shoot some scenes, and at the end of the day, I would make rough edits for what we had shot that day.  So we were learning what was working, and what wasn’t.  Then we had some dialogue to shoot, and so had to figure out what each character’s voice was.  Taiyo wanted to do the voice of Golden Claw, and that was it, so it was up to me to come up with the voices for everybody else.  He helped in the development of each voice, and would tell me when I was getting it right.  I had a lot of fun using the ‘pitch up and pitch down’ features on iMovie for iPad, which, by the way, this whole thing was edited using only my iPad.  While I was definitely finding out what it’s limits were, I was very surprised by what you can do on that little device.

Very quickly, it was time to take Taiyo to Seattle where he was going to take his first solo flight to Japan.  This meant that all of the stop-mo and Taiyo’s dialogue had to be done!  So our shooting schedule got a bit intense towards the end.  But we made it.  Taiyo flew to Japan, and I was left with a bunch of little scraps of film that we had cut, and a whole lot more work to do.

We were getting ready to sell all of my dad’s tools, and I thought it would be cool to record the sounds of all of his tools to use as sound effects in the film, so I went into the garage, and did just that.  A lot of the sound effects that you hear in the film are dad’s old drills, table saws, grinders, chunks of metal, boxes of screws, and whatever else I could make sounds out of.   The rest of the sound effects were done in my house here in Orlando, and having this all on my iPad meant that I could just cary it around the house with me, and use the sounds in whichever room sounded the best.   It was a really fun process for me to do the foley work like that-  finding sounds to match the film was great fun, because my world is sound, and I feel like I have a knack for doing this stuff.

Then came the music.  The theme song for this movie is the first actual song that I’ve ever written.  And yes there are only about 5 words to the entire song, but it was pretty thrilling to come up with a melody, and then chords, and send off a demo version with my horrible singing to Matt Bloodwell only to have him send me back some killer vocals that I could then add to the track that I had been working on in the mean time-  and play live drums to- (yes I realize this is a long ol’ run-on sentence, but that’s what the process felt like) – and come out on the other end with a track that I think sounds close to pro, and like it could actually be a theme song for a TV show or something!  I can’t tell you how much fun I had.   And the other tracks just kind of came together as well-  it was really cool having a movie to score like that, and of course, I’m the director here as well, so nobody’s going to tell me that it wasn’t right!

I also video recorded myself playing drums along with the theme song, and the segment I call: ‘BeSuperher0s’, so I’ll be making videos of that for my youtube channel.

The last track “SuperFreeky” is a play on the song, “I fink u freeky” by Die Antwoord.  I changed it around, and kind of made it my own, but if you hear the original, you’ll see exactly where the main line comes from.  I’m not going to claim that I just made that one up out of thin air, and I’ll just call it a ‘parody’ of the original.  I also had a lot of fun doing that track.  Doing the whole thing pitched up as Kenji, the main character in the film, was really fun.  It allowed me to get out of myself a bit, and take on this other persona, which was a blast.

Overall, I probably spent waaaaaaaay too much time on this whole thing, but I don’t regret any of it-  I’ve learned so much along the way, and had a blast doing it.  It’s been really fun showing this to different groups of my friends and co-workers.  It’s interesting to see how different people find different parts of it funny.   The first time Yuki and Taiyo saw the whole thing, I was on Skype with them, so I got to see their reactions to the whole thing-  that made it all worth while.

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Barcelona Graffiti

While I was on tour with the Blue Man Group’s North American Tour, I got to see a lot of the states, and I realized how much I like graffiti.  But not just any graffiti-  not some kid with his first can of spray paint writing something lewd on a wall, but the really amazing, and artistic stuff.  The kind that, to me, improves the visual appeal of the area.  The kind that makes you think, or just catches your attention in a good way.  In my own mind, I kind of refer to it as “Street Art.”  Some of these artists do some amazing things with cans of spray paint.Continue reading “Barcelona Graffiti”

The Stevie Story- The Boomerang Effect in Costa Brava!

Costa Brava Jump Shot
Costa Brava Jump Shot- By Danilo Maia

One of the Sundays that the EPIC pulled into Barcelona, Members of the Legends in Concert show, the Cirque Show, and a few from Blue Man, including myself met a privately chartered bus in the parking lot of Terminal A.  Stevie, from Excursions Barcelona (pictured above, second from the Left), met us in the parking lot.  An outdoorsy-type with a British accent, Stevie was easy to get along with from the start.  The group was in good spirits because we were heading to Costa Brava for a Kayaking and Snorkeling Tour.

The day was awesome!  I have very little pictures, because, well, we were kayaking in the ocean-  so I didn’t want to take my phone out there.  There were some GoPro’s in waterproof cases that made it out there, but I haven’t gotten a hold of any of those pics yet…    Continue reading “The Stevie Story- The Boomerang Effect in Costa Brava!”

An EPIC Summer- 4 Months in the Mediterranean – Port 1: Barcelona

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This is the first post of a bunch about my adventures in Europe.

I had the privilege to be the drummer for the Blue Man Group aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s EPIC ship, where we cruised through the Mediterranean for four months.  The EPIC is basically a huge floating city, complete with enough cabins for 5,000 guests, 1,700 crew, 22 restaurants, a pool deck, water slides, a sports deck, rock wall, outdoor mega-screen club/bar/sundeck, a spa with wet and dry saunas and hydrotherapy pool, passenger and crew gyms, outdoor jogging track, comedy club, Cirque tent, casino, many bars, bowling, art gallery, Crew Bar, and of course, the EPIC theater, where Legends in Concert would perform Tuesday thru Thursday, and the Blue Man Group would perform Friday thru Monday.  There was no shortage of fun to be had on the ship….

But this post is about what we did in port.  We sailed the same route each week:  Sunday was Barcelona, Spain;  Monday was at sea the entire day;  Tuesday was Naples, Italy;  Wednesday was Civitaveccia, Italy:  the port nearest to Rome;  Thursday was Livorno, close to Florence, Italy;  Friday was Cannes, France;  and Saturday was Palma, Majorca, an island just off of Spain.  Then it was back to Barcelona on Sunday to do it all over again.  Barcelona was where the whole adventure began for our cast.  We were all flown from our respective home cities to Barcelona where we had one night, followed by a 6am call the next morning to catch the bus into port, where we would first board the EPIC.

Continue reading “An EPIC Summer- 4 Months in the Mediterranean – Port 1: Barcelona”

40 Days of Drumming- pt 2

I spoke to my friend Riad- the only tabla player I know of in Orlando- and after I told him about my 40 Days of Drumming, he said, “Oh! You’re doing a chilla.” Now I knew the word- so, some quick research, and I found this definition:

“In Hindustani classical music, chilla or chilla katna is a stage of training or ritual where the student is fully isolated from the outside world and lives for music only. Some musicians spend long periods of their training in varying degrees of isolation and describe these as their chilla; for others, it’s a shorter, more extreme retreat, traditionally lasting 40 days. In either form, it is thought to have the power of transforming not only the student’s music, but his whole life. Chilla is widely used in the Punjab gharānā (school) of tabla playing.

Abdul Karim Khan, a singer of the Kirana gharana, described chilla as “lighting a fire under your life. You either cook or you burn. If you cook, everyone can enjoy your flavour – otherwise, you’ll be a mass of cinders, a heap of ash.” [1] -excerpt from Mickey Hart’s book, “Drumming at the Edge of Magic”

…so I’m just hoping that I don’t end up “a heap of ash”… Wish me luck!!

😉