Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a whole lot more PERCUSSIVE! Welcome to Drum Factory, my second CD of percussive stories, released on Sono Luminus Records in 2016. Besides crazy sounds and fun lyrics, Drum Factory also offers some fun within the liner notes. Unfold the liner notes, turn them over, and you will see a poster of the drum factory, ready to be colored. Download a copy, and when you have colored the poster, please share a picture with me on my Twitter page @splatboombang and you just may win something (a book, a copy of The Lost Bicycle CD, an autographed copy of Drum Factory, and more)! I am very proud to say that Drum Factory has won numerous arts awards, including a Parent’s Choice Silver Award, three nominations at the 2016 Independent Music Awards, and was named CD of the Year 2016 by Creative Child.
Drum Factory is a retelling of the age-old camp classic Button Factory, in which a poor guy named Joe keeps getting told to push buttons with different parts of his body. I took this idea and rewrote it to be Drum Factory, where I assigned the buttons to different percussion instruments. After hitting each instrument, my “boss” tells me to go faster and faster until I lose control. This is a fun one to perform!
Bright, Green Leaves is the first of two stories loosely connected, the other being Hatchling. Bright, Green Leaves is an original story that tells the tale of a woefully bored and lonely caterpillar whose only desire in life is to fly. Yet try as he does, the caterpillar repeatedly fails to fly. After some advice from the wise oak tree, the caterpillar decides to try one more time and, in the process, discovers that he isn’t a caterpillar anymore; rather, he is a butterfly. I am particularly fond of the boutique sounds in this story – terracotta pots, glass bottles, random metal pipes, and more.
I’m My Own Grandpa is a super oldie, but a super goodie. This Appalachian folk-tale has been around for well over a hundred years and countless singers have set it to music. While I thoroughly enjoy the ludicrous nature of the story, I wanted to challenge myself to do something I had never done in any of my stories – speak as fast as possible. So I created a simple groove and tell the story twice, once at a regular speed and once at warp speed!
Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories have always been favorites of mine. In fact, I have set many of them to music (including the track Njovu on my first album, The Lost Bicycle). For this album, I was drawn to Kipling’s How the Camel Got His Hump. I rewrote the story in rhymes, something I have never tried to do for any of my stories. And let me tell you, rhyming is not easy! The result: Harumph! With the story composed in such a strict, rhythmic-based form, I decided to use a drum to help tell the story. Since the story takes place in ancient Persia, I decided to use one of my favorite drums called a zarb, a goblet drum capable of very, very, very cool pitch bends. Listen and enjoy!
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. This one needs no introduction. A sweet, dear, poor old lady swallows so many animals but never tells us why! As the story builds in intensity, more and more percussion instruments are added in order to create a frenetic feel.
In 2008 while Artist-in-Residence at Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado, I was commissioned by the Park Service to write a story about the park. I wrote Ponderosa Pine, which appears on my first album. In the summer of 2015, I was invited back to the park to serve as the centennial Artist-in-Residence for the 100th birthday of the park. I was again commissioned to write a story, and Black Bear and Mountain Lion is the result! The story is told in the tradition of many Native American tales – a mythical version of how something became something. In this case, a young black bear and mountain lion become the faces of two rock formations that point people in the direction of the highest peak in the mountains.
Hatchling, as compared to its counterpart Bright, Green Leaves, is a much more delicate story and as such, the sounds are more delicate – a number of sustained metals, pitched bells, tuned gongs, and triangles. Hatchling is a delicate story about a butterfly hatching from its cocoon and then finding its way to the highest branch of the oak tree with bright, green leaves. While there, the two new butterflies meet and the story ends…or does it?!