Hottest Drummer In His Field Says Gear Doesn't Matter

Vistalite Black

Ludwigs in the Basement
Joined
Feb 17, 2015
Messages
2,808
Reaction score
648
Location
North Carolina
From the Starkville Daily News:

BEATING THE HEAT: Drummer utilizes open air ‘venue’ to raise profile, sharpen skills

On what was likely to be the hottest day of the year Tuesday, the pops of a snare and beat of a bass drum echoed through the open air on Lynn Lane near Starkville Academy.

While musical street performers might be commonplace in destination cities like New Orleans and Memphis, the sight of a lone drummer banging away in the middle of a field is naturally not a common spectacle. That isn’t stopping 20-year-old Tahj Mckey, though.


A lifelong drummer, Mckey has generated buzz in the community for playing his piecemeal kit in the field adjacent to Starkville Academy on Lynn Lane. With Tuesday’s temperatures feeling in the triple digits, McKey was undeterred.


“A lot of people come by and this has been the busiest day people have come out,” Mckey said. “I’ll usually sit out here three to four hours.”

In front of his kit, a basket of loose $1 and $5 bills backed up his claim of folks stopping by to hear him play.

A graduate of Starkville High School, Mckey said he chose the location because he lives in an apartment, which isn’t conducive to the loud nature of his instrument. Some drummers may play on electric kits with headphones to cancel out the noise, but Mckey doesn’t have that luxury.

And he doesn’t need it.

“In my past, I’ve had a lot of noise complaints and this is the only place I’ve found where I haven’t had the police called on me,” he said with a laugh.

McKey said playing in the Mississippi summer heat has both given him the freedom to play as loud as he wants, in addition to helping build up his chops as a drummer.

“It’s kind of an exercise and it’s like stamina building,” he said. “Being a drummer, you can’t just hop off the stage and get a drink and then come back. With the sun, if you can handle this, then a club or church setting is nothing.”

Drumming is woven into the fabric of Mckey’s DNA, coming from a family of drummers and reflecting on his music as a lifelong obsession. He cited his aunt, uncle and father —all drummers — as his guiding lights.

While his drum kit isn’t new or overly expensive, the dented cymbals and plastic bag sticking out of the snare drum tell the story of Mckey’s passion. To him, it’s not the equipment, but the musician playing it.

“It’s a mixture of everything,” he said, looking over his gear. “I don’t have a stable kit right now but this baby is doing me justice.”

His kit consists of a Ddrum bass, a Tama snare, and cymbals ranging in brands from Zildjian, Sabian and Soul Tone.


When the sound comes together, though, the brands being played lose relevance and Mckey’s intensity is that of a professional playing at Carnegie Hall — not an up-and-comer on the side of Lynn Lane.

“It’s all about your spirit,” he said. “If your spirit is infinite, the kit don’t mean nothing.”

McKey plays in a local band called Spontaneous Generation, which can be found primarily at Dave’s Darkhorse Tavern. He even said the band may do a set at the next open mic night next Monday.

When asked about his goals and inspirations as a musician, McKey showed his old soul while keeping an eye to the future.

His inspirations include John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Stewart Copeland of The Police and C.J. Thompson, among others.

“There’s a lot of inspiration, but no favorites because they’ve definitely inspired my sound,” he said. “My big goal is to, first of all, tour the whole entire world playing with a great band, that’s my whole goal.”

Mckey has dedicated his life to his craft and made sacrifices to put the music first, giving him what he believes is the best chance for success on what is typically a difficult road for musicians in terms of a balance with music and work.

“I quit all my jobs, told myself I wasn’t working anymore and it forced me to be in a position where I had to be creative, just for what I have to do to get food and housing.

“I just tell all drummers to just play,” he added. “Dave Grohl said it best, ‘just play,’ and that’s what you have to do. People have to see you and people have to hear you.”

 

EvEnStEvEn

~Lounge Lizard~
Joined
Aug 4, 2005
Messages
17,360
Reaction score
1,644
Location
Oklur Homer
Okay who noticed the bubbling wrap on his solid black kick drum?
The brutal Mississippi sun has a funny way of doing that.

Who cares? He'll have a better set soon I'm sure.
I used to do stuff like that when I was a kid -but never made the local paper....good for him!
 

MrDrums2112

"Normal" Drummer
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
4,281
Reaction score
322
Location
Tolland, CT
Good for him and more power to him! I’ll take my gear and my air conditioning and stay in my house when it’s hot out - I’m too old now!
 

JazzDrumGuy

DFO Master
Joined
Feb 16, 2016
Messages
7,879
Reaction score
1,009
Location
Pebble Beach, CA
He may be the best young street drummer in Starkville so he has some street cred, literally, but I still want to hear him play. I am sure if he got an upgrade to a nice new kit, he would not be complaining about it. That snare is $400+ alone (https://reverb.com/item/1421318-ultra-rare-tama-stave-caskwood-4x14-snare-terrific-condition).

If the kid has such amazing chops (which I am sure will blow me out of the water), why is he not in college honing those skills and getting an education? Ah, the "yoots" of today.....cell phone and a dream...........good luck, dude!
 

supershifter2

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 11, 2009
Messages
5,828
Reaction score
502
Location
Lost Angeles , Ca.
i dont play any different on a 70's mij kit than i do on my tama supes. as long as the hardware and stands dont break. if you think you need top of the line drums to play good you dont have a clue about drumming and probably have no idea how to play. you dont need a big kit to play good either. if you cant play songs on a bass snare and hihat you cant play !
 

ARGuy

DFO Master
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
3,933
Reaction score
379
Location
Minnesota
It seems like these posts are trying to prove a point that no one is arguing against. "See - I've been telling you guys that equipment doesn't matter, and here's another story that proves I'm right!" I have yet to see anyone post a story, or even their own post, that says that equipment is the answer. "If you buy a top of the line drum set and hand hammered cymbals, you WILL be a better drummer!" Maybe they feel that there are more gear posts than they want to read. That's understandable, but these posts don't change my mind, and I doubt that I'm alone.
 

Roch

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
4,523
Reaction score
260
Location
Ottawa Valley, Ontario
Good gear can be inspirational and make one want to explore the possibilities that the gear has to offer. I bought a new pedal the other day and have been practicing every night for a few hours since
So, indirectly, I believe certain gear can make you a better player
 

stuart s

Active Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
37
Reaction score
26
It seems like these posts are trying to prove a point that no one is arguing against. "See - I've been telling you guys that equipment doesn't matter, and here's another story that proves I'm right!" I have yet to see anyone post a story, or even their own post, that says that equipment is the answer. "If you buy a top of the line drum set and hand hammered cymbals, you WILL be a better drummer!" Maybe they feel that there are more gear posts than they want to read. That's understandable, but these posts don't change my mind, and I doubt that I'm alone.
Ok, I'll say it, When I play equipment that sounds better (my opinion), I play more, My brain releases more endorphins and that in turn makes me play more and more, getting better and better. If I play instruments that dont sound right, I dont want to play as much and get frustrated and gets in the way of getting better.

Im not saying buying the most expensive or popular gear makes you better. Im saying playing equipment that I like and sounds correct with the style of music being played does make a difference for me.
 

Latest posts



Top