Psalter Drums – The Drum Photo Shoot

3 01 2011

http://psalterdrums.com is the result of an idea that came about from many journeys to the Bonneville Salt Flats. That place has become, to me much like the desert of southern California was to Jim Morrison.

This whole idea came about on my forty first birthday. Not exactly the idea to do a photo shoot at the Salt Flats itself but that is where it all began.

Me and my pal, Lance started the evening in late September of 2006 in Park City with dinner and a stroll through some art galleries, then we went down to Club Vegas in Salt Lake City where we saw Soulfly, a band fronted by the former front man of Sepultura, Max Calavera. There were some opening bands and one of them was Wicked Wisdom, a band fronted by one Jada Pinkett Smith, wife to Will Smith and Mother to this generation’s Karate Kid. Also in the band, Phillip D. Fish of the legendary LA post-punk ska/skate/funk/punk and otherwise completely soulfulified band called Fishbone.

So me and Lance slide on up to the club and park his subcompact SUV down the street just as the weather starts to turn on us. It was a nice day but being the first day of fall, the Great Salt Lake decided it would hand us a little gift of weather and sent a lake effect hail shower right over the venue.

So just as me and Lance are walking up to the doors and past back-stage, Wicked Wisdom is tearing down from their set. But the drums and gear are sitting out back and the weather is upon us.

Now all we know at this point is that there are bands at this club and we made it there in one piece, or two pieces if we need to be technical. We don’t know who Soulfly is or who the opening bands are. We were just invited to show up because our good friend and fellow drummer, Jason Thompson of Massacre at the Wake told us it would be a ‘sick’ metal show that would not want to miss.

Now, me and Lance are not fans of metal by any means at this point in our lives, we completely don’t get it, but we are game to dig on some new music at any time because new music is always an opportunity and hey, I heard of Sepultura!

So the hail starts pouring down and some large black man calls to me and Lance for help grabbing a tent cover type device to protect their drums and cabs from the elements. Now, suddenly I’m not just showing up to the gig unaware of what is going on but I’m now schlepping Phillip D. Fish’s orange sparkle OCDP kit into their truck and helping cover the rest of the gear with this giant picnic tent cover thing.

So we have done our Boy Scoutly duty for the day and he thanks us and we are treated as part of the crew from that point forward. The club brass let us walk right in back stage. It was my first time at this venue and I was turning my head on a swivel like you do when you go into a crowded and chaotic backstage club for the first time.

So I’m trying to squeeze between people and it strikes me as a little bit strange that there is this group of black dudes who are totally chill and totally metal and suddenly I bumped into a tiny little black woman with braided hair and I turned my head and said, “pardon me”. And she said, “Oh, excuse me” back.

I glanced at her and thought to myself, damn that woman is gorgeous! I mean it was dark but there were lights casting shadows and her skin was like chocolate silk and her eyes took my breath away and hers smile was out of this world, but I kept on walking and didn’t think twice about it.

So we watched Soulfly play and they kicked all sorts of ass and we were baptized into the metal church of Salt Lake City that evening and after the show my pal Jason says to me, ‘Did you see Jada Pinkett earlier?”

Then it dawned on me. Wow, that was her. And I didn’t even know it. And I started putting the puzzle together and realized what we had stumbled through to get into this show and save a thirty five dollar ticket price by being two dumbasses who walked up at the right time to save the gear from a hail storm.

So what does this all have to do with the Salt Flats? I’m getting to it, good things take time and patience is required to appreciate the full goodness.

So we get home and crash out about 2:30am and bright and early the next morning I wake up at 8:30, zing! And I wander into Lance’s bedroom where he is cutting some serious lumber and I said, “Dude, you wanna do me a favor?”. And he responds with, “Gimme a minute.”

So I went back out to the living room and took it easy until he figured his way back to life and when he appeared in full regalia I told him, “Let’s go to the Salt Flats.”

We had never been at this point and his response was of course to just go with the flow as we always did and so we grabbed a couple of beverages and the required tuneage and began our journey westward.

On the way out there we got a little ahead of ourselves and had to pull over to the rest area. Lance had been driving highway speeds and has a history of driving highway speeds through rest areas and parking lots as he enters them, and this was no different. So not paying attention and just trying to get into a parking stall as immediately as possible, we are ten feet from the curb and realize we are still doing fifty so he slams on the brakes and the car skids up over the concrete barrier and onto the sidewalk and we both open our doors at the same time and fall out of the car laughing in hysterics.

Fortunately, and in typical fashion for what always goes down when we create epicness, nobody was there to witness or bust on us.

So we bounce on in to the lavatory to relieve ourselves before this adventure to the Salt Flats, of which we were completely unaware of it’s impending awesomeness, and we’re wizzing and laughing and some old guy, seriously must have been eighty walks in while we’re wiping tears from our eyes and washing our hands and I look at him and sort of feel like I need to apologize for being so irreverent and I said, “We’re just having a good ol’ time this afternoon, how are you doing?”

And he said the right thing, as an old man would in his wisdom and years. His reply was perfect. He just said to us, “Well, you gotta express yourselves!”

And that we did.

But the next thing that happened actually made double over in laughter even harder than I was already being twisted. I said to Lance, “Hey, when I asked you this morning would you do me a favor, what were you thinking I was going to ask?”

Without hesitation and in classic Lance straight faced form he smoothly replied, “I thought you were gonna ask me to kill a guy for you but then I remembered my trident was at the dry cleaners.”

That was it; if I had diapers on they would have been utilized.

So we went on to the Salt Flats and in driving out there it’s about a three mile long road that is just like a levy with no water on either side with an asphalt road built up on top. When you first go out there it’s just like a regular desert, but then you get to the end of the road and drop onto the Bonneville Salt Flats and everything changes.

And we hit the skids at about seventy miles an hour. We weren’t wasting any of our precious time and we were listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Axis Bold as Love and I fondly remember All Along the Watchtower playing as we increased our speed and hit a remarkable 120 mph on that smooth white surface and just kept on flying.

We were in orbit man, it was spectacular, like nothing we expected and nothing we even thought of before it happened, we just did it. So we are hauling balls across these crystal white plains and all I kept saying was, “Just don’t turn, man. Just don’t turn.”

Then after about ten minutes of full on all out pedal to the metal speed, Lance hit the brakes and skidded to a stop as Voodoo Child started playing and we once again, just as we did at the rest area, fell out of the car but this time we left the tunes cranked and we started wandering around the vastness of the Salt Flats and dancing as I chopped down the mountains with the edge of my hand.

Epic-ness had ensued and a love for the Salt Flats was born that day.

I took many other trips out there after that with friends, day and night, with my children and nothing compared to that day until this one, when we came to shoot the drums.

It wasn’t the speed or the music this time, it was the beauty and the handling of the elements we did with our faith in creating the sky and lighting for the shoot that made this one so spectacular. It was storming in Salt Lake City and trees were falling, power was being lost throughout the valley and we were going by faith that the good Lord would provide us with the environment we needed for the perfect shoot.

And we got it.

Here’s the site –> http://psalterdrums.com

(image of Jada Pinkett Smith used without permission)

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