Following in Papa’s footsteps, loudly

By Bill Colvard -

Last week I bought my four-year-old grandson a drum kit, and I haven’t told his parents yet. My daughter is driving me to and from a medical procedure next week, so I think it’s best to wait and tell her afterward. We’ll keep it at my house until then.

The little kit has a bass drum with a foot pedal, two toms and a little cymbal. There’s even a tiny little throne that folds up just like a real one. That’s better than I have with my drum kit. But the little guy is going to go first class, even if I have to drag around a kitchen stool to play my drums.

Up until now, he has enjoyed playing mine. He was stomping at the foot pedal on the bass drum before he could walk very well. The first time he was able to get it to make contact, and the bass made a big boom right at his ear level, it scared the crap out of him, and he just plopped down on the floor and tried pretending nothing had happened.

But he loved the drums from that moment. First, he limited his drumming to stomping on the foot pedal, but then he got hold of a set of sticks, and there has been no holding him back ever since.

He bangs on the drums, the coffee table, the dog, anything he can reach, really. And if there’s nothing within reach, he will try to shove the drum sticks into the flames of the gas logs. Which is about the only time I have ever yelled at him. But he scared me, and he charred the end of one of my best drum sticks.

A couple of years ago, he had a drum of his own. Not a whole kit, just one tom and some little plastic sticks. He liked it well enough that he wore it slap out, but he always liked the big sticks better.

It has always pleased me that we share this interest, and like any proud parent/grandparent, I long ago decided he was going to excel at it.

Which I do not. I love music, but am really bad at it. Can’t sing a lick, and don’t know a sour note from a sweet one. My one featured performance in a musical comedy, at the age of 17, as Schroeder in “You’re a Good man, Charlie Brown” was the stuff of which legends are made.

Never before or since has a performance of “A Book Report on Peter Rabbit” been delivered with such gusto, such zeal, such complete and utter lack of musicality.

Just before opening night, the music director said I had never sung the song in the same key twice. Which had to have been an exaggeration since there are only so many keys. Or are there? See, I don’t even know that.

And since she had long since given up on me following her on the piano, she just tried to follow the key du jour that I randomly selected whenever I opened my mouth to sing. Fortunately, there wasn’t a full orchestra. Just her on the piano and a drummer. She said my rhythm wasn’t bad. The drums seemed to keep me at the right place in the song.

Which is why 50 years later, when reminiscing about the show, it occurred to me that I had never tried to play the drums. Maybe that would go better than the piano, the guitar, the violin and the tuba (don’t ask), all of which had been epic failures.

And I think if I worked at it, I could learn to drum. But I don’t work at it. My idea of practicing is watching Strokes videos to see how Fabrizio Moretti does it. (His laid-back, smoked-up drumming style seems more attainable than some of the more manic drummers.)

During the first flush of drumming excitement, I even toyed with starting a band. Probably getting together a group of elderly rockers like myself and play some Ramones tunes. Maybe a little Social Distortions. I even had a name for our little group. We would be called “Iron Prostate.”

But believe it or not, that name is taken. Who’d have ever thunk it? While I was still searching for an unused name, my little sister volunteered to help us with the eyeliner, which she assured me was mandatory if we were going to have any claim at being serious rockers. My niece offered her services as a cage dancer, should we need one. But I was never able to get any actual musicians to sign up, and my dreams of becoming the next Fabrizio Moretti were dashed.

But my grandson, I think he could be better than Fabrizio. And it won’t take him 60 years to do it. I will be so proud when that day comes, if his parents don’t kill me when I unload his new drum kit at their house.

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.