Advice-Drumming Opportunities

I've seen a lot of advice threads on here lately so I figure it's time I asked for some advice.

I live near Leeds, in England. I've been playing drums for 5 years, after 2 years of playing I started taking lessons which have really helped me. From the start, my teacher taught me the basics in technique such as the freestroke, moeller, and the different grips, then he taught me the basics of every popular style of drumming...styles such as jazz, rock n roll, drum n bass, blues, funk etc, so that I can cope with just about any musicial situation I may be presented with. He said once I know the basics I will know which genre works best for me, which I like the most, and then I can really focus on that one genre.

I think I've reached that stage. For the last 14 months now, while carrying on with the basics, and playing in my 50's Rock N Roll band (which I love), I've really grown to love jazz, in particular anything before the 1940's. I'm talking New Orleans, Gypsy Jazz, Trad Jazz, and especially Swing. I love everything about it-the drummers, the kits, the other band members, the clothes, the style. Everything.

I've had a think about it this week, and how big a part of my life it is. When I finish work, I go to my kit, I work on my practice plan, but at the end of the session I'll always come back to Sing Sing Sing or playing with my brushes along to Django Reindhart! When I get home, I work through Dave Tough's Rudiment book. I have my tea (while tapping along!), then I'll watch some documentary on the rise of swing in America in the 30's, or my Gene Krupa DVD or something similar. Then before I go to bed, I've recently been reading a book on Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert while listening to Glenn Miller. Obssessed? Probably.

I play a vintage kit, I dress smart/in suits, just like they did back then (in fact, it's a running joke in my band that I dress better at rehearsals than most bands do at gigs!).

So i'm very passionate about it, I can't get this passionate about drum n bass, or funk, or blues or any other style...and in my lessons it shows, when I'm asked to play along to a funk track, I look bored, because I am. My 50's Rock n Roll band is another matter as I love that kind of music and put my all into my band. It occured to me, If I'm putting all my time into this style, and immersing myself in it, well it must be what I want to do.

That's where the difficulties start. I know the basics, I know the great players and the songs...but I cannot find anyone else who likes these types of jazz who may want to start something, nor can I find a band needing a drummer.

I've answered and played in two bands this year. The first was a jazz band who said they also play swing. It didn't swing enough for me and was mostly latin jazz, and their definition of swing is Miles Davis and John Coltrane, which to me is not swing, it's bebop or cool jazz. I left.

Then I auditioned for a blues/soul/swing band (I'm also a big fan of jump blues and thought we may have done some of that). We were doing a couple of swing numbers, but then lately various key members have left, now we are a four piece (bass/drums/guitar/keys) so we have had to drop the swing side of things and we now concentrate on blues.

I get to as many jazz gigs in my area, in particular there's a traditional jazz club nearby and I go as often as I can, but everyone is quite old and aren't musicians, or are no longer playing musicians.

I've put adverts out there (which is how I found the above two bands), but nothing has come my way. I know there is a scene, at the trad jazz club there are 5 or 6 young people my age (26) who do lindy dances and they have been featured in the local paper but again they are dancers, not musicians.

So, I'm reaching frustration point. Do I just accept it's no longer a popular style of music and move on? Do I work hard at one of the other genres, knowing full well it's not my thing? Do I move to London where there is a bigger scene? Or do I just keep working at it, hoping one day an opportunity will arise?

Lastly, I know a lot of people say this, but money is not a factor. I've even looked at joining jazz bands a 100 mile round trip away. I want to play music I love first and foremost, if it doesn't pay well it's no problem as I enjoy it. I'd rather it was that way, than me earning £100 a night playing something I dislike.

I realise this may come across as a long ramble, but if anyone can offer advice I'd appreciate it.


Senior Member
Trying to find the perfect band is like trying to find the perfect woman, if it even happens it'll take 15 years of BS first, and then you'll probably just get divorced anyways. Just find some guys to play with and slowly bleed in more jazz influence. I got my rock cover band to learn take five and now they love it. Or start adding some swing feel and jazz beats to songs, they can fit more often than you'd expect.