Archive for 2013

Playing for the Song

I just spent the evening with my family at a Tift Merritt concert. Tift is a Raleigh native who has established herself internationally as a singer/song writer of highest quality. Her material has a feel that is similar to artists such as Emmylou Harris or Mary Chapin Carpenter with a bit of Joni Mitchell and Bobbie Gentry thrown in… Merritt excels as a poet, which makes her a superb songwriter.

Tift’s current drummer is Noah Levy, from Minneapolis. He has consummate taste, and knows exactly what to play behind the band. I was very much taken by Levy’s playing, not because of his chops, but because of his taste and sense of the songs. I could immediately connect with everything that he played. He supported the music with his choice of sticks, mallets or brushes, and a simple but effective attack. He never was busy or distracting, and had a way of always supporting the other musicians, whether accenting a word in the vocal line, playing a fill behind a guitar solo, or making a subtle change in the time feel to move the song in a different direction. It is what Brian Blade, another one of my drum gods, calls “playing for the song”. It is something to strive for always.