Evolution of a Community Band Drummer

Originally Posted October 2, 2014 by Chris

“Why do I play with the CSO?”

In December 2006, I had major knee surgery. I was to be off work for 6 to 8 weeks while I rehabilitated and then life and work would return to normal. All very …predictable and … well, boring. Being away from work for that length of time gives a guy a lot of time to think about life, the universe, and everything. For example: Why did I stop playing music?

I never stopped enjoying music. I love it! I especially like to witness it played live. I think, and have always believed, music is best experienced live when performed by a musician or a group of musicians. Every live musical performance is unique, and when you hear one, you will never hear that experience exactly the same way again. Even hearing the same band playing the same songs in two different spaces or rooms can have a very different sound. I don’t experience live music as much as I would like, but every chance I get, I will make the effort.

On my 10th birthday, my parents gave me my first real drum set. Blue Sparkle Swingtone, by Sears. They were tired of me bashing on the pots, pans, glasses and plates instead of finishing the dishes. They also bought a dishwasher. In the early ’70’s, the Partridge Family and the Monkees were on TV all the time. That was when I figured, “I could do better than that!” It always bothered me that what you hear on the speakers and what you see the drummer playing on the screen never match. So, I learned to listen rather than watch.

Once I got to high school, I got some better formal musical training. I also got introduced to many other kinds of music. Rock and pop were on the radio, but Jazz, Swing, Bebop, Classical, and Avantgard as well as R&B, Funk, Soul, Latin and the Blues were in the music room at Chinguacousy Secondary School. So much technique, so many different grooves: you just can’t play one! So I started to learn how to play as many of them as possible. I was behind a kit, or in front of a snare drum up to 7 hours a day. I loved it. For my last three years at Ching, I played in the Concert Band and the Stage Band and a 7 piece Jazz Ensemble. I also jammed with friends.

Then, I stopped. Went University. Got a degree. Started work. And after a few years passed me by, I started playing and practicing again, just out of the blue. I loved it! It felt good! My good friend (and sometime jam man!) Tim, went to Humber College and he got to join other Humber grads in a band. When their drummer quit, he called me and asked if I wanted to audition. My time with Waiting For Uncle Jake started a 2 year frenzy of musical experience. I got to play in clubs in Toronto: The Black Swan, The Gas Works, The Blue Goose, The Elmocombo. Rehearsals every Sunday and every Friday night that we weren’t gigging. I loved it! It felt Good!

In late 1994, it stopped. The band went their separate ways as bands do. And I didn’t play with a band again until January 2007. I was rehabbing my knee. I joined the League Of Rock in Toronto and went to their first JAB session on a Wednesday night. That meant a trip to Long and McQuade in Brampton for some new sticks. That’s where I saw … The Poster. The Chinguacousy Swing Orchestra was looking for musicians. There was a number. I called it. Then, on Thursday I went to the Bramalea Civic Centre and was treated to Big Band music all over again. Rock, pop, funk, soul, blues, swing … It was all there.

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The CSO had a drummer so, I said I’d love to play percussion. Next week I’ll get my toys out and come and play. Two weeks later the Drummer left and I had the privilege of playing drums with this awesome group of musicians that were quickly becoming friends. I loved it! It felt Good! And I just kept showing up every Thursday. It became my place to escape the stresses of my working life. I got to hit things with sticks and not get arrested.

It’s been 7 years now that I’ve played with the CSO and I still look forward to Thursdays. It’s not work. It’s fun, and it’s different every time. Because that’s what live music is. It’s unique every time.

Players have come and gone, and some have come back again. Everybody is welcome to play. No one is turned away. That’s what I love about this band. It’s great when you can hear people improve their musicianship just by playing in a group with other musicians. I especially love it when a new musician turns up to play with us. We work out charts together and we get to perform them live.

Thanks to the City of Brampton, we get to play live as a band at least 8 or 9 times a year. We even bought an inflatable band shell for Chinguacousy Park so we could use the natural amphitheater there for Sunday night summer concerts. Music is best experienced live. And now the Citizens of Brampton have another free venue to experience live music. I love it! It feels Good!

This Saturday, October 4th, 2014 I will turn 52 years old. And I will be celebrating my birthday by playing with the CSO at the Brampton Farmers Market, downtown Brampton from 11am to 12 pm. It will have been 42 years since recieving my first drum set. Thanks Mum. Thanks Dad.

Christopher L. Worsnop,
Drummer, Chinguacousy Swing Orchestra.

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