Canadian Musician


Jeff Salem

” IT’S ABOUT TIME ” Part 2

December 9th, 2013

Greetings fellow drummer’s, I have attached the original “Part Two” article that appeared in Canadian Musician magazine about 7 years ago. Enjoy and Happy Holiday’s everyone.

Jeff Salem A.K.A.
(Noise Organizer)

” IT’S ABOUT TIME ” Part 1

November 21st, 2013

Part 1 of 3

Greetings once again fellow drummers, in this month’s blog I want to talk about working with a metronome.
Have any one of you have heard comments like this before:

The lead singer in the band turns around at you during a song and tells you “stop speeding up, slow it down, your racing the tune”.

You’re the snare drummer in the school band and the band director counts off the song, right into the first few bars he or she is pointing at you to find the groove and pulse.

You’re recording your first band demo and the recording engineer is getting impatient because you’re having a hard time locking in with a click track. The rest of the band is getting upset and your confidence level is gone.

Somebody calls you for a gig and says you’re required to play to a click track all night, and you’re freaking out because you have never done that before.

Have any of you experienced these scenarios?
Well, be prepared because it’s an experience most of us will face. So how can we prepare ourselves to avoid these timing problems? Let’s face it, were humans not robots and we don’t have perfect timing; however, we can work towards having good consistent timing.

I have always felt that if you’re a good listener and have a great feel and sense of good timing, other musicians will love to play with you.

What would you think the greatest compliment to receive as a drummer would be?

1) You have great hands; 2) Your feet are incredibly fast; 3) I have never seen anybody do stick tricks like that; 4) Your independence is incredible; 5) You have an amazing sense of timing and feel. They are all flattering however the last one to me is the most effective. Remember our role as a drummer in a band, is not doing stick tricks. It’s to support the other musicians and make it all sound good.

So let’s start working on our timing. At this point in the article, if you don’t have a metronome, head off to your nearest music store to BUY ONE or many smart phones feature metronome apps for FREE. Yes free.


There are many types to get. I would recommend one that allows you access to plug in a set of headphones so when playing on the drum set, volume won’t be an issue. I think it’s important to invest in one that will last. In 1981, my drum teacher told me to buy the Boss Dr. Beat. It was $120 back then and I still have it today. So don’t hold back on something that is really important throughout your learning process. I am currently using the latest Dr. Beat as shown in this photo.

Most metronomes have a tempo range from 40-208 or 250 beats per minute (B.P.M.). I also suggest getting one that allows you to increase the tempo in single units; example 40, 41 42, 43, 44, etc…Beats Per Minute.
Another suggestion is a drum machine or just google the word “metronome” on your computer and many apps will come up to use for free.

With a drum machine, this will open up great possibilities with percussion sounds and programming rhythmical patterns.


This can be a frustrating process in the beginning which is why a good teacher is very helpful.

First of all start at 60 (Beats Per Minute) 60 B.P.M. is a great number. Why? We can all relate to that, it is the same as 60 seconds in a minute. Everyday we are somehow exposed to thinking in this pulse.
Whether it is playing sports with the clock counting down to the end of each period or even as a youngster playing hide and seek counting down from 10. You are relating that to seconds. Try looking at the minute hand of a clock in your house and set your metronome to 60 B.P.M. starting with the same movement of the second hand on the clock. It will sound the same as when the second hand moves on the clock.

Lets begin; Try playing a bar of whole, half, quarter and 8th notes on the snare as alternate sticking. A very simple rhythmic pattern. You just want to get comfortable with the pulse. Next try to increase it to 80, 100, 120 B.P.M. Now at 120 that is twice as fast as 60 beats. Again, a comfortable number which many popular pop/rock songs fall under this range of tempo. Next, try some simple beats getting comfortable with the pulse.

Once you feel relaxed playing to the metronome, try adding some simple drums fills. Be careful here. This is usually when a drummer might speed up or slow down because you are breaking away from your consistent motion playing a groove to move around the drum set. Remember to be patient with this. This might take you a while to get comfortable. I always say once you are able to play a certain rhythmic pattern then apply it to a pulse. There is no point when you are working out the coordination of the pattern to try accomplishing two things at once. Playing it correctly then playing it in time with a metronome is a better learning process.

As a beginner, I would recommend daily practising at these above tempos. The difference of 20 B.P.M. is quite obvious when playing. Now let’s try various tempos in between. You want to be comfortable playing at all tempos because music isn’t just the same tempo.

Try now tempos like 70,90,110,130, etc… B.P.M. As you can see, we are breaking down all the number possibilities. Try playing every day a certain exercise at various tempos for 5 minutes. See if you can feel the difference of a beat at 116 B.P.M. to 112B.P.M.. It might not sound much different without any music accompanying you, but wait until we relate this to songs. It’s a huge difference.

In next month’s blog, we will talk about the advantages of practicing at very slow and fast tempos as well as exercises to be comfortable at these tempos.

Have fun and see you next time.

Jeff Salem A.K.A (Noise Organizer)


October 21st, 2013

Greeting fellow drummers. My good friends over at Kick port sent me the FX series ports for my snare drum. I had a chance to use it on my gig this past weekend at the Glenn Gould Theatre in Toronto. The feedback was incredible from friends in the audience to the band members and the sound man. They noticed how full, rich in definition and punch it added with just the right amount of muffling.

I was very happy with the results and noticed a huge difference in the sound and feel myself.

Of course this complimented with my Kick Port on my bass drum.
My next mission is to try them on the toms. Check them out as I am sure you will be very satisfied and happy with your drum sound. Here is a link to their website.

See you next time

Jeff Salem A.K.A. Noise Organizer

Sub Please! With the Works

September 30th, 2013

Nothing is more satisfying than sinking your teeth into a delicious submarine sandwich loaded with all your favorite toppings when you crave a sub sandwich. I guess a bandleader can look at requiring a sub drummer in the same fashion. They will want someone who is loaded with all the great toppings, such as learning the tunes properly, showing up on time, wearing the right attire, etc. Let’s have a look at what makes a great sub drummer and all the steps at being able to be called for gigs on a regular basis as a sub.

In my 30 years of performing professionally, I have had a chance on several occasions to be hired as a substitute drummer performing with rock bands, tribute acts, wedding bands and duets playing hand percussion. I have found that following the topics and guidelines below you will put a smile on any bandleader’s face. Bon appetite!

MATERIAL: This is the most important step. When you accept a gig, find out the group’s song list ASAP. Ask the bandleader if he or she would have charts, CDs, MP3s or live video and recordings of their songs. If they don’t have charts, I like to make road maps of all the tunes especially when I am not familiar with them. Also, I like to mark down the tempos of the songs and bring my metronome on the gig just so I can use that as a reference for tempos. Many drummers do this even if they are not a sub. A good example showing the use of a metronome on a performance is the drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. performing with Paul McCartney on the “Live 8” DVD that was released in 2005. Abe has the metronome up against his ear when he is counting off the tune “Helter Skelter”. So you can see this is very important that we play songs at tempos the artist wants.

REHEARSAL: Sometimes the artist will want to rehearse and this is a great way to break the ice before the gig and get to know the other musicians and work out all the details before the gig. Make sure you show up to the rehearsal prepared knowing the songs. If time doesn’t allow for a full band rehearsal, I like to do a talk through about the songs, endings, beginnings and which member is going to cue me, etc. I have sometimes done talk through rehearsals over the phone.

EQUIPMENT: This is an important part that drummers sometimes forget. The appropriate equipment necessary depends on the type of gig you will be performing. You don’t want to bring a 26-inch bass drum with six toms and a gong to an intimate restaurant gig where most of the tunes you will play are with brushes and the stage is about the size of your bed. I have different sized drum kits for different genres of music as well as for the size of the room I will be performing in. Some of you will only own one kit and that is perfectly fine just as long as you are aware of the gigs you accept and if you feel your equipment is right for the job and that includes having the right tools for the gig. As well, ask if you need to bring microphones. I usually have my own bass and snare drum microphone that I bring on gigs. You should also have a good range of various stick sizes as well as brushes and mallets for different musical styles.

ATTIRE: Many drummers forget about the importance of this aspect of the gig. Most of us probably practice in track pants or shorts and forget how to play if a suit or Tuxedo is required. One band I work with uses different colors every night. When the bandleader e-mails me a title that just says “Black”, that’s the color for the night, if “Blue” is in the title and I don’t have any blue clothes, I will purchase them. So remember that when accepting a gig, you must accept all responsibilities for it and know that you might have to invest a little money in it as well.

LOCATION: Always find out the exact address, directions and load-in requirements. Most large hotels do not like to see drummers hauling their gear through the front door as the bellboy is assisting a guest checking in. Ensure that you know of an alternate entrance to the stage if there is one available.

RELIABILITY: This is almost as important as the performance itself. Find out what time you have to be there and be on time! We are not all perfect and certain circumstances beyond our control will allow us to fall behind, such as traffic, weather conditions, etc. In a situation such as this, make sure that you have the bandleader’s cellular number if they have one as well as the venue’s telephone number to ensure that a message will be delivered.

PERFORMANCE: This is where it all comes together. Make certain that you are prepared for the gig and know all the material that is being performed that evening. Be confident and most importantly, have a great time!

See you next time,

Jeff Salem A.K.A. Noise Organizer


September 2nd, 2013

Hey fellow drummers, here is a fun exercise to practice that will increase your concentration, independence, and make you sound like a guitar player? Well…. not quite, but read on.

These exercises and video link appear in the October 2013 issue of Modern Drummer magazine.

Here is a video link from the Modern Drummer site.


Jeff Salem, A.K.A. “Noise Organizer”

Jeff Salem, A.K.A. “Noise Organizer”


August 12th, 2013

Going back to the Fall of 1996, I believe it was a few days before Halloween and I just finished a drum clinic at Beatty Fleming Sr. P.S in Brampton, ON, Canada for about 300 hundred students. It was a fun and exciting afternoon. Many students offered to help me pack up my gear including this one enthusiastic grade 7 student named Steve Mitchell.

Steve was telling me how he started playing drums at the age of 10 and was inspired from his father who was a drummer. We chatted for a bit and Steve decided to take some drum lessons with me.

I always remember our first lesson and how much talent this young man had, especially his timing. Steve stills continues to take classes with me occasionally to work on some other styles and concepts. (I need to take some lessons from him on how to get my feet as fast as his.)

At the age of 28 Steve has become quite and accomplished player. He has covered it all from playing Top 40 gigs with bands in Singapore and Taiwan to many metal bands in the Toronto area. Steve had the opportunity to perform as one of the finalist for the Roland VDrums contest held at the Montreal Drumfest 2012. Steve finished in 2nd place. His solo/performance was outstanding.
Here is a link to his performance.

Steve currently holds down the drum chair for the group “Burning The Day”. Steve and the band just completed a successful two month tour in the UK which came about from winning Canadian Indie Week 2012.

His groove, timing and chops both with his hands and feet are incredible.

Here is a link to the bands website as well as Steve playing to a track from the band.


Enjoy and we’ll catch you next time.

Jeff Salem A.K.A. Noise Organizer


July 25th, 2013

In this month’s blog I am going to share a video lesson on the Afro-Cuban 3-2 Rumba Clave. I will demonstrate various ways to first get comfortable in playing this rhythm on the drumset before exploring traditional Cuban music.

Enjoy the video and have fun trying these ideas.
Catch you next month.

Jeff Salem A.K.A. Noise Organizer


July 6th, 2013

I just finished teaching a student whose last week’s assignment was to work on and memorize the single paradiddle and its variations.

I showed him some grooves and fills with just the single paradiddle RLRR LRLL.

He did a good job on them. When I asked him to play two other variations which were RRLR LLRL & RLLR LRRL, he said
“I didn’t bother to learn them.” “What’s the point, I learned the main one.”

I was surprise by his response. I told and showed him with these variations you could create so many interesting sounding grooves as well as fills in many in different styles.

Plenty of mileage can be achieved learning these stickings.

He plays hockey and I said imagine just being able to use a wrist shot but not other variations of a shot such as a slap, backhand, etc… or imagine playing the piano and only learning one or two major scales.
You’re playing and performance would be pretty limited.

He got the point and told me he would work on them.

I shared with him this recent video link I just recorded on many neat ideas with only using the sticking.

Enjoy and we’ll see you next time.

Jeff Salem A.K.A. Noise Organizer


June 27th, 2013

Greetings fellow drummers, in my last blog I introduced you to Kurt Dahl the drummer from the band “One Bad Son”.

Not only is Kurt a professional drummer but he is an entertainment lawyer. He is equally passionate about both careers. Lets take a look at what fueled his passion.

Photo credit: Alexandria Rachelle

Q&A with Kurt

How did you get into drumming and who were your early influences and musical education?

It’s not your typical ‘drummer inspiration’ story. It wasn’t Keith Moon, it wasn’t John Bonham. It wasn’t Neil Peart. At least not at first. It was an Aboriginal drum circle that first blew me away. I went to a pow wow in high school, and the hypnotic rhythm, the primal beat of the drummers, the chanting, the attire, just hit me in a major way. It was as close as I’d come to a religious experience. And then I saw Keith Moon play on the Who live @ Isle of Wight video, and that same sort of primal, savage playing was happening, and it was all over for me. I wanted to be Keith.
All off this happened in grade 12, so I was a late bloomer on the drums, and a long way from playing like Keith. I started teaching myself drums (poorly) by putting on headphones and playing along to my favorite vinyl (well, the ones that were at my skill level). So the progression was something like Ziggy Stardust, then The White Album, then Blood Sugar Sex Magik, then Deep Purple Machine Head, and after years of work and growth and mistakes and too many hours in my room, stuff like Zeppelin III and Who’s Next.
Who are some current drummers that inspire you today?
Most of the music I listen to is from the 60s and 70s. So most of my idols are dead. But for living drummers, my favorite would be Matt Cameron. I love his drumming on songs like ‘Hunger Strike’, where it seems like his fills are on the verge of falling apart completely and he’s gonna fall off beat, and then he pulls it all together and blows your mind. Humility is endless when you’re watching Cameron play.
So I would say my teachers were the legends in my vinyl collection…and my motivator the desire to emulate them.
Lets see how law came into Kurt’s life.

Photo credit: Scott McGregor

How did you become interested in law and when did you decide you wanted to be a lawyer?

That’s a good question. I know that ever since I heard ‘House of the Rising Sun’ when I was like 7, music has been my life. And growing up, I always read rock n roll biographies, where most of my idols from the 50s and 60s were screwed over by someone in a suit handing them a contract. So somewhere along the way, the thought occurred to me that if I was a lawyer, then maybe that wouldn’t happen to me or my band. Now, that’s not to say it was all part of some master plan and I knew 15 years ago that I’d be a music lawyer in a band that’s on the verge of some pretty cool things or whatever, but it’s worked out that way, so I’d be a fool to complain.
So the music really led me to the law, which may seem weird to some but not to me. I just kept going to school until the band made it, and in today’s music biz, that happened to take three degrees and an articling year.

With a passion for law and music, do you find it’s a challenge to balance both careers?

Well, it starts with an amazing and supportive wife, who inspires me more than any one person should be inspired. From there, in all honesty, it depends on the day. I used to think the two careers were totally at odds, and I had to keep each of them a secret from the other. And at the early stages of a legal career, when you’re trying to get hired by a firm for your articles, let me tell you — the long hair and bushy sideburns and ripped jeans weren’t going to fly. But it’s funny…if you chase something long enough, eventually it starts to chase you. And that’s happened with the dual career thing…I’ve done the lawyer thing long enough that I’m starting to be known across the country as the musician/lawyer guy, and that’s something special…something I always hoped for but never knew if I’d achieve. And after a decade of working our asses off, the same thing is happening with the band. I’m still learning how to balance the two, and sometimes I stumble.
But it really does depend on the day. If we’re driving 15 hours to the next gig, playing all night, talking with fans after the show, getting up early for a radio interview, then driving another 8 hours to the next show…then it’s tough to flick the switch and be an attentive and responsive entertainment lawyer. But as any touring musician knows, there can be a ton of down time on the road. So instead of getting into trouble like some musicians might, I’m on my laptop and phone, helping other musicians with their careers and making sure they sign the right contracts etc. That’s the most rewarding thing: helping other musicians make the most of their careers. Giving them advice that I wish I’d had 15 years ago. Making a difference. Those are the days where the balancing act is all worthwhile, and I feel nothing but gratitude for ending up where I’ve ended up.

Photo credit: Alexandria Rachelle

Kurt – “I’m a few months away from launching my own website,, which will combine my two passions. My goal is for it to be the go-to site for all musicians in Canada who have legal questions. I’m going to pack the site with resources and advice from my years as a touring musician and entertainment lawyer. I’m really excited to share my experiences with everyone.”

Kurt has shared with us in the link below one of the articles from his “Resource” section from his website.
Enjoy and take notes.

How Your Music Makes Money

See you next time.
Jeff Salem A.K.A. Noise Organizer

Drummer Kurt Dahl “ONE BAD SON”

June 5th, 2013

It’s 2am, I just finished loading my gear and I am making my way home from a gig.

It was a great night, good audience and fun tunes to play.

I have about an hour’s drive and I usually accompany my ride listening to the radio.

Many of my students say “Radio! not your IPod or CD’s?”

(Photo credit: Mark Maryanovitch)

I tell them, radio gives me the opportunity to hear what is getting air played these days. I try to have an open mind and give everything a listen to at least once and if I don’t dig it, I change the station.

About 30 minutes into my peaceful drive my dial was set to 94.9 “The Rock FM”, a station out of Oshawa ON.

A tune came on that started with some nice guitar strumming then the drums entered with a nice steady cross stick groove. I was enjoying this, something fresh I haven’t heard in a while. Then the vocals started and I was like “Yeah” this is happening. I cranked it up.

As soon as the chorus kicked in I was so hooked. It was great to hear a tune with strong vocals, cool guitar riffs and the steady back beat of the drums shaking my van. I had no idea who this band was, but loved it.

I knew it was something current. I was crossing my fingers that at the end of the tune the DJ would come on to announce the song and band.

I was lucky, he did. The song was “Scarecrows” from the band
“One Bad Son” (Scarecrows video)

I immediately wrote it down and Googled them when I got home.
I loved this track and had to pick up their CD.

About a week later I went to visit Larry Davidson from D’Addario Canada to pick up some Evans drumheads.
I was sitting in his office and I notice a “One Bad Son” CD on his desk. I screamed out “Hey these guys rock”
“Do you know them” I asked.

Larry mentioned that the drummer Kurt Dahl is an Evans artist. Larry connected us both and Kurt invited me to see the band perform. ( Thanks Larry )

The gig was at a small venue in Toronto, mostly industry people attended.
It was a Wednesday night with an audience of about 40 people. I must say what a kick ass show these guys put on.
They gave it all, it was a performance, not just 4 guys playing their instruments. The stage they were on was tiny but they used it like it was a stadium.

I had a chance to meet the guys briefly. Kurt and the band members were super nice, very cool, humble and talented.

Let’s get to know Kurt and his band member’s history:

Singer Shane Volk, drummer Kurt Dahl and guitarist Adam Hicks first joined forces in Saskatoon, SK, in 2004.
The three friends moved into a house together, forming a tight-knit brotherhood and spending every free moment jamming and building up a catalog of songs. They independently released the albums This Aggression Will Not Stand in 2006 and Orange City in 2007. But it wasn’t until Adam Grant joined on bass in 2007 that OBS was truly complete.
One Bad Son’s reputation for tight musicianship and explosive, unscripted live shows spread through word of mouth, and before long, the group was playing too sold out venues in its hometown and embarking on a string of well-received national tours. This propelled the outfit to high-profile opening slots for Godsmack, Buckcherry and Default, and the singles “Rustbucket” and “Retribution Blues” received Canada-wide radio play.
“We’re outsiders and we always operate in our own bubble,” says Dahl of the band’s grassroots origins. “We don’t get things handed to us…we have to work to get them.”
The four friends relocated to Vancouver in 2011 — a bold move, considering their loyal following in Saskatoon. After a few months of steady gigging, the band had won over a new legion of fans and inked a record deal with the local 604 Records, which will release the band’s newly-completed third album.
This eponymous collection, produced by Default drummer Danny Craig, is a culmination of everything the band has achieved in the past eight years. “There’s a reason why it’s self-titled,” explains Volk. “We really feel like this is the new starting point. There was everything that happened before the release of this record and everything that’s going to happen after this. This is a true One Bad Son record.”
The album channels the electrified energy of the band’s thunderous concerts and also adds a new dimension to its diverse sonic pallet. Upbeat scorchers like “Rustbucket” and “She’s on Fire” are packed with ’70s-inspired hard rock riffs and fretboard fireworks, while the menacing sing-along “London Kills” taps into something darker and more groove-based. Elsewhere, the band shows its stylistic breadth with the deeper, more emotional songs “Scarecrows” and “El Camino”.
While touring cross-Canada with Buckcherry in early 2013, “Scarecrows” become the band’s first top 5 hit, staying in the top 10 across Canada for 10 weeks in a row. Based on early reaction to the band’s newest single “It Ain’t Right”, they may be on their way to outdoing themselves soon.
These passionate and uncompromising tracks are the product of years of devotion to the life of rock ‘n’ roll. Of course, the guys are no strangers to hard work. “Lyrically, it’s a very blue collar record,” Volk observes. “I’m a farm kid. Kurt’s dad is an auto body man. Adam’s dad is a painter. That’s what we grew up with. It’s a really good reflection of where the band has been the last few years — just working, working, working.”
Now that the band is finally seeing its labor pay off in the form of a record deal and a quickly expanding fan base, don’t expect One Bad Son to compromise its independent spirit and timeless approach to rock music any time soon. “We’re four guys who write all the songs together,” Dahl asserts. “We play our own instruments. We don’t play to a backing track. We’ve lived together as a band. We dress ourselves. If that’s old fashioned, that explains what’s wrong with rock ‘n’ roll today.”
He continues, “We do it ourselves. There’s no one else pulling the strings behind the scenes. We live and breathe this band and these songs. That’s what real rock ‘n’ roll is all about.”

(Photo credit: Mark Maryanovitch)

Before I left the gig that night, I bought their CD and my wife and I enjoyed it on the ride home. Great tunes, production and performance. Wow…it was nice to hear a good rock singer use his pipes.

I haven’t heard anything current in a long time that has the ingredients these guys offer.
The entire disc is killer, support the band and buy their music, don’t steal and download things for free.

In my next blog we are going to take a look at Kurt’s other passion and professional career. LAW! Yes folks that is correct.
Kurt is an entertainment lawyer. How hand and hand these two careers work well together. Being a musician and have your business chops together. What a perfect mix.

Kurt will share some advice and music tips from an article he wrote titled “How Your Music Makes Money”
in my next Blog.

Check out the band’s website and other links below.

Catch you next time.

Jeff Salem A.K.A (Noise Organizer)


Canadian Musician Associated Sites

Norris-Whitney Communications Inc.   Canadian Music Trade   Professional Lighting & Production   Professional Sound   Music Directory Canada   Music Books Plus