RIP Craig Zarkos

Hugely saddened to say that a kind friend and great talent has passed.  Craig Zarkos, from the day him and I met (over email a number of years back), sought to help me and connect me to other musicians in San Diego.  He was in some ways like a mentor to me in regard to professional drumming, understanding the business behind being a musician, etc.  I still have a printed email of his that was packed with advice that was just pure gold and has helped me in my career.  He taught me how to write charts/cheat sheets for learning music quickly, which I have used ever since, and learned hundreds of songs by. He helped me get comfortable on cajon.  He laid it out for me what the ‘real world’ of being a professional musician was like.  He was so eager to help me and it always was very humbling to me.  I am incredibly blessed to call him a friend!

He was a father of two children.  He will be sorely missed.

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Student Video Performance: Ariana Wong playing “Messiah” by Phil Wickham



 
Ariana has been taking lessons with me since she started about 2 years ago now.  She’s 17 and is a very talented multi-instrumentalist. She also practices hard– which you can see in her playing. Great job, Ariana!!

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Creationfest / England 2013 with the Scott Cunningham Band

This year I was invited by the Scott Cunningham Band (SCB) to go with them to the UK for an annual music festival in Cornwall, England called CreationFest.  The SCB serve as the ‘house band’ if you will, playing just about everyday, whereas other bands that perform are normally there for a day or two.

Scott and his band (7 people total) are some fun people to hang with.  I’ll say, it made the 2.5 weeks away from my family much more bearable.  We had fun joking around with each other, exploring the Cornish coastline, hiking, cliff jumping into the Atlantic, chasing sheep (no one was able to catch one in order to win a free dinner on the band), devouring boxes upon boxes of Cornish clotted cream, met some great folks, and oh, right, we played some music!  Quite a bit of music, in fact, at times 2 or even 3 sets in a day.

People travel from around Europe and the US to come to CreationFest, and this year there were around 8,000 people camping and enjoying it.  We played for 6 of the 7 days in multiple venues, so it got busy at times.

 

Joel (lead gtr), Desmond (keys), myself, Scott (vox & gtr), Rileigh (vox), Joel (bass), Madison (acoustic & vox).

Soundcheck / view from the drums.

Joel & Scott.

Drumming for Tom Read on Day 4.

Dorking around, Hawaiian style.

This is the drum set I was using out there.  I brought my Vessel aluminum snare and Istanbul Cymbals along with me.  So glad I did!

 

Scott has had a handful of female vocalists in the past, but over the past few years his oldest two daughters have joined the lineup and brought a really unique flavor to this band.  Such a sweet thing to see this family dynamic happening on stage.  Madison (16) and Rileigh (14) are both great singers, and they compliment each other amazingly.  They wrote a song together called “There May Be Tears” that was a huge contribution to SCB’s last album (‘Come Away’).  Madison writes a lot on her own too, and actually wrote & sang about half of the songs on the album.

CreationFest was a special time in the sense that although Madison has been performing with the band for a few years, she had her first headlining concert on Thursday night at the festival.  And to give you an idea of this first solo performance of hers at 16 years old, it was a 40 minute set in front of 2,000+ people.  Crazy.  She is a natural to say the least and she totally killed it!

Madison between songs.

 

 

After the festival, I had a few days with the band in London to be a tourist before I headed home to teach drum lessons in San Diego.  I had hardly any expectations of this city that I’ve never set foot in.  But I must say, London is amazing.  Such fascinating history, buildings, culture, people, etc.  Naturally, for someone from the US, I am blown away by a building that’s older than 200 years old.  That’s old, you know!?  Or learning about kings and queens, wars and armies.  Really cool.  We were there walking around til late one night and loved seeing the city at that time.  Might I add, that with all of this rich history, why didn’t England catch on to the whole culinary thing that was so prevalent in other parts of Europe?  For example, I had a coleslaw & cheese sandwich one day.  ?????  It was nearly unbearable.  Haha!

Big Ben.

 

 

Here are a few miscellaneous pictures from the trip—–

 


Many a moment spent in this thing.

Sheep and rolling hills!  England for ya.


OH YOU KNOW, just some pristine English coastline.  No big deal.


When Scott conquered England.


You gotta have the weird toilet shot, right?


You tell ‘em.  And thank you for making germiphobes everywhere happy.

 

That’s it for today.  If you’d like to hear some music from this fine band, you can visit http://scottcunninghammusic.com/

 

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Student Video: Christian Wong performing “Via Dolorosa”


Christian has been a drum student of mine for a year and a half now and is just killing it!!  He started out taking drum lessons as a [brand new] beginner and has made so much progress. He is a hard worker and it really shows in this recording.

Here’s Christian performing “Via Dolorosa” by Leeland

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Easter Weekend

I have a handful of photos to share from Easter weekend here in San Diego taken by Ray Regno.

Good Friday (3/29) was very memorable for me, as I had the privilege of playing with Evan Wickham at Horizon’s Good Friday event. It is held every year at the Spreckel’s Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park. My family and I spend a lot of time hanging at Balboa, so this place is very dear to us. It is a historic venue and it’s a lot of fun to play there!

Easter itself was awesome, getting to celebrate with friends at Horizon. I was playing alongside my good buddy Joseph Pfiefer and we had a great time playing with some friends. It can be tricky sound-checking for an outdoor event at 7AM with apartments all around… Kinda had to make everything happen within just a few minutes (not kidding)!! Then just had to wait til we were going to start. Super fun though.

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Teaching this weekend at the Pure Worship Conference in Orange County

I’m very grateful and blessed to be a part of the Pure Worship Conference this weekend. I’ll be playing with Evan Wickham for the morning session.

In addition, there are two workshops that I will be teaching at. The first is a Bass and Drums workshop alongside my dear friend Darren Plies. The second one is a Fusion Lab, and we as a band (with Evan Wickham) will be demonstrating and discussing arranging, rehearsing, and the role each instrument plays in the big picture of a band.

The conference is at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa this Friday and Saturday, and if you want more info you can visit http://www.pureworshipconference.com/

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Recording with Vasquez Sounds


 

Had a great time in the Studio with Vasquez Sounds.  They are a ‘YouTube sensation’ from Mexico and were really awesome to work with… humble and down to earth.

A little over a year ago, the three siblings made a video in their living room of a cover they did of Adele’s ‘Rollin’ in the Deep’ and posted it on YouTube.  It blew up so quickly that they had worldwide media coverage of this freakish amount of attention.  The video (posted above) now has nearly 100 million views.  Crazy stuff!

They recently signed with Sony and are making their first record here in San Diego.  Here’s some photos!

A photo with myself, Gustavo (drummer), and Roman (song writer)

 

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Recording with Stevie Lujan

Had a lot of fun recording this past week in LA with my long time buddy Stevie Lujan (stevielujan.com).  It was awesome, and had a great time with some old friends!

We recorded at Fortress Studios, and knocked out the drum tracks all day Sunday.  John Thomas Price & Ryan Alexander are producing the album, along with Mikey Spencer on guitars, and Jeff Hokyo on bass.

Here are a few photos from the studio as well as a short video from sound check.

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