Battery Head Plugs In: MJM in DC

Tomorrow night, DC: drummer supreme rolls into the 930 Club. That's Sunday night. You've seen him on all the late-night shows, playing with too many acts to detail, and on regular tours with Velvet Underground's John Cale, guitar maestro Richard Thompson, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Sunday's headliner Better Than Ezra. He's Michael Jerome Moore, beat monster, and in the set tomorrow night is a demo of his amazing agility as a rhythm keeper when he will do things to cowbells that you wouldn't think possible. He's a huge friend to indie music projects in LAX, and has played on four of my songs, thank goodness, and if I had just a little money I would set out on a tour in which the drumkit was on the front lip of the stage and the orchestra well behind it, and ask him to man the sticks. What a show could be created around his timing!

I took this picture in Porto, when he was on tour with John Cale, and we went out early in the morning in search of a hardware store. We were working on a working man's movie about drumming, and I wanted to watch him blend into a new city, which he does by walking it widely while keeping track of the variations in skyline, horizon, and sound, and for a street rat like me it was impressive to see him keep the tiny streets in ordered sequence in his head, always knowing right where he is. And yet he has to do it without thinking about it, as he must also do on the drums: "The moment you think about the moment and which moment comes next, you'll lose the beat." The anticipation is instinctual, a reaction to previous events, and I think the key to the expectations we have as an audience is the pleasure the musicians feel of being "lost" in that swell between ideas, where rhythm lets you float or sink as you dictate. (You, the audience member, the listener, and not the musician.) The fussy seriousness of so many musicians kills their chances of ever being found by the listener, and I think more than anything that's what attracts me to Michael's drum solo tomorrow night: he will let you know what's coming, but you'll be surprised anyway. That's the musician's duty, and only the rare ones deliver.

Michael Jerome Moore with Better Than Ezra at 930 Club

Michael Jerome Moore with Better Than Ezra at 930 Club