Billy Ward – Diary Of A Moving Musician - Part 1
Billy Ward – Diary Of A Moving Musician - Part 1
Following the death of his wife, Billy Ward wanted a change in his life. So despite a successful career in New York, he has recently moved across the US to Nashville.
Billy is going to write a monthly diary for us about how his move and new life are panning out.
I’d like to thank my dear friend, and a true friend to drummers everywhere, Mike Dolbear, for suggesting that I keep a diary that he will publish on this website. Not sure if this will be a worthy read, but I’m going to comply with his wishes.
Thank you Mike!
Departure. January 2012.
The drive from New York to Nashville is just under 15 hours long, so I broke it into two days. In a way, as I made this move I felt like a twenty-year old going away to college. In fact, my car was filled with things a young college student would take – stereo, drums and just a few personal items.
The stereo took up more than half the car. It stars an 85 lb. integrated amplifier made for Totem Acoustic by SimAudio called the “Amber”. There are only 50 of these - made in ’02. Mine cost me only 800 bucks second hand so I couldn’t pass it up. My speakers are Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitors. This is the best stereo I have ever owned and I’ve owned many. It brings me great joy to hear all the crazy details that it finds in every recording.
Anyway, back to the drive, it was interesting to see the signs about Jesus popping up more and more as I drove southward. Sometimes I saw really big crosses several stories high and other times it was simply a billboard declaring “Hell Is Real”.
Fortunately, Nashville has not turned out to be particularly hellish so far. I’ve moved into a house that was once owned by country singer star George Jones and it feels like a 50s’ rock star house – like what you see in old movies. Now I’m thinking of changing my name to Cary Grant.
Not wanting to get too personal here since I have no idea who is reading, but I’m renting this home from a well known record producer who also used this home to recover from his own wife’s death. There is a lot of Kismet – or something, like six degrees from Kevin Bacon - involved here.
Day One in Nashland.
I don’t have any of my music or drumming gear here with me now that I’ve been here a couple days, but I’ve gotta share my second day. I woke up dedicated to finding a bed.
I’ve always loved the beds that the Marriott Hotel chain offers and have dreamed of owning one. You CAN get them for your own home through the Marriott website but they are very expensive and take forever to be delivered. And they are very expensive! (worth saying twice). So, I pulled into my nearest bedding store called “Sleepy Land” or something like that and declared that “I love the Marriott beds” and “So, what do you have?” The salesman answered they HAVE the Marriott beds because they are made by a small family owned business in Tennessee and they sell retail within a 135 mile radius of their factory – so there it was. My Marriott bed. Even better, it was almost two-thirds less money than buying online. Maybe the South WILL rise again! :D
What a great day-starter and it wasn’t even 10:30 yet!
Then I drove to visit my friend, engineer Steve Marcantonio, whose resume includes John Lennon. Why add more than that? I loved my drive because there was nice southern weather – 66 degrees in fact, so I had my sunroof open and was enjoying the fresh air. Upon pulling into the parking lot I realized a ladybug had hitched a ride with me and sat exactly in the middle of my steering wheel. I don’t know about you but I consider that extraordinarily good luck!
Day Three. Nashington.
Maybe I should’ve gotten a King sized bed. It looks so small in my rock-star bedroom, but I’ve never had a bigger bed… Regardless, I can’t sleep in because there are no curtains on the window and the sun wakes me up at 7am, so I’m off to Home Depot (a.k.a. “Home Cheapo”) to buy curtain rods and such. I ended up mounting them that night.
My God, the stereo sounds magnificent! The night ended with a concert. Not many neighbors around, so I really blasted it! Maria Schneider Orchestra was my favourite, along with the “always have to listen again to” Radiohead and Beatles catalogues.
Day Five. Nasherville.
I’ve started meeting with the two largest cartage and storage companies in town. The one that I choose will keep my gear safe and if I have a session or gig they cart it to the place and set it (for a fee that my employer will pay). There is a downside in that if you are not getting gigs then you have to pay for the storage of your gear. I’m bringing four kits into Nashville and already regretting not bringing another one (which makes me think I’m so paranoid!) but every kit does something quite unique and wonderful. They are like my children! The kits that made the cut are:
1) 14x18 X-shelled Kick / 5x12 VLT Sn / 7x10 VLT rack Tom & 13x13 X-shelled Fl. Tom. Champagne Glass. This is obviously a very small kit but due to DW’s X-shell technology, they play BIG. So this is my little live kit. It will live with me at my house and I can toss it into my car when needed.
2) Eco Kit. This is the very first prototype of the Eco kit DW makes out of Bamboo and Birch – finished in ..well, the snare is in a “blue jean” stain. When they went to match the rest of the kit it matched perfectly, but then over the next two days the rest of the kit turned “purple”. LOL. So that took care of that color experiment for DW. I love the look of the drums and they are so easy to tune – the bass drum is killer. This kit will go on long-term loan to my friends at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville. 18x22 / 8x10 / 9x12 / 12x14 w. 5 x14 snare.
I am thinking of turning the 20” bass drum into a huge floor tom (in spite of creating the collector evil act of extra holes in the shell) because there seems to be a general love of big drums in Nashville these days.
4) DW Jazz series kit. You can see this kit if you check out my Modern Drummer Festival ’08 performance. 23” kick (in X-shell configuration) and the rest all Jazz series. 8x12, 14x14, 16x16 and 5x14 snare. Die cast hoops. This is a gorgeous drum set. It’s kind of ridiculous how pretty it is. Each drum has one BW siggy hidden within the finish. Art lies in the details!
So now I have moved. I am aware that really and truly, this move is internal – not external. I am moving away from my past, a wonderful life shared with an incredible woman that is no longer alive. My therapist says I can run but I can’t hide. I’m not trying to hide; I’m simply trying to make the transition a bit easier for me. We’ll see how it goes in the coming month.
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