PlayCajon Podcast with Paul Jennings

In December 2015 I launched the PlayCajon Podcast, (conversations with drummers and percussionist from around the world). The aim of the podcast is to bring you fascinating stories and perspectives from some of the most interesting and sometimes well known drummers and percussionists in the world.

Over the past few weeks I have been lucky enough to talk to some of the top people in the percussion world including Munyungo Jackson (Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis), Luis Conte (Madonna, James Taylor), Pete Lockett, Heidi Joubert, David Mortara, Steven Black, Jaron Mossman, and Mark Powers. With many more great people set to be on the PlayCajon Podcast.

To hear the current episodes go to: http://playcajon.org/category/podcast/

Subscribe on iTunes to get the latest episodes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playcajon-with-paul-jennings/id1067020894?mt=2&ls=1

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Hoilday Cajon Deals at BuyCajon

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Hey guys!

I wanted to let you know that we have some fantastic holiday cajon deals on my store this year including many new items from Sela and more.

Some hot new cajons include the Sela Varios, Sela Wave models, and the Quick Assembly Cajon Kit. We also have a range of accessories such as bags, brushes, seat pads, books, and more.

Click hear to view our Holiday Gift Guide

I wish you a happy holidays!

Paul.

Amazing hang drum solo by Daniel Waples

This Hang solo by Daniel Waples is very cool indeed:

Ever since the hang drum hit the scene back in 2000, people have been drawn in by its hypnotizing sound. Originally created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in BernSwitzerland, the instrument, that looks like a UFO, is constructed from two half-shells of deep drawnnitrided steel sheet and fixed together leaving the inside hollow. The hang is then hammered to create the notes in a similar way that you would create a  steelpan, but modified in such a way as to act as a Helmholtz resonator. The top side of the hang has a center ‘note’ called the “Ding” hammered into it and seven or eight ‘tone fields’ hammered out around the center. The bottom of the hang which is called the “Gu” is a plain surface that has a rolled hole in the center with a tuned note that is created when the rim is struck. The name Hang comes from the Bernese German word for hand. 

Daniel’s website: http://www.hanginbalance.com

Daniel’s Facebook page: http://facebook.com/hanginbalance

Touring the CaSela Pro Snare Cajon

I am sitting in Hartford’s Bradley international airport having completed a one month U.S tour with the Scottish bagpipe mega show: Red Hot Chilli Pipers. I have 6 hours before my flight home to Minneapolis so I thought I would write a bit about touring with the CaSela Professional Snare Cajon.

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Getting the CaSela Satin Nut ready for the stage. We decided to put a Sure beta 91 inside which works a treat for big and small shows alike.

Apart from how cool the CaSela looks under the lights, the sound of this cajon once it is miked up and blasting through a huge PA system is very impressive. The low end gives you a bass tone that will rival many kick drums. I love playing big festival shows and seeing the reaction of the crowd when I hit a hard, low note. You can see that they were not expecting it.

The CaSela is very responsive so it will pick up and project even the softest ghost notes. When I do my freeform solo in the show, I like to play with the dynamics and tones of the cajon, the Sela let’s you do this with ease.

Cajons can often be notorious for creating feedback, with the CaSela, because it delivers a dryer, punchy sound, it does not turn into a feed back chamber so your sound engineer will love you for it.

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The CaSela Satin Nut with my Red Hot Chilli Piper percussion rig

All-in-all the CaSela Professional Snare Cajon is a great touring cajon and will do everything you ask of it while looking lovely under the lights.

I will post some videos of the tour when I get them.

PJ.

Summer NAMM Show 2013

I am back home now after spending a week in one of the greatest cities in America: Nashville, TN. The reason I was there was for the Summer NAMM Show, an annual event that sees some of the worlds premier musical instrument manufacturers, retailers, & artists gather under one roof.

It was my first time at the show and as the U.S distributor for Sela Cajons, we were there to bring the word of Sela to the American market.

The NAMM staff were always there to help with what ever we needed and most people who came to our booth over the weekend were very friendly and interested in what we were showing.

We managed to gain a lot of media attention while we were there, including a spots on ABC morning news in Nashville, Balcony TV, Drummer Cafe, & Drum! This was most unexpected and added an air of excitement and exposure to the show that brought even more interest our way.

One of the coolest things that happened at the show began at the Wells Fargo bank on Music Row, Nashville. While in there I met a man by the name of Christian Wolf who is the drummer with Angel Mary & the Tennessee Werewolves, a Nashville country band who are fast gaining some major attention.

I met Christian later that weekend at NAMM and we ended up endorsing Christian as a Sela Cajon artist. Christian is excited to use the cajon for smaller acoustic shows as well as on radio and TV appearances.

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Angel Mary & the Tennessee Werewolves will release their new single July 30th.

We were also honored to be recorded for Balcony TV Nashville and after meeting with the shows host Crow Lee Belcher who plays with Nashville folk/rock/hip hop band IIIRD Class, we decided to sign Crow to the Sela artist roster too. What a top man!

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In the booth at NAMM with Crow

Another highlight for me was meeting Bart Elliot from Drummer Cafe. Bart asked me if I would come to his studio to record an interview for his up coming show. We spoke about everything from cajons to Shetland Sheep. It was a pleasure to hang out. Stay tuned for the episode.

I must say that having been fortunate to travel to many American cities, Nashville now sits as one of my favorite. I am sure there is an underside as there is with any place, but over all people were genuinely friendly, it was clean, had a great vibe, and there was music every where you turned. We will be back.

PJ

Jamming with Crow & Christian Wolf at NAMM

Kopf Cuban Cajons: A secret Weapon

A couple of years ago Steve Head from Kopf Percussion called me up and said: “Paul, I want to send you something you might like” I said: “Sure what its it?” Steve: “It’s a new Cuban Cajon I have made” Me: “Yes!”

A few days later the Kopf Tumba Cuban cajon arrived and I gave it a test drive. The first thing that hit me was its resonance. It has a lovely resonance that warms you to the core. The bass tone is subtle but strong and the open tone is rich and sustains like the open tone of a conga. The muted slap could cut through at a gun range and you can also get a high open tone which is reminiscent of a tabla. Talking of tabla, one other tone which surprised me was when using the tips of your fingers to sound the bass tone in the middle of the drum, immediately mute it again with the same finger tips and it will sound like the low end of a tabla.

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Steve was right, it was something I liked, very much. I was playing the thing all day and my wife, who has an amazing musical ear, was also blown away by how cool it sounded. I have used the Cuban in many situations and I am very happy to have it as a secret weapon in my percussive arsenal.

There are two models of Cuban Cajons from Kopf, the Tumba with a 13″ playing surface and the Segundo which has a smaller head at 11″. They are both made from Baltic Birch and have a hand rubbed gloss finnish. I am a big birch fan when it comes to drums particularly cajons and the gloss finish gives the Kopf Cuban a very nice look while also giving it a nice feel when playing.

Here I am doing a video review of the Kopf Cuban Cajon.

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Buy the Kopf Cuban Tumba

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Buy the Kopf Cuban Segundo

Hybridize: 5 things to use with your cajon

The cajon is one of the most versatile hand drums on the planet. You can use it in a wide range of settings across many genres. The cajon stands alone very well but if you are looking to add more scope to your sounds here are a some options for you.

1. Hi Hat

Using a hi hat along with your cajon really is perfect. I would recommend using some kind of brush on the hi hat as it will compliment the sound of the cajon very well. You can use one hand for the cajon to punch out your bass and snare tones and one for the hats to play your quarter notes, eighths, sixteenths or what ever. You could also just use the foot on the hi hat to chip out the off beat or on beat. The possibilities are many.

2. Cajon Bass Pedal

The cajon bass pedal is a relatively new accessory. It uses a cable mechanism activated by the foot with the beater hitting the cajon to produce a bass tone. The beater is made extra soft so that a deeper tone can be produced from the wood surface. The addition of a cajon bass pedal can really open up a world of new groove possibilities.

3. Snare Drum

Using a snare drum along with the cajon will give it a nice drum kit feel. Again, like the hi hat, I would recommend using a brush to play the snare with. This will compliment the sound of the cajon very well. When using a snare, I usually play the cajon with my right hand (I am right handed) and the snare with my left. It’s just feels natural to do it that way for me. There is no standard way, whatever you feel comfortable with.

4. Cymbals

Having a cymbal or two to play with your cajon is something I could not recommend enough. Not only can you crash it with your hand but you can also use it as a ride to play your subdivisions like eighth notes. Again, a brush works well and the cymbal does not need to be a ride cymbal to ride on either. I find that a medium crash works just fine and that means its easier to crash too. Along with a crash, a splash cymbal works great with cajon.

5. A skinned hand drum

For many years I have experimented with using all kinds of hand drums with cajon. From congas to djembes, bongos to tabla and even all of the above at the same time. Using a drum like this with the cajon will really expand your sonic range. I like using high- pitched drums like tabla or a high tuned djembe as I think it sounds great with the sound of the cajon and really pops over the top of the wood sound. I have even turned the snare off on a snare drum and played it with my hand along with the cajon and it also sounds great.

There are all kinds of possibilities with percussion in general. These are just a couple of suggestions to help get you started. Remember, don’t let anyone tell you you are doing it the wrong way, the wrong way doesn’t exist.

PJ

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Teaching cajon hybrid lesson on playcajon.org