Saturday, May 23, 2015

John Dowlan Interviewed by Larry McCormick

Thank you Buglers' Hall of Famer Frank Dorritie (with whom I marched (snare) in the 1967 Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps) for the link to this video interview (below) of rudimental drumming legend John Dowlan, by another legend Larry McCormick (including clips of even more legends from the USAF D&B Corps).

One topic discussed is back-sticking.  We have two earlier posts to this blog about back-sticking.  The first post focused on John Dowlan to whom Joe Marrella (also on the video) attributes back-sticking as early as 1938, although it took a couple of decades for before a drumline (USAF) put it into play: http://www.fielddrums.com/2008/12/backsticking-drumming-technique.html.

The second post focused on A. R. Carrington, a field drum champion of the 1870's,who appears to have been doing a number of stick tricks, including something that appears to have been back-sticking: http://blog.fielddrums.com/2009/01/was-carrington-back-sticking-in-1870.html.

I am certain that Dowlan came up with the technique entirely independently, and to him much respect and admiration are due for a whole host of reasons.  Hell, his story (watch the YouTube video) about being watched in 1951 (I was 4 years of age then and hadn't yet mastered ratamacues*) by Perrilloux prior to being judged by Pratt.  Well, that's the real deal.  Perrilloux was not easy to please, to say the least.

And thanks go to Larry McCormick for his efforts to record and preserve drumming history.


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My father, Jacob J. Mirsky, 1939 NYS VFW Jr. snare drum champion, Bronx Post 95 Sons of Veterans (of WWI) FD&B Corps, put 3S sticks in my little hands at age 3 or 4 (around the same time John Dowlan was winning national championships), stood behind me, wrapped his hands around mine and whipped out a straight 2/4 and 6/8, then a few ratamacues.  My inner organs vibrated and I was hooked.  His ratamacues had a strange affectation which I've since seen on an old film of a veteran drummer from the Civil War.  His left hand would flip outward on the last beat.  And his long roll wasn't up and down entirely.  It rolled out from underneath as if his hands were constantly sweeping air away from the drum head.  He was my first teacher - he and J. Burns Moore of course via his instructional book "The Art of Drumming".

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