About rionsmith

drummer husband father philosopher composer lover of life

One Take #2 – drums and original music

This is the second in my “One Take” series.  In an effort to kill the perfectionist within me, I’m forcing myself to just make stuff, and get it done quickly.  The drums are done in one take, and the rest is composed as quickly as I can, just until it feels about done.

As an artist who’s suffered from crippling perfectionism, which usually means that stuff would get worked on for a while, but was never “done” because, well, it’s never “perfect”…  I’m tired of just simply collecting a pile of sketched out, or nearly complete works, but never getting anything out there.

I recently read something that said, “the imperfect book that gets published is 100 times better than the perfect book than never leaves my desk.”  So these One Takes are an effort for me to take imperfect stuff and get it out there.

I hope you enjoy!

The start of project: One Take…

Hello, and welcome to somewhere other than Facebook!

I just completed my first “One Take” piece of music.  This is an idea I’ve had for a while, and I’m finally getting around to it.  The idea is simply that I sit down, and record a short video of me playing drums, once.  No double takes, no second chances-  I get an idea of what might be a nice musical idea, and some sort of structure, turn on the cameras, and whatever comes out it is.   I leave it at that.

Then I take the audio from that recording, and add to it-  I don’t play any stringed instruments, so no guitar, no bass, but I roughly play some keyboards.  So most of the stuff I’m going to be doing will be keyboard based, but I can get a lot of fun sounds out of keyboards, so I’ll compose like that.  Because I’m not a professional keyboard player, I take a little more time to come up with the actual parts for this side of it- so the keyboard parts are not first takes, but I still try to play them straight through as a performance, and not use cutting and pasting.  For example, on this song, the bass line took me six times through to get what I wanted.  The first time through, I was just poking around, trying to find something that sounded good.  I would get bits of ideas each time, and just keep adding.  I forgot to video myself playing the keyboard parts, and wasn’t even sure how I would work that into the video, but I plan on perhaps adding some of that in future videos.

The video editing is pretty new for me as well.  I have a pretty good understanding of Adobe Photoshop, so I understand a lot about what the color corrections, etc do, and I’ve messed around with some video editing before, but I’m now learning Final Cut Pro, which is a whole other thing.  But it’s a learning process, and if I want my stuff to get better, I have to start somewhere.

So here’s the first of hopefully many installments to my project: One Take

Big Box

This one goes way back- to before being a blue man drummer, and before being a father!

I was living in a house that was slotted for demolition, and the date was nearing.  I had moved most of my stuff out of the house, and recorded some silly little videos with a digital camera.  Enjoy!

40 Days of Drumming – the talk down

About 2 years ago, after an 11 month North American Tour with Blue Man Group, I put myself through 40 Days of nothing but eating, sleeping, and most importantly drumming.

Thanks to the good grace of my parents, they put me up in the second story of their beautiful home in Caldwell, ID, (which my father built), and fed me for 40 days, while I played drums all day long.  I mean, the patience of my parents to put up with that!

During the entire 40 Days, I cut myself off from all contact with the outside world.  This meant no internet, no social media, no email, no phone calls, and as a matter of fact, no speaking to anyone.  I communicated with my mom through notes.  She was delivering my food 3 times a day to the door of the upstairs room, and would leave a note on the tray.  I would sometimes answer, if I needed something.  Other than that, it was just me and the drums.  —and of course, all the noise in my head.

So much of the journey was about dealing with the different layers of my psyche, and it got pretty crazy-  at least I felt like I was going crazy at times.  But I was determined to take myself all the way through the process, and I’m glad I did.

Since completing the 40 Days, my life has been constantly moving and shifting.  It’s been a grand adventure, and I’m grateful for all of it, but I haven’t had too much time to let absorb the lessons that I learned from the 40 days.   I’m finally back in my house in Orlando now, and getting around to working on and implementing a lot of the things that I learned from doing the 40 Days.

In hind sight, and if I had it to do all over again, I would have created a better “landing pad” for myself.  You see, when I finished the 40 days, I went directly into helping my parents prepare for a mega-garage sale, and almost didn’t play drums for the week following the 40 Days.  I went back to Orlando just after that, but my house had been rented out, so I was basically put to the task of moving back in to my own house.  No place to practice, minus some practice pad work…  So I hadn’t really planned out my landing pad- my “after the 40 Days” very well, and probably some of the work that I did was lost during that time. But I don’t regret having done it, and have still learned a lot from doing it.  And now, almost 2 years later, I’m finally getting around to really trying to integrate some of what I learned during that time.

So here’s the video-  it’s about 25 minutes long, so it’s no quick watch.  And keep in mind, that this is me trying to sum up what 40 Days of experience after being locked in a room by myself for that long…   and I get pretty heavy with it!

Brothers and Sisters!


Here’s a DrumCam version of a live song from a Thomas Wynn and the Believers gig back in Dec, 2010 at the Copper Rocket here in Orlando.

This one’s got some Quarter Note Snare goin’ on. It’s one of my favorite beats from the funk’n’soul style of playing. I first heard it from Greg Errico and his playing with Sly and the Family Stone. The first Sly album I came across was Stand!, and the track, “I Wanna Take You Higher”- has Greg driving the entire band with the quarter note snare, and some super funky bass drum juju all up in there.

This tune with TWATB is much more on the rock side, but you can still hear Matt layin down some funk on the bass, and me doin my best to drive the band with that left hand. You can see me watching Thomas at the end, because the ending of the song could come out of nowhere, and at any second- so I had to keep my eye on him- I knew I wouldn’t get much warning! 😉

Thomas Wynn, lead vox, guit.
Olivia Wynn, vox
Chris Bell, harmonica
Tim Turner, guit
Matt Lapham, bass
me, drums

welcome to riondrum.com!


I’m Rion Smith, and have now been playing drums for 30 years, and have been a professional for 20.  I have a lot to offer from my years of experience, and look forward to sharing with you where I’ve been and what I’ve been through, as well as what I’m currently working on, and where I’m going.

Like the ever expanding Universe we live in, music is something that you’ll never reach the end of, no matter how far you go.

This little Universe of riondrum.com will be growing, so keep posted, and please feel free to leave comments, so we can talk about this stuff!