Wes CrawfordWes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started MusicAndGames4U.com, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.
So, let me talk a little bit more about the double stroke roll here. What you will probably find is you can go pretty quickly this fast with your wrist. You will strain right here, so there is another technique that is often talked called the controlled bounce, where you throw the stick down once and let it bounce the second time. This is something you might want to practice. As you see, my wrist is only moving once, but Im getting two strokes, so practice this one hand at a time till youre comfortable. Then you might go change into this technique and go into it from your double strokes, when you can go as fast as you can go with your wrist. So, it would be something like this at this probably. I purposely didnt do it too smoothly because I want you to see where this happens. So, you can go from your wrist technique and your controlled bounce technique, do it at the same speed of strokes so that it sounds as seamless as possible, then you can speed up. Since youre really getting two strokes out of every one stroke of your wrist, you can all of a sudden go twice as fast. Now, you might ask well, why didnt you tell us this from the beginning, and why dont we always use it? Well, it works pretty well on a thud drum, very tight drum, like a snare drum, and it might work well in some orchestral drumming, and it allows you to very quickly, once you learn this technique, go from very slow to very fast and back down, but in the long run on drum set, you dont want to depend too much on the bounce, you want to have strong focused wrists. For instance, you can see on my leg I can play this fast with just wrist. There is no bounce on my leg, so you can see that eventually you do need to be that strong because a lot of the thumps are going to be tuned much more lax, and you won't be able to depend on the bounce and the strokes typically with the controlled bounce, the second stroke does not sound as strong. One last exercise with the double stroke roll, try practicing as you get better and better at it with an accent on the second stroke. An accent means to hit a little bit more loudly, and so forth, you will see that way you can really strengthen up your hands. So, first practice it just with your wrist, go as far as you can. Then try the controlled bounce, where you throw down once and catch the stick after the second bounce, this will take a while to develop all by itself. Then you can incorporate that into your double stroke roll. Then try to get rid of this controlled bounce by just strengthening your wrist more and more, its not about huge World Wrestling Federation wrists, its about focusing the muscles inside there in your wrist to just do what needs to be done. Thats the double stroke roll.