Spring, 1975, sitting in my father’s blue Ford F-150 I look out aimlessly onto the road as the vague blur of buildings and open fields whiz by. The balmy evening is a nice reprieve from the cold gusty Wyoming winter. Life in Cheyenne as a six year old brings a great diversity of activities, depending on the time of year. Dad smiles while unexpectedly slowing, pulling the vehicle into the parking lot of some unfamiliar retail building. Stopping the truck he hastily comments that he has some business to attend to at the “Trading Post” and opens the drivers side door. I watch him jump up the small step way to the entrance and disappear inside. My mother waits in the pickup with me. Some time goes by... In a soft voice I am reassured that it shouldn’t be too much longer. The door swings open suddenly and a man comes out taking careful but awkward steps toward our vehicle. Silhouetted against the parking lot lights I can make out the ever familiar shapes of drums being carried by my father; a bass drum with two tom-toms and a small cymbal attached. Dad opens the topper covered truck bed and loads them in, along with a floor tom, snare drum, and other various parts. He hops back in the driver's seat. My parents explain to me while traveling home that they have just bought me a used but professional quality drum-set, the price of which was 250 dollars (a lot of money at the time to be spending on something other than gas, food, and a mortgage). I am completely taken by surprise. Evidently, according to them, They felt I showed promise musically after 'Santa' had left the toy Mickey Mouse drum-set for me over Christmas, the set which I forthrightly played and totally destroyed in a short two week period. I’m amazed, I’m confused, but most of all, I’m excited...
I still have those drums! They are Pearl™ model NC-4DL Deluxe. They were made in 1972 out of 9 ply fiberglass / mahogany shells with a sparkle blue wrap finish. I remember the drum shells had a discernible but pleasant aroma. I sometimes would just sit and admire them set up in the corner of the family room, their sparkly finish glistening like tinsel in the dimly lighted expanse. To my young mind, they were supernatural. They still do have a very distinct scent, probably due to the composite materials they were put together with. These were the drums I eventually started and continued my early musical career with.
Soundcheck before a performance with CHIVALRY, Great Falls, MT. 1984. The Pearl drums had now been added to a new set of black colored TAMA drums and refinished to match. The Pearls are on the right side of the full kit as viewed in this photo. This is a picture I had given to my Grandmother, Kathryn. Many, many years later, after she passed, this print was returned to my possession. The handwritten note at the bottom reads, 'Grandma, To a good person who I love a lot. Thank you for all the support you've given me! Love, Jdj (Jeffrey David Jewkes).'
I subsequently retired my revered Pearls from performing and recording service in the summer of 1987. Since then I’ve recorded and performed with many different drum brands. To name a few: Slingerland, Yamaha, Gretsch, Dixon, Ludwig, TAMA, as well as electronic drums from Simmons and Roland. All the while drums came and went, were bought and sold, the Pearls remained quietly sequestered in storage, waiting...
In the fall of 2014, some 27 years after their official retirement and in preparation for new ventures, I woke these old relics up from their long slumber. I’ve restored and re-configured them. I’ve given them a contemporary color finish. In a modern twist I've installed custom designed and built (by yours truly) electronic triggers. My plan is to use them in two potential configurations for an upcoming production: 1. As an acoustic set. 2. As part of a hybrid electronic kit.
Why did I go through the trouble of getting these time-honored drums back in shape you ask? For recording reasons, it’s all about sound. They have a certain sound I’m after. For emotional reasons, it’s all about nostalgia...These new undertakings are defiantly going to have a reflective aspect of my earlier years. What better way to pay homage to those years than to utilize an instrument from the general era. Sure, I own other newer drums... Sure, I am able to obtain pretty much any kind, type, brand of drum-set I want. Doing so however, would not accomplish what is the most important angle to me personally, though. You see, using these particular drums once again is a nod and tip-of-the-hat to my Mom and Dad, two true 'pearls' who have ceaselessly admired my talents... Two true 'pearls' that believed enough in my young abilities to invest their effort (and a significant amount of money) to provide me with my first set of real drums. An act that laid the ground work for my path in music. So, ultimately, the motivation to reinstate these drums after all these years is to foster the hope that they might stand as a simple symbolic gesture toward my parents; that every sound they make voices my love and respect.
Professional musician / composer / audio engineer who also ventures into fine art photography, geometric design, lutherie, artisan bread baking, electrical engineering, blogging, charity drives, and other things that keep life crazy and amazing. . .
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