Groovin' on the Housetop with The Sonora Project

So here's the basic flow of my jazz/fusion band, The Sonora Project. If everyone shows up, then we work on writing music and recording our new album. If only a few of us show up then we get to hit the pause button on everything and make a little musical mischief :-) The video below is the result of one of those times. We did a Christmas video last year and it was something that we thoroughly enjoyed, and I anticipate this becoming a fun tradition for the band that may even result in a Christmas album some day. 

We picked a song, wrote an arrangement, and recorded this video all within a couple hours.

If you listen carefully, you can hear a lot of our musical influences and tributes that we pay to the holiday albums that influenced us growing up. One of the big ones for me was the Jackson 5 Christmas album. There is so much groove going on throughout that album that you can't help but just get lost in it. The bass and drums alone are just out of this world! So hopefully with that in mind, you can sit back and enjoy our take of Up on the Housetop, or in this case... Groovin' on the Housetop.

Merry Christmas from everyone at The Sonora Project!

Bass - Robert J Payne
Drums - Miguel Angel Monroy
Keys - Steve Marsh

Band Photography with Justin & Megan Shaffer

I've been scheming with my good friend Chuck Heeke about doing a photo shoot with Justin and Megan Shaffer for several months. Although both Chuck and I get to take photos for our full-time jobs, it's only a small part of what we do, and we were looking for an opportunity to experiment some more, and specifically to do a stylized shoot with more of an artistic influence. We really loved a lot of the photography that we had seen of the Civil Wars, and wanted to try our hand at capturing a duo like that. Justin and Meg were perfect. They have incredible chemistry musically AND romantically as husband and wife :-) My goal is that these pictures would capture that chemistry, their individual personalities, and hopefully be the type of photography they would use as album artwork or to promote their music. Everything you see below are my personal favs from the shoot. I'm posting many with similar poses because I just love them all, and even the subtle differences I think are special. All these pics are by yours truly. I hope you all enjoy everything, and thanks for checking out this post!

Black Arbor

Every once and a while I get to sneak out and do something creative to feed my soul. This was one of those times :-) I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Mobley's art work, and have always wanted to capture him in the process of creating one of his works of art. It blows my mind that in the span on just a few hours, what was once a blank sheet of paper can become something so much more. I love how Jonathan’s artwork wrestles with a balance between beauty and darkness, and sometimes challenges the viewer to contemplate which is which! It was also an extreme joy to collaborate with Greg Johnson from Acoustic Labs on the music for his one. Greg is off the charts talented, and it was an honor to use his music. I sincerely hope you all enjoy the video, and would appreciate a share if you did so others can enjoy it too. Peace!

Grooving in 15/16

I'm continuing the odd-time theme with this killer 15/16 track from Jim Riley's Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer. Had a lot of fun with this one! My hi-hat clutch came undone halfway through but I just kept going 😊 Hope you all enjoy!

Gear: Dixon Drums Artisan Limited Series kit (3-ply Cordia/5-ply Maple), Artisan Aluminum Snare, Bosphorus CymbalsZildjian Company mix for trash cymbal, Ultimate Ears Pro UE11 in-ears, and some Vic Firth Gregg Bissonetteseries sticks!

Grooving in 5/8

I absolutely love practicing with the odd-time tracks from Jim Riley's Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer. This is the 5/8 track, and my goal here was just to find the pocket and groove. No flashy chops. Just good old fashion grooving in 5/8. Hope you all enjoy. More to come!

For you gear nerds out there... I'm using my Dixon Drums Artisan Limited Series kit (3-ply Cordia/5-ply Maple), Artisan Aluminum Snare, Bosphorus Cymbals, and some Vic Firth 8d sticks!