When I got in my car this morning for my 30-40 minute commute to work, I was in one of those moods where I needed some serious Drums. I needed The rhythm Devils to pound their way into my brain. As I'm headed down I-270 towards my office in Virginia, I crank up the Drums from the 12/28/79 to '11', and my day is now ready to begin.
The Drums segment was a highlight of a Grateful Dead show for some, a good time to take a piss-break for others. I personally enjoy just listening to what Billy and Mickey could create purely out of thin air night after night. In a previous post, I expressed my love for Mickey's Beam, but over the years, they were able to do things with a variety of percussion instruments that very few others have even tried to replicate.
Early on, a Drums segment was common, even during Mickey's hiatus from the band (1971-1974). It wasn't until 1979 that the 'Drums/Space' segment became a standard, free-flowing, improvisational mid-second-set ritual. Billy and Mickey were never afraid to push the limits, employing about every piece of percussion imaginable.
This was not your average concert drum-solo either, not a chance to show off what they could do behind a drum kit. Rather it was almost a religious, even primitive exploration of rhythm. Whether it was reaching into African influences, using various MIDI/electronic effects, tapping on the 'Tar', or pounding on 'The Beast', they were truly the most creative and innovative drumming duo in Rock & Roll history. It's that spirit that gave me inspiration when I needed it this morning.