Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It's a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD World!

Bang a Gong: The Beat Goes On

Smalltimore, MD: So Amy and I took a walk tonight to get out of the house (we were getting migraines from listening to our next door neighbor's power drilling; same neighbor has the perpetually barking beagle) and, on our way to Tunes, Amy noticed a bunch of drums in the window next to The Raven Inn.

The owner, Keith Larsen, saw us gawking and poked his head out the door. "You're welcome to come inside," he beckoned. This charming craftsman not only gave us a tour of his store, a former copy machine center, but showed us the drum sets he custom builds himself (he also rents out other musical gear around town for various bands and businesses).

Though the sign outside on Loch Raven Boulevard still advertised the copy machine shop, the drum store is actually called Keith Larson's MAD, the latter acronym for Mid-Atlantic Drum (www.midatlanticdrumshop.com).

Mirror, Mirror on the Boulevard: Who's the fairest drum shop of them all?

MAD is a full-line drum shop featuring new, used, custom, and vintage drums and accessories.

"Bopp Does Big Star" at WTMD's Olympic Studio

Having just seen Andy Bopp's band play the night before at the WTMD "Bopp Does Big Star" live radio broadcast event, I asked him, "Have you ever heard of a drummer named Nick Bertling?"

Nick Bertling Bopps Big Star

"Have I?," Keith replied, "He worked here for four years and I really miss him. I loaned out all the equipment for his WTMD show last night. In fact, I have his CD right up front."

Bertling Noise Laboratories: The Flehmen Response

I told Keith how impressed I was by Nick's drumming and was ready to buy the CD from him when he waved me off and said, "No, you take it. I'm gonna text him right now to tell him about this; he'll get a kick out of that!" He pulled out his iPhone and took a pic of Amy and I holding the CD and sent it to Nick.

On the CD, Bertling Noise Laboratories, Nick sings and plays everything. Not surprising, given what we saw the night before, when Nick sang Chris Bell and Alex Chilton songs and played acoustic guitar on several songs (including an impressive "Thirteen"), in addition to his drumming duties. He also had the snappiest in-between-songs banter.

Nick Bertling channels Alex Chilton on "Thirteen"

"Isn't he [Nick] from Chicago or something?" I asked. "Actually he's from right around here in Loch Raven," Keith replied. Small world! "He moved to Chicago when his wife got her PhD and a job out there."
We asked him if he knew any drummers we knew and he name-checked Joe Manfre (Ludwig kit purchaser), Jack O'Dell, Andy Small, Kelly Bell Band's drummer, and so on. Later, we found out Saxton White and Denny Bowen (Double Dagger) were also satisfied customers.

When we mentioned we went to Stanstock Fest on Saturday, Keith informed us that he loaned the Stanstock organizers all the equipment the bands used. (Way to represent, MAD!)
He then mentioned that he really liked the last band that played inside McAvoy's on Saturday night because "They didn't sound like everybody else doing the same kinda '70's and '80's cover songs. They sounded kinda punk but also kinda like Mott the Hoople and that era." That's why Keith liked the guitarist with the "really long hair," Fernando, "because you could tell he was really good but also not afraid to sound a little rough around the edges," like Mott the Hoople guitarists Mick Ralphs and Pete Overend Watts.

Chelsea Graveyard, Stanstock Festival 2016

We told Keith that was our friends' band, Chelsea Graveyard. (Are your ears ringing, David WilcoxMike Milstein, and Henry Lingenfelder? You have a new fan!) Technically, their full name is Chelsea Graveyard and the Screams at Midnight - and they damn well came close to literally living up to their name, but the festival organizers had them go on at 11:15 instead of Midnight. (Close enough!)

I mentioned how good their drummer, Mighty J,  was and Keith agreed. "He was really solid, played to the songs and didn't overplay anything like a lot of drummers do. Really solid, strong drummer."

The Mighty J
We told Keith that if he really liked Chelsea Graveyard, he should check the schedule next door at The Raven Inn, where the band have already played twice before.

And there you have it, skin pounders! Get over to Keith Larsen's Mid-Atlantic Drum for all your percussive needs or just to shoot the shit with a guy who loves music! And to think, we'd never know he existed if not for our annoying neighbor's cacophonous home repairs at dinnertime!

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