Passing the Drum with New Ears!

Hey All, I just listened to our 2003 recording Pass The Drum as I’m relearning the music for tomorrow’s concert at the Rancho Bernardo Library. What a pleasant surprise! What happens is as you are making a recording you end up listening to it way more times than you choose to — checking and rechecking things. So when it’s done it’s easy to ignore it for a bunch of years. And then when you finally listen again it’s with a fresh perspective. I’m enjoying it!

PTD Best_500

The band back in the day with (left to right) Tom Aros, Tripp Sprague, Peter Sprague, Duncan Moore, Ken Dow, Leonard Patton, and Coral MacFarland Thuet.

And that’s the news for this week, we’re passing the drum at the RB Library and you’re all invited. Here’s a little backstory to the band:

The name of the CD and the band is Pass the Drum. We are a seven piece group featuring Peter Sprague on the guitar; Tripp Sprague on saxophone, flute, and percussion; Gunnar Biggs on bass; Duncan Moore on drums; Tom Aros on percussion; and vocals by Coral MacFarland Thuet and Leonard Patton.

The name of our group evolved from an incident at Ki’s Restaurant back in 1999. We were getting ready to start the gig and rather than begin with the whole band playing all at once, we instead ventured off into a tan tan drum solo in which the drum was passed around to all members of the group. It was an invocation on what was to follow – music with a percussive core, an exploration into the magic and influence of Brazil, passing the drum and sharing the spirit of sound.

The band grew from our love of Brazilian music, jazz, and elements of American pop music. As a young fellow I was absorbed in the music of Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz and from there discovered Djavan, Sergio Mendes, Caetano Veloso, and Ivan Lins among many others. Since the early days I’ve had different groupings of folks who had this same pull towards the samba. Earlier groups included vocalists Kevyn Lettau and Kleber Jorge, bassist John Leftwich, and horn players James Zollar and Lori Bell.

When we first started Pass The Drum, we played primarily all Brazilian music and then over time, slowly added other stylistic elements to our repertoire. One of our prime goals is to bring fresh treatments to each song and to explore the World of Opposites. For example, we play a Jobim bossa nova in the style of John Coltrane, a Beatles tune set into a bossa nova/Pat Metheny groove, and a Bob Marley reggae hit morphed into a burning straight-ahead modal movement. We also set out to retain the jazz element of improvisation within the band and to let each player’s solo abilities shine. When it’s all working, the group has the looseness of a small group blended with the sonic color of a larger ensemble.

We hope to see you there! Look below for the gig details…

Also up for this week, Leonard and I will be at Ki’s on Friday night for our monthly gig. The setup is supreme, the food is stellar, and the music, it’ll be a hoot…

Leonard and Peter

Leonard and Peter

There it is good folks and hope to see you soon, Peter

Plugs Blasting Skyward!

Hey All, just getting back from Yuma, Arizona and recouping from a multi directional ear episode. It turns out the mix of surfing one day without ear plugs (had an exceptional wipeout that blasted one of the plugs skyward) plus going over the high altitude pass on the outskirts of San Diego was all that was needed to bring about a roaring ear ache. I was hurting yesterday and ended up at the urgent care. I’m doing well this morning and yeah, us musos need fully functioning ears to continue the revolution.

On the box right now is Les McCann belting out “Compared To What” and this forever will be one of the classic tracks from a classic album. If you don’t have Swiss Movement, you might want to hunt it down and listen up. It’s one of my favorites!


So, funky piano is setting the stage for a catchup with all things SpragueLand. The brew has been some nice empty days composing music for an upcoming Camarada concert. I was awarded a commission to put together a piece called “The Sanctuary Suite” and I’ve got the three movements in pretty good shape. It’ll still require some hashing out and it’ll be a fine day debuting the new music.

The composing days had continual surf sessions mixed in too. The surf has been up for months now. El Nino, thanks from all of us wave heads!

PS streaking at Beacons photo by Jeff Rose

PS streaking at Beacons
photo by Jeff Rose

Leonard and I blasted to and fro to Yuma for a music clinic and concert. What a stoke sharing the vibe with the desert rats! Warm eves, enthusiasm every which way, a slammin’ veggie burger from Chili’s, and the ear ache invoking altitude swing at Jacumba.

Yuma jazz nights!

Yuma jazz nights!

People like FREE! Big turnout for the Yuma gig.

People like FREE! Big turnout for the Yuma gig.

Up for this week, tomorrow (Sunday) it’ll be an afternoon session at the Encinitas Library. At 2pm brother Tripp, Mack on bass, and I will bring the music to the cool setup of the library. Full on listening, free to the public, good sound, and taking in the magic bohemia of North County. Hope to see you there!

Brasil Festa 2015!

Peter, Tripp, and Mack!

Rounding the bend into next week, we’re playing a special show at the Rancho Bernardo Library. I’ll have more on this on Monday but just thought I’d share the news in case you want to plan ahead. The band is our 2003 tour de force ensemble called Pass The Drum. The angle is Brazilian music and the spirit is up there! We just finished rehearsals yesterday and it sounded great even through my misaligned left ear. Look below for the details…

Pass the Drum a few years back.

Pass the Drum a few years back.

That’s the scoop for this week. Thanks for your interest and for reading along…

adios, Peter

Wicked Juxtapositions

Friends, starting the morning off with Charlie Parker and Ella blasting live from Carnegie Hall in 1949. This sets up perfectly a story of wicked juxtapositions.

My Mom Carol now lives at an assisted living place in Cardiff and it’s one of the best. Great food and believe me, this is a pivotal element in finding the right place. The staff is really nice and totally equipped with taking care of oldsters that have a few missing links upstairs. It’s a perfect fit and it’s close to us kids so frequent visits are easy to pull off. My Mom and I like taking the dogs for a walk and this is where we explore two radically different worlds. First, we launch our adventure from the facilities pristine, totally orderly, everything in line living room and from there, just past the parking lot, things turn wild. They built this place right next to the coolest, old untampered California sage lined canyon with secret trails and outcroppings of eucalyptus trees. Now we’re into uncharted territory and it’s a groove! The dogs love the freedom, and my Mom comes alive inside the adventure. I’ve always thought finding the balance between civilization and nature and having them both present in your life makes the puzzle work out. When you’re out in the wild, who cares if someone repeats what they just told you a minute before. It’s all music orchestrating the footsteps leading the way through natural beauty.

Mom leaving civilization behind!

Mom leaving civilization behind!

We had a killer show at Dizzy’s last weekend and the band was on fire, led by the amazing Joshua White!

Joshua White live at Dizzy's. photo by Bonnie Wright

Joshua White live at Dizzy’s.
photo by Bonnie Wright

All set for this week, on Thursday night I’m heading over to the Roxy Restaurant in downtown Encinitas for a solo guitar session. This I love, the killer sound of six strings, pick out a handful of tunes to explore, let ‘em fly, eat some great food, connect with friends and new folks—the whole package is a total win. Hope you can join us in the good times!


On Saturday night Leonard Patton and I are lined up to play a show at the Rock Valley House Concert. We did this gig a few years back and it was a hoot! Really nice setup with food and enthusiastic folks in attendance. I’m told that this year it’s sold out but maybe some waiting list possibilities are available. Check it out if you’re thinking about it…

Next week we’ll drive east out to Yuma to take part of the Yuma Jazz Series. It’ll be Leonard and I and we’ve done it before in years past. I love the evening heat and the good vibe of the Yumsters! Pass along the info if you’ve got kin residing east.

PS and Leonard in red!

PS and Leonard in red!

There’s the jazz tale for this week. Remember, keep the sky in your head!

all best, Peter