I interviewed Minister Erin Watkins who is the music director at Restoring Faith Ministry.
I interviewed Minister Erin Watkins who is the music director at Restoring Faith Ministry.
There are quite a few musicians visit to the Sunday service.
Among them, I met with one of my favourite musician, Mr. Shakeem Marshall. He came to visit the church to back up pastor’s preach with his organ. His phrases sounded somehow so nostalgic and Jazzy, it blended with pastor’s preach so well.
I truly fell in love with his playing.
And, I looked up his facebook and YouTubes, but I could not find any decent video footage of him, so I decided to go take one myself.
Shakeem was playing with the drummer, Mr. Jamie Howard. Oh my, the drummer so bad ass, I could not believe.
Sunday service at Restoring Faith Ministry is very spiritual and energetic. I am from Japan, and I had totally different expectation of what music would be like at a church in Japan. Over here in Arlington Texas, the message is strong, and the music is strong.
Pastor and first lady, everybody is so warm and welcoming. You can really sense that they are all aiming to bring the better for others by praising to the God. They pray hard for others.
At such service, the music plays very important role. The music director minister Erin Watkins says, the music helps to send message to people.
Here is how a week went as a musician at the church.
It starts from receiving text message from Music Director, minister Erin, on Monday or Tuesday. He usually gives 4 songs to learn for next Sunday service. Everybody works on their own parts, and get together for rehearsal on Wednesday evening.
The praise team rehearsal together on Wednesday for about 2-3 hours, Minister Erin spends most of time structuring the songs and work on harmony parts.
On Sunday morning, musicians get to the church around 9 am to get ready for the service starting at 10 am. As people start showing up, the keyboardist welcomes them with nice Jazzy gospel phrases.
At 10 am, the praise team gathers in the pastor’s office, and pastor gives praise to the God. The team members hold other members hand and creates a circle. As Pastor’s praise gets intensified, I feel the unity through the warmth of the member’s hands, and my body and blood heat up.
The service starts by a minister’s praise. As her praise goes on, the church atmosphere calls in for the spirit of the God. The flow is supported by the beautiful piano phrases and decorative cymbal sustains. People raise their arms and tenderly rock their body to the right and left, as getting united with the spiritual atmosphere in the church.
It moves onto praising the Lord with music by the praise team. The service starts with the strong beat.
S: I am interested in Lonestar Percussion. It seems that you guys are doing well.
G: We are definitely doing not too bad.
S: How long ago this company started?
G: This company has been around since 1978. It’s been long.
S: How long have you been in this company?
G: It’s been a little over a year. It was last year of March 29th (2016). It was my first day work in here. When I did it, it was just mind-blowing. I was on the same tour that I was taking you on, you know when I showed you around. And, that was the first time of me going to the actual back. I used to work for Sonor Drums and Sabian Cymbals. When I did that, I would come to Lonestar Percussions and talked to the old owner as far as purchasing some stuff from the company I was working for. So, I didn’t even see the back. Basically, I just went straight to the office. I talked to them and did the order, and that was it. When you go back there, it’s so incredibly over-whelming, to see all these drums, all the sticks, all the mallets and everything. It’s so mind blowing.
S: Is it secret now? Can I take pictures of the back?
G: Well, originally, we were able to, but since we opened up the new location in California,
S: Oh, you opened one in California?
G: Yeah, we opened up one in Fullerton, California. And, unfortunately, because of that, it opened up some stuff with OSHA. We are not allowed to let anybody go back there.
S: How did Lonestar Percussion start?
G: Most of vendors who try to open up in the first place, most of the time, they are basing off from the brick and mortar type of stores, or store front. Originally, when Lonestar Percussion was strictly mail order catalogue. That’s originally what it was. So, when you came in here, there was no showroom, what’s so ever. This right here, was just one counter and you can go in there, ask exactly for what you wanted, and they go back to the back and pull out and they would sell it to you. That was it. You didn’t get to see all this cool stuff you see now.
I think we started doing the showroom about … maybe 6 years ago.
S: I saw a gentleman came in and he received just a tom holder. So, I can see you guys take care of each customer’s requests.
G: Oh, we love it.
S: What kind of musicians are they? Do they play in the band?
G: There are a lot of them. We have all kinds. There is not really specific demographic. We have plenty of church drummers coming in here. We have a lot of rock drummers coming in here. We have a lot of Jazz musicians. We have a lot of over all school performers. It’s a big healthy dose of everything. Yeah, I mean the demographic is way too wide. It’s really huge.
S: When I came to Texas and I did the drum gig search, I found church’s ads looking for drummers. I went to one of the churches, and I was surprised with how hard and energetic they play music at the church. That’s something I don’t think we have in Japan. Later on I realized that I witnessed Southern Gospel Church music, which is very well known good culture that people admire from all over the world. So, this is heart of the culture, right?
G: It’s kinda, yeah, I mean this is the part of bible belt, so.
S: Do you play that too?
G: I have done it. I have played for a couple of different churches, yeah.
There are a couple of guys that work here do that as well. I personally at the moment, don’t really have the time to take up that type of gig, because of the band I play with right now keeps me very busy. That and I work at this place, too, so that’s pretty much what I do. So, if I am not playing the drum, then I am talking about the drums.
S: How did you start playing the drum? When you were kid?
G: Yeah, I started when I was eight.
S: What inspired you to play the drum?
G: What really was the family. There was this red sparkle Gretsch kit. It was vintage, round badge, from early 60s, with 22 inch kick, 13 inch rack tom, 16 inch floor tom. I remember when I was kid, I was trying to hit on the kit. And, my dad really wasn’t gonna have me doing that, because he pretty much loved the kit like you know, nobody’s business. He wouldn’t let any people touch it at all.
As a matter of fact, when I started playing the drum, the first thing he did was, he gave me a pair of sticks, and he gave me a pillow.
Kids are all into the instant gratification. It’s not as much fun to hitting a pillow than hitting the drum kit. On the drum kit, you wanna make noise, you wanna know that you are the one who is hitting the drum, and you are the cause of the noise. It was something about that really kind of got me, apart of seeing how my father did all that. So, my father just gave me a pair of sticks, and put the pillow right in front of me and said ‘Al right, you’re gonna start with your first rudiment’ It was right, left, right, left, R, L, R, L, which was the single stroke roll. During the first 2-3 years of playing, it was really frustrating. Hahaha, because that was all I was doing, playing on the pillow. When my dad left, I went behind the drum kit and played with it. Luckily my mother didn’t say much about it. Hahaha. But, I had the feeling that my dad knew.
S: Was the drum kit sitting in the house? You were playing the drums in the house?
G: Oh yeah. You wouldn’t wanna play in the garage or something like that, because if you do, there’d be so much humidity that can go into the drum shell. You don’t want your shells to warp out. Because you never gonna be able to tune or never sounds right. Humidity can really do a number on drum shells.
S: Well, first of all, in Japan, if you play the drum in your house, your neighbor will get upset.
G: Yeah, I kind of figure that.
S: So, in Japan, we have rehearsal studios. If we want to use the studio just for single musician’s practice, you could use it for probably US$5 per hour. If for the band practice, it might be something like $20 per hour.
G: Oh wow, that’s not bad at all. I mean, most of the rehearsal spaces around here generally, like hourly wise, anywhere from $30 to $50 depending on the room.
S: How do people in here practice?
G: Well, as far as individually goes, it’s up them. Most of them generally have houses that they can rehearse in. Personally, I’ve been just using the practice pads. Most of the time, though, I don’t have to practice that much because I go on play so much. When I get home, I just wanna sit down, and just watch TV. Lot of times, I pretty much just use the pad just to brush up on my chops. Whenever I am on the tour bus, I just kinda sitting there, right on my table, I practice on my practice pad all the time.
S: How about for band practice?
G: We used to have a practice space. When we started going out for tour a lot, it didn’t make sense to have our rehearsal space when we are barely there. It was monthly thing, yeah. The rehearsal place was like $450 a month. That’s a good chunk of change, just for handing out for a practice place that you are not using.
S: When kids start playing in the band, do they sign with monthly lockout studio?
G: It’s really depends on the person. Most of the one I know at least play in their house. Even some of the students I teach, they basically play on their kit in their bedroom. Things are lot more spacious here, spaces are not as nearly tight in as for instance when you go to New York, everything is extremely tight. It’s very much like Tokyo. You get the cops called in easily.
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