I’ve been a singer all my life, and although singing is my first passion, I’ve also always been very interested in drumming and rhythm. Strangely I never was interested in playing a full drum kit in a traditional way, maybe because sitting down would limit my ability to dance while I sang – which is important to me. When I first moved to NYC I came to sing, and ended up doing a lot of back up vocals. This lead to being asked to play a lot of hand percussion, and I really got into hand percussion rhythms and creating something interesting with tambourines and shakers. Growing up as a kid in Canada, I was fascinated by Stompin’ Tom Connors, and how he’d play guitar and use his feet to stomp along. So, the idea of incorporating singing, hand percussion and stomping on something with my feet, just made sense. After the drummer for our band – The Tall Pines – moved to Austin, I wanted to experiment with playing drums, and standing up so I could also sing and dance. I used a regular kick drum at first, but then we saw someone on the subway using a suitcase as a kick drum, and that was that. I’ve worn out a couple of vintage Samsonite faux alligator skin suitcases, thanks to the airlines mis-handling of them more than my abuse. But, I do kick hard and they sound great.
On the technical side, The Tall Pines have a minimal, do it yourself aesthetic. If you want to play drums, it shouldn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune on a drum set. I screwed a piece of plywood onto the bottom of an old suitcase so that I could attach my DW 5000 kick pedal. Sometimes I put an old sock over the beater. Suitcases all sound different, so you have to thump them with your fist to find out which one sounds right for you, kinda like husbands. It’s very scientific. Then, I cut up a piece of a yoga mat to put the drum on to avoid slippage, and I velcro a small Korg metronome to the top of the suitcase to mark tempo. I also use a variety of headed and un-headed tambourines – usually 10” – either C.P., or unusual no-name older items. I also have a very heavy sounding C.P. maraca and a lighter sounding leather covered maraca that someone brought me from a trip to Cuba. Sometimes, for very light sounds I play an egg shaker, or skull shaped plastic shaker: my shrunken head. The maracas often play the hi-hat rhythm with the headed tambourine acting as the snare, but the beauty of it is that that can change easily enough to the tambourine taking over the hi-hat and snare parts. There are a lot of varieties. I know that C.P. stands for Cosmic Percussion, but when I’m using their stuff “C.P.” stands for Connie Petruk.
Check out the video below to see some of Connie’s playing.
Connie Lynn Petruk is the lead singer and drummer for The Tall Pines, a swamp rock and electric folk duo from New York City. Connie Lynn and her husband Christmas Davis (guitar and vocals) play live regularly and host the semi-regular performance event “The Tall Pines Revue” in NYC. Their latest EP “Fear Is The Devil” is available now at www.thetallpines.com.