Chris Belin Drums - Traveling Drum School & Freelance Drumming
My Blog

September 2012

Instant meals direct from my glovebox

   This week’s blog showcases something in my daily life that anyone who rides in my car usually finds amusing, creative, practical, or slightly odd. I’m referring to my glovebox, which is normally fully stocked with food! 

    Being a full time traveling drum teacher & musician puts me on the road quite a bit. My car, a 2011 Kia Soul, already has 49,000 miles. That’s roughly 15,000 more than I did in 2010 and three times as many as the average American! So unless I wanted a diet solely of fast food, which can be found pretty much everywhere I travel, I had to devise a healthy and cost effective food plan.       
     I started packing well balanced lunches, sandwiches, fruit, vegetables (carrot sticks, celery, etc) and low fat chips / pretzels. That worked well for awhile but then my days started getting longer. Earlier lesson starts and pre-show lessons extended most days to being away from home 12+ hours at a time. Then one day I left a box of granola bars in my car by accident after a store visit. That box saved me on one of my long days. Ate two bars mid afternoon and felt great! Then, along with my girlfriend Natalie who’s studying to be a nutritionist, we came up with some essentials I need for my travels. Stuff you would find in pantry that could last for days in a controlled climate. Items where the wrappers could be opened at red lights. Snacks that could be eaten relatively quickly during breaks, or sides that mesh well with packed lunches.
 Here’s a current list of what I keep stocked: 

Granola bars 
Breakfast bars 
Pretzels (low sodium) 
Potato chips (low fat) 
Mixed nuts 
Dried fruit 
    I chose the glovebox for storage kind of as a joke at first, especially since I never put food in a breadbox at home, nor do I actually wear gloves often. But after trying it for awhile in my old car I loved it. Totally eliminated clutter and still have space for the essentials; insurance card, owner’s card, manual, business cards, and phone charger. No room for actual gloves though! Even when I went shopping for a new car I checked the size of the glovebox.The Kia’s are indeed spacious!! 
     In addition, I usually keep a bag of apples or some bananas behind my seat as well as a case of bottled water during the cold months. Sometimes they freeze but I find ways to make it all thaw.     
    Overall, I’ve become a much healthier eater and I consistently feel energized every day with this plan. This has been excellent for late night shows since I regularly avoid eating full meals after 8 PM. Eating a energy bar or small snack before a long gig helps keep me focused and full of energy.     
    If anyone has any more food ideas I should add, please comment. Or if I see you driving around and you’re hungry, stop and ask me for a snack. I’ll hook you up! 

Session @ Broadcast Lane Studios


   This past Sunday was day 1 of a 2 day recording session @ Broadcast Lane Studios. Located in the Homestead area of Pittsburgh, this place is definitely a hidden gem. It’s not marked on the outside so you would never know there was a fully equipped professional recording studio in that area. I’ve encountered this many times before; great recording spaces where you would least expect. After a long walk up some stairs, you come to a door. That’s the gateway to the studio's main room. Very spacious and the walls were lined with sound panels. The room had a vibe of old Pittsburgh, which I totally loved. There was also a really nice isolation booth in the corner. The large room lead to the control room with a few more isolation areas. Totally ideal space for a band.      
   Prior to the session I spoke with the studio’s main engineer Lurch on the plan for the kit. He mentioned that I could use one of the house sets. I chose a 1950's Ludwig, all maple shells with a white marine pearl finish. He already had the drums tuned up nice and his assistant Ian had the mics pre-placed. It was so accommodating I could’ve just rolled in and started the dialing-in sounds process immediately, but I’m picky so I had to make a few minor adjustments!  Fine tuning the kit was effortless. The 12X9 tom, 16X16 floor tom, & 22X16 bass were warm with lots of tonality.        
    Next was a snare selection. I brought my Pearl Sensitone but the studio had 16 different snares to chose from. Pretty much every different type you could think of. Plenty of different sizes, shells, & head combinations. I tried each one and throughly experimented with a few, including a maple Ludwig, a maple Gretsch (with silver lining) and a Ludwig LM402. Each had very distinct, pleasing tones. I went with the 402 as it had a great sound that worked well with every blues influenced groove I planned on laying down. For all you Zeppelin fans out there, that was the snare that John Bonham favored! Big sound with sensitivity which works great for many scenarios.    
    Tracking the songs went really smooth. I was well prepared for the session as always so I knew exactly what I was going to play for each tune.
Of course I didn’t rule out any improvising or last minute changes, but that’s normal with The Satin Hearts! The drum tracks for all three songs were completed in as well as some overdub guitars & harmonica. I am fully satisfied with everything thus far.                   

     Day 2 of the session will include bass, a few more guitar overdubs & mixing.  Lurch has a very impressive resume, including remastering some material for The Guess Who, so I’m sure his final touches on our EP will be stellar. He’s a easy guy to get along with and has a great thing going with Broadcast Lane Studios. Please check them out on the web @

Drummer Spotlight: Fred Below

    This week’s blog is a spotlight on Fred Below, a drummer who was integral to the art of blues drumming. He was one of the genre’s pioneers, working as a session drummer for the infamous Chicago based label Chess records as well as holding it down in concert with some of the most influential artists of the time. The man is also known for laying a solid rock foundation for the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Goode”. After I discovered his tasteful playing in the above mentions, I dug deeper and found out he actually started performing as a jazz drummer in the 1940’s. A well rounded player no doubt and his contribution to drumming is immeasurable.   
     I revisited Fred’s playing this past week as influence for a blues session I have scheduled for this coming weekend. The tracks to be recorded mix elements of the blues, jazz, and rock. He is one of my favorite early players who composed grooves for these genres. Fred appears from time to time in drum publications as well as some mentions in books and DVD’s. I’ve included two clips below I especially like. I’m sure all you blues fans will enjoy. For all you drummer’s, please take some time and research more on the great Fred Below.
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J B Lenoir - Freddy Below - Live 1965
J B Lenoir - Freddy Below - Live 1965
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Otis Rush: I`Cant Quit You Baby
Otis with Fred Below,Myers

Album Review: Yung Rellz "International School Boy"

    This week’s blog features my album review of <Traveling> Drum School student Yung Rellz debut EP “International School Boy”. This release has already been getting great feedback, including radio airplay in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. He has also started performing show recently. Not bad for a for just entering the 7th grade!! He sites Drake and Meek Mill as influences. The sky’s the limit for Yung Rellz. Check him out of Facebook; 

    “International School Boy”, the debut EP from rapper Yung Rellz is filled with tight, catchy rhymes and really good instrumental production. The track “Ya Heard What I Said” is a stand out, mixing great flows with a funky beat that would make anyone move on the dance floor. Yung Rellz backs up his skills with confident rhymes on “Betta Den the Best” and “Swagg”. While the whole EP is very modern sounding, the downtempo “Kind of Girl” has a bit of a throwback feel to old school hip hop, circa early 90‘s. The guests Landon Thomas, Hendy, Schae, and Kei Player all blend well with Yung Rellz’ style. The intro featuring S.H. Abernathy is hilarious, complete with a Teddy Ruxbin reference! This collection of songs from the 13 year old up & coming artist is a great first impression, conveying more positive, humorous, and profanity free messages that I feel all rap fans would appreciate.   

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