Monday, June 23, 2014

Lancraft Old Timers 1963

Uploaded to YouTube on Aug 25, 2008
See the traditional "Sturtz" style of drumming that is fading from use in many Ancient Corps. Names Like Frank Moriarty, Frank Arsenault, Hugh Quigley, Jack Tencza, Jack McGuire, Bob Redican to name a few.

Lancraft Fife & Drum Corps Historical Archives
Sound Track: 1975 State Convention, Torrington, Connecticut

Video Conversion: Sherwood "Woody" Sheades
Video Editing: David J. DeLancey

Note: Sound track is the last time Lancraft competed in the Connecticut Fife & Drum Association as a corps.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Majestic's Prophonic Snare - Innovative

Innovative technology to the art of snare drum musicianship

Majestic’s new Prophonic concert snare drums bring innovative technology to the art of snare drum musicianship. It’s newly designed mechanism allows for the use of up to four different types of snare material simultaneously, each with individual tension adjustment and throw off levers, while still allowing all to be engaged or disengaged together with a master switch. This unique feature combined with a variety of available shell configurations and many options for snare type allow the Prophonic snare drum to be easily configured for a multitude of concert settings. From the largest orchestra hall to the most intimate chamber setting, the Prophonic sets the new standard for the professional classical percussionist.

Majestic's new Prophonic concert snare drums bring innovative technology to the art of snare drum musicianship. It's newly designed mechanism allows for the use of up to four different types of snare material simultaneously, each with individual tension adjustment and throw off levers, while still allowing all to be engaged or disengaged together with a master switch.

This unique feature combined with a variety of available shell configurations and many options for snare type allow the Prophonic snare drum to be easily configured for a multitude of concert settings. From the largest orchestra hall to the most intimate chamber setting, the Prophonic sets the new standard for the professional classical percussionist.

For Audio Samples

Henry Potter & Company's New Drums


These classic side drums come as standard with a 16” x 16” rope tension shell, calf heads, gut snares and traditional patterned stud-work. Different paint finishes and emblazoning available on request.
These side drums were originally built for The Guild of Ancient Fifes and Drums. The Guild was formed from a group of aficionados and professionals with an interest in historical and Basel fifing and drumming and appeared in period costume, complete with tricorn hats, playing at various parades and gatherings. These drums can be heard on the recordings Lo Sposalizio and The Coronation of King George II by The Kings Consort.

16" "Side Drums"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers' Day


Friday evening, April 27, 2001, I had the good fortune to bring 215 attorneys and spouses/significant others onto the base at Marine Air Station Miramar near San Diego, California.  We arrived in 5 luxury busses, each of which was boarded at the gate by a sharp "Tom Cruise" type Marine Captain of all of 27-33 years old who took command of each bus and narrated as we rolled onto the base and then past a guard and onto the air field.  215 professionals and family then "fell out," mouths open, eyes-wide open, as we looked into what appeared to be a Sears Auto Repair for F-14s and F-18s.  We could hardly believe our eyes, or our good fortune.

For the next hour or so, we were treated to a guided tour of the jet aircraft in the hangar.  We crawled over, under and around a half dozen single seaters, each larger than the busses that brought us there, as the Marine Captains explained everything they could, short of divulging anything confidential.  Each of us touched these jets, and were, in turn, touched by them and by the Marines who daily operate, fly, maintain and train in them.

To see the cockpit from atop a set of wheeled metal stairs and realize that there's just no space there to fit anything more than a relatively modest-sized pilot really drove home the seriousness of their business.

We were told that the day prior to our visit the pilots had dropped bombs in Utah.  One of our members remarked that he did know that we had declared war on Utah.  Now that was funny.

After more than an hour, we had to get going.  Our busses then ferried us to the Officers' Club (in the Tom Cruise movie, "Top Gun" the "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" scene was filmed there) where we enjoyed a first class dinner with entertainment by a California beach band playing Beach Boys and other 60s and 70s music.

As the coordinator of the event, I had an opportunity to address the group prior to dinner, welcome them to Miramar and also to tell them something of my connection with Miramar as well as to pay tribute to my parents who had a very big connection with Miramar.  My remarks, reprinted below, were very well received.  They are reprinted here for your reading and, I hope, your enjoyment.

Ellis Mirsky
Son of Joe and Lucille Mirsky

Welcome to Miramar:

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. And good evening Jarheads (we invited the Marine officers to join us for dinner . . . and they did!  We fed about a dozen Jarheads that evening.)

"We are delighted to be here at Marine Air Station Miramar, also known as the place where Tom Cruise showed Kelly McGillis some of his best maneuvers.

"We are indeed fortunate to be here and honored to be in the presence of our Marine Corps hosts. The United States Marine Corps is universally acknowledged to be the finest military organization in the world. Other services seek to emulate the Marines. Other countries try to build their own corps. But there is only one Marine Corps. And it’s ours.

"On behalf of The Network of Trial Law Firms and all of our corporate guests, spouses and significant others, I want to thank the Marines here at our dinner whose selfless dedication to our country is part of the bedrock on which our liberty depends. As lawyers we know all too well that without law, there can be no order. However, without order, there can be no law. The Marines give us order, on a global scale.

"I want to acknowledge some of the folks in our own group with ties to the Marine Corps. 
  • Fredrick Block, father of my partner, Richard Block, served in the Marine Corps.
  • Captain Alex Chotkowski, of the Rome, McGuigan law firm (Hartford, CT)
  • Captain Richard Fox, husband of Kathy Fox of the Wildman, Harrold law firm (Chicago, IL)
  • Corporal Timothy Patrick Rooney, active, with service in Kosovo, Bosnia and his father Timothy Patrick Rooney, retired, having served in Viet Nam, nephew and brother-in-law of George Murphy of the Hecker Brown Sherry and Johnson law firm in Philadelphia, PA)
  • Gary Robinson, Navy flight-surgreon based in San Diego in the early 60's, father of Brett Robinson of Pro Bass.
"I am sure that there are more, but that’s what we were able to come up with just from the folks attending our program.

"Now, I want to tell you a little bit about Miramar from a very personal perspective. And I want to tell you about two very special Marines -- my parents.  Now I don’t call them Marines just because they are strict, demanding, principled, and honorable people, which they are. I call them Marines because they were, or, as they like to say, are: Marine Sergeant Lucille Mirsky and Marine Staff Sergeant Jacob ("Joe") Mirsky – Mom and Dad.

"Against the wishes of the then commandant, the first Women Marines during WWII began arriving February 13, 1943.  At that time, women were trained at Hunter College in the Bronx.  Mom enlisted in June, 1943, and was called up in August, 1943.  By that time the training center had been moved to Camp LeJeune, NC.

"Mom is proud to say that Women Marines have always been called Marines, as opposed to the other services.  Although her duties during WWII were largely clerical and office work at Headquarters at the Naval Annex in Arlington, Virginia, she was/is a Marine.

"Mom was stationed at Henderson Hall, a compound specifically for Women Marines, in Arlington, Virginia.  She says that when they fell out for calesthenics at 0500 each morning, Arlington Cemetery was just over the wall.

"Sunday, December 7, 1941, Dad went down to a recruiting station in Manhattan to enlist.  It was 7:00 p.m.  He couldn’t get near the building because of the lines of men waiting to enlist.  Cops were all over the street trying to control the crowds.  People were told to go home.  They just couldn't accommodate the number of volunteers who turned out.  Dad returned several times until he was permitted to enlist in May, 1942.  He waited until August 17, 1942 when they called him.  That day he traveled 26 hours in box cars with wooden seats to Yemassee.  Then 30 miles by cattle truck to boot camp at Parris Island, SC.  From there on in, he says, it was double time all the time.  The Marine Corps had no dungarees or boots to give them and for a week they trained in their civilian clothes.  A week later they were issued dungarees and boots.  8 weeks in PI, and they were shipped to Camp LeJeune, NC for 4 weeks on the rifle range.  Dad qualified as a Marksman (that means, he said, he could hit the target).  He was then transferred to Quantico, Virginia where he was able to practice his shooting.  He qualified as an expert and earned $5 per month extra for a year.

"In February, 1945 every Sergeant and better at Quantico (there were 117 of them) who had not been overseas, was put on a three-part troop train (Army, Navy, Marines).  The Army slept 2 per bunk, and the Navy stacked their men 4 high.  Each had their own galleys. The Marines, though, had individual bunks with a Pullman Porter to keep the train car neat.  The train stopped 3 times each day at “Fred Harveys” to eat.  But only the Marines left the train for meals.  And they did so at every stop. The Army and the Navy ate from their galleys.

"In California, the train stopped at Linda Vista, a train station, and the Marines were transferred by truck to Miramar.  Upon arrival they were put in barracks near the airfield.  No mattresses, they slept on wire webbing.  One day everyone had to fall out.  My Dad and another Marine were told to get their sea bags and report to a jeep.  He thought for sure, this is it.  He was finally getting to go overseas -- the reason he enlisted.

"Instead, he was taken to an airplane hangar with a sign “Construction and Maintenance School.”  Dad attended that school and earned a 3.9 average, so they kept him on to teach at the school and work on the base as a carpenter.  One of the projects he worked on was a 10'x10' portable broadcasting booth that was sound-insulated.

"That was April or May, 1945.  Mom, having been discharged from the Marine Corps previously, followed by train about that time.

"Dad stayed in the Corps until May, 1946 until he was discharged, having earned his 36 points, pretty much just by being in the Corps and doing his job.  Prior to discharge, Dad took a 3-4 day course, “how to become a civilian.”  Dad thinks he did very well in that course.  Mom thinks that’s a matter of opinion.

"So, discharge papers and $200 “travel allowance” in hand, Dad left the gate, seabag over his shoulder, and took a bus into Linda Vista.  Mom had lined up a house to live in.  I arrived about a year and a half later in November, 1947.

"Mom (78) and Dad (79) are alive and well and retired in Boca Raton, FL.  Both are active members of the Marine Corps League; both are officers in the Tamarac Detachment of the Marine Corps League (  Mom is an active member of the Women Marines Association. And both are proud to say, they are Marines.

"Thank you and enjoy dinner."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

British H. Potter Drum Looks Like a Brown Drum

A reader writes:
I found your information while cruising the internet to identify a drum that my husband’s grandfather owns.  The “story” is that it is a drum from the Battle of Waterloo.  The family’s heritage is English.  Attached are pictures.  Should I attempt to open the drum to see if there are labels inside or should I take it to a specialist to open it?  Any info is helpful.  [16"D x 18"H]

My response:
Your husband's grandfather's drum appeared to me to be an American drum from the early 19th Century.  Based on the design features that I could see in the photos, and especially the tack pattern, my initial inquiry was to check to see whether it's a drum by Eli Brown or someone else from the Brown family.

See my blog for a number of articles about Brown drums (

You might see a paper label inside the drum by looking through the vent hole.  If there's anything visible, please send a photo.  It might give me clues as to the drum's origin.

As far as opening or disassembling the drum, leave that to a rope drum expert.  Chances are pretty good that if there's any information inside the drum, you'll see it through the vent hole.  Plus, there's very little chance that you'll be able to reassemble the drum yourself.

I can recommend local experts if you provide your area of the country.

Note: I noticed that the drum appears to have been roped upside down.

Further Information (and imagine my surprise):
We shined a light into the vent hole and found the following label (pics attached):

Real Manufacturer of

I did not see any other labels or writing.  We live in Milwaukee, WI and appreciate any info you can supply!

So fans, do we believe the label?  Can anyone shed light on this?

More Photos:

Evidence that the Drum Post-Dates the Battle of Waterloo (1815):
Our reader posted her question on the Vintage Drum Forum and received a lot of good information, some of which is provided below:

Henry Potter was just one of many flutemakers working in London in the middle of the 19th century. Not as famous as Nicholson, Rudall & Rose, Boehm or Pratten, he is often confused with the earlier but seemingly unrelated William Henry Potter. Although Henry died on 31 August 1876, his company continued under his name until 1950. 

Henry Potter was born in 1810 (the same year as John Clinton) into a family with a solid musical background. Henry’s father Samuel Potter (1772 - 1838) had enlisted in the Coldstream Guards at the age of 14 in 1786, and eventually by 1815 had risen to the rank of Regimental Drum Major. Samuel completed 30 years service with the Guards and resigned from the army in 1817 to set up a workshop located in King Street, Westminster for the purpose of making drums and wind instruments. Samuel seems to have concentrated on instruments with a military band connotation, such as drums, bugles, fifes, horns and trumpets. He actually wrote several published treatises, one being a method for playing the fife (1815) and the other being a manual for drums, fifes and bugles (1817). 

Samuel’s son Henry (1810 – 1876) presumably learned about instrument making from his father, and continued the business after his father’s death in 1838. By 1841 he was well established as his father’s successor, with premises at 2 Bridge Street, Westminster. He continued in his father’s footsteps as regards the making of military instruments, but appears to have had a strong interest in flute making as well. Clearly he must have quickly built up a good reputation as a flute maker, since otherwise it is inconceivable that John Clinton would have entrusted the manufacture of the early Clinton-system flutes to him, in particular the 1851 Exhibition model. Henry Potter remained in the instrument business all his life, and his company remained active until around 1950.  Source: John aka 
longjohn, Vintage Drum Guru.

Essentially, the argument that John makes (convincingly) is that a drum bearing the H. Potter label could not have been in existence in 1815 (Battle of Waterloo) because H. Potter (Henry Potter) was born in 1810 and would have been only five years of age in 1815.  QED.

Note, however, that the label could have been applied years after its original manufacture at a time when the drum might have been brought in for repair (the fact that the drum has been disassembled is evident from its being roped upside down, even though an experienced drum repair person would not have done that).

So, it might not be a drum made by H. Potter at all.  Rather it might have been repaired by H. Potter well after the Battle of Waterloo.  That explanation leaves open the possibility that it was in existence at the time of the Battle of Waterloo, but only if the drum was not made by H. Potter.

Also, CT Pro Percussion notes in that forum that the Hard White head is a Leedy head from the 1940's (ish), not original to the drum.

CT Pro Percussion also provided photos of the below drum that he notes came through his shop a few years ago and which has been traced back to the 3rd New Jersey British Militia.

P.R. Winn, Drummaker

An article by W. Lee Vinson, author and publisher of and . For Lee's story about ...