Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Year in Review: 2019

Another year has flown by and this one was definitely one of the most interesting musical years to say the least. Not only was I blessed to have the chance to work with some amazing musicians but also took some time to work on my own musical projects both in the drumming world as well as in my own studio writing and recording my own music. Aside from that, I had the chance to do some new things and appear in places that I had never worked in before so I was really happy about that.

In the following blog I will share some highlights from this most productive year where I felt a great sense of accomplishment both as an individual and as a member of a great team of musicians.  I can honestly say that there were way more good times than struggles, which every musician knows is rare.

Outside of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles


It had been three years since I had been to the NAMM.Show in Anaheim, CA. Most of the time it was my performance schedule that kept me in the Arizona desert but this year was one of those exceptions. I was honored to once again be a guest of Soultone Cymbals who I was now celebrating a 10 year relationship with! As always, it was great to see everyone from the company who have always supported me and treated me with the highest level of respect. Aside from that I had the chance to greet representatives from Ahead Drumsticks & Percussion Products and Drum Dots who were also present at this amazing event. I am so grateful to all of the percussion companies who have taken me on as one of their artists as their support means so much to me.

On a personal note I also got to see some of my California friends along with other musician friends from around the country who were also in attendance. However, it is always a treat for me to see my old drum teacher Greg Alban. While I have always been grateful for every one of my music teachers Greg is the one that really stood out for me as this drumming master not only showed me things that I didn't know were possible but also still remains that important mentor that I can call at the drop of a hat. Whether it's to simply share some of my new ideas or to express some frustrations and concerns he is that word of wisdom I need as his support and encouragement mean just as much to me today as it did when I was a young drummer trying to find my way. 

With the amazing Greg Alban at NAMM in Anaheim, CA

The Return of the Desert Drummer 

It had been several years since I had taken some me time during my musical life as I had spent the past few years focusing solely on being a working musician.  Yes, it is fun to play gigs for so many great people but that creative spark inside is always there and sometimes it is dying to get out. In my case it was more than having a busy schedule. The music business is tough and getting ahead is not the easiest thing to do. Sometimes you have to choose your battles and in my case the battle was within. For too long I kept saying that it wasn't worth my time to create, record and release music to a world that may not be interested in what I was doing. That and the fact that my solo drumming act was not something that was in demand like one of my bands so again, why bother? 

Enter those who really care about me as a person with a purpose and not just me the creative person. Such people reminded me that this spark is not just something I should listen to but also a part of who I am as a person. I was reminded that it wasn't just about the number of people who appreciate what I do but also the way these experiences made me feel. 

After a long look in the mirror I admitted a number of things to myself: Yes, I love writing my own music. Yes, I love doing my solo drumming. Yes, that is a big part of who I am! I am forever grateful to my guardian angel as well as my dear friends who wanted to see me live a full musical life. It was time to get back to work so before I knew it I was scheduling time at home for practice time on my solo drumming ideas and to write and record some new music.

Once I got started it didn't take long for me to realize how much I missed the world of drumming Master Classes as such events not only allowed me the chance to both perform for an audience as well as the opportunity to share my drumming concepts in an educational setting. Eventually I started to put the word out to various venues and that's when I peaked interest from the great people at both Instrumental Music Center in Tucson, AZ along with Motherland Music in Inglewood, CA.

Now that both events were set it was time to get back into promotion mode. I started out by doing a radio interview on 99.1 Downtown Radio here in Tucson where I had a chance to spin a few songs and talk a bit about my upcoming Master Classes. I then had a chance to spend some time talking to the amazing Matt Moon on his Global Rhythm Radio Show on KXCI Radio where I had a chance to talk in great detail about my experience of working with world rhythms while also spinning a couple of my tracks for the good people of Tucson. Then I returned to The Morning Blend television show to perform and talk again about my upcoming Master Classes.  Overall, it felt really good to be back out there doing my thing so again, much gratitude to those who encouraged me get back into Desert Drummer mode. 

On the Tucson Morning Blend, KGUN Channel 9

My appearance at Instrumental Music Center was amazing! They had me come in the night before to set my stuff up after closing the store so all I had to do was show up the next day, warm up and bit and go for it. That's exactly what I did and I was most pleased with both the turn out as well as my performance. I had the chance to play some of my orchestrated drum set solos and then took the time to break down all of my grooves before sharing various exercises that helped me gain the independence and accuracy to perform such parts. The staff at the store as well those in attendance really enjoyed the Master Class so I left that day feeling really good.

Instrumental Music Center in Tucson, AZ

It wouldn't be long before I had to pack my drums and head to the Los Angeles area for both my Master Class at Motherland Music as well as a video shoot that I was going to do at Soultone Studio. I was really excited to be able to go home and see some of my loved ones while also having the chance to show the home folks the kind of drumming progress I had made over the past several years. 

The video shoot was fun as I got the chance to record a professional promo on an amazing set of drums. The DC California drum set in the studio sounded great and really seemed to compliment my kind of drumming. It certainly had me thinking about what kind of drums I need to use for future Desert Drummer performances. 

Of course it was great to see Soultone Cymbals owner Iki Levy as well as sound engineer & videographer  Tomer Rom as both of them welcomed me and complimented my playing. Again, I am so blessed to be part of this artist roster as this company has been so good to me for over ten years now. Here is the end product, which is based on the African Cassa rhythm:


The following day I was at Motherland Music leading another Master Class and this was an amazing experience. First off, the room sounded amazing so I had a blast grooving away in a place where my drums rivaled the sound of thunder. Second, the sights were even more amazing as I was surrounded by every type of African drum you could imagine. Aside from all of the instruments in the room I was surrounded my family members, old friends and curious onlookers who came to see me perform in the Los Angeles area for the first time since 2006! Everything went really well as both the store staff and attendees enjoyed my program. Hopefully I'll have the chance to do this again sometime in 2020. 

Motherland Music in Inglewood, CA

Once I got home I got back into writing more music. I came up with some new drumming songs as well as some other tunes, which led me to consider the idea of putting out another musical release. Right now I'm finishing up the packaging of what will be a new EP of original songs while already beginning work on the next one. The creative part of me is definitely back in full swing but most importantly, the satisfaction I feel in allowing this part of me to remain active is more gratifying than I could possibly imagine. 

People have asked me what kind of music they should expect on this release since my last CD was filled with drum set solos and multi-percussion songs. Well, there will be percussion on this CD but this time around it will also feature me on guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and some other gadgets as I am finally putting something out that not only features songs I have written but me actually playing all of the instruments on my own. It is going to be titled Beneath the Surface as it will truly show another side of me as a musician.  Stay tuned. 

Tony Corrales Band

When it comes to the band known to many as TCB there is never a dull moment. Whether it is our rehearsals filled with laughter and joy to those high energy moments onstage, this band knows how to bring it and I enjoy every moment I have with my band family.

2019 was an exciting year because aside from performing at our regular spots, which includes Casino del Sol and the Outlaw Saloon we also went down south to Sonoita, AZ to perform at one of our new favorite venues called the Copper Brothel Brewery, made our debut at the new Whiskey Roads, returned to The Maverick & Desert Diamond Casino and performed at some of Tucson's most beautiful resorts. Of course that meant that we had the chance to perform for many people who had never seen the band before so it was great to expand our audience.

Aside from that the band released the album Country Looks Good on You along with our single Margaritavillin' to raving reviews. Still, nothing could prepare us for what happened this past September as Tony Corrales attended the Josie Awards in Nashville, TN. Before the end of the night he had to honor of being called onstage to receive the award for Album of the Year! It was an amazing moment when the rest of us received the news from the boss man via text message. The feeling we all had was one of absolute amazement as this band has been on an amazing journey since 2012. We were humbled and honored by this accomplishment and as I reflected on this achievement I it only made me appreciate my band mates even more as it has always been a privilege to work with each of them.

Tony Corrales Band, Country Looks Good on You, Album of the Year at the 2019 Josie Awards

On a more personal note, the appreciation I have for my band mates really came out when it came to the way the year ended for us. Tony Corrales made the difficult decision to hang it up as a performer both for health and personal reasons and the outpouring of support from each member of the band as well as our following was nothing short of amazing. As has always been the case from the beginning, this band has always been about the people first and the musical group second.

Yes, we all love being part of this band but each person is on their own journey and sometimes it takes one of the members on a path that is meant solely for them. Still, the journey that began back in 2012 has been nothing short of amazing. I will always cherish our moments together and all of the friends we made along the way as this was in fact that best musical experience of my life.

TCB: Forever my Musical Family

Returning to the Past 

It was something I never anticipated but like any unresolved experience I found myself wanting closure on a few things. In this case it was the fact that my old band Come Thirsty had never finished recording and releasing four songs from back in the day that meant a lot to each of us. It would seem easy for us to just get together and finish the job but one of our original members, guitarist Jeff Sanders, had passed away about a year a half ago so this would not be as simple as it seemed. Still, the remaining members did finally decide to meet and discuss the idea and made the decision to get this project finished once and for all.

We are currently in the midst of making the proper preparations to start unpacking this project, which included me recruiting guitarist Joey Cota from TCB to fill in on guitar once we work on the final recordings. Interestingly enough, while we start pre-production demos I will be helping rework some of the guitar parts and probably laying down some of the basic tracks before Joey comes in to do the final cuts. I am actually looking forward to this because I do love playing guitar and enjoy the creative process when it comes to working on new ideas. 

On another note, 2019 gave me a chance to reconnect with two musician friends of mine with each meeting leading to a discussion of some future possibilities. The first person is the amazing Andre Marins who is a virtuoso guitarist and composer. He is not only one of my dear friends but a partner in a project that has been dormant for too long. Many years ago we worked as a duo known as Invocation of Improvisation and the name tells it all, we make up music on the spot! It didn't matter if we were in the habitat, which is his recording studio out in North Hollywood or onstage somewhere causing havoc for a stunned audience. All we would do is discuss some kind of mood, theme, feeling, etc. and then look at each other and go for it.

Andre attended my drumming Master Class last June and we both agreed that it has been way too long since we last got together so the hope is that we will do something in the next several months and finally get some music released. The old demos from back in the day continue to inspire me as our musical connection was always something that took my breath away. It's always a great challenge to play with Andre but it's also a lot of fun because we always seem to surprise each other with what come up with.

With the amazing Andre Marins

Then there is the great William Luna, who is someone I have known since my late teens. We had worked together during the long hair metal days and then kept running into each other in other musical projects for many years after that band came and went. We always enjoyed playing music together and had communicated off and on over the years about the possibility of doing something again.

Last month we got together for the first time in quite a while as I was back in CA for a non-musical venture. Once the conversation got to what we were doing musically we both felt the spark ignite. Like me Will is all over the place in terms of playing in different musical settings and trying out new things. Aside from him being a great guitarist he is an incredible singer so the idea of working with him again excites me. I got really excited when he spoke of the new instruments that he can now play as well as some of the musical ventures he has been on the last several years because I could only imagine what we would come up with now!  Time will tell but as always, I know it will be a lot of fun.

With the amazing William Luna

Final Thoughts 

I had so many other great experiences from playing gigs with Sonoran Sol to recording with Richard Newell at Alegria Studios to reconnecting with former band mates that I hadn't seen in years both here in Arizona and in California.  Each of these experiences were both inspiring and uplifting as I had a chance to stretch myself as a musician and/or reminisce on the past in regards to some very precious memories.

What is in store for me in 2020? To start out, I do plan to continue my solo drumming act as well as my music composition efforts. I am in the process right now of getting the packaging ready for my next release, which I am hoping will be out sometime at the beginning of the year. I also have plans to return to Southern California in March for a non-musical event but will take time during that trip to record another promo video at Soultone Studio.

On a creative level I have the impending Come Thirsty sessions to look forward to as well as finding time to work with Andre and William. I am also excited about playing my guitar at church as well as some of the new music we are working on for weekly Masses that is quite challenging to say the least.I have never been one to shy away from stretching myself and these new songs are certainly doing the job. I can already feel the improvement in my playing while also feeling that I still have a lot of work to do.

Finally, while I was hoping to have some TCB gigs in 2020 please know that I will hitting the stage again in the Tucson country music scene at the beginning of the year. Right now I am preparing to launch something new with some of my musician buddies and we are really excited about it. I am proud to say that it will have the same musical quality that my audience is used to hearing from me but with an expanded sound that is also going to surprise them. 

So yes, I will be bringing the thunder as I have no intention of slowing down any time soon. I'll be seeing you all real soon!

At the Paradiso Lounge in Casino del Sol

Carlos Solorzano


  1. Well said, my friend and Brother. Looking forward to 2020 and hitting the stage with you, once again. My A-1 from Day 1...Love You Brotha!