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Former Asia drummer performs at the Englert

BY EVAN CLARK | OCTOBER 29, 2010 7:15 AM

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The drum solo is an art that is sadly losing steam in the rock world today. Gone are the days when Jon Bonham of Led Zeppelin performing epic solos extending over an hour, or Rush’s Neil Pert furiously banging his sticks as his drumset spins upside down. But despite a new era of electronic beats and samples, legendary drummer Carl Palmer isn’t fazed.

“I think with technology there’s a lot more available to drummers,” Palmer said. “There’s a lot more equipment than when I started, but I’ve started using some electronic drums here and there and I think the influence from technology on players is on the cutting edge. However, I still prefer to play the way I’ve always played, plain and simple.”

Palmer, the drummer for the past super-groups like ’70’s progressive rock legend Emerson Lake & Palmer and 80’s pop rock giant, Asia, will perform with backup instrumentation at the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., this Saturday night at 8 p.m.

Carl Palmer and his band have been going strong since 2001, recording three albums, including one released October this year. This fall marks the beginning of Palmer’s second US tour with the group and will be followed up with an Asia reunion tour starting in 2011. Palmer plans to play plenty of Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) classics this Saturday, accompanied with classical music renditions as well as a video and projections show that Palmer feels will give it, “more of an art rock feel.”

“It’s very unique and I don’t think there’s another band playing like us at the moment.” Palmer said.

Palmer’s progressive rock style of percussion has influenced a wide range of drummers both new and old. Fellow drummer and Palmer fan Mike Frahm was turned onto Palmer by his father, who also played drums.

“My dad has a bunch of ELP records that he let me borrow growing up,” Frahm said. “Their songs were always like 20 minutes long, but Carl’s rhythm and drum solos were always what stood out to me. I’d say Carl Palmer and Garth from *Wayne’s World* inspired me to pick up drumming.”

Palmer is widely known for his intense percussion performances and exuberant drum solos, which have been staples of his live shows. He’s equally known for his ability to rip off his shirt during his solos and while losing articles of clothing has become something of a rarity these days, Palmer never knows what will happen at any given moment during his performances.

“I recently ripped my shirt off at a big music festival this summer,” Palmer said. “But it’s all in the moment, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Shirt or no shirt, the 60-year-old Palmer doesn’t see himself putting down the sticks anytime in the near future.

“People only retire when they’re doing something they don’t like,” Palmer said. “As long as I can maintain my standard I’ll keep playing and the minute I can’t do it anymore, I’ll stop. But I think that day will never come.”


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