Vocalist Chris Mitchell is releasing his second solo CD entitled Sing on February 26th, 2009. I’ve been affiliated with him since 1996 as drummer (and one-time percussionist) for his band, The Collection. This seemed like a good time to tell the story of how a group of strangers ended up becoming some of the most influential people in my life.
For a drummer, you’re really lucky if you find a bassist that you lock with to create that special rhythm section. In my case, I found a whole freakin’ band!
I still remember walking into my first rehearsal with Chris Mitchell & The Collection at Belmont University. The band had been playing in the Nashville area and was gathering a strong following. They were in a spot because their drummer Chris (Brown) couldn’t make a date and I was highly recommended by their keyboardist Josh. He and I had just played a horrible wedding date under a tent where the ground was very bumpy and slanted. If I could endure that... then I could do anything, right?
I crammed for the rehearsal because it was a lot of original music+covers and the band was really good. All of the members had majored in a field of music and one of the background vocalist was actually an instructor at the university. On my side, a combined thousand years of scholastic music programs and playing every club with every band from Here to There. The rehearsal went great and we really clicked as people too. However, I knew that eventually this one-off show would be done and their drummer would be back! Luckily, my other strength is thinking of a Plan B, C & D really fast so I told Chris (Mitchell) I thought percussion would really add a lot to their sound. I talked myself into the band as the 10th member... Derek, The Percussionist. One problem.... I didn’t own any percussion!
I was working for Pearl Drums by that point and I quickly bought all of the used percussion I could afford. Now that I had it, I had to learn how to play it... oh the web of deceit thou hath weaveth for thy self!! Needless to say, it worked out and I performed with them until eventually taking over the drum chair when Chris Brown set off to find his fortune. (He’s currently a Blue Man that’s in a Group)
Soon after, there were significant changes in the guitar and background vocalist positions. The late 90’s - present line-up set new attendance records at many clubs in town and our live show was a must-see. (You’ll find video of a very very tame night in the Listen/Gig Blog section)
By the time 2003 rolled around, the ride was coming to an end. The musical climate in town changed and we were all quite different from the band who were known for bringing ‘wickedness’ to the clubs. Chris Mitchell moved from Nashville and The Collection occasionally played on each other’s various new projects. Josh (keyboards) moved to New York and has since become a successful remixer and producer.
Chris Mitchell moved back to Nashville in 2006 and we found ourselves back on stage together again. Gone were the scary techno loops, stretchy leather, alcohol-fueled lightning bolts, and sweaty 3-hour sets! This time our live shows were more about the songs and the vibe reflects who are now. To Josh’s credit, we been using a revolving roster of keyboardist ever since.
Chris brought The Collection into the studio to finally capture the synergy that effortlessly flows between us all when we play together. You can hear the classic ’98 line-up on “Gravity”, “A Little Help From My Friends”, and “Unconcerned”. Guest starring on “People Get Ready” is Darci Monet who was one of the original background vocalist.
But this story isn’t just about the music.
From within the band came two successful marriages (Janet ♥ Keith and me ♥ Kelley) and coming soon the first “Collection” baby. Marshall and Amy have extraordinary spouses and they’re definitely considered part of the extended Collection Family.
With everyone’s ever growing schedules and responsibilities, who knows how many more times we can get together? But even if we never played another note as The Collection again, I know that they will always be there if I ever need ‘a little help from my friends’.
And that feels pretty darn good!
The Collection are: Janet Kenyon, Keith Kenyon, Derek Wolfford, Marshall Moody, Kelley Norris, and Amy Owsley.