Fall 2015 Update: Records, Gigs, School, New Bands, a Long Walk...


A lot has been going on in the past couple of months, and I've neglected to post any news on my blog, so I'm going to take care of all relevant updates here in one fell swoop. Take a deep breath... here we go.

Many Blessings In the Studio


As previously mentioned on the blog, I took my band, Many Blessings, into Shirk Studios in August for two days to record an album's worth of material. We had a blast in Steve Shirk's wonderfully comfy and great-sounding space, and I'm very pleased with the sounds we got on record. As you can see in the photo, I augmented my standard drum set considerably, adding a second (thunderous) floor tom, second (low and muffled) snare drum, a trashy crashy cymbal stack, and some mini timbales that sound like roto toms, 'cause what's a free-jazz drum freakout without some good ol' roto toms? Everybody really committed to making my music sound as good as possible, and the whole experience was another reminder to be incredibly thankful for the dudes in my band (trumpeter Quentin Coaxum, saxophonist Jim Schram and bassist Dan Thatcher). 


Of course, a lot more has to happen before I can write a blog post letting you know about the album's release date: mixing, mastering, producing a physical thing that looks cool, etc. I'm committed to making all of that happen as quickly as possible, so keep checking back for updates.

Terry Bartolotta CD Release
Speaking of updating you about release dates, there is an album I'm involved in that was just recently released: Slow Burn by the Terry Bartolotta Group. This is my 2nd album with Terry's group, and I'm very proud to be a part of it. We had a great time recording at I.V. Labs in March, and the finished product sounds great. You can find the album on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby, so go on and pick it up! 

We played a pair of CD release shows at Andy's on September 11th and 12th, which were super fun. The group, which comprises James Davis on trumpet, Alex Beltran on tenor sax and Joel Kelsey on bass along with Terry on guitar and myself on drums, plays around town fairly often, so keep your eyes on the Gigs page to find out when you can see us next.

Also, check out this nicely-produced video of us at a recent gig playing Terry's tasty arrangement of the old standard, "Skylark."

Recording with The Right Now

Scenes from the TRN session

I'm fortunate to be able to play in The Right Now, a great original soul/R&B band staffed by some of my favorite people. I'm always excited to play live with TRN, but I'm even more excited to have my first experience making a record with them. TRN has two great records out on the market, Carry Me Home and Gets Over You, and I'm honored to be a part of creating record #3.

We spent countless hours this summer working out the kinks in pre-production, recording demos and arguing over chord changes and drum grooves, and we started tracking with the wonderful Vijay Tellis-Nayak at Transient Sound in September. We got some great sounds recorded. You can read a heartfelt blog post by TRN leader Brendan about his hopes for the project here. The rough mixes are already getting us pretty excited. We should be done tracking by December, and I expect to write another blog post about the CD release sometime in 2016!

Back to School
The other big news this fall: almost 8 years after finishing my undergraduate studies at Northern Illinois University, I've started grad school at DePaul University. I've wanted to go back to school for my Masters for quite a while now, and the time finally seemed right. I'm very excited to be studying privately and in large ensemble with Dana Hall, an amazing musician, educator, scholar and all-around person. So far, I've been focused on studying the great Max Roach, and I'm looking forward to lots of deep-diving into drumming history over the next two years. It's definitely a new challenge to balance my professional life as a freelance musician and teacher with my studies, but I'm starting to get the hang of it, and I'm confident I'll have it figured out by my graduation date in 2017.

LG3 and LCQ
I've recently added two new pages to lucasgillan.com for a couple of projects I've been enjoying lately, and with which I'm hoping to get a lot busier soon: the Lucas Gillan Trio and the Left Coast Quartet. I'll just leave it at that -- satisfy your curiosity by clicking on those links!

The Murphy Sesh


As a freelance musician, it's always fun to land a steady gig with inspiring musicians. I've been fortunate enough to get to play with the great guitarist Lee Rothenberg at Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro every Wednesday since June, as the house band for the jam session. The house set is always a blast, and the caliber of musicians at the jam session is always very impressive. Come on out on a Wednesday, whether you're hoping to jam or just hear some live jazz -- the house band starts around 8:30 and the jam goes until about midnight.

A Walk in the Woods
Besides all of this drumming activity, I checked off a totally non-musical item on my bucket list in August: I went on a solo backpacking trip. I hiked 22 miles of the Ice Age Trail through the Chequamegon National Forest in northern Wisconsin over 2 days. It was a beautiful hike, and I really enjoyed the experience of solitude and remoteness, especially before jumping in to all of the above-mentioned flurry of activity. If you're curious at all about the specifics of my trip, I got the idea from this Backpacker.com article. Enjoy some photos below, and take care 'til the next update.

A boardwalk near the (rainy) start of the trek

This narrow ridge is called an esker -- I traversed a few of these throughout the hike

My home for one night

The end of the hike -- Mondeaux Flowage Recreation Area