Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

By Jason Patera

Today I sold my Premier drumkit, and I feel like I’ve parted ways with an old friend.

When my friend Jeremy and I started Caltera School in 2001, our first purchases were music stands, a copy machine, a whiteboard, a couple of amps, a few dozen shiny black folders, and a natural-finish Premier drumset with gold hardware.

In the years they were in regular use at Caltera, those drums were played for hours every single day for lessons, combos, and jam sessions. They were featured in the college audition CDs of many now-legendary Caltera alumni, and I used them myself for the weekly jazz gigs at Quenchers.

When our efforts to move Caltera into its own building failed in ’07, I lifted my spirits by treating my students (and myself!) to a custom Gretsch kit. I stacked the Premiers in the basement, promising them that their useful life wasn’t over.

But the years went by, and they didn’t move much. Last week I felt guilty realizing how long it had been since they’d been played, so I hesitantly posted a “for sale” ad online with some photos.

A man named John called about them several times, and I could tell he knew very little about drums. I could hear the longing in his voice, though, and he showed up right on time to take a look. He was in his late 50’s, with the hands and eyes of someone who’s done a lifetime of hard work.

“They sure are pretty,” he said, running his finger along one of the rims, not knowing what questions to ask.

I told him about the sizes (a 20” kick is pretty versatile), the heads (coated), and the suspension mounts (that my dad drilled out in his shop).

“I want to have a music room,” he said suddenly, looking at the other instruments nearby. “I’m going to invite my friends over so we can play music together. These will be okay for that, right?”

I helped him bring the drums out to his car, and I was touched by how gently he picked each one up and set it in his backseat.

“Can I tell you something?” he asked, shaking my hand. “I was so excited about finally buying myself some drums that I couldn’t sleep last night.”

I miss that drumkit already, but I’m filled with joy knowing that someone is playing them right now. I’m so happy the Premiers have a loving new friend.