It has been a long time since I’ve been in a setting where I can be fully creative. I reunited with a few longtime colleagues and began working on music for a new project. It is great tapping into the part of my brain where I can create music and have full input.
When I am a part of a new musical, I can get somewhat creative with the drum parts that I’ll be playing. I can only get so free with what I play because there are limits. I can’t play anything I want because I have to fit into a complicated puzzle. I have to not only interact with the musicians, but I have to think about the dancers, the actors, and how it will work within the context of the show.
Creating drum parts for new shows is still a thrill, especially when it is a show that I will be playing for a long time. When I am in a workshop it can be fun too. I am not sure who will be playing the parts I help create in the future when it is a full production. Some of the time I play what is written in the score, but more often than not, I’m inventing new parts that become part of the show.
When I got the call to get back together and develop new material again, it was exciting because I need to tap into my creative side. If I’m not engaging that part of my brain, it tends to atrophy. It’s like a muscle that needs to be used on a regular basis. It is just part of who I am.
As we began interacting with one another in the room, it reminded me of the kinds of rehearsals I did on an almost daily basis when I came to New York City in 1993. Back then, it was all about new music and new ideas. It was a much younger me trying to find the newest thing to present to my friends and possible new fans. I have a lot of these sessions on cassette and from time to time revisit those days by listening back. There are times when I am pleasantly impressed with what I did and others where I ask myself, “what was I thinking?”
Being part of the community of creative people keeps me in a positive frame of mind. When you step back and think about it, everything around us was invented by someone. Someone had the idea to crate the smart phone, the tablet or the computer people are reading this on. Someone imaginative designed the layout of this site. Innovators wrote and performed the music you heard on the radio or in the supermarket. Artful people designed the table we ate from last night and designed the glass we drank from. Visionaries thought of the style of light that is lighting our home that was designed by a creative architect. Creativity is all around you.
Let the creatives loose and the world can be a better place. Or at least a more interesting one. Let’s see if the new music I am creating will inspire more inventiveness.
Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 18 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums with music legends such as Chuck Berry and The Stylistics and has played in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald. He has also worked on her a number of musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, The First Wives Club, The Last Goodbye, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, Spongebob Squarepants, and Avenue Q. Clayton is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.
Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.