GLENN MILCHEM with TORY CASSIS at C'est What (19 Church), Sunday (February 18). $5. 416-867-9499. And with THE SWALLOWS at Ted's Wrecking Yard (549 College), Tuesday (February 20). $5. 416-928-5012.
GLENN MILCHEM with TORY CASSIS at C'est What (19 Church), Sunday (February 18). $5. 416-867-9499. And with THE SWALLOWS at Ted's Wrecking Yard (549 College), Tuesday (February 20). $5. 416-928-5012. the stock on dumb drummer jokes continues to plummet as a surprisingly steady number of local musicians swap their sticks for guitars. Howie Beck, Andy Stochansky, Hawksley Workman and Jian Ghomeshi have all emerged from behind kits to croon earnestly about love, life and other disasters.
And there's Glenn Milchem. Blue Rodeo's drummer last year released a fine disc of quiet, slow-burning pop songs under the name the Swallows.
While 140 tour dates with Blue Rodeo in 2000 kept Milchem and his collaborators from hyping the Swallows in earnest, the recent re-release of their Turning Blue disc on Six Shooter Records ought to get Milchem thinking more seriously about life outside the day-job band.
Could the city be facing a critical drummer shortage sometime soon?
"People have this perception that drums aren't musical," Milchem chuckles from home. "You know the joke -- what do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians all the time? A drummer.
"Besides having a strong sense of rhythm, to be a good drummer you need a sense of song structure and melody and you have to listen to everything. So it's more of a natural evolution for drummers to want to write and arrange than you might think."
The quality of releases from guys like Milchem bears him out, though the disarmingly modest musician insists Turning Blue -- engineered by Al Miller -- captures him in a more tentative space as a singer.
Milchem has what he says is enough material for two new albums, and he admits he's dying to get some new stuff out. So you have to wonder why he chose to re-release Turning Blue.
"It had such narrow distribution and it was such a well-kept secret that it seemed worth taking another stab at. And I got a grant to make a video (for the title track)."
But no, he's not ready to quit his mainstay gig.
"I've wanted to sing and play guitar for a long time, but I didn't have the guts to do it before this. I love the Swallows and I'm going to keep doing this no matter what. But it's not a job.
"And Blue Rodeo, which pays the bills, keeps me really busy. I have a teenage son and a baby daughter, so having a job is rather important -- even if my son is vaguely embarrassed that I play in a "country band' like Blue Rodeo."
Drummer Glenn Milchem steps up By KIM HUGHES