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Saturday essay: Restoration of youth

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Friday, June 1, 2012, 6:28 p.m.

The 40-plus-year-old drum set, that vestige of youth rescued from the Dumpster of unrealized dreams, was due for an upgrade.

So, new Zildjian cymbals -- highly regarded and once only imagined by the set's teenage owner -- have been added, along with a new hi-hat and Remo drumheads. And though it's still a far cry from a high-end Ludwig set or even an original Slingerland, it sounds pretty good.

The repairs and upgrades have provided a trip back in time for the middle-aged musician wannabe, who as a youngster would spend hours cleaning and polishing this most prized gift from his parents. Indeed, replacing the bass drumhead was like cracking open a time capsule.

Inside were the yellowed pages of a June 1971 New York Daily News. Crumpled newspaper used to be the muffler of choice for cash-strapped drummers to achieve just the right bass drum "thump."

Along with yesterday's news were various sticks and broken pieces of who-knows-what, no doubt inserted through the drum's air hole by young nieces and nephews, now grown, who used to whale on the drums long abandoned by their uncle in his parents' basement.

Yet despite that abuse, this gift of youth will shine once more when it's pressed into service later this month in a rare public performance. And its owner will, as the song goes, "Get it on, bang a gong."

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