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Nashville Roundtable Part 1

Interview by Jayson Brinkworth // June 02 2009
Nashville Roundtable Part 1

I don’t believe that drummers at our level get to have good nights and bad nights. You have to be dependable night after night.  - Dave McAfee

A couple of years ago when I started writing for The Black Page, I had an idea for a feature article based around the Nashville music scene and its drummers. They are some of the world’s best and have a wealth of knowledge to share. I had a few players in mind but nothing concrete. The first player that fell into the mix was David Northrup from Travis Tritt’s band. David was in town for a show and a clinic, and we ended up heading out for a bite and a long drummer chat. The next player to come along was Dave McAfee from Toby Keith’s band. I met Dave when we were out on tour with Toby Keith, and we had a lot of time to exchange drum chat. The next player is no stranger to The Black Page, as he has graced the cover of our fair magazine: Rich Redmond from Jason Aldean’s band. The fourth player was on a recommendation from the first three and is the talented Pat McDonald from The Charlie Daniels Band. The final player is none other than Ben Sesar who plays with multi award-winning artist Brad Paisley.

These players make up a fantastic cross-section of drumming in general. They all have great chops, fantastic technique and are very educated in the music industry. With all of these drumming skills in tact it is their skills as musicians that impresses me most. Playing the song, supporting the lyric, and being dynamically expressive are just a few things that will keep these five great players employed all of the time. I hope you enjoy part one of this educational read from five of the busiest and best players in the industry right now. See you next month!



To start off with, could you give us a glimpse into your formative years of playing? Say from the ages of 15 to 20?

Rich Redmond: I started playing drums at age 8. My early lessons taught me grip, reading, rudiments and basic drum set coordination. I am totally a product of the great music education system in Texas. Beginning in the fifth grade I participated in symphonic band, orchestra, marching band and jazz ensemble every year until graduation. I studied classical percussion and drum set and took it very seriously. I played in a million fun bands in El Paso, Texas, and listened to tons of music. Some of my faves were The Police, John Mellencamp and Van Halen. Those were the big influences: Stewart, Alex and Kenny. I ended up attending Texas Tech University and later the University of North Texas. By the time I was 25 I had two degrees and had played tons of musical styles. I tried to pattern myself after players like Gregg Bissonette, who could play tons of styles with conviction and also had an academic degree to fall back on.

Dave McAfee: I was in the high school marching band and the college marching band at Ohio U. Those years of experience gave me confidence. In high school, driving a 96 piece band as the only bass drummer was a great experience in time, meter, and responsibility. The stars had always been the snare line, but the director talked me into being the bass drummer, who was ultimately the leader of the band. I was president of the band and section leader, and the pressure to run the section and know all the parts was a great teaching tool, and years later, ultimately helped prepare me for the responsibilities of driving a huge show like Toby’s.

Ben Sesar: Hmmm. Those were basically high school and early college years. I had already been playing for 6 years by the time I was 15. The goal in those days (as it still is today) was to play, play, play. I sought out and surrounded myself with people that were like-minded and wanted to play as often as I did. College was no exception—the difference there was the additional focus on personal practice. I started playing gigs out on the town within my first semester.

Dave Northrup: I began playing in a school program at the age of 12, played all through high school, involved in concert band, jazz band, and select choirs. I competed in Area All State and All State Competitions. At 15 I began playing in rock cover bands outside of school. Began studying privately around 17, however I didn’t really get serious until my early twenties.

Pat McDonald: I started out at age 5 or 6 with a toy kit with paper heads. I promptly destroyed them and lost interest. They ended up in the attic for a few years. One day, for no apparent reason, I dug them back out and got completely bitten by the bug! I couldn’t play them much because they were in pieces, so I began playing to my mom’s 70s soft rock/disco records (The Eagles, The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, John Denver, Bread, Barry Manilow, etc.) on pillows on the couch, set up like toms all around me. I think this was a huge positive step because it developed my ears as well as my hands. I learned to really listen and hear what the drums were doing in the music and, unbeknownst to me at the time, why. I tried to imagine the pillows as my kit and copied what I was hearing. I hassled my mom to get me real drums, and she finally relented, buying me another toy kit but a little better one with real heads and hoops and small-sized wood shells. That kit didn’t have a hi hat. It had one tiny bass drum, one mounted tom, a snare on a stand and one cheap cymbal.

As I got more into it, I knew I needed better drums, so by the time I was 12 or so she bought me my first real kit. It was one of those no-name Taiwanese junk kits, but it had a working hi hat and real (albeit cheap) cymbals. I played them all through middle school and kept playing along to records, developing my ears and hands. By this point I had begun buying my own records and left her easy listening music for more heavy rock music. I got really into Kiss and learned to copy all of Peter Criss’ stuff. By the time I got to high school I got into the music programs (jazz band, marching band, concert band), met more people who were into music and they started turning me onto other music. I got turned onto guys like Steve Smith with Journey, Terry Bozzio, Mark Craney, Vinnie Colaiuta with Frank Zappa, James Bradley Jr. with Chuck Mangione and, most importantly, Neil Peart. I became a complete Rush fanatic and spent hours learning Neil’s drum parts and licks.

High school became nothing more than a place to study just enough to get by in regular classes and spend every spare moment in the band room. At that point, I had become a fairly accomplished player for my age, and my parents realized I was really into this and they got me a real kit with real cymbals— a Ludwig Chrome-O-Wood kit with a full set of Zildjians. I joined a local band and started gigging in clubs during my senior year. When I graduated, the band started traveling the southeastern U.S., playing rock covers in clubs all over Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1983 and had a recurrence in 1985 and quit the band to have surgery and chemotherapy. During my recuperation, I decided to get really serious and go to music college. I applied to Berklee but got turned down, so I followed all my high school drummer buddies to Georgia Southern College, played in the jazz band, marching band, concert band and took nothing but music theory courses to get a basic knowledge of music—and then re-applied to Berklee. I got accepted this time and went to Boston in the summer of ’87. I took a full load of classes, lessons, private lessons with Gary Chaffee and practiced non-stop for about eighteen months. On Chaffee’s recommendation, I left Berklee and started gigging full time. I’m still doing it today!

What factors played into you choosing Nashville as a base for your music career over places like LA or New York?

Ben Sesar: I was in a really good band at the time I graduated college, and we were going to move to New York. Two of the members bailed at the last moment, leaving only the lead singer and myself. We wanted to keep the band together but had nowhere to go. We knew some people in Nashville who graduated the prior year and took an interest in re-forming the band with us. So, we threw all of our stuff in a car and went. Nashville was a default destination, but I liked the idea of it from the start. I knew it was a music town like LA or NYC, but with much less density. My speculation was that it would be easier to “stick out” here.

Dave Northrup: I always knew someday I wanted to have a family, even from an early age. Although, at the time, the music being made and players in New York and LA influenced me a great deal, I just felt Nashville seemed to be the logical choice economically. Between 1992 through 1995, while touring, I had an opportunity to meet several musicians from Nashville who were able to give me some insight on the scene. After a brief visit in early ‘95 I knew it was where I was supposed to be. I just felt right in my spirit.

Pat McDonald: I ended up doing all kinds of gigs—rock, funk, top 40, society dance jazz gigs, weddings, big band, you name it. Those experiences led me to Sarasota, FL, to take a house gig in a jazz club. I did that for a couple of years then joined with a local rock guy who did clubs and played constantly. I became a first call guy in town for gigs and session work and had a fulltime roster of students. I got called to play on a Christian-pop record project with two brothers who lived in Sarasota and owned a multi-million dollar fiber optic business. I did their record and did some live shows with them. They decided to move their business to Nashville and asked me to come along. I had reached the top level of what success I could have in Sarasota and decided to give it a try and see how I could fare in a big pond instead of a small one. I moved up to Nashville in April ’97. I had considered all of the three music centers before, but the opportunity to move to Nashville and live rent-free until I got on my feet pretty much sealed the deal for me!

Dave McAfee: In school, most of the drumset guys at Ohio U were studying jazz or fusion. Our Grad Assistant was from Berkeley, and our professor was a jazz phenom named Guy Remonko. However, Mr. Remonko was very into time, no matter the genre. I worked on time relentlessly during my time at school. I had moved around a lot growing up, but my dad had always listened to country music. He always watched the Nashville-based music shows. Honestly, I always liked the vocals in country. To this day, I try to play to the vocal—dynamically, musically, and emotionally. I love the country genre when it comes to drumming for the lyric and the emotion of the song. Larrie Londin was my hero for playing like that.

Rich Redmond: I moved to Nashville in March of 1997. I was having my quarter life crisis in Dallas and knew I had to make my move to the coasts. I had decided on LA when a friend of mine told me that a gal named Trisha Yearwood was auditioning drummers in Nashville. I flew to the audition to make my mark. The players on the gig turned me on to an audition with Deanna Carter, which led to an audition with Barbara Mandrell. I had three major auditions in a two-week time period. It seemed like Nashville was the place to be. I gave my band two weeks’ notice and drove to Nashville with one drum set and my little black cat, Cha Cha. The internet has made the world a smaller place in the last ten years, so I am now intensely focusing on making my mark in the NYC and LA markets, in addition to all of my responsibilities in Nashville.

In respect to the current gigs that you all have, how did these situations present themselves?

Rich Redmond: A lot of new drummers come to town and ask for advice about how to get connected. I tell them to take every gig that comes along, shake hands and get involved. Sometimes those “small” gigs turn into big ones. That’s what happened for me. I met a young Jason Aldean in 2000. He had a publishing deal with Warner Chappell. I started doing tons of industry showcases and demos with him. In 2004, he got signed. When it came time to record the record, he and his producer thought about me first because we had established a relationship. You have to develop and nurture many relationships to be successful in this business. Taking gigs with a young and hungry Jason Aldean led to me playing on three successful records, six top ten singles, a #1 song, videos, tours, etc.

Dave McAfee: I had been playing out of Nashville with several acts for years. Musicians tend to know each other out on the tours. I had known several of Toby’s guys. I had done an album with the bass player, who is the band leader. I had been in bands with the utility guy. It was those connections that got my name in the hat. I had jammed with Toby on several occasions in the past. When my name came up for discussion, Toby hired me without an audition, and I’ve been there ever since. Of course, you have to be able to do the job ultimately, but the value of networking speaks for itself in this instance.

Pat McDonald: When I got to Nashville, I dumped my truck and drove downtown to hit the clubs and start exploring—the very first night. I literally went out to a jam night before I had even slept one night at my new place! I started sitting in and passing out my number to anyone who asked for it. I was getting calls for local gigs in about two weeks. I ended up getting the gig with Tanya Tucker (my first real tour bus road gig) in about four months. I was stunned that it all started happening so fast. I did her gig for almost a year then got fired. I had learned from my buddies in town that getting fired by Tanya was a kind of a “rite of passage”, so I didn’t let it get me down. She has always been prone to waking up and just firing her whole band for no discernible reason. I became one of many victims.

I pressed on and kept working locally. I ended up on a house gig at a club outside of town for a year or so. The bass player on that gig engineered at a studio during the day and he called me one day to come over and bail out a session that was running behind because the guy who was hired to play drums wasn’t cutting it. It ended up being a solo project by Taz DeGregorio who plays piano with The Charlie Daniels Band. Taz liked what I did, paid me and that was that— back to my house gig. About two weeks later, Jack Gavin left Charlie after fourteen years and Taz told Charlie about me. I got a call to come over and audition and ended up getting the gig. I just began my tenth year in the band.

Dave Northrup: My initial goal when I moved to Nashville was to be a studio guy, to stay in town and work my way up the ladder and establish myself as an “in town guy”. Back then you had to make a decision as to what you wanted to do: tour or record. It was taboo to try and do both, so the first five years (1995 – 2000) that’s what I did, hung in town and tried to break into the studio scene. I had some marginal success, each year getting a bit better up until 2000.

Frustrated with the struggle of trying to stay around town, I finally just decided to take some auditions for touring work. I was fortunate to get several auditions right away: Pam Tillis, Clay Davidson, both I didn’t land. Then I got a call to audition for Trisha Yearwood, which I was real excited about. I had always been a fan of her music. Unfortunately I lost the gig to Charlie Morgan, Elton John’s drummer. Soon after that I was recommended to a new artist named Rebecca Lynn Howard. The bass player from that gig was hired by Travis Tritt’s management to put together auditions for a new band. He asked if I’d be interested in checking it out. Of course I said yes. A few days later Travis’ management asked if I would hang after my audition and play for the other fiddle, bass and keyboard auditions which they would pay me for. I had a chance to play with Travis more than any of the other auditioning drummers.

Ben Sesar: Using my basic philosophy of “play, play, play, and don’t worry about the rest” (i.e. don’t worry about “making it”, being recognized, getting paid, etc.) I eventually played in front of, and befriended, the people who would put me in touch with a local guy managing artists. I auditioned for a female artist of his at the time. I got the gig, but her career quickly fizzled. A year later he called me about a new guy he had: Brad Paisley. He told me they only had a few gigs, and not to expect much, but I didn’t care because of my “play, play, play” attitude. Ironically, Brad had the same attitude, so we hit it off right away.

As I say to all of my students, it is one thing to get a gig, but the real work comes in keeping a gig. What do you each bring to an artist’s music that helps you keep the gig?

Ben Sesar: You have to really screw up to lose your gig with Brad. He is a very loyal person who doesn’t like to let anyone go. Having said that, the early days were a challenge for me. I was coming from a mainly rock background, and I was very new to country; Brad was a traditional country artist. I knew right away that there were many subtleties I was missing. I submerged myself into the genre, finding an appreciation, not only as a drummer but as a fan of music. This helped me to get inside Brad’s mind by learning to appreciate the same things he did. He took notice and very much appreciated the extra effort, which helped reinforce his loyalty. This was ten years ago, and the process has not stopped since.

Dave Northrup: I think one of the most important elements in approaching an artist gig is respect for the music—their music. Taking the time to really learn and pay attention to detail. Play for the music and always be song-supportive. I’m a detail freak. I love nuances and subtleties, ghost notes that sometimes don’t always translate as well in live performance situations but are so crucial for the groove, in my opinion. Having spent a fair amount of time in the studio I pay attention to those things. Also from a hang perspective I try to be flexible. You have to deal with many different types of personalities on the road. Being easy going and flexible with the ability to get along with others is crucial. You only spend an hour, an hour and half to two hours on stage. The other twentytwo hours you have to live in close quarters with others, so you have to be able to get along. Being positive and being able to do “the hang” is very important. You can be the baddest cat around, but with a crappy attitude and the inability to get along with others, no one will really care how good you are and won’t want to work or be around you.

Pat McDonald: I think first and foremost is professionalism and a good attitude. This is a business and you must be a pro. Attitude and personality are huge here. You will not go far if you get a reputation for being dark, gloomy, negative or just a drag to be around. The guys who succeed here are the guys who people just enjoy spending time with. They’re laid back and relaxed, flexible, patient, dependable, pleasant and able to roll with the punches. You have to be organized, have good gear, play well and be on time, ready to go when the red light comes on or the lights go up. That is what keeps you on a gig around here. If you get a reputation of being weird or difficult or burdened with piles of personal issues, people stop calling you. Drug or alcohol problems or personal issues that spill over onto the gig will kill you. There are tons of great players here who can do your gig in a heartbeat, so babysitting a guy with a pile of personal baggage is really low on most folks’ list of priorities. I think in my case being a solid player with a varied musical background and having a sense of humor and ability to bring some levity into the room has helped me immensely.

Dave McAfee: You have to be tuned into many things, not just drumming. You almost have to be part psychologist and part coach in order to be an artist’s “goto- guy” night after night. It helps to be a team player and a friend. Atmosphere is very important in a big tour. It just works better if it’s fun. Of course, you have to be consistent, and the band and the artist have to be able to count on you. My goal was always to be one of the successful drummers in Nashville. I ultimately wanted to find an artist that felt like they would almost rather not play without me. Obviously, there are many great drummers in Nashville. I think realizing that fact makes you better. Then, of course, you still have to strive to do your artist’s show as good as it can be done.

I don’t believe that drummers at our level get to have good nights and bad nights. An arena country show nowadays is very drumprominent. You are definitely in the mix. You have to be dependable night after night. Toby and the band certainly never need me to be the star, but they do need me to run the show like Toby feels it every night. Toby’s main directive has always been that the show be fun and the crowd be standing all night long. I am coming up on my ten-year anniversary, and it’s still fun out there.

Rich Redmond: Great question! I have always been a journeyman drummer. I have played with one-hit-wonders, legends and everyone in between. Most of these acts like a drummer to play their part and stay out of the way. Occasionally, you get lucky and work for someone who really champions what you do and encourages you to be completely you. Jason encourages me and the entire band to be ourselves, and it’s a big part of the act. Pat [McDonald] plays a drum solo every night! What a dream. I have recently started playing a drum solo every night in the show, and it is a thrill to get to play an 80s inspired arena drum solo in front of 5,000 people!

I always try to make myself indispensable to the act. When you aren’t there they really miss you. I try to bring a consistently positive attitude and performance level to the stage every night and a producer’s ears to recordings and rehearsals. It really helps that my best friends in the world make up Jason’s band. We played together for years before joining forces with him, so there is a built in “family factor” to all we do. That would be my advice: Be a team player, take direction, offer direction, be a solid person and play at a high level always.

I know that Nashville has had a pretty cut-and-dried studio scene for years. You have all played on some great records. What is your opinion on the live versus studio scene in Nashville?

Rich Redmond: The line in the sand between session and road player is disappearing. I have been spoiled rotten since I cut a record called Right Now with my last band Rushlow in 2003. That opened the door to me playing on the recordings for every band I work with. I have such freedom with my current gigs that it would be very difficult to go back to a job where I had to mimic someone else. It would have to be great money and exposure to want to go back to that. Darryl Worley, Jamey Johnson and many other acts are using their touring bands to play on their records. It’s a nice step forward for Nashville. However, there are many road bands I hear that could never cut it in the studio.

There is definitely a set of skills that have to be in place to do session work. Many Nashville cats are juggling studio and road work because of the economy and simply because they like to have that balance. Guys that I pattern myself after like Kenny Aronoff and Mark Schulman have always done both. I couldn’t choose between them. I like doing both too much!

Dave McAfee: I do absolutely love both. I feel like I mostly owe my success to the live gigs I have been lucky enough to have. Studio world has been great to me this last couple of years, and I am certainly grateful! I am fortunate, though, that since 1986 every live gig has led to a more successful one. I admit I have been lucky, but they say luck is when ability meets opportunity, right? Making records is obviously a dream come true for any drummer, and I am a workaholic when it comes to playing and producing in the studio. It is awesome to create projects and then watch them come to life. It’s great if they are successful and even get critical acclaim sometimes. I have to admit, though, that I love the pressure of the big tour live show. I love taking every variable into account every night.

Tuning, groove, performance, tricks and tracks… there is always something happening that needs your undivided attention. Turning in a great show in spite of the myriad of things that may go wrong is a terrific challenge. Making it look easy and fun is the goal. It is tremendously rewarding when a sold out arena crowd never sits down all night! Sure you are striving for perfection, but having the time of your life every night for years is a much better way to live the dream. I believe that in that one way studio and live are the same. The audience isn’t having fun until you are!

Pat McDonald: Live work in Nashville is pretty wide-ranging. There are club gigs in honky tonks, singer/songwriter nights in clubs, new artist showcases, as well as the standard road gigs that everyone is competing for. There’s a lot of work, and each of those kinds of gigs have circles of people who are involved in them. You become friends with people in those circles and hopefully get called to play with them on their gigs and projects. The circles of people all overlap, so you’ll invariably work with the same guys in different situations. The session scene kind of overlaps all that as well. Lots of guys who do gigs will also dabble in production or own small studios, so it’s really common to do a gig with a guy you haven’t seen in a year then get a call to come to his studio and cut a project with some new artist that he’s producing. There are tons of small independent studios that do projects like that.

The upper echelon of the studio world is a hard nut to crack, but most of the guys I know who have broken into it got their start by doing road gigs and demo sessions. The people you meet on every gig have their connections and will bring you into their folds where you’ll meet other guys who know other people, and it just feeds on itself. It’s a big web of folks who all work together. The session world is different than live, though, because there is a different set of concepts and musicality that is expected. It’s the nature of the business of selling records. You learn really fast what a producer expects from you, and you do your best to deliver it. I’ve played on so many demos and records here now that I know immediately when I hear the rough mix exactly what I should do and what is expected from the drum part. It’s really become a “paint by numbers” kind of thing in the majority of cases.

There are exceptions, of course, but generally you are there to provide the kind of track that they’ll like, that will serve the song first and foremost and be able to get it down really quickly. Sadly, that usually ends up being the same kind of track you did on a similar song last week! I love being in the studio, but I get stir crazy after too much of it. I gotta get out and play and have fun! I know there are guys who stay in town and do sessions five days a week (although not as many as there used to be) but I just can’t do that. I need variety. I’ll do sessions when they come along, but I don’t know if I could handle doing nothing but session work all the time and not balancing it with some live work.

Dave Northrup: As I briefly touched on earlier, back when I first moved to Nashville in 1995 the scene was divided—either you were a touring guy or a session guy. That has changed significantly in the past five years. More and more guys’ session guys are now also doing some touring work, and some artists are actually using their touring band to record on their records.

Back in 1998 I had the incredible privilege of working with bass great Anthony Jackson for several weeks. One of the many conversations we had was about the studio scene in Nashville and how he thought the whole “road guy, studio guy” was absurd in his opinion. He shared with me the importance of being able to do both well, and the only way to continue to improve and grow as a player is to do both. Musicians all have different seasons in their career where they might do more of one then the other, but the whole Nashville stereotype to him was ridiculous. That opened my eyes and gave me a totally different outlook on what I was doing and what I should focus on. Both are important, and you should be able to do both well.

Ben Sesar: It’s true. Over the years, a large disconnect has evolved between the live scene and studio scene. Very rarely do the two mix. I suppose it has to do with the different skill sets, as well as varying degrees of pressure required to perform in either setting. For example, I guess it’s viewed (by the powers that be, who helped drive the system to where it is today) that any common thug could come in and rehearse for weeks and get the music right for a tour. In the studio, they don’t rehearse. Your musical instincts must be honed sharply, as you are expected to play songs you’ve never heard before with speed, brilliance, and taste. In addition, the studio is really about mastering your emotions. The misconception is that those who are pigeon-holed as “live players” don’t possess the evolved skills required for the studio. In reality, this simply isn’t true. Lots of guys can do both. I mean, it’s understandable from a record label point of view; they don’t want to waste precious time and money on people who haven’t proven they can handle the pressure of the studio. But like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The so-called studio guys here in town were also inexperienced at some point, but someone took a chance on them, and they developed the skills needed to survive and flourish in that world.

I know the list could be very long, but who are some of your biggest influences, drummer or otherwise?

Ben Sesar: This is in no particular order, and I’m leaving out a lot: Steve Gadd, Eddie Bayers, Buddy Rich, Kenny Aronoff, Ronnie Vannucci, Stewart Copeland, Joe Morello, and John Bonham. Honestly the list is so long. There are so many, and a lot of my main influences were people I knew growing up, musically or otherwise.

Dave Northrup: Wow, yes this could be a long one because I have so many personally and professionally. Drumming-wise I’d have to say Jeff Porcaro has been my biggest influence. Other drummers are Steve Gadd, Carlos Vega, David Garibaldi, Bernard Purdie, John Bonham, Rick Marotta, Jerry Marotta. Manu Katche, Stewart Copeland, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Ed Greene, Russ Kunkle, Zigaboo Modeliste, Matt Chamberlin, Shawn Pelton, Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Sparks, Steve Smith, Simon Phillips, Dennis Chambers, Steve Ferrone, Grady Tate, Peter Erskine, Will Kennedy, Troy Luccketta, Frank Briggs, and there are so many others.

The music of Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis, The Yellowjackets, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Tower of Power, James Taylor, Steely Dan, James Brown, and Motown. Personally speaking, my mom and dad, my wife Sandy, and my relationship with God.

Pat McDonald: My biggest influence in life was my grandfather. My mother raised two kids as a single mom, and he stepped into the role of father when I was young. He taught me responsibility, fair play, how to handle trouble when it came along and the difference between right and wrong. He gave me basic life lessons that I still lean on today. As far as drummers go, as I mentioned before, Peter Criss was the first big influence when I was kid. He was followed by (in no particular order and overlapping in the timeline) Neil Peart, James Bradley Jr., Vinnie Colaiuta, Tommy Aldridge, Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers, Jeff Procaro, Bernard Purdie, David Garibaldi, Steve Gadd, Steve Ferrone, Alex Van Halen, Buddy Rich, Joe Morello, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Wertico, Jim Keltner, Lars Ulrich, Mike Wengren, Daniel Adair, Trilok Gurtu, Greg Morrow, Shannon Forrest, Eddie Bayers, Earl Palmer, Buddy Harman, Chad Wackerman, Rod Morgenstein, Terry Bozzio, John Bonham, Phil Rudd, Danny Gottlieb— heck, that’s just the beginning of the list! I listen to everything and always manage to find something cool about whatever it is. Any good music is influential to me.

Dave McAfee: My cousin Joan was a great influence on me when I was a kid. She was and is an amazing drummer. She is now a teacher and a great one at that. My high school band director Jim Billingsley really made me believe I could do this. My dad was a hard worker and instilled a good work ethic in me. As far as legendary drumming heroes, Larrie Londin was amazing to me the one time I got to spend time with him. I absolutely wanted to be him when I was growing up. Jeff Porcaro, Dave Weckl, Ritchie Albright and J.R. Robinson are all influences of mine, among many others.

Rich Redmond: In no particular order: Gene Krupa, Rich, Max Roach, Baby Dodds, Ringo, Charlie Watts, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Jeff Porcaro, Kenny Aronoff, Carmine Appice, Eddie Bayers, Stewart Copeland, Alex Van Halen, Nigel Olson, Steve Gadd, Shawn Pelton and the list goes on and on. They all bring something unique and special to the table that I have soaked up from repeated study, transcription and listenings. I’m always checking out new stuff and the iPod has everything from ABBA to Zappa on it!


Stay tuned for part 2 of the Nashville Roundtable next month. Until then visit these incredible drummers online:








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About the Author
Jayson  Brinkworth

Jayson Brinkworth is an accomplished drummer, percussionist, vocalist, educator and writer based out of Canada. He is co-owner of the Saskatchewan music school Music In The House, as well as the founder of both the Regina Drum Festival and The Stickman Drum Experience.

Jayson proudly endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans heads, Impact cases, Kickport, Flix, Future Sonics and Mountain Rhythm. Visit Jayson online at www.jaysonbrinkworth.com.

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