I began drumming the moment that I was physically able to hold sticks.
I started out playing on an old Ludwig metal-shell drumkit that my dad owned. I would play along with the radio and whatever tapes I could find. (Yes, tapes. I grew up in the era after 8-Tracks died and before CD’s and MP3’s were born.) As I got older, I steadily progressed in my skills (and began being able to reach the foot pedals). Through my elementary years, I had no formal music education; all of my playing was done by ear.
Once I hit middle school, I met Frank and Debi Eng, who I consider to be my “Musical Parents,” and they taught me all about feel and the importance of reading music. Today, I can say that sightreading charts is not an issue for me (thanks to a few humiliating – yet motivating – lessons in front of the band, thanks to Debi), and that I’m glad I learned both the technical and musical sides of performance rather than being limited in what I can do.
In high school, I played in all the groups you could imagine, including Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Choir, Marching Band, Percussion Ensemble, Theater Pit Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Pep Band, and Symphony. I’d like to think that playing in such a wide range of groups with a great variety in styles helped shape me into a more well-rounded player. I am equally at home rocking out on a huge kit with double bass drums as I am in a small jazz combo or even a symphony orchestra.
During my Junior year, I fell in love with drum corps and marched with the Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps. This set me on track for more advanced percussive techniques and rudimental understanding that was beyond what I was able to get in my hometown. After I got home from DCI Finals and started my Senior year, I was chosen to be the drummer for Washington’s All-State Jazz Band, beating out hundreds of other drummers for the single chair that was offered. I also participated in the WIBC Honors Band (top band) that year, where I had the opportunity and priviledge to play alongside and learn from Steve Houghton.
In college, I gained a better understanding of touch, feel, and color as they apply to the drum kit. I was awarded “Best Soloist” awards at both the University of North Texas Jazz Festival and the Reno Jazz Festival, where I met Jeff “Tain” Watts and John Riley. I also had the opportunity, within a several year span, to meet and/or study with Dave Weckl, Jeff Hamilton, Alex Acuña, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Derico Watson, Ari Hoenig, and Peter Erskine – all of whom are huge inspirations to me musically. I took drumming more seriously and wondered if I had what it takes to make a career out of it.
The career continues today.
After college, I took to the road & skies for several national tours with The Aaron English Band from Seattle. Playing drums for different people every night, sleeping on planes and tour buses, and dealing with bookies and promoters was a real eye opener. On the other side of the spectrum, I received my first drum endorsements – a whole new experience in itself.
I’ve continued to gain experience in all walks of percussion, and have had the opportunity to perform with lots of great people, including Bob Mintzer, Paquito D’Rivera, Bobby Shew, Jeff Clayton, Gordon Goodwin, John Clayton, John Fedchock, Andy Martin, Jeff Hamilton, and many others. More recently, I’ve played behind Petula Clark, Jim Witter, Marie Osmond, and Frank Sinatra, Jr.
I started a little YouTube channel on a whim in 2007 (in an effort to get constructive feedback (no matter how harsh) from drummers all over the world. It ended up becoming quite the endeavor — so much so that I took a break from it for the last few years because of work, touring, and travel schedules — but it continues today. After a slow start and a bit of a learning curve, I’m now happy to say that I am a YouTube Partner, quickly coming up on 2,000 subscribers, and have had just about one and a quarter million views of my videos to date! The website you’re looking at gets around 500 hits a month from more than 50 countries all over the world.
I set out on another national tour with Aaron English and Xiren in 2008, playing for both acts all over the country. I even did an awesome TV show called JBTV (a Chicago music scene staple) with Xiren in Chicago that summer. Unfortunately, a few days after filming the TV show, the tour ended prematurely with an unfortunate fatality bus crash in Wisconsin that cancelled the rest of the dates for the summer.
My current musical endeavors are a lot of fun and keep things interesting: I am the drummer for the Bob Curnow Big Band in Spokane, one of the premier big bands in the Pacific Northwest. I am also still heavily involved with The Aaron English Band in Seattle, recording, touring, and writing on a regular basis. I also play for the Columbia Basin Jazz Orchestra, a local big band located here in Southeastern Washington; I am a member of the Frazer Wambeke Trio, an up-and-coming Pop/R&B/Jazz group (debut record is now available – Click Here To Buy!); and I can often be found sitting in with various groups and artists from all over the Northwest, including Rich Wetzel’s “Groovin’ Higher Orchestra” (Seattle/Tacoma), Wayman Chapman (Yakima), and many others.
I also currently teach a handful of wonderful and enthusiastic students here regionally and enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years with them and anyone else who’s curious. I think that passing on those lessons we’ve learned along the way to others is one of the greatest things we can do as musicians, and I enjoy seeing my students grow in their musical knowledge and enthusiasm for the art of drumming.
Looking towards the future, I hope to continue an active performance and teaching schedule, and will always continually be looking for new artists to work with and new musical opportunities to explore.