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Community Voices

Kevin White—Drum Teacher and Author

Kevin White

Kevin White. His attitude, work ethic and popular Breaking It Down book series have made him one of Charlotte, North Carolina’s busiest drum teachers. Experience Drums took note of Kevin’s exceptional efforts and we had questions. What’s it like to work with the kids of Charlotte? Why did he create a series of drum books aimed towards the needs of young children? What has always driven his desire to mentor the next generation? Join us for this exclusive interview with Kevin White and we’ll share with you what he shared with us.

EX D: Hey Kevin! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your work. How long have you been teaching drums?

Kevin: Oh wow, hard to believe but it’s been 20 years now. I started at a local music store in Greensboro, NC as soon as I graduated from college at UNC-Greensboro with a BA in Percussion.

EX D: It’s so easy for people to take demographics and culture for granted. What’s it like teaching folks in North Carolina?

Kevin: Well I’m teaching in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second largest banking center in the U.S. And so I’m teaching kids from all around the world. Teaching such a diverse group of kids is one of the many perks of my job. It’s really fascinating to interact and learn from them. They even introduce me to new music.

EX D: You teach a lot of kids in your practice? What’s that like for you?

Kevin: I usually keep between 40-50 weekly private students. I have studios at two local Music & Arts locations, teach at The British International School of Charlotte and provide one-on-one lessons at private residences. I really enjoy being at different locations. I’m on a different side of the city every day and it helps keep things fresh. Driving to people’s homes is becoming a challenge for me because traffic is no joke here in the Charlotte area. When are those flying cars coming out?

EX D: Wow! It sounds like you qualify for frequent flier miles! Kevin, what do you love most about working with kids?

Kevin: Working with kids can be a challenge, especially the young ones. It seems like my students are getting younger and younger. With that said, it can be the most rewarding gift. Every student is unique and brings his or her own personality. You have to find out what makes each kid tick and figure out what the best way is to teach them. When you’ve been working on a particular lesson that they may have been struggling with, to see them finally get it…well that’s a great moment, for both of us!

EX D: With so many younger kids now taking lessons, how do you encourage parental involvement?

Kevin: I’ve always felt that the more involved the parents are, the better the chance the student has to succeed. I always try to interact with the parents after the lessons, give them an update on how things are going and a run down of what we’re working on. I encourage my students to perform in front of their parents at home too.

EX D: Kevin, You’ve developed a series of method books for kids. What prompted you create this line?

Kevin: There are so many great books out there! But I was having such a hard time finding books that were practical for young beginners. Most kids struggle with coordination and there was really nothing out there that helped them go through the stages of actually learning how to play a drum beat. So fifteen years ago I developed the Breaking It Down series. My books teach young kids how to read real rhythms and how to turn them into real beats. I also designed the books to flow in volumes. So instead of getting bogged down in some huge book with no end in sight, my students are progressing quickly because they feel that they’ve accomplished something when they finish one book and are ready for the next one. Parents are also letting me know that their seeing their children progressing because they’re moving on to the next book at a faster pace.

EX D: Thanks so much for your time Kevin. We’d like to ask you one more question. What do you wish for when it comes to the next generation of musicians whom you teach?

Kevin: I think the biggest thing is to keep it going. With so much music becoming electronic, along with life itself, you always have that fear that people will quit playing instruments. I hope we don’t let that happen.

About Kevin White

 

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Kevin White has been teaching private

drum and percussion lessons for over twenty years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in percussion from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s School of Music. Kevin has studied legendary teachers such as Jim Chapin, Rick Dior, Cort McClaren and Frank Katz. He also studied at the world famous Drummers Collective in New York City.

Kevin has performed with numerous ensembles, most notably, the UNCG Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Orchestra. He has also performed with many local and national groups covering styles of rock, blues, soul, and jazz.

His other working credits include Mitch Easter, John Anderson,

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Don Dixon, Michael Burritt, Tom Constanten

(Grateful Dead), Bessie Mae’s Dream, Treva Spontaine, Donna Duncan, and

PASIC.

Kevin White also writes and publishes the Breaking It Down drum book series.

For more information on Kevin White, visit him on the web at http://www.drumsrfun.com.

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My Evolution: From Man to… Gorilla!

Hi! My name is Eddie Everett and I would love to share my story with you. For some, this might bring back fond memories of what it felt like when you found your true path to drumming. For others, this might be a preview of what’s coming down the pike. In either case, evolution is involved. Here’s the story of mine.

I was raised on a steady diet of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra, just to name a few. I loved this music. It made me feel something. However, the true spark that kindled my drum interest came at the tender age of fourteen when my mother took me to see Harry Bellefonte. I sure liked the music but I really loved the reaction his music had on the ladies. I heard this voice in my head say, “Now this is what I want to do!” I wanted to be a musician. Stage One of my evolution was realized.

I was interested, yet undecided, about what instrument would be right for me. Playing the guitar didn’t seem to fit. It felt uncomfortable. Was there any other instrument that could rattle my bones? Suddenly I realized that both of my of my older brothers were drummers. So I grabbed a pair of drumsticks and “BOO-YA!!” Instant joy! Right then and there I realized that I was meant to be a drummer. Stage Two of my evolution was forged.

Man, I started to listen and play to everything I could get “my ears” on! Sonny Payne, Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Stewart Copeland and those funky Motown Drummers (Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones and Pistol Allen) were all on heavy rotation. These were my early heroes.

Things changed for me in 1982 when The Stray Cats put a record out called Built For Speed. I heard the track “Rock This Town” and noticed something special about the sound of this song. The drums were bright, swinging and in your face. The upright bass thumped and pushed the music down the track. And the guitar playing? It was twangy, jazzy and simply fabulous! This was roots and rockabilly music. And I had found it! Stage Three of my evolution was set in stone.

I dug deeper and found there were more roots and rockabilly bands out there. Bands like The Blasters, The Polecats and Los Lobos became my new mentors. There were also some local acts around me that were playing roots music. The Bullets happened to be one of those bands. These guys were putting their own spin on this great style of music. As it turned out, they were auditioning drummers at the time. I took my 19 year old self down for a crack at it. Before I knew it, I was playing about twenty-five gigs a month with them! Ah 1984. That was the year that my professional drumming career had begun. Stage Four of my evolution was kicking into gear.

Over the years I have had the good fortune of playing with many incredible rockabilly and roots artists. And although I enjoyed playing with these bands, I started getting tired of the whole scene. The players had to have vintage gear. They also had to have their retro look “just right.” Plus, all the musicians started playing all of the same covers. Folsom Prison Blues, Red Hot, 20 Flight Rock… STOP IT ALREADY!!!! I found it funny that the bands in this wild and rebellious musical style were all conforming to the same blue jeans, hairstyle and music! For me, Stage Six of my evolution was a painful awakening that something needed to change in my life.

Just as I was getting ready to scream about how lame I felt the scene was, I saw The Gas House Gorillas at a bar in my neighborhood. And that was that. I was hooked on them big time! These guys were different from all the other roots/rockabilly bands that I had previously heard. They had old school R&B influences borrowed from the likes of Tiny Bradshaw, Louis Jordan and The Treniers. But they delivered this music like a punk rock band. They weren’t trying to dress vintage or be cool. The members of the Gas House Gorillas were just trying to be themselves. I found myself becoming a fan, then a sub and finally a full–on band member! Stage Five of my evolution made me feel like I was getting a second shot at music.

Now joining The Gas House Gorillas was no walk in the park. At my first show in 2010 with those guys I did the best I could. But two things were apparent. First, I was out of breath. This band played hard and they played fast! Second, this music demanded that I get my shuffle together. So I searched for a teacher who could help me get my game on with the Gorillas!

Lo and behold, I started to study with the great Daniel Glass, one of the authors of The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues Drumming. This book is the shuffle bible and Daniel is a master at it. His teaching had a profound impact on my drumming. Stage Six of my evolution was one giant leap for this member of mankind.

Since joining The Gas House Gorillas, it has become obvious that the chemistry is undeniable. I’ve never played before or since with a band where everything was such a perfect fit. I was made for this band and they were made for me. Stage Seven of my evolution has identified who I am and who I was meant to be in the musical world.

Is my evolution over? No way! I still feel like I’m growing. How about you? Get started on your musical evolution. Who knows where it will take you? No matter where you end up, I’ve got a good feeling it’ll eventually be some place that’s right for you.

 

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About Eddie Everett

Eddie Everett is one of Philadelphia’s hottest retro/ swing drummers. He’s played with artists such as Brian Setzer, Wanda Jackson, David Bromberg, Tommy Conwell and the Rockats. Today he holds down the drum throne for The Gas House Gorillas, a leading force in the retro/punk/swing movement. Beside touring and recording, Eddie teaches, performs clinics and is a proud member of the Vic Firth Education Team. In addition, Mr. Everett conducts interviews with some of Philly’s most profound drummers on his Eddie Everett’s Academy of Sweet Beats Facebook page.

For more information about Eddie Everett and his exploits, visit him at https://www.facebook.com/AcademyOfSweetBeats?fref=ts.

Dan Perreillo

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Dan Perriello is one of Virginia’s top drumset teachers. He’s passionate about drums and about teaching! Recently, Experience Drums caught up with Dan to talk about The Next Step, his drumset clinic that will be coming up on Sunday, April 26 at Mintons Academy of Music in Ashburn,Virginia. Dan will be showing drummers how to apply what they learn in the practice room with what they do on the stage!

Wanna know about how he’s going to do that?

Click here and “hear” our exclusive interview with teacher, performer and mentor, Mr. Dan Perriello.

When is this clinic happening? Sunday, April 26.

What time is this clinic going down? 1 pm – 3 pm

Where will I need to be to see this? Minton’s Academy of Music

21690 Red Rum Drive #157 Ashburn, Virginia 20147 (703) 723 -1154.

 

For more information or to order tickets please visit:

http://www.mintonsmusic.com/Events.html

Thanks Dan, his band Amateur Hour, and Mintons Academy of Music for putting on this amazing event!

Hope to see you there!

The Official “Tribute to The Who’s Live at Leeds” Interview with Ben Tufts

 

Live at Leeds

Experience Drums really loves Ben Tufts. He’s a passionate performer, teacher and clinician who is considered to be one of the busiest players in Washington, DC’s music scene.

On Saturday, February 28, at Arlington, Virginia’s Iota Club and Café, Ben and Friends will be putting on “A Tribute to Live at Leeds, a celebration of The Who’s amazing album that has graced the ears of fans for 45 years!

But there’s much more going on at this show. This will not only be a show for fans. It will also be in memory of Ben’s dad, Mr. Craig Tufts. Proceeds of this show will go to a worthy cause: The Craig Tufts Education Scholarship Fund.

Let’s join Ben and Evan Pollack of Experience Drums as they delve into the music and mission of this special event.

Experience Drums: What is it about The Who that resonates with people?

Ben Tufts: I guess if I could bottle it, I’d sell it, right? I think many would agree that The Beatles had the best songwriting team of that era. (Editor’s Note: This era would be the 1960’s up to the mid 1970’s.) The Rolling Stones had authenticity and longevity and Led Zeppelin probably had the highest caliber musicianship across the board. But The Who? Is there another band from that era that could sink their teeth into such heavy riffing and also offer such great pop sensibility? I don’t think so.

Ex D: How about you? How did they affect you personally and musically?

Ben: I grew up listening to my dad’s record collection. He had the albums Who By Numbers and Tommy. Tommy left a particular mark on me. The scope of the thing was really impressive.

Ex D: What about the Live at Leeds album? Why have you chosen this as the album that you want to perform in its entirety?

Ben: I didn’t hear Live at Leeds until the early 2000s. A friend of mine had been bugging me to check it out. So I finally bought this reissue that contained the entire show, not just the songs that were released on the original back in 1970. The first thirty seconds of “Heaven and Hell” absolutely blew my mind. I had no idea that this what the band actually sounded like live! The rhythm section was so ferocious and Townshend’s guitar playing was so unrestrained. That was it. I was hooked! The CD didn’t leave my truck for months and months.

On February 14, forty-five years ago, the original Live at Leeds album was released. Dan Cohn, a friend and guitarist in the area, suggested that it might be worthwhile to do something to honor the anniversary. So here we are!

Ex D: Who’s going to be involved in this event with you?

Ben Tufts: There are a couple dozen local musicians that have hopped on to do the show. It’s amazing. Beanstalk Library will be performing a few numbers. Derek Evry and his Band of Misanthropes are doing a few. And then much of the show will be “Franken-bands,” groups put together from various members of different bands. We’ve already had a bunch of rehearsals, and it’s really cool to see people intermingling, letting loose and just playing their faces off. The most exciting thing about the show for me is that I was able to assemble a dream band for the Tommy portion of the show. The 1970 show included a full performance of The Who’s rock opera Tommy and so we’ll be playing that whole thing as sort of the centerpiece. It’s Matt Berry of Classified Frequency on bass, Erik Bradford of Short Lives on guitar, and Seth Morrissey of westmain on vocals. Practices have really been a blast!

Ex D: Ben, this is more than just a show for you. You’ll not only be sharing your appreciation of this album but you will be tying this to The Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund, the fund that was set up in memory of your dad. Can you tell me a little about your dad, what he did and why this fund was set up?

Ben Tufts: The fund was established by family and friends at the National Wildlife Federation where my dad Craig Tufts worked for over thirty years. He was the Chief Naturalist at the NWF. But a lot of people considered him more than that. He was the guy who lead nature walks during lunch breaks. He used to head up the Christmas bird count every year. He was in charge of the Backyard Habitat Program, which is a certification program for people who want their backyards to attract more wildlife.

When the magazine editors needed to fact check, they called Craig. When somebody had a bird in their yard they couldn’t identify, they called Craig. When they needed to raise money for projects, they sent Craig.

He fought brain cancer for a year, and towards the end of his life he made it clear that he wanted any money donated to go towards a scholarship fund to send kids to study nature. When he passed, there was a huge outpouring of support for the fund. But in the years since, the only money flowing in has been from events that I host. My dad loved music. He loved The Who, as a matter of fact. So this is a really cool way that I can preserve and honor his memory, do something cool for future generations and play some great music with friends. It’s a win-win-win all around.

Ex D: Ben, this show sounds like a bigger story than people might have realized. Thanks for sharing it!

If you’re in the DC area, come see the show!

When: Saturday, February 28
Where: Iota Club and Café (2832 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia, 22201)
Time: 8:30 pm
Tickets are $12.00

For more information about Ben, This Live at Leeds Tribute Show and how you can donate to The Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund, please visit Ben Tufts through these social media outlets.

https://www.facebook.com/bentuftspercussion
https://twitter.com/bentuftsdrums
http://instagram.com/bentufts

Rock on Ben and may a joyful noise be heard all around the DC area!

Peace.