Richie Martinez

Richie Martinez is a freelance and session drummer, clinician, and educator currently based in Nashville, TN. He recently started a band with some buddies called Arch Echo, a Progressive/Fusion/Djent band.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been playing and when did you know that drumming was going to be a significant part of your life?

Richie Martinez: I started playing drums at the age of 2 on my Mickey Mouse drumset, but the moment I decided to pursue music was when I was 12 and my mom told me about this school called Berklee College of Music. I knew I had to work to get there and I had desired to play on the road. I got accepted to Berklee with a good scholarship, but I ended up deciding that was not the best choice for me.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical or drumming influences?

Richie Martinez: The most influential band that molded the way that I play is Mars Volta. Growing up I was also influenced by the “greats” like Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Buddy Rich, and “Papa” Jo Jones, but getting older I have been into Thomas Pridgen, Tony Royster, Matt Gartska, Jojo Mayer and many more.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What has been your favorite country or city to play in so far? Why?

Richie Martinez: Playing in Guatemala really stuck with me. It was not so much the amazing show or huge crowd, but having an opportunity to see the way people lived in the country. Central America has a different vibe than most countries. Puerta Vallarta, Mexico was cool as well because we got to play on the beach.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What is your most memorable performance thus far?

Richie Martinez: When I was about 13 or 14 I used to play in a Christian Hip-Hop Band and we got play a retreat in Utah. It was a cool experience to travel and play music with my friends when I was that young. It was also memorable to play the Dodge Arena in Valley Texas which no longer exists when I was 16.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: What was your most awkward moment on stage?

Richie Martinez: I was doing a drum solo and I wanted to take it to the next level. I had tried it the night before it went off fine and was cool. So I was playing my drum solo and I stood up on my throne and it collapsed from under me and I fell. I get up and attempt it again and the throne begins to wobble so I decided that it was not a good idea. My solo sucked and I almost died on stage.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?

Richie Martinez: I take a lot of pride in my practice methods and developing my technique. From a personal standpoint I take most pride in the meticulousness and the detail work on what I do and try to do.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are your favorite bass players to play with?

Richie Martinez: Two guys that are not just great players but they are also great people and fun hangs. Omar Moran and Mike Meade

 

Pocket ProTechTours: If you were only allowed to play one genre of music what would it be? 

Richie Martinez: It would probably have to be Progressive music. I love the intricate aspect of the music but I like experimenting and trying new things within my playing.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been in Nashville and what inspired you to relocate there?

Richie Martinez: I have been in Nashville 9 months and I moved here because my peers and colleagues advised me to move to a city that was promoting music.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What is your favorite thing about the city so far?

Richie Martinez: I love the food, the coffee and the fact that the city is pretty small. I can get anywhere I need to go in about 15 minutes. The weather, the outdoor

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Least Favorite?

Richie Martinez: I truly don’t think I have one. Most people say traffic but it is nothing compared to Houston, L.A. or larger cities.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Favorite place to eat in Nashville?

Richie Martinez: My “go-to” is Martin’s and I get the brisket sandwich.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Favorite place to hang out in Nashville?

Richie Martinez: Barista Parlor or Steadfast, they are both cool coffee shops.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for drummers or musicians considering to relocate to Nashville?

Richie Martinez: You need to have a plan or at least a goal of what you want to do and a method to achieve that goal. Respectfully and professionally reach out to individuals that are in or familiar with the area about what to expect and what to do. Your playing must also be solid before you arrive. Opportunity can come knocking at any time and you don’t want to open the door and be caught in your underwear. You want to be packed with your bags ready to go.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: If you had the power what is one thing that you would change about the music industry?

Richie Martinez: I wish people would be genuine with who they are not act a certain way just to achieve a subliminal goal.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: What can we expect from you in 2017?

Richie Martinez: I’ll be doing a summer tour with Rivers and Rust opening up for Matchbox 20. Arch Echo is working on an album to be released May 18th. I am truly excited about it. It’s musician music. I am also going to be getting more involved on the clinician side of things so stay tuned for dates and locations.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What brands help make up your sound?

Drumdots and Meinl Cymbals

 

Social Media/Websites

Instagram

@archechoband

@richiethedrummer

Facebook

www.facebook.com/archechoband

www.facebook.com/richiemdrums

Scott Vinson

Scott Vinson is originally from Clemson, SC. He currently is the drummer for the Greg Willis Band and former drummer of the Lacs.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been playing and when did you know that drumming was going to be a significant part of your life?

Scott Vinson: I’ve been playing for 24 years now, but it was not significant until 14years old when I was exposed to Jazz. That is when I realized that I want to play drums for the rest of my life.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical or drumming influences?

Scott Vinson: Rich Redmond, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mike Mangini, Billy Ward, Toto, AC/DC, Avenged Sevenfold, DreamTheater, Linkin Park.

 

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What has been your favorite country or city to play in so far? Why?

Scott Vinson: It would probably have to be Tokyo, Japan. The audiences are more interactive and the people seem to care more about the music. The music and art scene is phenomenal and they genuinely appreciate what you do.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What is your most memorable performance thus far?

Scott Vinson: I was born in San Antonio, so playing the Alamo Bowl for the first time was my greatest experience. It was cool to see the massive stage set up, and to hear that signature Chad Smith Signature Pearl snare drum cranked to high heavens resonating in the arena.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What was your most awkward moment on stage?

Scott Vinson: I would have to say that was with Billy Currington. We were playing a show in Fargo, ND filling in for a guy named Jason Brown. We had a show in Des Moines, Iowa the night before and I had eaten something that did not agree with my stomach so I had gas all day. We get to the song “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer”. I noticed that Billy turned around during the verse, which is extremely rare. I go to do a tom fill to jump into the chorus and Billy had told the rest of the band to stop, with the most ironic timing I fart at the same time and there is a microphone aimed at my butt and over 60,000 people heard me pass gas. I believe Billy and Jason plotted the whole thing out to set me up.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishments are you most proud of thus far?

Scott Vinson: I have got to share the stage with Billy Currington, Vince Gill, Randy Kohr, The Time Jumpers, Eddie James, and Hillsong.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are your favorite bass players to play with?

Scott Vinson: As far as holding down the groove and keeping it Poie Yancey. He has shared the stage with many people and. Energy wise it would have to be James Hoshburger. His energy that he brings to the stage and puts out to the crowd is positive.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: If you were only allowed to play one genre of music what would it be? 

Scott Vinson: Jazz. It’s all about the freedom

 

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been in Nashville and what inspired you to relocate there?

Scott Vinson: I’ve been in Nashville for 4.5 years and I moved here because Randy Kohrs, Dolly Pardon 87% of country records since 1995.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What is your favorite thing about the city so far?

Scott Vinson: The food.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Least Favorite?

Scott Vinson: The terrible drivers.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Favorite place to eat in Nashville?

Scott Vinson: Torn between Gojo Ethiopian and Taj Indian

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Favorite place to hang out in Nashville?

Scott Vinson: Winners or Losers in Midtown.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Advice to drummers or musicians considering to relocate to Nashville?

Scott Vinson: Learn all of the fundamentals that you can. In Nashville, you will have some drummers that may not know theory but it is your best friend in Nashville. Take the drummer out and put a real musician inside of you. You must have a strong work ethic because it is a very hard town that can make or break you. Sometimes you just got to do it as far as taking the first step but just know it takes 3 times the amount of work and effort in Nashville than it does anywhere else.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: If you had the power what is one thing that you would change about the music industry?

Scott Vinson: Fixing a**holes that run record labels.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What can we expect from you in 2017?

Scott Vinson: I am doing more production when I am not playing. I will be producing Greg’s new EP.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of aspiring drummers in percussionist?

Scott Vinson: Work hard and don’t take anything for granted. Just because you are a musician does not mean you have it easy. Think about it before you do it.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What brands help make up your sound?

Scott Vinson: I endorse Big Fat Snare Drum, DrumDots

DW Drums, Mapex, AJP custom drums, Infinity Drum Works, Trick Drums

 

Social Media/Websites

Instagram-scottv_nashville

Tyler Ritter

Tyler Ritter is originally from Birmingham, Alabama and has been the drummer for the band Moon Taxi for the past 10 years. He attended Belmont University where he majored in Commercial Music Performance, and he also did a season in the DCI world, where he played drum-set for Spirit of JSU for the 2006 season.

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been playing and when did you know that drumming was going to be a significant part of your life?

Tyler Ritter: I have been playing drums for almost 20 years, but I did not really thinking seriously about pursuing music until I was 17. I played in a band while I was in high school and we performed at talent shows and club performances for the school. It was around my junior or senior year when I realized that my skills were improving and it was something that I loved to do. I wanted to take things to the next level so I began looking into music schools in the Southeast and I settled on Belmont because of their amazing percussion faculty. It includes Chester Thompson, Derico Watson, Todd London and Dr. Chris Norton.

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical or drumming influences?

Tyler Ritter: Danny Carey from Tool has been a huge influence, Elvin Jones, Chester Thompson to name a few. I go through phases of discovering new drummers and trying cram as much of them as I can. I try to figure out what they are doing that’s cool and innovative and see how I can translate it into what I do with Moon Taxi.

Pocket ProTechTours: What has been your favorite country or city to play in so far? Why?

Tyler Ritter: We have only played in North America thus far, but I love playing out west. It is such foreign territory to us, so it is nice to experience the different culture. I love playing in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and we played a really cool club in Phoenix. The view in Sedona, AZ is unbelievable.

Pocket ProTechTours: What is your most memorable performance thus far?

Tyler Ritter: I would have to say Bonnaroo 2015. That was most amazing performance the 5 of us have ever experienced. We had about 50,000 people standing right in front of us totally engaged.

 Pocket ProTechTours: What was your most awkward moment on stage?

Tyler Ritter: One time we were playing the Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and I had broken my right hand the day before and I did not realize it. I thought I had simply jammed my knuckle. We did a really quick sound check and I noticed that there was some soreness and pain so I just iced my hand and took it easy.

Showtime arrives and the first note of the show, I go to hit the snare with my right hand and I feel the bones in my pinky crack. I had to play the show one-handed and I was crying and screaming obscenities the entire show.

Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishments are you most proud of thus far?

Tyler Ritter: The fact that Moon Taxi has been together for a decade with no lineup changes is a huge achievement. In addition, the fact that we all graduated from college together and have a degree.

 Pocket ProTechTours: Who are your favorite bass players to play with?

Tyler Ritter: Most definitely Tommy Putnam, our bass player for Moon Taxi, My brother Casey Ritter who is also here in Nashville, TN and my college buddy Chris Dunn.

Pocket ProTechTours: If you were only allowed to play one genre of music what would it be? 

Tyler Ritter: It would probably have to be 70’s Fusion if that counts as a genre.

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been in Nashville and what inspired you to relocate there?

Tyler Ritter: I have been in Nashville since 2004, and I moved there to attend to Belmont University and study with their percussion faculty. I did originally consider Nashville as a permanent relocation, but once I got here and started meeting other musicians, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

 Pocket ProTechTours: What is your favorite thing about the city so far?

Tyler Ritter: The diversity of the people, the music, and the food.  There is always something   

Pocket ProTechTours: Least Favorite?

Tyler Ritter: My least favorite part about the city would have to be the traffic, but that comes with the territory of a city that is constantly growing.

Pocket ProTechTours: Favorite place to eat in Nashville?

Tyler Ritter: 5th and Taylor, I love the Bison Meatloaf.

Pocket ProTechTours: Favorite place to hang out in Nashville?

Tyler Ritter: I like going to the Villager Tavern in Hillsboro Village.

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for drummers or musicians that may consider relocating to Nashville?

Tyler Ritter: I would say go for it, but do not show up without a plan. I would say do some research and hit up some people of the Nashville Drummers Forum and network and investigate. In addition, you got to pay your dues. It is a community of helpful and talented individuals but you have to work your butt off.

 Pocket ProTechTours: What is one thing that you would like to see improve about the music industry?

Tyler Ritter: I would like to better pay for digital streams. For Moon Taxi, a significant part of our catalog and spins come from digital streaming platforms. I would like to see the royalty rates increase.

  Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of aspiring drummers in percussionist?

Tyler Ritter: Listen to everything, and don’t get stuck on one genre. If I could go back in time when I was first starting out, I would listen to more than one genre. I wish I would have considered listening to my parent’s music back when they were trying to push it on me.

Pocket ProTechTours: What can we expect from you in 2017?

Tyler Ritter: Moon Taxi is currently working on a new record to be released this year. We will be playing some festivals this summer and a pretty extensive Fall Tour to support the new album.

 

Tyler endorses:

Mapex Drums

Vic Firth Sticks

Zildjian Cymbals

Remo Drumheads

Roland Electronics

 

Social Media/Websites

 Moon Taxi

www.ridethemoontaxi.com

Instagram- @moon_taxi

Facebook- www.facebook.com/ridethemoontaxi
 

Tyler Ritter

Instagram- @tyler_ritter

She-e Wu

Pocket ProTechTours: Can you give us a brief background about yourself as it relates to music?

She-e Wu: My name is She-e Wu, I was born in Taiwan and I started music when I was 3 ½ years old on piano. When I was 6 I started playing Timpani, then I continued on snare drum, marimba, steel pan and other percussion instruments from there.  I had originally planned to move to Vienna and study Timpani, but instead I followed my boyfriend at the time and moved to Texas. I moved to the United States when I was 17 to study at the University of North Texas, and that was a life-changing decision. This is where I was first exposed to Jazz, drum set, marching percussion and the world of DCI. Once I graduated I began teaching at West Virginia University in Morgantown, Rutgers University, Manhattan School of Music and I am currently the head of percussion at Northwestern University near Chicago, IL. In addition to being an educator and a performer, I also compose and serve as a consultant for Innovative Percussion and Majestic Percussion.

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been playing drums (percussion) and when did you know that percussion was going to be a significant part of your life?

She-e Wu: I have been playing since I was 6 years old. My mother wanted me to play the French horn because that’s her favorite instrument. I took a lesson but I couldn’t even make a sound on the mouthpiece, and the teacher told her I wasn’t cut out for it. My mother suggested flute and I said, “what about Timpani?” She replied, “You don’t even know what timpani are”. I said “I do! They’re the big drums in the back of the orchestra”, and she was shocked. Keep in mind I was little; I’m 5’2 at the moment, so just imagine how small I was. My mother got me lessons and I started when I was 6 practicing on the couch because we couldn’t afford buying Timpani. I knew from that point that it would be life-long. I fell in love with the vibration, the feel, the sound, and the important role that the Timpani play in the orchestra.

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you consider yourself a total percussionist or is there an area of percussion that you gravitate towards?

She-e Wu: I play and teach all percussion instruments, but a lot of people seem to think that I play Marimba really well. They should really hear me play the Timpani.

Pocket ProTechTours: What are your current projects and endeavors as it relates to music and percussion?

She-e Wu: I just finished composing a snare drum solo for the 10th Anniversary of the Cleveland Modern Snare Drum competition. I am also excited about a project coming with Chris Deviney, where we are playing a percussion duo concerto of Pat Metheny’s Imaginary Day with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishments are you most proud of thus far?

She-e Wu: I have played and recorded solo concerto recitals all over the world. I am a female percussion professor at one of the well-known research institutions, Northwestern University. When I was younger my answer would be different, but these days it’s about sharing the experience with others whether that’s done by performing, teaching or talking about music. That’s more of what I consider a musical achievement at the moment. 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you feel like your gender plays a significant part in the opportunities or treatment that you receive in the music industry/World of percussion?

She-e Wu: I feel that I’ve been treated very fairly, and given a lot of opportunities as an Asian female who is playing percussion. Just imagine that I’m 5’2 woman and I’m Asian at the same time. Most people’s reaction is, “So what do you play? Piano? Flute?” I respond “I play percussion.” Every Uber driver, taxi driver, or anyone who is screening my mallets and sticks when I go through the airport security has the same reaction. “You’re a drummer?”  Somehow Asian female does not equal to drummer, I don’t how the perception has not been completely changed yet. I do feel like I’ve been treated with respect and extremely fairly in a very male dominated field. I will say that being a percussionist has trained me to deal with guys very well. Most of my friends and colleagues are male.

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some women you look up to/inspire you?

She-e Wu: My mother. She was a single parent and raised two kids while being very poor. However that did not stop her from providing the best arts and music education experiences that she could. She would rather go in debt than for me to not have an experience or lessons.  

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical influences or role models?

She-e Wu: I would say Johann Sebastian Bach, because his music transcends all instruments. I also enjoy Bela Bartok and Samuel Barber.

Pocket ProTechTours: What's your favorite song/ composition to play?

She-e Wu: Bach’s Cello Suites on Marimba or his Violin Sonatas and Partitas.

Pocket ProTechTours: If you could only play and/or listen to one genre of music what would it be?

She-e Wu: It would have to be Classical because there are so many different types of classical music from Bach, to Reich, and Stravinsky.

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of drummers/percussionists in general?

She-e Wu: Be curious, adventurous, flexible, humble, and always willing to try something new.

Pocket ProTechTours: Any special advice for the ladies?

She-e Wu: I’ve met a lot of female percussionists that come from a background of piano so therefore they play marimba, xylophone, and are typically the keyboard players of the ensemble. Often they are extremely advanced on the keyboard side but not as evenly advanced on snare drum. So my advice is play a lot of snare drum and be a fantastic drummer first before jumping into specializing something keyboard wise. It is a stereotype but there is some truth to that.

Pocket ProTechTours: What brands help make your sound?

Majestic Percussion Instruments

Mapex Drums

Zidjian Cymbals

Innovative Percussion Sticks and Mallets

 

Julie Spencer

Julie Spencer is a musician and a composer originally from Indianapolis, and currently resides in Germany. She is a total percussionist and also plays piano. She studied classical percussion at the Eastman School of Music, Jazz Composition at the California Institute of the Arts, as well as traditional African drumming from Ghana, North Indian Tabla, composition with James Newton (Composer/Jazz flutist), and Balinese Gamelan.

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been playing drums (percussion) and when did you know percussion would be a significant part of your life?

Julie Spencer: I began playing the piano at 5 years old and percussion (drumset and marimba) at 9 years old. I had a tug of war with choosing a path in visual arts or percussion, but I knew at 16 that I was going to pursue a life in music, but I was not certain of which direction.

 Pocket ProTechTours: Do you consider yourself a total percussionist or is there an area of percussion that you gravitate towards?  

Julie Spencer: Total percussion, but my main solo instruments have been keyboards, and primarily the marimba.

Pocket ProTechTours: What are your current projects and endeavors as it relates to music and percussion?

 Julie Spencer: My husband, Gernot Blume, and I work with a German/Ethiopian singer, Menna Mulugeta, doing traditional Ethiopian music as well as original compositions and covers in R&B , Soul, and Pop genres, and played the Karneval der Kulturen Festival in Berlin.  We have a new Jazz Quintet here in Germany where I play (Piano, Mallet Kat, Vibes, percussion), and a duo with Gernot’s harp, piano, and voice that has a cd coming out later this year. We are in a quartet with Japanese percussionist Shiori Tanaka and her husband, trombonist with the Nagoya Philharmonic, Hiroshi Tanaka, and did a Meisterkonzert Series here in Germany when they were on tour here. We also have a trio with an Australian Electronic Shakuhachi player and composer, Jim Franklin.  I’ve also have had some duo performances on marimba, with marimba soloist, Nancy Zeltsman at her Zeltsman Marimba Festival, with percussionist Aldo Mazza at his KoSa Music Camp, and the “Hit Like a Girl” Drum Festival at New York University, with Michael Wimberly also at KoSa, and with Rich Holly at the North Carolina Day of Percussion, including a United States Percussion Camp reunion band performance, with Ricky Burkhead, Don Parker, and Ndugu Chancler.  At ZMF I also gave a solo marimba performance that included several chamber pieces with fantastic student players.

Right now I’m working on three commissions. One is for an award winning Japanese solo marimbist named Ayami Okamura, “DJ Dog Demockracy” that will be premiered in Japan this summer. I also just finished an arrangement of one of my compositions, “Soulhouse Heal” which was originally written with a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Composition Grant, and will now be premiered in China this spring as a trio, by the award winning percussion duo Joint Venture, Xi Rachel Zhang and Laurent Warnier with guest Sven Hoscheit. My rap song for marimba and rap voice, “Everybody Talk About Freedom” commissioned by Canadian soloist, Beverley Johnston, was recently had its Mexican premiere by London based soloist, Leo Le Yu, and will be played soon a second time in China, on his upcoming tour, also with translation of the rap text into Chinese. Currently my husband and I are working on a co-commission for a three movement percussion concerto (Timpani, Percussion, Marimba) with full orchestra commissioned by the soloist, Wei-Chen Lin, of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, who will be premiering it with the Taipei Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in December in Taiwan.

Pocket ProTechTours:What musical accomplishments are you most proud of thus far?

 Julie Spencer: I am most happy that every time I have an opportunity to perform, compose, record, or teach that I have an opportunity to be a voice for love in the world.  It is also a great joy that my husband Gernot and I have been making music together for 27 years in all different kinds of bands, and musical styles. I’m also really grateful for the chance to give people encouragement to believe in themselves through the music, and to find their voice.  Performance highlights have included the PASIC convention workshops and evening concerts,  in 1985 in LA, 1986 Washington D.C., 1992, LA, 1994 Atlanta, and 2009, Indianapolis, with bands that my husband and I have had, with great musical colleagues as well as students. 

Pocket ProTechTours:Do you feel like your gender plays a significant part in the opportunities or treatment that you receive in the music industry/World of percussion?’

Julie Spencer: Yes it certainly has. I have been so blessed since high school to have friends to play music with, who were truly gender blind. Since I had that circle of individuals from very young, it took me a while to understand that not everyone has that privilege to be surrounded by such people. I didn’t really understand what it meant to be a feminist until I was out of college. In some ways, being a woman was a definite advantage because some things I was doing were unusual.

The statistics are shocking that show how many girls and women are affected by misogyny. In the percussion world, there is mostly a general feeling of family worldwide for anyone with hard work, talent and love for the music. However, there is clearly a long way to go for the acceptance of female drummers and percussionists. Little girls are not usually encouraged to play drum set. There are lots of people making changes and improvements in the percussion world to improve the culture and acceptance for girls in the percussion world.

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some women you look up to or that inspire you?

Julie Spencer: Michelle Obama, German Chancler Angela Merkel, Nobel Prize Laureate from Liberia, Leymah Gbowee, artist Georgia O Keefe, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Beyonce, Keiko Abe, Nancy Zeltsman, Beverley Johnston, Pei-ching Wu, my daughter Amienne

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical influences or role models?

Julie Spencer: Stevie Wonder, Bach, Aretha Franklin, Igor Stavinsky, John Cage, Thelonius Monk, Chick Corea, Art Tatum, Ndugu Chancler, President Barack Obama, author Malcolm Gladwell, artist Jackson Pollock, my dad, Atty. Frank Spencer, my mom, a high school teacher, Arlene Spencer, my husband, Dr. Gernot Blume, and my son, Avi, one of my first percussion teachers, Jeff Nearpass, my teacher at Eastman, John Beck, each of my students.

Pocket ProTechTours: What's your favorite song/ composition to play?

Julie Spencer: Percussion, Aretha’s Respect , Marimba, my piece “Brothers in Peace” dedicated to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, MalletKat/Vibes- Free Improv, Piano, Bach English Suites, Tabla, Dha Ge Ne Tin Nake Dhina with a hard swing feel, duo with Gernot, his piece, “Phases of the Moon”

Pocket ProTechTours: If you could only play and/or listen to one genre of music what would it be?

Julie Spencer: Music of the Heart, that’s a style that goes beyond how the record companies want us to organize the music. For me there is only one kind of music, and that’s music that comes from the heart, the mind, and the soul.

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of drummers/percussionists?

Julie Spencer: Jazz pianist and composer, Darrell Grant, who was the last pianist to work in Tony William’s band, likes to say, “I am harnessing the power of music to create change.” So my advice for the next generation is to harness the power of music to create change, because the world needs you.

My special advice for the girls and women is Be Fearless!!!

Pocket ProTechTours: If there was one area you would like to see improve in the world of percussion what would it be?

Julie Spencer: I would like to see percussionists organize for political change, and be politically active. We need to use our voice in favor of sanity, equality, and love, but against hate, against prejudice, and misogyny. The face of the percussion world is such a diverse face and we should be letting the world see and hear the voice that we have in all genres and all musical styles.

Julie Spencer: Shout out to my teachers Jeff Nearpast 1st, Johnny Lee Lane, Emil Richards, John Beck, the late John Bergamo from Cal Arts, African drumming master from Ghana, Alfred Ladzepko, North Indian Tabla master, Swapan Chaudhuri, Balinese Gamelan master, I Nyoman Wenten, David Roitstein, Jazz piano Cal Arts, Paul Novros, Jazz at Cal Arts, The late Sitar master, Amiya Dasgupta, Dr. Erwin Mueller and  composer and Marimba soloist Gordon Stout.

Julie endorses:

Mike Balter Mallets and Majestic Marimbas

You can also find more information about her publications through Norsk Music of Oslo Norway

https://musikkforlagene.no/en/

Several distributors in the US carry Norsk music, such as Steve Weiss.

To find out more information about Julie check out her website

http://www.spencer-blume.com/compositions-julie-spencer.html

Amber Baker

Amber Baker is a drummer/percussionist, producer, and song writer from Lexington,KY. She started playing drums at the age of 4 years old, and was playing in church by 10 years old.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: When did you know that drumming was going to be a significant part of your life?

Amber Baker: Somewhere between the age of 10 and 14 music became very appealing to me. I started playing in a local band when I was 14, and at that time music was the activity and endeavor I looked forward to. I played sports and did other activities but music was the gateway to give me everything I needed at that stage of my life.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you consider yourself a total percussionist or is there area of percussion that you gravitate towards?

Amber Baker: I do play hand percussion but I am primarily a drummer.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What are your current projects and endeavors as it relates to music and percussion?

Amber Baker: I am playing with a unique musical project that some may consider Alternative or Psychedelic Rock called Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I also plan to release my personal project titled “Jungle” this summer. In addition to playing drums, I will also be doing production and some singing on the project.  Those two projects are my main focus at the moment, but I do some production work with a few local artists here in Lexington.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishments are your proud of thus far?

Amber Baker: I would have to say performing at the 2013 Latin Grammys with Alejandro Sanz, graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2014, performing on some of the final episodes of Bobby Jones Gospel show with my dad Terry Baker, and performing at the 2016 Essence Festival with Dej Loaf.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you feel like your gender plays a significant part in the opportunities or treatment that you receive in the music industry?

Amber Baker: Not really, it is a male dominated industry but your work ethic will exceed boundaries. If you sound good, you sound good regardless of gender. I have noticed that female drummers are becoming more popular these days. I’ve noticed that I run into a lot more female drummers in the past few years.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some women you look up to/inspire you?

Amber Baker: I’d definitely have to say Terri Lyne Carrington because talented and experienced in so many areas. In addition to being a phenomenal drummer, she writes, produces, and does much more. Sheila E of course, she is one of the legends that has paved the way and inspired myself and many other female drummers/percussionists. Michelle Obama possesses qualities and characteristics that are inspiring to all women, but especially black women.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical influences or role models?

Amber Baker: Robert “Sput” Searight is a big influence. I played to a lot of records he was on growing up in the gospel world and current day with “Snarky Puppy” and “Ghost Notes”. I like his phrasing and approach to music in general.  I am also influenced by Pharrell. He is a talented producer, but he also a unique ability to create and crossover to different fields of entertainment and genres of music. He has hands in a little bit of everything and is a vocal person in the industry. I would love the opportunity to meet and work with him. Finally, Adam Blackstone and his talents and approach to the role of being a music director.  His musicality and arrangements are very tasteful.

 

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What are some of your favorite songs to play with when you are practicing?

Amber Baker: My playlist includes songs and albums such as “Freda”, and the “Live Wires” album by the Yellow Jackets, “Binky” and “Flood” by Snarky Puppy, “City Gate/Rumble” by Chick Corea, “Cascade” and “Full Moon” by Dave Weckl, “Renaissance” and “Amplified” by Q-Tip just to name a few.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: If you could only play and/or listen to one genre of music what would it be?

Amber Baker: That is a tough question but as far as playing, it would have to Fusion because it has a little bit of everything. For listening it would have to be Funk like James Brown and Lettuce.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of drummers/percussionists?

Amber Baker: Stay true to honing in on your own unique sound, and finding out what that is if you don’t know. Also, be consistent in what you are doing, and create good habits that will keep you on a path of growth.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you have any special advice or ladies?

Amber Baker: Do not be intimidated by what is around us and approach life with confidence.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: If there was one area you would like to see improve in regards to the music industry or percussion world what would it be?

Amber Baker: I would like to see a broader appreciation for artists and music that may be considered “indie” or “underground.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you have any new projects or endeavors coming up in 2017?

Amber Baker: I plan to release my personal project “Jungle” this summer. The title track is available on all major music outlets and I just released another single “Where you Are” (This will be published in March)

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What brands help make your sound?

 Amber Baker: I used a combination of Istanbul and Amedia Cymbals, I play a set of Vintage 1974 Ludwig kit with Unkown Mortal Orchestra for the sound, but I also play a set of Risen Drums. Pro Mark drum sticks

Social Media/ Websites

Twitter and Instagram- @abstractamb

 

Julie Davila

     Julie Davila is renowned percussionist, performer, music educator and clinician. She was inducted in to the WGI Percussion Hall of Fame in 2014. She is a member of the chamber percussion ensemble the CAIXA TRIO, winner of a 2011 “Drummie” award by Drum Magazine. In addition to her membership in the CAIXA TRIO, she served as the chair of the Percussive Arts Society Marching Percussion Committee for ten years and was elected to the PAS Board of Directors for six years. Julie is the percussion coordinator and arranger for the Middle Tennessee State University Band of Blue Drumline and is an adjunct professor of percussion at MTSU. Prior to her work at MTSU, she was the percussion specialist at several high schools in Nashville, Tennessee. Many of her groups have medaled in all divisions of the WGI activity and in 1996 the John Overton high school Indoor drum line, under her direction won a National Championship. Julie is a member of the WGI and DCI nationally recognized adjudication teams and served on the steering committee for WGI Percussion for several years. She is an active clinician specializing in contemporary and marching percussion, and has taught and performed in Seoul, South Korea, Paris, France, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil and extensively throughout the United States. Julie received her degree from the University of North Texas.

Pocket ProTechTours: How long have you been playing percussion and when did you know that percussion was going to be a significant part of your life?

Julie Davila: I have been playing percussion since 5th grade, and I knew since then that it would be a major part of my life. I always knew that music would be my career path in some capacity.

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you consider yourself a total percussionist or is there an area of percussion that you gravitate towards?

Julie Davila: I feel like I am a total percussionist and strive to be well-rounded. Marching in the snare line at North Texas, the Front Ensemble at UNT, and in Drum Corps, definitely helped balance my experiences in membrane and keyboard percussion.

Pocket ProTechTours: What are your current projects and endeavors as it relates to music and percussion?

Julie Davila: I am working on a couple of compositions. One is a large percussion ensemble piece which MTSU will premiere on their spring concert titled Faith and Fortitude. I have been working on it for about 8 months and I am pretty excited about the premier. We plan to record the work and I hope to publish it mid-year. In addition, I am working on a high-school level novelty piece, and two book projects. They will be solo books, but they will also contain information of regarding technique and practice strategies to supplement those students who may not have the access and resources for private instruction. The Caixa Trio is also commissioning a new work for trio and percussion ensemble and we hope to premier the piece in early 2018.

Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishments are you are proud of thus far?

Julie Davila: One of the highlights of my career thus far was being inducted into the WGI Hall of Fame in 2014. It was a very humbling experience and a tremendous privilege to be nominated by colleagues and peers to join an esteemed group of Hall of Fame members, many who were my mentors early on in my career. WGI is an organization that I have such respect and admiration for and it has been an honor to have been a part of the wonderful organization for over 20 years. In my earlier days, I am proud that I played in the front ensemble for The University of North Texas and Phantom Regiment, but I also played in the snare line at UNT. Gaining experience in both mediums as a young player really opened a lot of playing and teaching opportunities. I truly enjoy being able to travel internationally both judging marching percussion and performing with the Caixa Trio. Sharing percussion with young students internationally and growing personally with regard to awareness for different cultures is very rewarding.

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you feel like your gender plays a significant part in the opportunities or treatment that you receive in the world of percussion?

Julie Davila: Not really. In the mid-eighties there were much fewer women participating in percussion and definitely in marching percussion than there is today. However, I never try to really consider gender, I just wanted to be the best that I can be, be a life learner and always strive for excellence. Gender never factored in

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some women you look up to/inspire you?

Julie Davila: There are many women in percussion that are outstanding. In my college days I looked up to women like Keiko Abe, Terri Lynn Carington, and Shiela E. Currently, many teachers and performers inspire me like She-e Wu, Sandi Rennick, and my Caixa Trio mates, Julie Hill and Amy Smith. In addition, watching young women perform at such a high level in some of the drum corps and indoor groups in both the battery and front ensemble is awesome!

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical influences or role models?

Julie Davila: Bob Meunier, Director of Bands at Drake University was one of my earliest, significant influences. - Dr. Schietroma UNT, director of percussion studies, change my path forever, Doc always expected nothing less than your absolute best and really challenged and motivated us to be well rounded and professionally at the top of our game. Other early influences in marching percussion were - Dennis Delucia, Fred Sanford, Thom Hannum, and Ralph Hardimon. There are so many current groups and players out there now that are terrific that it is difficult to narrow it down. I enjoy listening to a wide variety of genres. Currently I’m enjoying performers like Esperanza Spalding,Snarky Puppy and Tony Succar.

Pocket ProTechTours: What's your favorite song/ composition to play?

Julie Davila: I really enjoy our diverse programming with Caixa Trio. Having the opportunity to play a wide range of membrane and keyboard percussion in our concerts is very gratifying. I don’t really have a favorite. I’m currently beginning to work up some more solo literature, so I’m enjoying getting back in to the practice room and shedding literature.

Pocket ProTechTours: If you could only play and/or listen to one genre of music what would it be?

  Julie Davila: It honestly would have to be Latin Jazz or Latin influenced music. I guess being married to Lalo Davila has slightly swayed me in to that direction. :)

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of drummers/percussionists in general?

Julie Davila: This day in age I believe it’s important to be as well rounded as possible. If you are interested in pursuing a life in percussion, try to be sure to expose yourself to excellence in all areas of percussion. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the marching arts. I recommend broadening your musical experiences. Seek out other learning opportunities that will help you grow. Attend the Percussive Arts Society International Convention annually. I always try to make sure I attend clinics at PASIC that are not in my “strengths” wheelhouse. I go to a few marching clinics, but spend a lot of time going to other sessions. In the undergraduate years, try to gain as much exposure to learning musical styles, techniques and cultural applications of percussion as you possibly can. What is fun and challenging about percussion is that the growing and learning is never ending. There is so much out there, so I try to encourage students and model being a life learner. You must stay persistent, be easy to work with, and by all means stay humble and hungry

Pocket ProTechTours: If there was one area you would like to see improve in the world of percussion what would it be?

Julie Davila: Sometimes I think in our academia world students tend to only value really technical material. Great music is great music! Expressive qualities, nuances, and touch are just as important qualities to develop and nurture as “technical chops”. In addition, as I mentioned already I would encourage percussionists to be as well-rounded as they can. Later in life your career might lead you in one direction, or towards a specific area, but try to expose yourself to a lot of good music. Listen to great musicians in other fields and styles. Listen to great phrasing, nuances, colors and styles. Listen, Listen, Listen!

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you have any publications available?

Julie Davila:

Most of my publications can be found on  www.rowloff.com

Impressions on Wood- 10 Intermediate Marimba Solos

Modern Multi-Tenor Techniques and Solos

Co- Authored Aptitude- A Conversation in Snare Soloing (Drop6 music, now sold through Rowloff) 20 + percussion ensemble and marching percussion publications

Pocket ProTechTours: What brands help make your sound?

Julie Davila:

Pearl Drums and Adams drums and concert percussion,

Zildjian Cymbals

Innovative Percussion Sticks and Mallets

Evans Drum Heads

Grover Pro Percussion

Leon "Ndugu" Chancler

Pocket ProTechTours: Can you tell us a little about yourself Mr. Chancler?

   Ndugu Chancler: My name is Leon ”Ndugu” Chancler and I am a drummer, percussionist, composer, educator, arranger, producer and songwriter. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from California State University, Dominguez Hills. I grew up in Los Angeles, CA doing session work and band work. I also had brief stints in New York working with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson, and San Francisco with Santana. Other groups that I have played with include The Crusaders, Herbie Hancock, and George Duke. I have also done session work with artists such as Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Kenny Rogers, Barry White, Gladys Knight and many more. I am currently Professor of Jazz and Popular Music studies at University of Southern California.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: When did you know that drumming was going to be a significant part of your life?

 Ndugu Chancler: When I was 6 years old, drumming hit me but I did not have the opportunity to pursue it until I was 13. They wanted me to play the trombone in elementary school and I didn’t want to play the trombone. At 6 years old the drum bug had bit me but I didn’t get the virus until I was 13.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your musical or drumming influences?

 Ndugu Chancler: My musical influences include Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. My drumming influences are Bruno Carr, Nesbert “Stix” Hooper, Shelly Mann, Earl Palmer, and all the greats like “Papa” Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams, Buddy Rich, and Max Roach just to name of few.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: Have you released or working on any projects related to music?

 Ndugu Chancler: Yes I just finished a music philosophy book titled “A Musicians Best Friend- A Book About Creating a Pathway to Your Success”  that I am self-publishing, I wrote the foreword for a book on Michael Jackson called “Rewind- The Life and Legacy of Pop Music's King”, and I justdid a live cd in October and I am currently in the process of going in the studio and putting the finishing touches on it to release.

  

Pocket ProTechTours: What has been your favorite country or city to play in so far? Why?

 Ndugu Chancler: I like going to Japan and I have been going every year since 1974. Whether it be Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka they receive and embrace the music no matter the format, they treat musicians like musicians, and the country is always clean. I do enjoy Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, but Japan has my heart.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: What is your most memorable performance thus far?

 Ndugu Chancler: There have been several but the most memorable were with Miles Davis 1971 in Portugal, and 1989 on the Herbie Hancock Headhunters Tour in Montreal. The band clicked, the music clicked, the audience clicked and everything worked in everybody’s favor.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What was your most awkward moment on stage?

 Ndugu Chancler: My most awkward moment was 1975 with Santana trying to play in the freezing cold weather at the Olympia Hall in Paris, France. It was about 30 degrees.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What musical accomplishment are you most proud of thus far? 

Ndugu Chancler: I am proudco-writing “Let It Whip” for the Dazz band, co-writing and being the voice on George Duke’s “Reach For It”, writing and co-producing on the “Amigos” album with Santana, and of course playing on of the best-selling albums of all time MIchael Jackson's "Thriller".

  

Pocket ProTechTours: Who are your favorite bass players to play with?

 Ndugu Chancler: Alphonso Johnson, Reggie Hamilton, and “Ready” Freddie Washington

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: If you were only allowed to play one genre of music what would it be? 

 Ndugu Chancler: It would be Jazz because it gives me a lot of room for self-expression and interaction among the musicians.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: Do you have any non-musical hobbies or activities that you do that factor into your drumming?

 Ndugu Chancler: Yes I play racquetball and power walk for the cardio and hand/foot coordination, and when the lakes fill back up here in California I do fresh-water fishing for the peace of mind.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: If you had the power what is one thing that you would change about the music industry?

 Ndugu Chancler: I would make music more accessible, and without genre boundaries. 

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What brands help make up your sound?

 Ndugu Chancler:  For 40 years I was with Yamaha Drums, but now I am using Sakae drums. I have been playing Paiste Cymbals for 45 years and I have been with Vic Firth sticks and Remo drum heads since 1974 and also Toca percussion. 

 

Pocket ProTechTours: Do you have any publications or method books available to the percussion community?

 Ndugu Chancler:  I have a drum method book titled “Pocket Change” that I released in 2013.

 

 Pocket ProTechTours: What can we expect from you in 2017?

 Ndugu Chancler: I continuously try to re-invent myself and expose myself to new audiences.

 

Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of aspiring drummers in percussionist?

 Ndugu Chancler: Listen to as much music and learn as much repertoire as you can.

 

You can find more information about Mr. Chancler at

 http://www.nduguchancler.com/

 His publications are available at :

 https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Change-Ndugu-Chancler/dp/1483585786/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1485921930&sr=8-2&keywords=pocket+change+ndugu

 https://www.amazon.com/Musicians-Best-Friend-Creating-Pathway-ebook/dp/B01F5QY1GW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485922012&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Musicians+Best+Friend%3A+A+Book+About+Creating+a+Pathway