“Getting Warmed Up”
Hello Music Insiders! For those you that don’t know, I have been the touring and recording drummer with country rock music superstar Jason Aldean for the last 18 years. We have done countless tours, and along the way have racked up 20 #1 radio hits. Our 8th record, titled “Rearview Town” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 All-Genre Chart, and is now officially platinum.
To promote the release of the record, Jason and the band (also of 18 years) set out to invade America’ s living rooms via their televisions. I thought I would share some insights into a month or so on the road with the most-downloaded male country artist of all time, Jason Aldean.
April 9: I kicked the evening’s performance off at Tom Hurst’s “Loud Jams” show at The Hi Watt Lounge in Nashville. This is always a great event to play, as it brings the music community of Nashville together in one place.
April 10: Bright and early flight from Nashville to Burbank, California. I keep a residence, car and lots of drums in Los Angeles, so it was a great day to check in on things, as I hadn’t been in LA since February. I flew in ahead of the band, so I would have more time to get stuff done. I connected with my filmmaker friend, Eric Dorris for happy hour at The Beverly Garland Hotel. Eric filmed, edited, and directed my “Drumming in the Modern World” drumming education system, available at: www.drumminginthemodernworld.com.
April 11: A nice workout and good breakfast started the day in sunny California. Our crew arrived at Warner Bros. Studio ahead of us to set up and check our gear. Several black cars picked us up and drove us to the set for The Ellen Show. We have done this show at least 3 times, and it’s always a thrill. We did a sound check and camera blocking. This usually means checking the levels for our in-ear monitors and running our selected song 2 or 3 times. My drum tech, Jon Hull is so tuned into what I like with my drums that I never have to touch them. They are always set up exactly the same and they always look and sound great. Jon and I are a true team and friends in real life.
Then it was time to “hurry up and wait.” Everyone chilled in the dressing room, which was fully supplied with catering and a nice selection of drinks and coffee. Jason always brings a stylist and makeup artist along for TV performances. I usually get a minimal amount of makeup to take the camera ‘shine’ off of my face. We wait for the call and play exactly like we did at sound check; there are smiles, applause and a nice hand shake from Ellen herself. Mission accomplished. With an evening off, a few of us grabbed some sushi on Ventura Boulevard.
April 12: We did a sound check and a performance for a VIP audience at iHeart Studios in Burbank for an exclusive album release event hosted by radio personality Bobby Bones. The mini concert featured highlights from the album and was broadcast live and archived for future broadcasts. I always play like millions of people are watching…because they are! You can’t ever “phone it in;” you always have to play your best! Awesome crowd, awesome energy!
April 13: Flew from LAX to Las Vegas for the Academy of Country Music Awards. I prefer to fly out of Burbank. It’s much more convenient and much less stressful, but when you travel in a huge entourage, you have to go with the flow. We travel as a group, much like a moving circus! We have been doing it for years and we are grateful to be all best friends. We had a fun night on the town celebrating our bass player, Tully Kennedy’s birthday!
April 14: Sound check and camera blocking for the single, “You Make It Easy”. I look forward to award shows because it is always the same cast of characters working cameras, lighting and production. After playing these shows year after year, we look forward to our hugs, smiles and quick catch up sessions.
After rehearsal, I chose to visit with my fashion designer pal, Kara and we connect with another designer, Claire Jane. Claire designs clothing for Def Leppard. I checked out her new stuff and hung out with her and her husband all day.
Dress rehearsal! We ran the entire show down to practice the actual flow of the show. This includes the host, Reba McEntire reading all of the teleprompter cues, and the entire behind-the-scenes crew changing over all of the sets and bands. After that, we had a few hours off to relax and groom for the show. Then it was more “hurry up and wait” until someone says “Jason Aldean Band…places”…Then it’s a live performance in front of millions of global viewers. I always focus deeply while enjoying myself at the same time.
April 16: Flew from Las Vegas to New York City. Lots of lines, security, the search for coffee and… more lines. More black cars picked us up and took us to our midtown hotel. We usually choose a spot to dine together as a band. Always fun. We love the energy of New York City!
April 17: Mid-day sound check and camera blocking for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I had great backline drums provided by a local NYC backline company, and our in-ear mix was great. It’s always fantastic playing in the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre. This is the same building that David Letterman recorded his show in for decades. We also played the Letterman Show a few years back. The small dressing room downstairs allowed us all to truly “bond.” The show went great, and we headed back to the hotel. We caught a hot meal and got to bed early for a very early call time the next day.
April 18: Alarm went off at 4:30 am. Band lobby call was 5:30 am. Another black car arrived and we headed to 30 Rockefeller Center for a 6:30 am sound check for The Today Show. It was freezing! The whole band used hand warmers between takes. Some of the songs we pre-recorded and some we performed live. We have the greatest fans. They wait in line to see the outside stage performance at 3:30 in the morning. That is commitment! Wow! We have played the Today Show many times, so we look forward to seeing the same faces in the crew every time, the backstage coffee, and of course New York bagels! Then, it was back to the hotel for a short nap.
I took an Uber across town for a meeting with a company that was interested in hiring me as a motivational speaker. I made it back just in time to connect with the band for an acoustic performance at the Sirius XM headquarters near Madison Square Garden. I always play a hand drum called a djembe for these performances. It’s portable, quiet and adds a cool sonic dimension to the acoustic environment. The band had a great time. Bam!
April 19: Flight from NYC to Nashville.
April 20: I taught all day using a new education app called MeetHook. It’s available on the App Store and allows musicians to take lessons from anywhere in the world with qualified teachers like Kenny Aronoff, Chris Coleman, and myself.
April 21: I taught lessons all day at The Drum Pad in Nashville.
April 22: Day off.
April 23: Lunch visit with studio drumming legend, Lonnie Wilson. Lonnie has recorded 118 #1 hit songs, and was one of the first musicians to help me in Nashville. We drank a pot of coffee and had some laughs.
April 24: Drove to Florence, Alabama. I performed at a drum clinic for the Alabama Day of Percussion at The University of North Alabama.
April 25: Final exam for my drum set students at the percussion studio of The University of North Alabama. I was the adjunct drum set faculty member for the school year, teaching a course called, “Drumming in the Modern World”.
April 26: Our rhythm section rehearsed all day and worked out tour arrangements and potential set list for the year.
April 27: All day rehearsal for the tour at a huge warehouse in Nashville. This allows the lighting, staging, video crew, and backline crew to all work together to get the show flowing in perfect harmony. Set list is finalized.
April 28: 8:30 pm bus call to Chicago.
April 29: Played a private show at Joe’s Bar. This is an intimate venue that we played over 10 years ago when we were kicking and clawing to be heard. I spent time with my great friend and ambassador of the Chicago music scene, Vic Salazar.
April 30: Nashville. Barry’s Bootcamp; working towards my fighting weight for our touring year.
May 1: Nashville. Dentist visit and then a massage. Sabian Artist Party in Nashville, which was a nice gathering of all the Sabian cymbal endorsing artists living in Nashville.
May 2: Took in a show in Nashville by the Old 97’s. Fantastic Americana band I have been a fan of for a long time.
May 3: Private flight to Dallas, Texas. We played an acoustic show fundraiser for the United Way, organized by former pro football athlete, Troy Aikman.
May 4: Another band-only rehearsal. Continued to make refinements on arrangements and set list.
May 5: Even more rehearsals in a large warehouse. More chances to wrap our heads around the flow of the set list and show.
May 6: All day acting class in Nashville. I continue to happily develop this skill set that makes me happy and will give me even more opportunities in my future.
May 7: I play the song, “If You Love Somebody” in a tribute to the music of Sting at The Hi Watt lounge in Nashville. These events always bring the community together. I caught my bus at 10 pm.
May 8: Tour dress rehearsals in Kansas City. The folks at The Sprint Center welcomed us with an awesome video presentation and tons of hospitality. We have been playing this venue for a decade. This was another day of refining the flow of the show, allowing the sound, lighting, video, and backline techs to work together in harmony.
May 9: One more day of rehearsals at The Sprint Center in Kansas City I am responsible for watching all the musicians and keeping the flow of the show going around constant guitar changes and lighting cues. I have to also make sure I kick songs in immediately after Aldean stops chatting and interacting with the audience. A film I acted in called “All Light Will End” premiered in Nashville at the Nashville Film Festival this day as well.
May 10: First official day of the tour. Luke Combs, Lauren Alaina and all of their people get to set up and we are off to the races!
May 11: Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois. An older building; big difference from the Spring arena. Yet another night to refine our show!
May 12: Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. For our guitar player Kurt Allison, who is from Des Moines, this is always a fun show. He had 55 family members in the audience! Awesome!!
May 13: Called my Mom for Mother’s Day!
May 14: I presented my “CRASH Course for Success” motivational speech to the students of T.S. Hill Middle School in Dexter, Missouri. This was my third appearance at the school. I discussed my CRASH philosophy for successful living as well as topics like dreams, goals, hustle follow through, passion, purpose, accountability, action, teamwork, professionalism, and the importance of academic excellence.
May 15: I played drums on 8 new songs for recording artist Michael Austin. Michael is the first client for 1225 Entertainment, which is a new music production company I started with my partner, Michael Krompass.
May 16: I self-taped an audition for the long-running soap opera, “The Young and The Restless”. The casting director really likes my work and requested that I audition for a series regular spot. Life is funny and awesome. You never know where it will take you!
May 17: Jason Aldean show at The Hollywood Casino outside of St. Louis. It always feels great to share our music with passionate fans that wait out in the heat and rock with us all night. It just feels great to be in our creative zone, sharing our gifts nightly.
May 18: Jason Aldean show at The Hollywood Casino (Tinley Park) in Chicago. My dear friend and ambassador of the Chicago music scene, Vic Salazar picked me up early in the morning. I presented a nice, intimate master class at Chicago’s Martyr’s music venue. This is an iconic venue that hosts all styles of music from all genres. I love sharing my experiences with a new generation of musicians. Chicago traffic is very heavy and I barely made it back to sound check! Whew! Tinley Park is one of the best venues. It just feels epic, with a great crowd and energy; we always do well there.
May 19: Jason Aldean show at The Ruoff Home Mortgage Center (formerly Klipsch Center) outside of Indianapolis. This is another venue that always packs out with super loyal fans! Summer nights and great music. I love sharing the stage with the gentlemen in my band. I see these guys way more than my family, or any other friends. They are family!
May 20: My band heads back to Nashville, but I get picked up by my friend, Niko to present a Sunday afternoon clinic at The Melody Music Shop in Bloomington, Indiana. This is a great music store with an awesome staff. The event was well attended and fun. After, I took in some of the awesome college water holes and restaurants with my host Jim Bailey from D’Addario.
May 21: Flight to Burbank. I met the band at the hotel for some late night dining and revelry.
May 22: We performed Jason Aldean’s new single “Drowns the Whisky” on the season finale of NBC’s “The Voice”. I got to hug my fried Nate Morton (house drummer for the show since day one). I love being in Burbank. I love show biz! Great day!
May 23: Flight from Burbank to Nashville. I immediately headed to bus call.
May 24: Show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. The whole venue underwent a massive face-lift. It now has a pool and a massage therapist on hand all day. It was like a mini spa day backstage, and the catering was fantastic. It’s the little things that make the difference for the wary traveler.
May 25: Hartford, Connecticut. I’m originally from Milford, Connecticut, so I had some relatives come to the show! I was also picked up in the morning by my friend and student Sarra Cardile. Sarra hosted me at her house for several private lessons with area drummers. It was kind of like a drummer “Tupperware party.” Ha! The show was “off the charts cool.” I also did a little tailgating after the show.
May 26: Jason Aldean show at The Xfinity Theater in Mansfield, Mass. My friend Rich Eisner picked me up and hosted me for a master class at White’s Music Education Center. This was another great day of sharing drumming insights with drummers of all ages and levels of ability. Music Education has so many benefits and I love telling people that I am a product of music education. The show that evening felt incredible! Summer touring season is the best. I LOVE to sweat!
May 27: Show in Bangor, Maine! Catering included fresh lobster! It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it. The weather really cooled down in the evening and I really enjoyed it Sweating just a little bit less every once in awhile is a nice treat.
May 28: My friend Mark drove me to Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada to visit the Sabian cymbal factory. It had been 10 years since my last visit, and it was time to catch up. I ended up doing an Instagram “takeover” for Sabian and shared some of my ideas for new cymbals with master cymbal maker, Mark Love. What a day! The Sabian family is so talented and wonderful!
May 29: I stayed in Maine to perform a clinic sponsored by my friend, Mark Braveman from Mark’s Music. The event was held at Husson University which had an amazing theater with a great sound system!!
May 30: Flight to Nashville.
May 31: Career catch up day in Nashville. I re-packed my bags and was oft visit my parents in Florida.
I love my job and all the people I work with and meet along the way. My hope is that you can find a musical outlet that brings you as much joy! Go out and find it! Thanks for checking in and please keep in touch!
Questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org