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Drum! Night Returns With Red Hot Chili Peppers Drummer Chad Smith

In Music
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Chad Smith never took private music lessons. He didn’t have the luxury. The Red Hot Chili Peppers percussionist picked up drumming first at age 7 on a makeshift kit of Baskin-Robbins ice cream cartons, then at 9 in Michigan public schools, learning the art in every music class on the roster: marching band, symphonic band, jazz band, you name it.

“I’m a living, breathing example of the value of a public music education,” says the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and father of five who this spring went to Washington D.C. to lobby on behalf arts funding for public schools.

That’s why Smith, 51, so looks forward to performing at Drum! Night, a charity event that supports the Lincoln High School music program, this Friday at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. The event, hosted by Drum! Magazine, boasts a lineup that includes the Street Drum Corps, Lenny Kravitz drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, and Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall and Anthrax. The performances and workshops will be accompanied by a gear expo, silent auction and a raffle.

“We work hard to present a diverse lineup of drummers every year,” says Andy Doerschuk, Drum! magazine editorial director. “Our objective is for Drum! Night attendees to walk away from our festival with a new appreciation for the similarities that exist between drummers like Chad, Cindy and Jason, and be exposed to styles of music they might not otherwise hear.”

Smith says he’ll play on the main stage, talk, perform, collaborate with other drummers, improvise some, and play along to some pre-recorded tracks from his bands Chickenfoot and the Chili Peppers, which plans to release their 11th studio album in 2014.

“It’s interesting to experience drums without all the other stuff going on,” says Smith of Friday’s drum-fest. “The audience gets to talk to us and ask questions, so it’s a really unique type of performance. It’ll be a long night of a lot of banging and loud noises.”

Hopefully that intimacy will give people a sense of what drives him, Smith says.

“I hope to show people that music is fun and they’ll think that, ‘Hey, this guy really loves what he does and he’s passionate about it … he’s not weird, fucked up or high,’” he says. “I’m just lucky enough to have discovered early on something I love to do.”

Drum clinics like the one in San Jose this week hold a special place in Smith’s heart because he gets to hang out with other drummers, a rare, strange breed: a little nerdy, a little eccentric.

“We’re kind of weird,” says Smith. “We like to celebrate our weirdness together. We like to meet up and share ideas with no egos involved. There’s a real sense of camaraderie amongst the guys in the back. I’m very proud to be part of that.”

More info.

Smith also headlines Outside Lands on Sunday with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

 

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