Thursday, October 13, 2016

Shannon Ford Drummer


      Today's subject, Shannon Ford, is currently living his theatre life behind a drum set at Signature Theatre playing for the new musical Disney's Freaky Friday.
      Born and raised in Davidsonville, MD, Shannon had the good fortune in high school to perform with the jazz greats Clark Terry, Urbie Green, and Mundell Lowe. If that doesn't get you hooked on becoming a musician, I don't know what does.
      His wide and varied musical career has afforded him the opportunity to play for such top recording artists as Paul Simon, Phoebe Snow, Lou Christie, and the Gatlin Brothers. He is equally at home in the musical theatre scene, playing on Broadway and on tour for such shows as Next to Normal (New York and national tour), Godspell, Hands on a Hard Body, Chaplin, Pippin, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and most recently, the national tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
      Here is a musician of remarkable skill and intensity. For Godspell they encased Shannon is a cage like structure and if you sat on the correct side of the theatre (seating was on four sides) you could see Shannon in action. It was a performance in and of itself, and I mean that as a high compliment.
      Disney's Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre brings this locally-raised musical genius back home to the DC area, and that is a good thing. Now everyone has a chance to not only experience a new musical, but hear Shannon Ford play, and appreciate his solid grooves and licks. I'd say that is a good way to spend a night in the theatre, wouldn't you?

As a kid, were you interested in playing any other instrument besides the drums?
      My first experience with a musical instrument was in fourth grade when they introduced us to band class. I definitely wanted to play drums because The Beatles and rock and roll in general had a profound grip on me. Unfortunately twenty other 9-year-olds had the same obsession! Too many kids had signed up to play drums so I was handed a clarinet. I learned to play it well enough to function in the band, but drums were still my passion. I pleaded with the band director to let me be in the percussion section, and by the next year I was section leader.
Can you please tell us where you got your training and from whom?
      My very first teacher was a gentleman named Leo LePage, who played with the Baltimore Symphony. He stressed music reading skills, which gave me a great foundation.
      Growing up in the Washington, DC area also allowed me access to some of the brilliant musicians in the military bands. I owe a great deal to my lessons with Dick Bonenfant from the US Naval Academy Band. He taught me about rudimental drumming, which is the basis for much of my technique. 

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