St. Louis Drummer Kevin Bowers Debuts at NYC Winter Jazzfest
Prolific St. Louis-based drummer Kevin Bowers will perform at the New York City Winter Jazzfest this Friday, Jan. 11. It’s the first time Bowers will perform at the fest after attending as a fan for the past two years. “I’m really looking forward to playing at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, which has hosted a long list of legendary musicians and comedians,” he says.
You may remember Bowers from behind the kit at the LouFest 2017 Chuck Berry Tribute alongside Huey Lewis, Captain Kirk Douglas (The Roots), Rashawn Ross (Dave Matthews Band), Pokey LaFarge and Cage the Elephant, to name a few. “Whenever you perform with musicians with extraordinary talent, it pushes you to always arrive with your top attitude and ability. As a result, you become a better musician and performer,” Bower says of this experience.
You may also remember his release of “Kevin Bowers’ Nova,” an emotional soundtrack inspired by time spent traveling through Spain. This exceptional live performance never stops moving and enchanting as Bowers leads an ensemble of local performers from various musical backgrounds, all equally as talented yet still in awe of Bowers’ ability and spirit. The Winter Jazzfest performance will include a majority of songs from “Nova” along with one or two unreleased songs.
Though he is unable to bring the entire ensemble to New York, 10 of his regular players will be traveling with him, including David Grelle, Tony Barbabta, Zebadiah Briskovich, Jordan Heimburger, Paige Brubeck, Michael Aguirre, Ben Reece, Aaron Chandler and Adam Hucke. Lauren Wilmore and Estelle Rivera, both of whom live in New York, will also be performing. “I have to say I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by so many remarkable musicians,” says Bowers. “New York is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I can’t wait to share this moment with people who are not only world-class musicians but also great friends.”
As you can imagine, traveling with a large group can become expensive. To help with travel costs, Bowers applied for a grant through the Regional Arts Commission here in St. Louis. The RAC offers monetary support to local artists in effort to stabilize and grow our expansive creative community; this is a first-class example of utilizing resources available to local artists. “RAC helped make this goal a reality, and I encourage all artists to apply through their website,” says Bowers.
Bowers recently spent four nights in Havana, Cuba studying drums and timbales with José Eladio Amat, who is the head of the percussion department at the National School of Art in Havana. Describing the “life-changing” trip, Bowers says, “I’m passionate about connecting with people through music and travel. I thrive on staying outside of my comfort zone while traveling to new places such as Cuba or Spain. Getting lost in the colorful streets of Old Havana or the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is inspiring and it ignites my creativity.”
A deep understanding of rhythmic styles and cultures is certainly present in Bowers’ live performance; you can see the colors described through rhythm when he plays. “It’s a beautiful and complicated country, and I can’t wait to go back,” says Bowers.
Until then, Bowers looks forward to performing in new places and releasing lots of new music. “2019 is going to be another exciting year,” he says. Stay tuned.
Featured image courtesy of Nate Burrell.