I've spent many years behind a drum set. When I go to shows, I almost always catch myself peering at the drummer, no matter how engaging or magnetic the rest of the band is. I've come to admire the drumming of several local drummers from whom I've nicked many riffs and tricks.
The following is a list -- in alphabetical order -- of seven of the best drummers in town. Each plays with confidence, steering the performances of the bands they play in, and using their distinctive voices every time they pick up a drumstick.
Cleon Edwards (The Cannabinoids)
After refreshing my memory of Cleon Edwards' drumming with a few YouTube videos, the only way I can describe his style is "next level." He sits back in the groove like a good soul drummer, but shows off his jazz chops with quick flurries that leave you wondering what the hell you've just heard. Check him out every Wednesday night as he drums for RC Williams and The Gritz at The Prophet Bar.
Stefan Gonzalez (Yells At Eels, Akkolyte)
When Gonzalez is playing in his family jazz band, Yells At Eels, his metal influence energizes the music. Likewise, when he's playing in Akkolyte, his thrash band, his jazz chops make it unlike any thrash metal I've ever heard.
Matt Pence (Centro-Matic)
Matt Pence isn't just one of my favorite local drummers. He's one of my all-time favorites. As a producer, every project he touches ends up with the best sounding drums since John Bonham was alive. As a drummer, he makes the most complex rhythms look effortless, and over the decade I've been watching him play, I've never seen him miss a single beat.
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Jeff Ryan (Pleasant Grove, Myopic)
What makes Jeff Ryan so great isn't as much his ability to go crazy on the drums, but his ability hold back. He's an expert at creating textures and orchestrating drum parts that build a song. Check out Pleasant Grove's performance of "The Lovers, The Drunk, The Mother" at the Kessler a few years back. The song has one of the most interesting drum parts I've heard.
McKenzie Smith (Midlake, St. Vincent)
When Smith plays in Midlake, he does little more than what you'd expect from Ringo Starr, not a drummer who was in UNT's famous One O'Clock Lab Band. His restraint has earned him some good gigs touring with acts like Regina Spektor and recording on St. Vincent's last two records.
Clay Stinnett (The Boom Boom Box)
Clay Stinnett started playing drums in his Pentecostal church when he was a kid. The rhythms, oddly, were exactly the same as punk, which is what Stinnett transitioned to. When you see him with The Boom Boom Box, his self-taught jazz style reflects the punk energy of his upbringing.
Jon Teague (Pinkish Black)
Jon Teague's the drummer in a two-piece band, so he has a lot of space to fill. He does so with slow, crushing rhythms and a cymbal that sounds like it was used to cover a manhole. His tom toms make Pinkish Black's metal even more ominous.