DFW Music News

Local Percussionist Dies In Wreck

We just received the sad news that the Dallas drumming community lost one of its spiritual leaders on June 6, when Eric “Stu” Stuer and his wife died in a single-vehicle wreck on I-49 south of Shreveport on their way home from RhythmWeb drum circle engagements in Mississippi. Stuer, 55, and his wife, photographer Deborah Stuer, 53, both died when the car she was driving had a blowout, lost control and rolled several times, ejecting both from the car. Their 26-year-old son, Jules, suffered minor injuries.

A versatile drummer, Stuer made a name for himself playing with local jazz and funk acts including Buster Brown Band, Dennis Cavalier and Texas Gumbo and Chuck Rainey. He also worked with diverse national acts including Freddy King, B.W. Stevenson, David "Fathead" Newman, Gary Stewart, Johnny Paycheck, Vince Gill and Charlie Daniels. But Stuer was best known as a professional drum circle facilitator and ethnic percussion expert. He was instrumental in the 1994 and ’95 Summer SolstiCelebrations at White Rock Lake, and also created children’s programs that taught percussion through homemade and found percussion instruments.

After the jump is a press release with memorial service information and quotes from fellow musicians, as prepared by Amy Martin. --Jesse Hughey

Eric “Stu” Stuer 1953 - 2008

Though he began his career on the trap set, performing with such well known Dallas bands as funkmeisters Buster Brown, Cajun gumbo Dennis Cavalier and classic jazz Chuck Rainey, long-time Dallas drummer Eric Stuer made his name as a professional facilitator of live rhythm-based events.

Stuer, 55, died in a car crash along with his wife Deborah, 53, who was driving. A tire blew out while driving on Interstate 49 south of Shreveport, sending the car out of control and causing it to roll several times. Eric was sleeping in the back. Both Eric and Deborah were ejected from the vehicle. Son Jules, 26, suffered minor injuries.

A memorial service for Eric and Deborah Stuer will be held at 3 pm on Saturday, June 21, at the Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, where Eric was a drummer in the house band since 2003. Deborah Stuer was a professional photographer. They lived in Richardson with their 14 and 18 year old daughters (names requested to be undisclosed).

The Stuer family was returning from RhythmWeb drum-circle engagements in Mississippi when the crash occurred. It was part of an extensive tour of the South that Eric established to take drum circles to smaller towns that had little exposure to world percussion.

Eric Stuer first took up the trap set at age 16 in Houston, focusing on C&W styles. Upon moving to North Texas, he broadened his musical genres, developing a reputation as a trap-set drummer versatile in many styles. He provided the powerhouse toms of the funk band Buster Brown, the smooth snare of long-time associate Chuck Rainey, and the second-line shuffle of Cajun act Dennis Cavalier and Texas Gumbo. He performed with many national artists including Freddy King, B.W. Stevenson, David "Fathead" Newman, Gary Stewart, Johnny Paycheck, Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels and Eric Tagg. He also worked for years in bands for dinner theater and cabaret producer/star Breck Wall.

But it was as a professional drum-circle facilitator that Eric made his reputation. He produced the first hand drum event in Dallas: a World Unity Day in August of 2003. He was a core drummer and presenter in the 1994 and 1995 Summer SolstiCelebrations, which attracted over 2000 people each year to White Rock Lake. It was at the Summer SolstiCelebrations that Eric began his long-term association with national drum-circle facilitators. He has trained and worked with Paulo Mattioli, Layne Redmond, Arthur Hull of Village Music Circles, Kalani of Drum Circle Music, and the REMO HealthRhythms protocol with Dr. Barry Bittman and Christine Stevens. REMO has created the Deb and Eric Stuer Memorial Scholarship for HealthRhythms programs in their memory.

In addition to performing on percussion instruments from around the world, Eric was known for his skill with homemade and "found sound" objects. His RhythmWeb programs for schools and libraries utilized both to foster children’s innate musical skills. Eric played a similar role as a member of Len Barnett’s group Percussion Things.

As creator and webmaster of RhythmWeb.com, Eric consolidated his knowledge with an extensive library of information and links on drum circles, ethnic drums styles, percussion instruments and “junk percussion.” The web site had admirers worldwide. Eric was also co-moderator of the JunkMusic listserv at YahooGroups.

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“An extremely talented and creative percussionist, who worked tirelessly to spread the joy of rhythm. His incredible spirit and his passion for drumming touched the hearts of many. His contribution to the drumming community, both in the Dallas community and online community was huge.” --Paulo Mattioli

“I can honestly say that I don't know anyone who was as passionate about serving his community as Eric Stuer - his work, website and support of everyone within his reach (and beyond) demonstrates his love for people, music, and I think - a love for the simple act of giving.” --Kalani

“I never met Eric in person, only through his website which impressed me so much! His love and generous nature were so evident through his work on that site, and it was a service to us all.” --Judy Piazza

“I felt such a loss when I received the notice of Eric Stuer's death. His website RhythmWeb has been a transformative site for people all over the world.” --Layne Redmond

“Immense generosity of spirit.” --Jim Greiner's

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What a loss to rhythm world in a cruel way? Whenever you tried a new sound, project, it is always Eric who gives a honest feed back. I still remember his presence in the HandsOnsemble/ Brahma joint venture and kind words. May their soul rest in peace. --Poovalur Sriji, Brahma

This is a huge loss for all of us who have come to know Eric over the years. He was a wonderful promoter of percussion and education for Dallas and the world. His website Rhythmweb.com is full of information and knowledge. He brought together much drum knowledge that otherwise might get lost. Stu was doing what he loved. His is a big presence that will be missed. --Suzanna Brown, Drums Not Guns

Eric was so instrumental in helping me set up Drums Not Guns in the early years. He was great! Deb always had a warm hug and a smile for me whenever I saw her. They are good people. They are already missed. --HappyShel, founder Drums Not Guns

Eric and Debbie were some of the nicest people I've ever met.. Eric was always there to help fellow drummers, loaning instruments, offering advice, getting gigs, etc.. What a tragic loss. --Jamal Mohamed