Lincoln stirs awake to a constant tap. The rhythm resounds through the city famous for its local music scene.
Drummers tap snares on the football field. Some play in the confines of a padded studio. Others fill the dark, neon-lit Zoo Bar with rhythm.
While these drummers have their own unique sound and experiences, there’s one thing they have in common: the ability to keep a band’s heart beating.
Mike Rhian, jazz percussionist
I Forgot To Love My Father, The Ambulanters, Southeast High School Jazz Band
Mike Rhian’s love for the drums is rooted in his classical music upbringing.
Beginning in fourth grade, Rhian learned how to read sheet music and took drumming lessons at Dietz Music. He’s had a love affair with music ever since.
A senior at Lincoln Southeast High School, Rhian is involved with Southeast’s jazz band. He’s also involved with two local bands, I Forgot To Love My Father and The Abulanters.
Being in several bands works to Rhian’s advantage. His classical music training enables him to play drums in different settings and across multiple genres.
“If you can make any sound possible, or you can figure out how to make the sound, then you can play better in any genre period,” Rhian said.
By taking bits and pieces from different genres, Rhian incorporates a succinct style into his music. While Jazz is his favorite genre to play, Rhian is adaptable, often molding his sound to the bands he’s playing with.
“I like to think that I can make whatever sound is necessary,” he said.
Rhian is a young musician who’s far beyond his years. He dreams of attending Northern Colorado at Greeley, eagerly awaiting his acceptance to the music college, which is one of the top five jazz colleges in the nation.
With a love for drumming and a keen awareness for rhythm, Rhian doesn’t plan on quitting the drums anytime soon.
“I definitely think that I will be a drummer for the rest of my life,” he said.
Alexander Woodside, drumline percussionist
Cornhusker Marching Band
Alex Woodside spends his Saturdays in Memorial Stadium. While most people in the football stadium anticipate the game, Woodside is more concerned with the halftime show.
It’s there Woodside’s passion for drums and percussion come to life.
As the Cornhusker Marching Band snare drum rank leader, Woodside leads fellow drummers through the motions he’s mastered since grade school.
A junior music education major, Woodside is heavily involved in music across campus. Alongside the marching band, he plays in the UNL Percussion Ensemble and the UNL Symphonic Band, a concert instrumental ensemble.
Woodside attributes his love for music to the experiences and relationships he’s created over the years.
“There’s incredible people I’ve met through percussion and instrument playing,” Woodside said. He plans to continue his involvement with drums beyond the collegiate level, and dreams of one day teaching music.
“I’d really love to have the chance to work with a high school or middle school drumline,” Woodside said. “To show them how to be better drummers and better people.”
Jordan Saldivar, electronic percussionist, DJ, producer
Jordan Saldivar takes the idea of a traditional drum kit and gives it a new life. For Saldivar, a music producer and DJ, drums are the foundation of each song he creates.
With his computer and digitalized drum kit, Saldivar makes funky and downbeat tempos that pair nicely with his reggae and R&B influences.
Saldivar describes his music style as genre-blending, and he’s always searching for the beat that will make people dance.
Saldivar can be considered a one-man band. In fact, the conflicts that arose between old bandmates, including finding a time when everyone could practice, is what sparked his interest in DJing.
Saldivar uses Ableton, a software program popular for music producers, to create his music. This program gives Saldivar the ability to produce enhanced beats that are practically impossible to create with a traditional drum kit.
“With live drumming you can only do so much,” Saldivar said.
But Saldivar said that with digital drums, the possibilities are endless.
“It’s perfect,” Saldivar said. “My drumming with digital drums is always going to be on time— it’s never going to mess up.”
Saldivar said that using computerized programming allows him to be creative and nontraditional.
“I can do a lot more complicated rhythms that I could never dream of doing with a real drum set,” he said.
Saldivar finds comfort in his studio, where he eludes to his extensive record collection and production equipment, including traditional turntables that he said aren’t used as often anymore in the DJ world.
For Saldivar, who also plays the guitar and keys, DJing is a modern-day approach to authenticity. He takes real instruments and blends their sounds with electronic and digitally produced beats.
Saldivar is currently working on his project Extra Fresh. You can find him mixing beats at the downtown bar on Wednesday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Larell Ware, jazz drummer
The Undisco Kids
Larell Ware needed a hobby, so he turned to a phone book for answers. He flipped to a page that offered drum lessons and has been playing ever since.
Currently he’s working on a project with the Undisco Kids, a modern funk and soul group that channels Al Green and Marvin Gaye soul with current lyrics and danceable thumping beats.
It’s music you can tap your feet to with Ware providing what he calls the heartbeat of the sound.
“Just like the heart keeps you pumping, it keeps you going, the drums essentially help do that,” Ware said.
His snare taps are what the listener keeps time with, the cymbals snapping a listener’s attention back to the swaths of melody.
“Jazz can be very technical,” Ware said. “But it can be beautiful at the same time.”
His goal is to make listening to The Undisco Kids music an experience. Armed with drumsticks, Ware closes his eyes and plays.