Popular local session drummer Josh Seurkamp tries to drum up some solo success

He's the percussion section, minus a band. Local percussionist Josh Seurkamp plays anything from a standard drum kit and hand drums to Slinkies and pant legs. He even has an endorsement with a dr

Feb 15, 2001 at 2:06 pm
Josh Seurkamp

He's the percussion section, minus a band. Local percussionist Josh Seurkamp plays anything from a standard drum kit and hand drums to Slinkies and pant legs. He even has an endorsement with a drum company that creates hybrids for him.

Seurkamp also plays a Didgeridoo, an Australian aboriginal instrument that he can blow into while still drumming. In all, Seurkamp has a couple hundred instruments he works with, usually in the studio.

His projects range as widely as his instruments. In addition to his solo projects, he also works with other artists or bands for local gigs, tours or even studio projects.

"There's not very many percussionists around town," he says, so these artists seek him out for varying styles and types of percussion assistance.

"I play with Katie Reider, which is as Pop as you can get, and I play with Monk, which is as Jazzy Pop as you can get," says Seurkamp. "And I play my solo stuff, which is very cultural."

Actually, Seurkamp says his musical style is a blend of many things, but he says it's best described as "ethereal World Beat music." If more explanation than that is needed, he says, "They probably wouldn't get it."

Seurkamp says his love of music all started back when he was playing pots and pans as a child. The fascination evolved into a Muppets drum set and, aside from playing in a high school marching band in seventh grade, he never had any formal musical training before he started playing professionally.

He recalls that his first gig was at Sudsy Malone's, back when it was Indie Rock ground zero. "I was 13 when I played my first show in that bathroom-less hole that I loved," Seurkamp recalls. Even though he says it was "sacrilege" that Sudsy's took out their stage, he still has high hopes for Cincinnati's local music scene.

"I think a lot of good things are happening here," says Seurkamp. "I think Cincinnati will be great someday."

As a local musician, Seurkamp has recorded on about 100 CDs in the past 10 or 11 years, including three soundtracks. "I want to go as far as I can go," he says. "I think I've done pretty well as a local musician."

For Seurkamp, being a local musician is his job. "What I like to say is that I'm a full-time dad and a part-time musician," he says. "But music certainly pays the bills."

Seurkamp's music provides financial support for his wife, Jennifer, and their 3-year-old son Noah. According to Seurkamp, though, it serves other, more personal needs as well.

"There's definitely a connection with music for me," he says. "Music is the only thing that keeps me awake until four in the morning."

Seurkamp also uses his musical talents for a non-profit organization he created and now continues with his partner, Dylan Steitz. The Garden of Sound Music Group buys instruments and teaches children how to use them. Mostly, this organization focuses on elementary school children and younger.

"Our whole goal is to give them the skills that will enable them to succeed more in life," Seurkamp says.

Seurkamp started this organization a few years ago when a local teacher heard him and invited him to play for a class. He says the children were completely focused on the music and on him, and that was enough. "It's my egotistical chance to change the world," laughs Seurkamp.

On the recording front, Seurkamp's debut solo CD, The Garden of Sound, was released in December. The CD, which includes two live tracks, is primarily instrumental, with the exception of the first and last songs.

"I've had a lot of people say they found themselves getting lost in it," says Seurkamp.

If you are looking to get lost in something, you can pick up Seurkamp's CD at Joseph-Beth in Norwood, at the Barnes & Noble in Kenwood, or on his Web site at bluejordan.com/josh.

Seurkamp is getting ready to start working on another solo album, but in the meantime, he's collaborating with several other local artists on different projects. On March 16, he will be a guest on Echoes on WVXU (91.7 FM).

As for long-term goals, Seurkamp says he plans to keep on making music as long as he can. "As long as I can pay the bills," he says, quickly adding, "and when I can't pay the bills, I'll still play music." ©