Each month in 2021, we will be featuring a member of the worldwide Gretsch community as our spotlight “featured player” of the month!
The featured drummer for May is . . . Mike Malone!
Mike Malone is originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Mike attended the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire to study classical and jazz percussion. In 2013, he was invited to join The Glenn Miller Orchestra and tour across North America. After returning to UWEC in 2014 to finish his degree, Mike began touring with groups including jazz vocalist Ray Brown Jr. and vocal jazz group Five by Design.
As a recording musician, Mike can be heard on dozens of albums as both a supporting musician and leader. His debut album as a leader, Overalls & Airplanes, was released in 2013. He has appeared on albums released by Tantara Productions (Chicago, Illinois), Dazzle Recordings (Denver, Colorado), and Stellar Sound (Oshkosh, Wisconsin).
Mike currently resides in northeast Wisconsin where he maintains a regular performing schedule in a variety of styles and manages a private teaching studio with students of all ages and experience levels.
We asked Mike . . .
How old were you when you knew you were interested in becoming a musician?
As a young child I made my way through piano, guitar, and saxophone before finally finding drums at age 12. Once I finally found drums, it was a quick match and has proven to turn into a career for me. I was fortunate to have great opportunities in my community for private lessons and ensemble playing in middle and high school and further on into college and beyond.
Why did you choose Gretsch?
So many of my youngest influences across numerous styles were always playing Gretsch, but primarily the great jazz drummers like Art Blakey and Max Roach. It was a natural choice, and I was lucky enough to have stores locally that had beautiful Gretsch kits on the showroom floor.
What Gretsch gear do you currently use?
I currently own a myriad of Gretsch kits ranging from a couple of Catalina kits (18/12/14 & 20/10/12/14) to a vintage Stop Sign badge kit (20/12/12/16), and a variety of snares including my workhorse, New Classic 5” x 14” wood shell. I’ve owned so many different Gretsch kits over the years and have always appreciated a high level of durability and craftsmanship, along with sonic and visual appeal across all the product lines.
Which musicians were the biggest influence on you and why?
I think my first influence had to be my first drum set instructor, Mark Powers, because he always prioritized making the drums a fun experience. As a teacher myself, I realize how important it is to make drums fun in order to get younger musicians hooked for a lifetime. Some of my other musical influences along the way have included Art Blakey and Stanton Moore because of the way they are able to put drums at the front of the band in a subtle and tasteful way.
How did you adjust and stay musical during the COVID-19 pandemic?
When the pandemic hit, I was immediately forced into adapting my process of teaching for my students by creating videos and worksheets while lessons were only available virtually. Once I got started making videos for them, I quickly tried to keep myself challenged by creating weekly videos for my own YouTube channel which to this point I’m still continuing! I enjoy the challenge of creating content on my own, and the response and support I’ve gotten from the viewing community has been really motivating to continue while the music world is moving at a slower pace.
You could be featured in 2021 just like Mike. Click to find out how!