Each month in 2021, we will be featuring a member of the worldwide Gretsch community as our spotlight “featured player” of the month!
Our featured drummer for July is . . . Nicholas Lucero!
Nicholas Lucero has toured globally with bands that range from jazz to rock and everything in between. Nicholas is currently playing and touring with indigenous jazz fusion group the Delbert Anderson Trio, jazz/funk/hip hop group D’DAT, the Symphonic D’DAT Suite, the art/music/poetry/dance fusion show the Spirit Coalescent, Welcome to Indian Country–a show celebrating modern indigenous music and artists–and has co-written and produced Naat’Ã¡anii, The Musical. In addition to his pursuits in performance, Nicholas is also the co-founder of The San Juan Jazz Society, an organization with the focus of promoting music and the arts in the Southwest United States with monthly concerts, workshops, and a bi-weekly jazz jam. He is the co-producer of the online concert series Heart Space Live focusing on highlighting musical talent in the Southwest. Nicholas is also working on Volume 2 of The Solidarity Express, a project with South African percussionist Dan Chiorboli, famed rock guitarist Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music, and David Gilmour that brings together a global batch of musicians collaborating to deliver a message of hope and unity to the world at large. In the latter half of 2021 and first part of 2022, Nicholas Lucero will perform and has helped produce an album that explores South African cultures and tribes with the Diné Nation and will also perform and tour on a tribute album to Don Cherry.
We asked Nicholas . . .
How old were you when you knew you were interested in becoming a musician?
My mother unintentionally created a musician, and specifically a drummer. My first memories of music were going through her album collection which includes obvious things like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but also included some amazing music like Chick Corea’s Light as a Feather, and The Police, all of which had some amazing drummers. She also had this You Can Be a Percussionist album that had samples of snare drums and timpani and had examples of playing them with a wonderful LP booklet that had pictures. From 5 years old I was getting trained to love good music and, on some level, how to play percussion. In high school, the United States Army had a touring rock band that came to my school and sat in with our band. They also had a performance for the school and surprised me by inviting me on stage to play a song with them. That moment of walking on stage and the feedback from the school before and after playing had me hooked on performing!
Why did you choose Gretsch?
In 2011, Gretsch released the Renown ’57 and I was instantly hooked with the look of that set. I picked up the original ’57 in blue and when I sat down behind that kit, I was absolutely shocked with how amazing it sounded and played compared to the top-of-the-line kit I was playing at the time from another manufacturer. It sounded rich and full, and it had an amazing balance of tone and attack and tuned up so easily. I was hooked! Since then learning about the amazing history of the Gretsch family and being a small part of the 138-year legacy have led me to be one of the biggest Gretsch fans and has changed the trajectory of my sound forever!
What Gretsch gear do you currently use?
I’m currently playing a Gretsch Brooklyn 5-piece set in Satin Black Metallic: 18″X22″ bass drum, 7″x10″ tom, 8″x12″ tom, 14″x16″ floor tom paired with the 6.5″x14″ USA Bronze snare G4169B as my primary set. I’ll be ordering the Gergo Borlai Signature Snare next and a couple more Brooklyn shells to build a bank to cover whatever I need. The Brooklyn is my sound!
Which musicians were the biggest influence on you and why?
My biggest influences have been: Chick Corea–his percussive style, innovation, and family of musicians have been and will always be a source of inspiration; Sting–he’s had one of the most amazing careers on a popular level, continues to evolve with each album, and plays with the best musicians of all time; Miles Davis–a genre-defining icon that defined cool over every phase of his career from the sheer coolness of Kind of Blue to his later electric jazz funk days; Vinnie Colauita–as a drummer there’s just no one that can do what he does, from straight ahead jazz to mind-bending fusion to backing a singer-songwriter…and all in a day! No one will ever touch Vinnie’s versatility and career on the kit!
How did you adjust and stay musical during the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the pandemic I was incredibly fortunate to be able create and share music with my musical partners much more than a lot of others and we feel very blessed to have stayed busy. Right before the world shut down, my band had sought interns to help us keep up with the administrative duties and help us with marketing, etc., and it just so happened that they were very talented in media production. Almost instantly we realized that to survive we would have to shift focus to online content. One of our interns (who is now a member of the management team) introduced us to a talented videographer who brought his skills and equipment. This enabled us to work with performing arts centers, colleges, arts alliances, and several organizations to produce online concerts, online educational performances, virtual Q&As, and virtual lectures at exceptionally high quality. I was also able to begin to co-produce and film two online COVID Safe concert series, co-write and compose a musical, record our band’s second album, and virtually collaborate with musicians across the country for the Welcome to Indian Country show and globally for The Solidarity Express project. Now that restrictions are starting to loosen, the work I did during the pandemic and partnerships with creating online content has led to several weeks of in-person shows across the country with venues who have expressed that we are the only projects for their 2021 seasons that they’ve kept on the books. The work accomplished during the pandemic has set up the various projects I’m involved with for in-person, live success and we are booking as far as 2023/24 currently!
You could be featured in 2021 just like Nicholas. Click to find out how!