Shawn Kepner has been drumming since the age of ten, and his percussive experiences have spanned from playing drums in jazz and rock bands to playing orchestral tympani. His overall drumming approach is to accentuate what the other instruments are playing to best serve the songs. Although he plays other instruments, for him there's just something about drums and percussion - it's physical, intellectual, and transformative. A drummer can play a particular song a thousand different ways with different grooves, but for every song there is an optimum groove and/or pulse, and it is exciting to try to discover that optimum.

Some Kind of Kepner!



My journey down drumming lane began with my desire to be like Animal. As a youngster, I felt that he was the quintessential ambassador for the drumming life – i.e. pounding on things, dueling against Buddy Rich (and holding his own I might add!), occasionally eating his instrument as a snack, and just being totally free to be what all drummers are deep down – obsessive rhythmatists! Given my desire to follow in Animal’s footsteps, I was given the opportunity at age nine to take private drum lessons from Rich Battles, a great drum teacher in my hometown of Lewistown, PA. I did the whole school band thing and then did the garage band thing throughout high school, playing in many different situations. In high school, the choir director would ask me to play the drum set for the annual spring concert; I would always agree to it as long as he gave me an extended drum solo (it was the Animal influence). I also had the opportunity to play jazz in several community jazz ensembles, which was a great introduction to the big band ensemble sound and the playing nuances required of a drummer in those situations. Every drummer looks forward to actually playing in a big band with syncopated horn pops to echo on the snare and crash cymbals! Additionally, I developed solid rudimentary chops through those early years, which allowed me the opportunity to play tenor drums in the Penn State Blue Band during my freshman year of college (I transferred out of PSU after my freshman year).

After college, I played in various musical situations, and eventually landed a three-year stint in a jam band called the Space Crispies. That band specialized in performing original music along with Grateful Dead and Beatles covers in the greater Lancaster, PA area. From an early age, I played some guitar and bass as well, and I was able to employ those skills to write original music for the band. After the Space Crispies broke up, I landed a position in a jazz trio, playing bass of all things. That experience stretched me musically; I was playing with a guitarist who had graduated from Berklee College of Music along with an awesome, experienced jazz drummer from Philadelphia. It was a challenge for me to keep up with those guys given the demands of pure jazz music and all the complex chord structures and changes, but I managed to play pretty well during gigs. That jazz trio also teamed up with a keyboardist to fulfill an opportunity to be a backup band for a three-date stint with Charlie Thomas and the Drifters. We played in front of large crowds of several thousand, and there I was playing old-school, recognizable bass lines to famous Motown songs like “Stand by Me” and “Under the Boardwalk”.

My love of drumming has also taken me to instruction of high school drum lines and instruction of individuals at the beginning of their snare drum rudimentary experience, which is the key start to a solid foundation to drumming. Teaching drums is a love of mine as it presents a real opportunity to share rhythm making with others.

My drumming influences are (but not limited to): Carter Beauford, Bill Bruford, Benny Greb, Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland, Carl Palmer, Buddy Rich, Boris Williams, Danny Carey, John Bonham, Phil Collins, Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, Matt Cameron, Steve Jordan, Josh Freese, Jeff Porcaro, Nick Mason, Manu Katche, Chad Sexton, Jon Fishman, and Tony Williams.


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