Alex Shumaker Nine Year Old Demonstrative Drummer

Alex Shumaker on stage

I love playing drums more than anything in the world!   Alex Shumaker

 

Alex Shumaker Logo

Nine Year old Alex Shumaker heralds from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA and has had an interest in Classic Rock bands such as Journey, Foreigner, Reo Speed Wagon and Styx since age 4. When Alex was 5 his parents took him to his first live concert to see Journey, Foreigner and Night Ranger and he was mesmerized! 

Alex MakeShif Drum
Alex Self Made Drum

Following that concert experience, while most 5 year olds were headed to the Toy section at Walmart Alex would always ask to go to the Electronic Department to look at CD’s. On February 10, 2012 while browsing the CD’s Alex found a DVD of the band Journey with their new lead singer Arnel. Alex became fixated with drummer Deen Castronovo. Alex would get out an exercise ball, put it in front of the TV, and grabbing some kitchen utensils would proceed to play his make-shift drum set. He would watch the video over and over again and ultimately broke every kitchen utensil his parents had. To remedy that problem his dad created a pair of drumsticks out of plastic coat hangers for him to use. 

One evening while Alex was playing his homemade drum kit his Mom captured the moment on her phone and posted it to Facebook with the heading…… 

“You Gotta do what you Gotta do when your parents won’t buy you a drum set!” 

The phone soon rang and it was Alex’s Nana wanting to speak with him. His parents weren’t all that thrilled when he started screaming; 

“Nana and Papa are buying me a real drum set”.  

Alex received that little drum set and played it for hours on end, at least 3-4 hours a day watching the Journey DVD over and over trying to copy Deen’s every move. 

Every time Alex went to Walmart he got a CD. A few months later another DVD appeared, this time it was the band Foreigner with then drummer Brian Tichy. Alex became obsessed with Tichy’s theatrics of stick throwing and bouncing. 

Alex New Drum Set
Alex with his first Drum Set from his Grandparents

 

 

After a few months of playing, Alex’s parents enrolled him in weekly drum lessons with teacher Brian Rowan with whom he is still receiving instruction. 

Alex progressed and kept his passion for drumming. His tastes in music evolved and he started playing a wide variety of genres of music. His parents and grandparents realized at this point this wasn’t just going to be a childhood phase and decided to purchase an adult size full drum set for his 7th birthday. Instead of asking for toys for birthdays and holidays, Alex would ask for musical equipment. Thus, his drum set has become quite massive over the past two years. 

Alex rocken with Deen
Alex rocken with Jeff from Foreigner

 

Alex’s parents began taking him to more concerts and numerous local shows. Alex has had the chance to meet many musicians and has become friends with a number of them, some even inviting him on stage during their performances. 

 

His biggest moment was getting to meet his hero Deen at a Journey concert along with Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain before the show. Deen was simply amazing to Alex. Deen even called out Alex’s name in front of 30,000 people while on stage and is still in contact with Alex today. 

That concert also opened Alex up to Country Music. He instantly fell in love with Rascal Flatts who were touring with Journey at the time. 

One of Alex’s first times being on a big stage was with the band Foreigner in 2013. It was an experience he will never forget. Alex has met Foreigner several times since. One particular occasion was when Alex used tickets to their show awarded to him by winning a Tonight Show inspired Lip Sync ontest the band put on. 

 

Alex on stage with Jefferson Starship 2014

While attending a Jefferson Starship concert in Pittsburgh in 2014 Alex was taken on stage for the final song with the band. The band members had no idea he was a miniature musician but singer Cathy Richardson said she kept getting this vibe about this little 7 year old boy sitting in the front row she had to invite him up!  

Alex and his parents traveled to New Jersey to attend a show called the “Bonzo Bash” produced by his hero Brian Tichy. Brian puts on this show on the both the West Coast and the East Coasts to honor the late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. Brian brings in top drummers from many bands to each perform 2 songs by Led Zeppelin. Alex got to attend the rehearsals for this show at the Gibson Guitar Show Room in NYC the day before the show. At the end of rehearsals Alex was given the chance to play while Brian Tichy (who is mostly known as a drummer) played guitar, Michael Devin of Whitesnake played bass and Chas West of Jake E. Lee/Tango Down performed the vocals.

Continue reading “Alex Shumaker Nine Year Old Demonstrative Drummer”

Sam Hurwitz East Coast Musical Wiz Kid

 “In my world, everything’s a song”          Sam Hurwitz

Sam Hurwitz Profile Photo
Sam Hurwitz

Sam Hurwitz is an 11 year old singer–songwriter who plays guitar and piano, and has been singing, strumming and writing songs since the age of two.  

Sam Hurwitz 3 years old
Three Year Old Sam Hurwitz

 

When Sam was a baby, he seemed to always gravitate towards the toy musical instruments that were in his playroom.  Sam started strumming the guitar and singing and while it would seem that he was singing random words, his parents began to notice that he would strum and sing the same words in the same tune. Thus his first songs (albeit one line songs), “Give me a Garbon” and “Bop a Doo”, were born! 

His mother shared that there was always music playing in their home so it’s clear that Sam was influenced by the type of music that their family listened to.  As early as 2 1/2 years old, Sam could be found strumming and singing along with his favorite band “Wilco”.  In addition to listening to Wilco, Sam’s early music exposure included the alt country bands “Son Volt” and “Uncle Tupelo”, as well as the “Avett Brothers”. 

Watch Sam at 2 years old

At age 6, Sam began taking guitar lessons with Marc Jacoby, a preschool music teacher and member of the bands “Grateful Bro” and “Rockmitzvah”.  Sam’s earliest songs were written before he could actually play guitar and Sam would sing the tune and Marc would take that tune and lay the chords out for Sam.   Sam’s first “real” song, “We’re Gonna Get Wet”, was written that year.  His current version of  “We’re Gonna Get Wet” is currently listed at number 2 and his song “Maybe Rome” (which you can see below) is listed at number 8 on the independent UK music chart, FabChart. 

 Sam Hurwitz Were Gonna Get Wet VideoWatch Sam sing his original live!

Unfortunately, Marc had a death in the family and could not continue teaching Sam.  He recommended Cliff Mays, a local guitar teacher and bandmate of Marc’s to take over while Marc was taking some time off. 

Sam continued learning guitar with Cliff and writing new songs.  Cliff has been a tremendous influence on Sam musically – whether it’s learning guitar, being exposed to new music and the history behind the bands, jamming, writing songs and learning a bit about recording software and the loop pedal.   When Sam was 8, he had his first public performance when Cliff invited Sam to participate in a songwriters circle that Cliff hosted monthly. 

Sam and Harrison Hurwitz
Sam with brother Harrison Hurwitz

In the summer of 2012, Sam and his older brother Harrison, who plays the drums and banjo, were a huge hit when they performed their original song Red Sky at a camp talent show.   That fall, they formed their band Amplifier on Fire and attended various open mics.  Sam continued to also perform as a solo act and at 9 years old was the youngest finalist at a talent search for young musicians.   That same year, after an open mic performance at 12 Grapes, a restaurant in Peekskill, NY, Sam was invited back to perform in a singer-songwriter showcase to celebrate the venue’s 5th anniversary. 

Sam Hurwitz working at home
Sam Hurwitz working at home

When Sam was 10, he began studying piano at the Lagond Music School which was founded by Rosanne Lana and Charlie Lagond, who has performed around the world with artists like Chuck Mangione, The Jackson Five, the Temptations, and Kid Creole & the Coconuts.

Sam Hurwitz Piano Player
Sam Hurwitz Piano Player

Sam’s parents explained that they were drawn to Lagond because of its unique approach of teaching contemporary music with the same rigor typically applied to classical training.   Sam hit it off immediately with his piano teacher Rusty Cloud, who has toured with, among others, the E Street Band and the Blues Brothers Band.   Quickly after seeing Lagond’s approach, Sam was enrolled there to study guitar with Nicky Barbato, and has recently begun voice training with Claire Cloud.  In addition to musical instruction, Sam participates in Lagond’s Band Prep Jam, a program for younger students to learn to work together as a group.  Lagond has been wonderful for Sam, not only improving his technique but exposing him to new genres of music and learning to play with others as part of an ensemble.  

Sam is described as being quiet, shy and reserved and not one to seek out or even like the limelight.  However, his mother shared that Sam seems to be more comfortable on stage recently than he has ever been. He is also described as being mature beyond his years, incredibly thoughtful, empathetic, modest and kind.  

In fact one of his teachers said that he is “the kindest student I have ever had” and he has been called an “old soul” by many people.  

Even Sam’s musical taste is mature – he is not interested in the current pop and rap songs most of his peers listen to and instead prefers Wilco, the Avett Brothers, Uncle Tupelo, Modest Mouse and old classics such as The Beatles, The Eagles, Billy Joel and Pink Floyd.

Maybe RomeSam performs original song “Maybe Rome”

Sam has a catalog of 10 original songs, 8 on guitar and 2 on piano.  At Sam’s first live performance he was asked how he writes his songs.  He answered “they just pop into my head”, and that continues to be the case today.  He will sit at the piano or pick up his guitar and just start playing and singing.  Many times nothing will come from it, but sometimes a song is created. 

Sam has been compared to Bob Dylan, Richie Havens and Steven Stills.  In addition to working on his music, Sam loves to spend time with his friends, play with Legos and the computer game Minecraft.  Sam also loves to read and write.  Sam attends a weekly creative writing class and wrote a screenplay at age 7 and has written several fantasy and science fiction short stories/novellas.   

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While this may be Sam’s introductory article here at Rivenmaster’s Place I’m sure it will not be the last we have heard from this young musical prodigy!  The key to success is writing, producing and performing your own originals songs.  That key element alone makes this young artist ahead of the game.  Be sure you subscribe to his YouTube Channel and follow him on Facebook.  You’re going to want to get in on the ground floor of this young man’s legacy because he is without a doubt headed for stardom.

 

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