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John Root

Nashville Star

I was raised in Newington, Connecticut with three older brothers and an older sister who gave me a constant source of musical influences, including: Motown, funk, fusion and good old rock and roll. Neither of my parents ever discouraged me from pursuing music, and always made sure I had what I needed to get to the next level.

My earliest drummer influences were Neil Smith, Nigel Ollsen, Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine, Billy Cobham, Bill Bruford and all the Motown drummers. During high school, I played in the Jazz band. 

After high school, I studied drums privately. One of my teachers Tommy Dest played marimba in the “Hibachi Brothers Barbecue Big Band”. Their drummer was leaving so he got me the drum seat. This was a ten-piece band that played international dance music. Every imaginable style. We had cello, horns, accordion, and even a berimbau. This was when hip hop and rap were first emerging and we put our twist on that, too. One gig I’ll never forget was sharing a bill with “Sun Ra and his Omniverse Arkestra”. It was at Mad Murphy’s Pub; a small, hot, packed club in Hartford.

I was 19 years old and it was beyond anything I’d know before. At this same time, I was being exposed to live concerts by the likes of John Cage and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. While playing music on weekends and nights I attended Hartford State Technical where I received my degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. 

In 1993, I moved to Nashville and haven’t looked back since. Within the first week of moving to town, I got the gig as the Grand Ole Gospel Time staff drummer, which continued for three years of weekly Friday night live radio gigs at the Grand Ole Opry House. Additionally, I played shows with The Lynns at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch and recorded a demo with them. About this same time, I also was playing Blues gigs with Buddy Guy's guitarist, Scott Holt.

In 1994, I auditioned for Becky Hobbs. Landing this gig opened up the door for many road gigs to come. Within the next decade, I toured the United States, Europe and Japan with not only Becky Hobbs, but also with The Forrester Sisters, Rhonda Vincent and Hank Williams III. Other artists I toured with include Rebecca Lynn Howard, Highway 101, and Tammy Cochran. These tours at times coincided with my national gigs with the Dukes of Hazard Reunion Tour, backing up Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and Sonny Shorer (Enos), and of course, the “infamous” General Lee.

Recently staying in Nashville has been my focus. By staying in town I am available to maintain studio work. Recently, I have been involved in several album endeavors, songwriter demos, and artist development projects. Studio contributions have included Christian, Country, Gospel, Bluegrass, Rock and Peruvian Pan Flute. Some of the singles released have been by Travis Lewis, Sam Sampson and Jeanie Seeley. On another project I recorded tracks for the PBS kids television show, Noddy, which included the “vocal stylings” of Gilbert Godfred. On a USO Christmas album I backed up recording artist Faith Hill’s contribution to the compilation.

When I’m not in the studio I am able to stay busy with in town gigs. Many of my live gigs are on “Lower Broadway” (the heart and soul of Nashville’s live music scene). These clubs bring in an estimated 100,000 patrons monthly. Other gigs have included country, rock, bluegrass, gospel, jazz, and swing. Some highlights have included performing at the 55th anniversary show at the Ernest Tubbs Record Shop in a live radio broadcast, as a member of Ernest Tubbs’ "Texas Troubadours” and at Nashville's "Wildhorse Saloon" with songwriters Rusty Tabor and Tom Wurth. I have also performed annual Christmas Shows on Opryland’s General Jackson Riverboat during the holiday season. However occasionally I still do gigs on the road. Several of the bands that I’ve played with have taken me on tour, highlighted by shows in Alabama, North Carolina, Las Vegas, and California. Through my endorsements, I’m thankfully able to maintain a great sound with the diversity of my gigs.

I have performed on quite a few live tapings. On the 2005 season of "Nashville Star,” airing on the USA Network, I backed up contest winner Erika Jo on the show’s taping of her hometown concert. I also played on the CMT special "Honky Tonk Sound,” which aired as a self-tilted network premiere. The organization USAGEM (United States Association of Gospel Entertainers and Musicians) has produced over two dozen one-hour programs that I played in the house band for Christian music programming, which included Grand Ole Opry and secular entertainers. These shows are syndicated on Christian television networks as well as sold in hour long DVD’s. The shows are broadcasted to over 46 million homes in the United States as well as available in 170 countries, in a estimated 4.5 billions homes worldwide, on five different cable networks. I feel fortunate to be part of a project that can effect so many people.

I feel that music can be intelligent but foremost it has to feel good. I have been able to combine my years of listening to all styles of music and point that knowledge in one direction. Music is another language; I try to convey the message of the song by speaking clearly with as few words as possible. I hope if you listen to my playing you’ll hear my heart and soul, loud and clear.

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