An eclectic and unorthodox approach to percussion, Bongo is often exploring unique configurations of percussion - from traditional afro-cuban instrumentation (i.e. bongos, congas, djembé, doumbek, shakers, foot tambourine, hand cymbal & sundry) to utilizing acoustic/electric MIDI drum sample triggering technology. Bongo's focus is to keep it organic as a time-keeper and to play to serve what a given song or instrumental calls for... He focuses on listening while playing in a melodic way.
What gives Bongo John's percussive drumming a distinct style is his desire to truly explore his own rhythmic concepts, to compliment other musicians in a jam, band, or through-composed scenario. "To connect with an audience is paramount - to have fluidity of one's own musical vocabulary, to communicate naturally - not an exercise or demonstration of technique, rather to facilitate what emanates from the heart and soul. That's the goal I am always striving for."
Bongo John has managed to write songs in several different styles/genres of music, such as rock, jam-band, funk, pop, reggae, folk, jazz, blues, drum-n-bass, electronica, world beat, and classical. His truly unique slant on musical expression mainly falls into the genre of progressive pop, taking ideas from progressive rock (odd time, polyrhythms, non-traditional voicing) and presenting these ideas to the listener in a progressive pop music format. He has become a prolific songwriter as of recent, with three solo CD's now completed and available for download on popular download sites: 'Havana Sunrise', 'Savannah Sunset', and 'Regarding The Piano Forte', his most recent full-record effort. The next Bongo John CD is in the works and is to be released Summer 2014.
Drumming for 37 years and counting (no pun intended), Bongo John has been given favorable write-ups in Modern Drummer Magazine (March 2005 issue - "On The Move" column) as well as Drum! Magazine (May 2010 issue - "New Blood" column). Currently, he is preparing his next drum book simply titled, "The Bongo Method," to be released Spring 2014.
"The Bongo Method" is truly open-ended approach in exploring coordination in rhythms, explained in layman's terms. Bongo is often fascinated by polyrhythmic coordination [i.e. 4-way independence] and there are many reasons why: a drummer can create the illusion of several drummers playing at once, can establish underlying rhythms, or 'themes', and establish a rhythm that allows for soloing with said rhythm(s). Developing discipline and control are other reasons. In other words, studying poly-rhythms allows for more freedom of expression in the rhythmic sense... To explore all possibilities in a given domain of rhythm is the goal of the book, which more aptly allows for a drummer's character to come through in one's playing - to help realize one's rhythmic inner-voice.
From his formative days of tinkering around on a console Chickering piano, to sampling noises to create polyrhythmic avant guarde soundscapes, Bongo enjoys very much tickling the ivories and using electronics to create organic noises. Even though synthesis is the mainstay of sonic textures he explores with the keyboard, he spends hours improvising on the piano on a regular basis. It is an excursion into the bliss of melody, harmony, and rhythm... to go to some other place held sacred.
Utilizing Miroslav Philharmonic, Sibelius, Reason, and a substantial library of VST-based sounds, from fully arranged classical works, to unique other-worldly loops/beats which are built from ground-up to reflect the musical idea at hand. Some influences are the works of Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Phillip Glass, George Winston, Frank Zappa, Danny Elfman, to name a few. Bongo has created soundtrack for several films by Guerilla Pictures (see below) as well as string arrangements for several artists in studio.
Working professionally at Studio 313 in Morrisville, NC, full-time for almost four years, additional experience was gained doing part-time work for various studios, including extensive session work. Bongo John has taken over 25 artists from ground-up to completion of EP and/or album projects in the past three years. He is now the chief engineer of Raleigh Recording Studio and runs his own recording studio. He has extensive experience with ProTools HD, Logic, and Sonar recording software platforms.
With over 40 videos under his belt, Bongo has explored everything from drum, percussion, & piano solos, to full-on music videos with green screen technology. Bongo's video work has had thousands of views on youtube; as a videographer in studio or on-location remote setup, he currently facilitates 3 HD cams and 16-channel inputs for audio recording. Final Cut Pro X is the current platform utilized as well as Vegas. Clients include the reggae band Plutopia, The Lauren Nicole Band, The Bourbons, Option 22, Wave Lynx, Rubber Gypsy, Triplicity, Urban Soil, among many others.
Local artists he has worked with and/or performed with include:
He released prior to "Havana Sunrise" three solo albums: "Over Wunderkind Wondering", the comedy album "Tallyho Aloha", and a classically based concept record titled "Oppenheimer In Dust Trees". He has recorded & mixed over 20 albums at Bongo John Studios and Studio 313, including the following artists:
Several of said recordings were mastered at The Kitchen by Brent Lambert (Carrboro, NC) and Bluefield Mastering by Jeff Carroll (Raleigh, NC).
He has also composed/contributed music for three underground films via Guerilla Pictures:
"Zebulon Pike's Night of Wretching"
As well as the majority of the sound track work for Tom Sylvester's masterpieceThe Satellite Men.
Currently, Bongo John works as a professional recording engineer, producer (Heart Song Productions), and project coordinator at Raleigh Recording Studios as well as works as a recording engineer at Bongo John Studio.
"...it is great to hear so much originality after many decades of sound alike bands both locally and in the mainstream. I believe, if put in the right hands, Havana Sunrise could just be the album that gets Bongo a record contract. Therefore, I give it five stars"
"Bongo has outdone himself again ! Havana Sunrise is fun & playful as all his records are... But this one manages to reveal his mature talents as both player and engineer... Well on his way to being a proficient producer"