This week we get to know Andre’ Sean Robinson who currently drums for both Chase & Ovation, and Kalliah & BlackWater cover band.
Chase & Ovation is the only Prince tribute band actually endorsed by Prince, who was notoriously protective of his music. For the past six years, they’ve been playing live at Bunker’s in Minneapolis with their monthly Prince tribute concerts, which saw frequent cameos by several of Prince’s former band mates. Andre’s other band, Kalliah and BlackWater, is also a highly respected cover band.
Fueled by groove and funk, Andre’ has been laying it in the pocket since the age of 11. Once bands are able to get back to playing, you need to catch him in his these two bands. If you don’t already know who he is, Andre’ Sean Robinson is a drummer you should “Get To Know”.
MND: How did you end up in the Minnesota music scene? Are you from here?
Andre’: I’m originally from Michigan City, Indiana. I moved to Minneapolis when I was 15 years old. I started picking up gigs and doing recording sessions while in high school. Things just progressed from there.
MND: Who are some of the artists you have worked with that we may know?
Andre’: I have been fortunate enough to have been able to work with a lot of different artists, over the years: Rockie Robbins, Natural Selection, Joe Flip, The Craig Clark Band, and Tracey Blake among many others. I’m currently the drummer for Chase and Ovation (A Salute to the Music of Prince) and with Kalliah and BlackWater.
MND: What is your drumming education? Self-taught, music school, teacher?
Andre’: I started playing drums in the school band while I was in elementary school.
I took lessons, played in the various school bands (concert, marching, woodwind ensemble, orchestra, etc.). While still in high school at Minneapolis North High, I also took lessons at MacPhail school of Music. Even though I took lessons from an early age, I learned a lot by playing along to the radio and records. Learning to play by ear is a very valuable skill to have.
MND: Who are your top 3 influences and why?
Andre’: Only 3? There were a few but I’ll try to narrow it down:
Jeff Porcaro – because of his feel and timing.
John Bonham – His groove.
Steve Gadd – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – enough said.
*May I also mention all the drummers that have played with Parliament and Funkadelic.
And all the drummers from Motown including Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
MND: Where are you playing? Where can we see you locally?
Andre’: When I’m not traveling with Chase and Ovation, you can catch us at Bunker’s. We perform there once a month. You can usually catch me with Kalliah and BlackWater around town but especially at Kiran’s Irish Pub in Mpls.
MND: Are you a teacher? How do people get in touch with you for lessons?
Andre’: It has been awhile since I have taught drum lessons. I do however love to talk to other drummers, or anyone interested in learning about the drums. Technique. Timing. The Pocket. Or just about music.
MND: What are you using for gear? What is your set up?
Andre’: I’m currently using 2 kits. A Mapex Meridian Maple and a Tama Starclassic Performer Birch. The sizes on my Mapex kit are 24” kick (B), 13” tom (C) and 16” (D) and 18” floor toms (E) with a 6”x 13” Mapex Black Panther snare (A).
My Tama kit has a 24” kick, 8” and 10” mini toms, 10” and 12” toms and a 16” floor tom. I use a 5.5” x 14” Tama snare. I use Zildjian A Custom and Z Custom cymbals. I also have several snare drums to pick and choose from when needed. I also use an Alesis Sample Pad Pro, an Alesis DM5 drum module, and Ddrum triggers. For sticks I use Vater 3A and stick wrap.I also like SKB Cases and the Crabby Tool Wing Nut Wrench.
- Hi Hats
- 16” A Custom Crash
- 18” A Custom Crash
- 10” A Custom Splash
- 22” Custom Mega Bell Ride
- 20” A Custom Crash
- 19” Z Custom Crash
- 18” A China
MND: What style of music do you like to play the most?
Andre’: Anything funky.
MND: Are you a versatile drummer? How do you define your style?
Andre’: I think so. I love learning different things and playing different styles of music.
Over the years I have played gospel, blues, rock, hip hop, funk, R&B, reggae, country and pop music.
I would define my style as groove oriented. I’m a pocket player. My focus as a drummer is to serve the music. I lay down the pocket and drive the groove.
MND: What other drummers inside and outside of our scene should we know about?
Andre’: Inside our scene, check out my friend Perry Trenon Graham. Also Erick Ballard, Ethan Skelton, and Lane Allen.
Outside our scene, check out Archie Logan and Ronnell Smith.
MND: What recordings (Discography, if any) can we find some of your work on?
Andre’: Although these records were recorded a few years ago and are probably out of print, I’m the only drummer on Leo Hawkins’ God Is Not Through With You Yet, and Melissa Mosers’ Scars, Baggage & Boys.
MND: What is your best musical experience? What is your favorite drumming experience?
Andre’: Good question. I was talking to a friend of mine, who I have been in a few bands with over the years, we were talking about musical experiences. I can remember my first professional gig when I was just 13 years old. It was an awesome feeling. The first time we played the main stage at Moondance was fun. Sharing the stage with bands and artists that I admired and enjoyed as a kid has always been a musical blast. Anyway, I could ramble on and on. But the bottom line is every time I get to pick up sticks and play is my favorite drumming experience.