An Interview with Karen Newell

How and when did you first begin playing drums?

I  traded a large hunk of clay for a used pair of  drum sticks with a neighbor boy named Georgie.  I began by playing on the seat of a vinyl chair while listening to 45 records.   At the age of 9, I began playing in the school band program.  I started taking private drum lessons in the 6th grade.  Throughout junior high and high school I played in every conceivable school/church/local event.

Who were your early influences?

My first musical recollection was wanting to learn the drum part to the theme to the TV program Hawaii 5-0. I later got hooked on Earth, Wind and Fire/ early Al Jarreau, David Sanborn and Spyro Gyra.

Who do you listen to now?

Mostly Rick Braun, Boney James, Rippingtons, and Cirque Du Soleil.

Favorite drummers?

I appreciate Dave Weckl for his exceptional chops and technique but I love Steve Gadd’s playing. He has an incredible ability to play simple and subtle, but very tasty.  He plays just the right thing in the right spot at the right time.  He never overplays.

Early Drum Sets

Tempro (Japanese) Blue Sparkle  (received about 6th grade)

Ludwig Green Vistalite Power Factory (July 15, 1978 it arrived after special order)

Yamaha Recording Custom (Black finish) (early 1990s)

Etc etc etc…