Craig Chestnut

By | May 14, 2015 at 12:38 am | No comments | Backstage Jazz, Columns, Feature Stories

By Patte Purcell

Who’s the debonair guy sitting behind the drums? It’s the desert’s favorite jazz drummer Craig Chestnut. Despite his youthful good looks he’s been playing for 43 years. He started in the 4th grade when he received his first set of drums passed down from his brother. Once he got behind the drums he wouldn’t leave much to the chagrin of his parents. They inevitably set up practice time from noon to 7 pm only to save the neighbors from his late night rehearsals. In Jr. High he joined the jazz band in school and ultimately the drum corp. where he learned to read music.

Who’s the debonair guy sitting behind the drums? It’s the desert’s favorite jazz drummer Craig Chestnut. Despite his youthful good looks he’s been playing for 43 years. He started in the 4th grade when he received his first set of drums passed down from his brother. Once he got behind the drums he wouldn’t leave much to the chagrin of his parents. They inevitably set up practice time from noon to 7 pm only to save the neighbors from his late night rehearsals. In Jr. High he joined the jazz band in school and ultimately the drum corp. where he learned to read music.

He studied under a drum teacher and got a drum scholarship to Southern University but passed because he fell in love (my kind of story).

His first formal band was Frankie and the Flashbacks where they played for frats and sororities which is where he got bitten by the live performance bug. At 17 he auditioned for General Cain who opened for bands including Rick James and The Gap Band, but his parents said no to him touring at his young age and instead he enlisted in the navy. He got out in 1986 and immediately got another set of drums. He ended up in LA working for some of the largest entertainment agencies and made loads of contacts. He was a member of Derrick Edmondson and “Vinyl” a band that was known as ‘The Band to the Stars’. He played with Ray Parker, Jr. Howard Hewett (of Shalimar) and even the great Stevie Wonder.

He also played and is a current member of George Whitty jazz fusion trio.

He moved to the desert after meeting his beautiful wife Carolyn when he was performing at the Palm Springs Farmers market. They married and blended their 2 girls each into one happy family here in the desert.

Once he moved to the desert he hooked up with Johnny Meza, Doug La Desma who referred him to Chu Chito Valdez a Cuban pianist he still performs with when he comes to the desert.

Over the last year he has been performing with Slim Man and his band, Joe Baldino and his band, and Johnny Meza and ‘The Taste Brothers’. He recently performed with guest artists Peter White and Michael Paul at Carl Davis’ party as well.

He is also the proud owner of a C & C Recording studio and provides rehearsal space as well as performing on musicians recordings via the internet. Craig brings a classy look, a snappy groove, and professionalism to the Jazz music scene here in the Coachella Valley. To book him contact him at 760-902-8827.

Check him out the next 3 Wednesdays in May at Shanghai Reds from 7-10, playing with national recording artist Slim Man and his band, with Joe Baldino on smooth guitar. You’ll be impressed!

Patte Purcell
pattepurcell@yahoo.com
1-702-219-6777

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