A few years ago, Modern Drummer magazine released an issue with a feature story on a drummer called Sarah Tomek. She was well known around Nashville, but was emerging more completely into the national consciousness as the touring drummer in Steven Tyler’s new solo band. It was a cool story about a player who had paid her dues and was ready to roll when opportunity knocked.
Later that year, opportunity knocked for me too.
Mr. Tyler was touring on his solo album, and the tour was bringing him to the Sony Centre in Toronto. In another of those “good things happen when you put yourself out there” moments that music has given me, an offer was extended to Jenn Marino, singer in my band Hiroshima Hearts, to bring a pal and work the VIP event at Steven’s show.
The pal turned out to be me.
So we went down to Toronto to do the thing. We were wrist-banding the VIP guests and counting merch and that sort of thing. Jenn actually got to be in the room when Steven Tyler was meeting the fans and posing for photos. I got to hand out drink tickets in the post-meeting room where all of the women came to faint. It was a great time.
When the event was over, the organizer came to us and asked if we were staying for the show. We said yes. I expected her to point us at a couple of seats that were reserved for us, but instead she handed us two full access backstage passes.
Knock me over with a silk scarf.
Later I stood side-stage – that’s on the freaking stage, people – to watch the show. That meant standing ten feet behind Sarah Tomek herself and watching her play the drums. I cannot express enough what a privilege, a treat, and an education that was. After the show I got to spend a few minutes chatting with her (while Steven Tyler held court two feet away – how surreal). She was lovely and gracious, and I knew that if I ever got around to launching a podcast, I wanted to have her on as a guest.
Fast forward three years or so and here we are.
Sarah’s a great drummer. Note: not a great “girl” drummer. A great drummer. Period. She’s a total pro who’s done it the old fashioned way. She slugged it out in the New York club scene, playing the gigs, learning her craft, working a job and playing into the wee hours of the morning. She made herself ready for the opportunity first to go to Nashville, and then take the Steven Tyler gig when it came along. I love the story of how she got that chair. She tells it in the episode and it’s a great lesson in preparation and synchronicity.
Needless to say, it was great spending an hour talking to Sarah about her career. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
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