Friday, October 26, 2018

Volume 67- Sammi Potts


Hello TC fam, It feels so good to bring another talented drummer to the forefront. This time around we're heading to Nashville by way of Stillwater,MN.
This young lady is an up & coming talent, who is definitely going places...literally. I connected with her while she is currently on tour with her band. I'm glad we were able to get this thing done. I really dig what she's got going on and she's got the goods to make happen for herself. Luckily before she blows up, we get to hear about her drum life so far. So, let's Talk Chop with Sammi, shall we...


Where are you from? 

I am originally from Stillwater, MN - A cute little river town near the Twin Cities - but am currently based out of Nashville. My favorite music city. 

Tell us something we may not know about the Mpls. music scene…  Although Minneapolis is best known for Prince, funk, and the “Minneapolis Sound”, Minneapolis has a thriving musical theater scene. The city has several professional theaters and a great culture for the performing arts. 

How did you get started with drums?  I started playing percussion when I was 8. My grandma took me to a Minnesota Orchestra concert and I asked her who was the highest paid member in the orchestra. She told me it was the timpanist, so I (an ever business-minded 8 year old) decided to pick up percussion. I later learned that the timpanist is definitely not the highest paid orchestra member, but it sparked my love for percussion - which led to my love of drum set - and I never looked back!

So, you played in a youth symphony when you were younger, how was that experience?I joined the Minnesota Youth Symphony when I was 13 and it really pushed me to refine my instrument, learn high volumes of music, and pay attention to detail. It has greatly affected my playing as a drummer and taught me to pay close attention to sound as well as mallet and stick choice. 

Ok, you make your move to Nashville in 2013. A great place to grow as a musician. What was the motivation for that move?I moved to Nashville to study at Belmont University. Two of my biggest musical influences, Zoro and Chester Thompson, were professors in the drum set program and I was eager to study with them while living in such a creative and musical city

How would you describe your playing style?My playing is influenced by may diverse genres. I definitely think that my classical and musical theater background taught me the importance of detail and finesse. Most recently, I have been focused on funk and gospel. Because of these influences, I try to focus on giving the groove space while emphasizing finesse and timing. 

What projects are you working on now?I’m currently on the road with a side project I’m leading, an all-female band called The Reckless Charms. We’re overseas until the spring of 2019, so I’m mostly focused on that until I get back to Nashville.

What type of band is The Reckless Charms?The Reckless Charms is an all female, Indie-Pop band. We cover pop songs but add a unique twist - four part harmonies and violin lead lines, usually with unique time signatures and tempos.

How did the band form?The lead singer (Noah Vonne) and I started the band with three of our friends freshman year of college. We formed the band as a bit of an experiment to see how far we could stretch the limits of traditional pop songs. That led to the development of our unique, indie sound. Although we formed the band as a side project, it has opened a lot of doors for us and I am excited to watch it grow!

Are you involved in the local music scene in your hometown, other than just playing in your band?I’m involved in the Nashville scene and love playing with songwriters, country artists, and churches in the area. When I’m not on tour, I typically rotate between local artists and play for their shows and recordings in Nashville.

What are some of your goals as a musician?One of my main goals is to never stop learning. Every day, I try to immerse myself in a music and videos so that I can continue to grow and develop my craft. 

You've played with some named artists, who else would would like to play for?I would love to play for a top CCM artist, like Lauren Daigle, For King and Country, or Hillsong. But it would also be a dream to play for a top pop artist, like Bruno Mars. I love his production, creativity, and funk influence.

I see you play in church as well. How important is that for you?Playing in church has significantly impacted my life. I first started playing drum set in my little home church in Stillwater. During that time, I cut my teeth on learning to play with a band. I still love to play at my home church in Nashville whenever I can. It keeps me grounded and inspired. 

You're doing live shows and studio sessions. You like doing both?I love studio work, but I actually prefer playing live shows. I love the energy that the crowd brings with them to each performance - it drives me to play my best. I especially love the relationships that have blossomed from my time on the road, as well as the constant adventure of traveling to a new place every night. 

What are your touring experiences, if any?Immediately following college, I toured with a husband and wife duo for a year and a half. In between those runs, I subbed for a CCM artist named Moriah Peters when I could. I’m currently on the road with my all-girl band and plan on joining another tour when I come back to Nashville in the spring. 

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks…ect?I work with several boutique companies that I really love - Risen Drums, Heartbeat Cymbals, and Alclair Audio. I play a beautiful 5-piece maple kit from Risen - 20” kick, with 10”, 12”, and 16” toms. Right now I have an Aquarian Super Kick on my bass drum and Evans EC Resonant heads on my toms. I love the Studio and Custom line of Heartbeat Cymbals and currently use 16” studio hats, a 22” studio ride, 16” and 18” custom crashes, and a 16” holey crash. I use VicFirth Extreme 5As and DW hardware.

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing?I can’t imagine doing anything else now, but I considered going to school for physical therapy back in college. I think I would have loved to work in PT or a similar branch of the medical field. 

How has drumming impacted or changed your life?Drumming and touring have significantly impact on my life and how I view the world. I have been able to meet people from all walks of life and it has really challenged me to see the world from a different perspective. 

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why?I’ve been very heavily influenced by drummers who are not only incredible players, but incredible people. Zoro (Lenny Kravitz, Bobby Brown) has been one of my biggest mentors and inspirations, along with Steve Goold (Sara Bareilles, Ben Rector) and Lester Estelle (Kelly Clarkson). I also listen to a lot of Steve Gadd and Neil Peart

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?That’s tough! One of my favorite concerts from this past year was Ariana Grande on her Dangerous Woman tour. I am a huge fan of her drummer. 

How much time do you practice?In college, I used to practice 4+ hours a day, but it is much more difficult to find time to practice on the road. I typically try to at least warm up on a drum pad everyday when I can’t get to a full kit. 

What types of things do you work on, in those sessions?I rotate through different areas that I feel like I need work on - bass drum, left foot independence, hand speed, and different styles (latin, jazz, etc). I love watching videos of my favorite players and trying to emulate their work. I also spend a majority of my practice time learning new songs for my artists. 

I know some of us have that "one thing" that bug us about our playing, do you have that one thing?I would really love to improve my kick speed. I've always felt like it has been held my playing back. I compensate by using the heel-toe technique on an extended footboard, but I still have a lot of work to do!

Do you record drum videos of yourself? if so, how has it helped you?I do! It has been one of the most powerful learning methods for me. It has really refined my feel and timing and has also helped me focus on my stage presence. 

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us?Probably my favorite gig ever was playing in the music video for Carrie Underwood’s single, "Love Wins". I got to drum with color powder and smoke machines going off all around me. By the end, I was completely covered in color powder and it took me days to get it out of all of my stuff, but it was so worth it! 

Carrie Underwood - "Love Wins"

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?It’s very important to never forget that music is a gift. Whenever you get discouraged, remember that so many people would love to be able to do what you do. Always look for inspiration, whether through watching videos or attending live concerts. Finally, never hesitate to reach out to your favorite players - they just might be willing to meet up with you and share their stories with you! 

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s???Thank you so much to my sponsors - Risen Drums, Heartbeat Percussion, Alclair Audio, and SKB Cases. They are some of the best companies in the business! Thank you to my mentors, Kory Andry and Zoro, for all of your hours of teaching and inspiration. Thank you to my friends and family that have been my constant support and encouragement and have pushed me to do what I love. And lastly, thank you to DeHaven and Talkin’ Chop for including me in your blog! I would love to connect with you! 
You can find me at: 
FB -

Yet again, another great look into one of players in the drum community. Big Thx to Sammi for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share with all of us her drum life. It's really kool when you see people like this, living their dream. I see a bright future for Sammi. And I second that piece of advice about "reaching out..." to some of your heroes. The smallest encounters can make a difference. We all need some encouragement along the way. That's one of the reasons why I love the drum community.


As always, if you or anyone you know would like to be the subject of Talkin' Chop, please hit me up!
DeHaven - 

Big Thx to all of my drum partners:
SJC Drums, Soultone Cymbals
Cympad, Cymbag, Sweet Spots
Phatfoot Drum Harness

#DrummersSupportDrummers  #TalkinChop  #DrumLife


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