Friday, August 5, 2005

Once upon a cricket

'Buddy Holly' actor moves to valley

Express Staff Writer

Tom Nash. Express photo by Dana DuGan

Tom Nash, a recent Los Angeles transplant to the Wood River Valley, brings with him a myriad of talents and appellations.

"I am a drummer first and foremost," he said. "But I consider myself an actor musician."

The drumming part of him is taking on a new challenge here in the valley. He's offering drum workshops for youth through Music 'n' Me Studio Wood River Music Academy in Hailey.

"We've (Nash and Mitzi Meacham) have put together a group of classes, or tours—because they're journeys—with 12 week programs of drumming and creativity to begin this fall."

The drumming classes will involve learning the history of drumming, different rhythms, performance styles, writing percussion pieces, hand drums, and how to play with others. Nash also intends on doing a Stomp class "that'll be an absolute blast."

The Creativity class will be for all instruments and will include a songwriting class, a recording class and a class on how to be in a band.

Nash, who grew up in Boston, played his first professional gig as a drummer when he was 11. After playing clubs in Beantown, he was talked into trying his hand in New York by acting friends he'd met while in summer stock.

Most people head to the big city with dreams of fame and fortune and fall flat on their tuchas. Not so Nash; he of the lovely singing voice and talent with the drumsticks. Within three weeks of his arrival (surely a record!), he was cast as Jerry Allison, the Crickets drummer in "The Buddy Holly Story" on Broadway.

A few years later, Nash, much to his own surprise, left for the sunny skies of Los Angeles. "I needed a change. I got really interested in behind the scenes, the technical side of the business and wanted to pursue it. Also I could wear a T-shirt all year."

"One thing led to another, but I was still always playing drums with a couple bands I founded," he said. The Bus Kings played original rock 'n' roll in clubs around L.A. And there were the Broadcasters, made up of other former Buddy Holly cast members Joe Davis and Leslie Rogers. They played 50s and 60s music.

But along came a wife, Lisa, and eventually a son, Ryan, seven months ago, and it seemed time to make another move. They had a friend who introduced them to the valley and for a few years came to visit often. Earlier this summer they came for what was to be a short scouting mission.

"We're here sooner than we expected, Nash said. "Within two and a half weeks we decided to go back to L.A. pack up and move."

Once here, Nash started making calls to musicians and musical types he found in the phone book or by word of mouth. When he and Meacham—a fireball of an idea gal—met up, they immediately gelled on many of his ideas for drumming classes and future projects.

"I'd been thinking about expanding my teaching to include a performance-based class. To learn (to play) they have to have creativity, have access to it and to get more out of it."

Nash, a highly personable guy, looks hungry, satisfied and hopeful all at once. He's onto a new chapter in his life. And it's all rock 'n' roll.

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