Ardie Dean’s career in drumming led him to 5 continents and Carnegie Hall

MADISON – In his career as a professional drummer, Ardie Dean has performed around the world and worked as musical director, record producer and teacher. However, his first love always has been making music with his drums.

Dean’s relationship with drums dates back to 1963. For his Christmas gift, his parents ‘rented’ a snare drum. They thought their son was just going through a ‘phase.’ “From then on, my experience lives strictly in the drum department,” Dean said about learning more and more about percussion during his life.

Today, he plays a 1930s Ludwig drum kit.

Dean’s experience in percussion grew, matured and expanded to scores of bands and groups . . . so much so, that he has performed on five continents.

With whom did he perform? “Who? Whew . . . too many to mention but the longest association is with ‘Music Maker Blues Revue’ and my high school band, ‘Lazy River,’ who has held yearly reunions to this day!” Dean said.

His most memorable gig had to be the famed stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City, alongside Guitar Gabriel and Tim Duffy in the original “Brothers in the Kitchen.”

During the Carnegie Hall show, “it was surprising what goes through one’s mind while performing on that stage, like my mom who put up with deafening relentless practicing . . . and the band director who wouldn’t allow me in the school band,” Dean said.

His professional resume documents his experience with many musicians, especially blues greats, including Alabama Slim, Little Freddie King, Lee Gates, Ernie K-Doe, Bo Diddley, Gregg Allman, Sweet Betty, Guitar Gabriel, Jerry McCain, Macavine Hayes, Beverly Watkins, Lightnin’ Wells, Taj Mahal, Cootie Stark, Sam Frazier Jr., Ironing Board Sam, Cool John Ferguson and Robert Lee Coleman. (Wikipedia.org)

Dean estimates that he has played on more than 100 blues albums. Since 1994, Dean has worked as musical director and record producer for the Music Maker Relief Foundation.

“Drums have been a lifelong passion, and producing came much later when Taj Mahal began mentoring me in my new role as producer,” he said. “I learned that the greatest drummer is the one who listens best, and producing is listening on steroids . . . two hats, same game.”

Dean was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, Alabama Blues Hall of Fame in 2017 and Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2018.

Vintage drums have been a special interest for Dean. “I rent them to movies – around 30 films have my drums in them. In fact, I’m playing drums in one of them!” he said.

After living across the United States, Dean relocated to Madison in May this year. “My daughter and son-in-law brought my one and only grandson into the world, so, of course, I moved 45 seconds away from my little buddy,” he said.

Sharing his talents in percussion, Dean is offering drum lessons. He teaches beginners through adults who already know the basics. “Yes, I love teaching beginners of all ages. Advanced lessons are fun, too,” he said.

A student with Ardie Dean needs to have only one piece of equipment: a notebook.

“Teaching has been special to me,” Dean said. “I moved to Madison from Hampton Cove, where I was in concert with Gene Swanner at Hampton Cove Middle School. There, I was able to help develop his percussionist to an advanced level, thus taking some burden off Gene Swanner – a great man.”

Dean has arranged a rehearsal space in his home in south Madison, just north of Madison Boulevard. In addition, he’s willing to go to the student’s home, if he or she has a drum set.

“While clocking in 20-plus years with teaching, I spent those same 20ish years as worship team drummer at Cove Church in Hampton Cove,” he said.

To contact Ardie Dean about drum lessons, call 256-527-0601 or email ardie@hiwaay.net.

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