The settings inevitably vary. One might be a reunion gig with the famed '70s prog band U.K. Another could be an orchestral date showcasing original chamber works or a drum clinic with young players eager to soak in beats, riffs and a little musical understanding from one of the most industrious contemporary percussionists of the past four decades. Regardless of which scenario wins out, Terry Bozzio knows there is a performer inside him fit for any occasion.
"I've never felt more free or more trusting of this intuitive side of myself that will go anywhere and do anything with anybody on anything," said the acclaimed drummer, who will present a clinic Friday in Lexington with fellow percussionist Tom Shelley. "I know that the guy who plays the drums that lives in my subconscious will show up, and he will do something amazing. And I just love being able to watch that happen as I play."
A San Francisco native, Bozzio, 62, grew up through the jazz and pop ranks to tour and record extensively, from 1975 to 1986 with Frank Zappa; U.K., in which he replaced another lauded drummer, Bill Bruford; and Missing Persons. That set the stage for compositional and performance innovations for solo drum work as well as gigs and session work with such varied artists as Robbie Robertson, Jeff Beck, Deborah Harry, Duran Duran and Korn.
While what brings Bozzio to town Friday is technically billed as a clinic sponsored by the Drum Center of Lexington — but presented down the street at the Oleika Shrine Center — the evening essentially will be a performance. Bozzio wouldn't have it any other way.
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"I think this show in particular may not have that much of the seminar thing," he said. "We call it a drum clinic, but people come there to see you play, to see what you've got to offer them. That's probably the most inspiring part. So yeah, a little demonstration, a little education, a question-and-answer period, ... that all helps. But the focus of the thing is to go see a guy play on his own in a more intimate setting than you would if I were in a rock band.
"Drums are a passion. Some of us just have that just like other people have a passion for stamp collecting, I guess. In terms of the drumming community experience, these clinics have been some of the most rewarding things I've ever stumbled into.
"I went through the Zappa thing, the U.K. thing and the Missing Persons thing. By the mid-'80s, I was trying to be a singer-songwriter. Having sort of failed at that, I started to practice as meditation and therapy for myself. Then one day someone tapped me on the shoulder to do a drum clinic. I felt at first, kind of ashamed that a 'celebrity' like myself would do a drum clinic. But it also frightened me.
"When you're up onstage, you have sound reinforcement, so you're louder than the audience. They have to be quiet. All those things are gone in a clinic. Sometimes you find yourself in a music store under harsh white fluorescent lights with all these drummers surrounding you watching every bead of sweat form on your forehead. So it's pretty frightening. But having gone through that really made me stronger and made me realize that there is a group of individuals outside of the music business per se that just wants to hear you play by yourself. So this inspired me to get more and more solo drumming material."
Bozzio will share Friday's clinic with Shelley, head of Universal Percussion, which manufactures Bozzio's drum heads. Each will perform a solo set and collaborative music as well.
"Most people that are in the drumming or music manufacturing industry, like Tom, are musicians. The reason they got into what they have is because they were originally players. And there comes a time in your life where you just go, 'You know, I want to play.' I think that's where Tom is at. He has put together this amazing one-man show with laser lights, and it's all connected to his fingers and to MIDI, video and graphics — the whole shebang."
Ahead for Bozzio after his run of clinics with Shelley is a smattering of U.K. dates — he hinted he would play more extensively with the band in 2014 — before jumping into a new ensemble project with fellow drummer Alex Acuna, bassist and longtime friend and fellow Zappa alum Patrick O'Hearn, and electronic wind instrument player Judd Miller.
"I'm into music that can grab your attention and keep it," Bozzio said. "That's my feeling about it. I try and go out there and give the people something unique, authentic and different."
IF YOU GO
Terry Bozzio and Tom Shelley Clinic
When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8
Where: Oleika Shrine Center, 326 Southland Dr.
Learn more: (859) 276-1827, Drumcenteroflex.com