Harris sires new “Keepers of the Beat” at the Music Tree

percussion1And the beat goes on … it’s got to! As a professional musician, Dale Harris is the Keeper of the Beat and his role at the Music Tree makes him the Teacher of the Beat.

Music can involve several instruments and devices, but percussion is the connective backbone holding it all together. Early percussionist were the “human metronomes” providing rhythm first for primitive dancers and later for other musicians.

In beginning classes, before the student drummer hits the instrument, they must learn to hit the beat thereby setting the tone for the music. Harris teaches rhythm and counting and the Human Metronome gives voice to what is traditionally felt: “One, two, three, four; then oney and a twoy and a threey.” Add the sticks and the then the instrument and the student is beginning to feel the magic of being a rock, jazz or “their favorite” drummer.

As the Keeper of the Beat, Harris has over 20 years’ experience playing drums professionally in Rock, Blues, R&B, Swing/Jazz, and Latin/Jazz bands. He got his start playing drum for the McKinley Senior High jazz band.

Harris, the Teacher of the Beat, will soon have his own gathering of percussion disciplines like the greats who taught and tutored him when he started. After high school, Harris studied percussion under Lyman Mulkey and Latin rhythms under local percussion great Herman Jackson. He has toured regionally from Austin to New Orleans. His local experience includes two of our state’s well-known venues: The Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge and Tipitina’s in New Orleans.

Harris is the percussionist for the Jazz Souls, a standards jazz ensemble consisting of bass guitar, drum-set, vibraphone, trumpet and tenor saxophone, with occasional vocals by different members.  The group plays popular jazz tunes from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.  Styles range from New Orleans Jazz, Swing Era, Blues, Bebop, Cool, Bossa Nova, Fusion and Contemporary Jazz.

The Jazz Souls have been playing together for about five years with very few personnel changes over the years. The members are Will Bertolet on bass, Harris on drums, Gary Roberts on vibes, Paul Lauve on trumpet and fellow Music Tree instructor Ian Frazier on tenor saxophone.  Lauve is a school band director and Ian and Dale teach private lessons on their instruments.  Roberts and Bertolet are multi-instrumentalists and have played in the Baton Rouge area in support and lead roles for decades.  The Jazz Souls work regularly for private weddings, parties and public shows.

The Jazz Souls will perform outside of the Music Tree Friday, October 23 for the annual Fall Art Crawl. The Fall Art Crawl is a free, public arts event that will involve businesses in Zachary’s downtown business and historic districts. Local artists will display and sell original works and live music will be performed at several spots along the route. For more, visit www.ZacharyArtCrawl.com.

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