Sure, the official job title for Jorel "JFly" Flynn is "drummer," but he's more than just your average sideman. When he's not traveling around the globe banging on snares and cymbals, JFly helms a youth-centered nonprofit organization (the How Big Is Your Dream?! Foundation), coordinates his own music festival (the aptly named JFly Music Fest, which takes place in his hometown of Waycross, Ga., this Saturday) and more. JFly gave us the lowdown on what he's got cooking.
So what does your schedule look like these days? Who are you playing and/or touring with?
JFly: Well actually what I've been able to do, which makes me work with a lot more people, is do more of an independent drummer thing, as opposed to being tied with one band. Currently, I'm with Bobby Brown, Peabo Bryson, and I've done the New Edition stuff ... and with people like Alex Buyon and Jeff Lorber from time to time.
What's the difference between playing with jazz-fusion artists, R&B cats, and the like?
The main difference in playing is the complexity of the music. To be honest with you, the most complex music I play is gospel and fusion. The biggest thing is getting inside the artists's head and making sure that, even if they can't relate to me what they want, I find the nuances they are looking for. It's actually a unique process that has been developed by playing with so many different people. For example, a group like Cameo, where you have the lead singer who played all of the original beats. You can't really hide inside the music; it makes you become very transparent.
Give me a little background about your upcoming music festival. Why did you start it, and what's the focus?
It's all about me taking the access I've gained through the people I've met and exposing it to the kids [of the community] that feel that music is not a career path. So really, the festival is an access point to make your dreams a reality and give you a bigger picture of how it could be if you keep your goals in check.
How has the festival grown over the years? And who is performing this year?
The first year we did it, we were able to draw in between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Now, we are up to 10,000 people throughout the day, and it's a one-day festival. This year, we've got Bobby Brown, Howard Hewitt, Tony Terry, Chandra Currelley, Cherrelle, Jeff Bradshaw, Ken Ford, and there is some local talent that I give a platform to so they can get their name out there.
OK, so what's next for you?
I'm working on my second album right now. I'm about to go back to [perform in] Japan ... And the beat goes on.
For more information about the JFly Music Festival, visit howbigisyourdream.org.
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