World-class percussionist leads Scott Pellegrom Trio to TC

The Scott Pellegrom Trio returns to Traverse City to play this weekend.

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Haven drummer Scott Pellegrom puts his band’s music in terms that every exuberant percussionist would appreciate. 

“We go for blood,” he said. “No boundaries, no limits when it comes to playing.”

That attitude served the much-lauded west Michigan musician well during the past decade or so. He toured the globe to stage drum clinics and perform as a solo artist — named a finalist in Guitar Center’s national “Drum Off” competition — worked as a session drummer and had a signature cymbal adopted and marketed by Dream Cymbals.

It’s also the driving force behind an ambitious studio album that the in-demand drummer has been recording with guitarist Kevin Kozel and keyboard player Ryan K. Wilson of the Scott Pellegrom Trio (also known as SP3).

“We all have a lot of different side projects, we play with a ton of people and when we get together to write, we just have a lot of fun. We usually start by jamming. Kevin will come up with an idea or Ryan and then we start putting a song together,” Pellegrom said, noting the band has worked on the album amid a hectic summer of playing three or four gigs per week (sometimes with Reese Gall on vibraphones).

The Scott Pellegrom Trio plays Union Street Station, 117 S. Union St., at 10 p.m. Friday and again at 10 p.m. Saturday. 

“Everyone in the trio is a full-time musician so we're also doing sessions, lessons and freelance gigs,” he said. “All the guys in the group are so much fun to work with and they just love to hustle, so it's hard for us to say no to any gigs or any event. We just love to play and we love to entertain.”

The trio plans to release a free EP online this fall, with Pellegrom also partnering with DJ and bassist John Supplee to release a “drummer DJ” EP under the name 38th Parallel. Eventually, Pellegrom says the trio will expand its EP into a full-length recording to be released early next year. 

“I have a lot of special guests from all around the world that are going to be a part of this record titled, ‘SuperNaturalBang,’” Pellegrom said. “I’m very excited for it to come out because it should be a really fun record displaying talent from all over the world.”

Pellegrom jokes that his career as a professional drummer actually started before he was born. 

“I literally have been playing my whole life. The story I always tell which people get sick of hearing is when I was in the womb, my mother said I’d play soccer or drums,” he said. “By the time I had some control to play, I was playing pots and pans and pulling everything out of the cupboard.” 

He went on to study with Michigan drummers Tim Froncek, Tim Johnson and Derico Watson (who plays with internationally acclaimed bassist Victor Wooten), and perform with his Spring Lake High School jazz band and marching band. His big break came in 2006 when he entered Guitar Center’s Drum Off competition, winning local and district competitions and winding up at the national finals in Los Angeles.

“I kind of think that’s what opened up the doors for me for what I’m doing now,” he said, namely, hosting drum education clinics and solo performances in places as far-flung as China, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. Pellegrom currently plays in-store events throughout the Midwest and stages drum clinics at arts academies and universities. He also hopes to launch online drum lessons for students while working with “clients and colleagues around the world while still being in my pajamas in Grand Haven.”

The signature “Scott Pellegrom Crop Circle” cymbal he developed is marketed by Toronto’s Dream Cymbals (for whom Pellegrom works as a clinician) as part of its Re-FX series of recycled cymbals. It's a 2-inch wide circular cymbal cropped out a larger cymbal that attaches to jingles that create an effect “that is out of this world."

That might also describe the Scott Pellegrom Trio’s rock-to-jazz musical approach, a style inspired by varied artists like John Scofield, Radiohead, Portishead, Mars Volta, Metallica, Dave Weckl Band, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis.

“It is a fusion of something, I don’t know what you would call it. But we definitely like to get people dancing,” Pellegrom said, who even gets innovative playing his cheeks and forehead in a display of “mouth” percussion. “It’s basically a freedom for all of us to just take risks and chances with music.”

And he’s eager to bring the band back to Traverse City this weekend. “We absolutely love the crowd,” he said. "And they are super-rowdy in the throwdown every time we’re there.”

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