Blog

First/Last – Jim Donovan

February 3, 2016

“Connect. Empower. Inspire. Drum Circle Leadership is a step-by-step system created by Jim Donovan M.Ed. designed to show you how to create and lead your own transformational drum circles. To create a world of connection, peace and purpose by teaching people how to create their own transformational rhythmic events.”

Jim Donovan is a drummer but looking at his resume, he is so much more than that. Mostly known as being a former member of Pittsburgh rock legends Rusted Root, Jim is also a faculty member of St. Francis University, a master facilitator, inspirational trainer and author of Drum Circle Leadership program. His latest album is called Sun King Warriors and I expected his music to have a heavy tribal sound but was pleasantly surprised with the catchy pop and hints of heavy rock hooks throughout the record. You can catch Jim and his band The Sun King Warriors perform a set this Sunday (2/7) at WYEP’s 16th Annual Alternative Souper Bowl at Carnegie Library in Oakland and at the official album release bash on March 12. I want to thank Jim for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?

My very first album I bought in 1981 was the Rolling Stones Tattoo You at Jamesway in Somerset, PA. I remember taking it home, holding the album and staring at it every day wishing I could listen to it. Unfortunately, those were lean years and I had no turntable for the first four months I had the record. Luckily, my parents bought me a small record player for Christmas that year.

Your last album bought?

I bought a Modest Mouse double vinyl album for my daughter Tupelo. She and her friends have discovered the joy of sitting and listening to record albums which gives me a lot of hope for the next generation.

Favorite album of all time?

I have to go with Sly and the Family Stone’s, Dance to the Music. This is the first music I remember hearing as a child and remember asking my mother to play it over and over and over. I still listen to it that way sometimes.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

I am a big AC/DC fan and remember being wildly excited about Flick of the Switch hoping it would be another Back in Black. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case.

First concert attended?

I am glad to say that Eric Clapton was my first show, ‘Behind the Sun Tour’ 1985, Graham Parker and the Shot opened the night. I somehow convinced my mother to let me take my first girlfriend Sue down to Merriweather Post Pavilion near DC to see the show. That amphitheater was always one of my favorite places to play with Rusted Root. I remember several great shows opening for Santana and The Allman Brothers.

Last concert?

I just had a great time seeing The Clarks right around Christmas time. I love those guys.

Favorite concert ever?

I would have to say watching Robert Plant and Jimmy page from the audience after just having opened for them at the Civic Arena in 1995 was an epic experience. Robert Plant told the whole Pittsburgh crowd how he thought we were the best new band in America. Then he dedicated “The Song Remains the Same” to us at which point I had tears streaming down my face. At the end of the show, Jimmy page came out in a Rusted Root T-shirt for the encore. Yeah, I’d have to pick that one.

Least favorite concert?

My least favorite show was one that I played in the first cover band I was in. It was a party for a guy who is going to the Air Force and it devolved into a serious brawl. It was one of those Iron City beer bottles breaking over people’s heads kind of brawl. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh has always been my home, even when I’ve been away from it. The thing I love the most are the people. By and large, I’ve met so many friendly and helpful people in all my years here. Through the years, Pittsburghers have been a resilient lot and have figured out how to make things work, even when times are tough. It is so satisfying to see the city beginning to bloom after so many years of challenge. My guess is that in the next 10 years, the city will be even more of a destination for people to move to because of the combination of high quality arts, good jobs, amazing food, proximity to nature, and good people.

Thanks, Jim. Love the records, man and I think you win the ‘Favorite Concert Ever’ title with that story. Very cool.