Talented percussionist and Organic Proof driving force Brandon Draper performs during this week’s Grassroots Music Fest, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Kansas City Academy, 7933 Main St. The band, which has become an acoustic songwriting project for Draper, has featured some of the city’s most talented young jazz musicians, and Thursday’s 7 p.m. show will be no exception. This incarnation of the band has singer/songwriter Barclay Martin and bassist Rick Willoughby.
Admission to the festival, which also features She’s a Keeper and Ghosty, is $15 per night on Thursday and Friday, $20 on Saturday or $30 for a three-day pass.
1. What’s the album that influenced you the most and why?
“Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ I was 4 years old, and I took two boom boxes and played ‘Billie Jean’ from one into the other and recorded it to a blank cassette. I then repeated that 10 times (10 tapes) and sat on the front porch selling ‘Billie Jean,’ instead of a lemonade stand. Mom and Dad came home and told me it was illegal to sell other people’s music and explained how the business worked, so I needed to write my own music.”
2. What’s an album you’ve never gotten tired of listening to? Why?
“Stevie Wonder’s ‘Innervisions.’ It’s just so funky and beautiful.”
3. What’s the most recent album you’ve fallen in love with? What made you fall in love with it?
“Aman Iman: Water Is Life” by Tinariwen. It grooves so, so hard. I saw them at Wakarusa and loved the blend of electric ’70s guitars with North African traditional rhythms.”
4. What kind of music did your parents listen to when you were growing up? Did that have a big effect on the kind of music you eventually began listening to?
“Blues, jazz, rock. It made a huge impact. The diversity of the music played at home was amazing. Listening and playing music was equal to eating and sleeping in my house, actually sometimes above. My dad is a musician, and I grew up going to shows, eventually playing and touring with him.”
5. What song helped you find your voice as a musician?
“There isn’t one song. I’ve been playing music my entire life, and I am still finding my voice. Drumset: Anything Animal ever played on ‘The Muppet Show’; he didn’t hold back at all. Bass: ‘Jerry Was a Racecar Driver’ by Primus; it required more percussive playing. Percussion: ‘Jingo’ by Santana; the traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms mixed with rock. Guitar, vocals: ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young; the chords and melody. Piano: ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder; the bass keys part is the funkiest thing ever.”
6. What’s the first song you memorized?
“ ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ by Bob Seger in 1985.”