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Bickford Hits Right Beat for Renowned Drummer

Bernard Purdie impressed with theater, plans to celebrate 70th birthday on stage for benefit concert.

The is seeing a lot of excitement recently——and now the world's most recorded drummer will grace the stage Monday at the museum's Bickford Theatre.

Bernard Purdie, a renowned drummer for being a part of more than 4,000 albums and working with top musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and Steely Dan, among many others, has decided to celebrate his 70th birthday at the Bickford for a benefit show. His birthday bash concert will include four bands he's worked with that will perform a variety of genres.

"The concert is going to cover R&B, pop, jazz, folk, soul," Purdie told Patch on Friday. "It's kind of like my life story, the music is all of those genres that I have been playing all my life."

Purdie has performed with a multitude of performers in his long-lasting career, and on Monday he will perform with his current band Bernard Purdie and Friends, which will be a trio between him and Reuben Wilson and Grant Green Jr. Purdie leaves Tuesday for a two-week band tour in England, Japan and Canada.

Other performances on Monday night will be from the musical duo Craig & Pat Kastelnik, and the band Hudson River Rats, featuring musician Rob Paparozzi. The concert will end with performances from the rock-musical, Hair. Hair's writer, Galt MacDermot, has worked with Purdie for 45 years and will be there on Monday night.

The Master of Ceremonies for the night will be Grammy-award winning record producer Bob Porter. Porter will be highlighting some of Purdie's accomplishments throughout the show.

Ticket prices start at $50 for general admission, $65 for VIP and $150 for platinum. There will also be a silent auction at the event.

It was Purdie who came up with the idea to hold the benefit. When he visited the Morris Museum three months ago to view the Lego's exhibit, he was impressed with the theater. He decided then that he wanted to spread more awareness about the theater, and also let other jazz, blues and R&B musicians know there's a place for them to perform as well.

"What I wanted to do was put together a really, really good show, so everybody could benefit," Purdie said. "It is a phenomenal theater. I'm just trying to let the jazz and blues world know that it's there."

The museum already has a jazz series every Monday night, but Maria Gatewood, the director of advancement at the theater, said theater organizers are trying to establish more blues events. Gatewood said they're considering having a blues series in 2013, which is the museum's centennial anniversary.

Purdie approached Gatewood about holding the benefit concert when he last visited the museum, and from there they were able to collaborate and plan the concert.

"We are very excited for him coming to the museum and him offering to do this," Gatewood said. "I think the guests will benefit from some amazing music, they're going to experience a lot of fun. I think it's just going to be a very high-energy, fun, and exciting evening."

In addition to some of Purdie's musical friends, he has several brothers and sisters traveling from Maryland and West Virginia to spend his special day with him.

Originally from Elkton, Md., Purdie now lives in Springfield where he spends about three weeks each month. His other time is spent at his office located in Portland, Ore. He is currently working on three records, and two are nearly complete.

After being in the business for decades with much success, Purdie said he still has some goals he wishes to accomplish.

"Part of my biggest goal, no matter what, is to try to get my point across to the young people about what they have to do by learning their craft," he said.

It is the craft of a musician, Purdie said, what defines them.

Purdie has been teaching drums for 50 years, and believes that teaching young kids to embrace their craft is most important.

"It's a lot of fun, I enjoy what I do," he said. "I have a gift, and I have been using it all my life. But the one thing that I did do is that I learned my craft, so I don't have a problem with going out to do a job with anybody."

In regards to being the world's most recorded drummer, Purdie said he has enjoyed every minute of it. He said he never allowed anything to get in the way of playing.

"My life has been full of music, and it's just a nice, nice feeling."

For more information about Purdie's Birthday Bash Concert or to purchase a ticket, visit the museum's event website.

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