DOWNERS GROVE (AP) — Barret Harvey was just 10 years old when he decided he wanted to be a drummer and he's never strayed from that career path.
"The drums chose me, I didn't choose them," says Harvey, who grew up in Joliet and now lives in Downers Grove. "I knew I was going to be a drummer. I had to be a drummer."
Now 40, Harvey plays in a southern-style rock band called The Righteous Hillbillies, has done jingle work for companies ranging from NASCAR to Disney, and spends two days a week at the School of Rock in Naperville, teaching kids the art and craft of drumming.
He says he was inspired by a high school teacher to share his knowledge with others and began offering lessons immediately after graduation. He still finds time to work with students, no matter how busy his own schedule becomes.
He currently has a dozen students and says he loves to teach them multiple styles — including jazz and West African Lingala — that they can apply to their rock beats. He also makes sure the youngsters watch videos of famous drummers such as the late Buddy Rich to help pick up pointers.
When students ask him how he keeps getting all his gigs, his answer is pretty simple: "I show up prepared, I show up early, I know my material and I'm not drinking and drugging."
Harvey says his parents insisted he learn the rudiments of drumming, which gave him a more traditional style that's a little jazz-based.
He was just 17 when he sat in with an old-time dance band in Joliet for the first time.
"All my buddies were flipping burgers, but I was playing bossa nova with guys 75 and 80 years old," he says. "It was a great experience."
Harvey was still in college when he got his first record deal and he hasn't stopped performing since.
His band, The Righteous Hillbillies, will play June 22 during the Naper Nights celebration at Naper Settlement.
Ask him about his secret for success in the music business and Harvey reflects on advice from his grandfather.
"If you're early you're on time, if you're on time you're late and if you're late you're a jerk," Harvey says.