Coming Home

Drummer Dresel back for gig at WaterFire

By Joe Pinchot | Herald Staff Writer | Aug 21, 2014

Bernie Dresel is not sure when he last played a gig in Sharon.

The professional drummer remembered doing a classical percussion concert when he was home from college one summer. Maybe it was when he played with the band Starbreaker. Or, it could have been a gig at Buhl Farm park in Hermitage with the Carl Marks Orchestra.

Whatever it was, it was at least 30 years ago, said Dresel, a Sharon native based in Los Angeles.

Dresel will sit in with the 17-member Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra for its second set Saturday at WaterFire Sharon. The band, directed by Sean Jones, will do a set starting at 5 p.m. with its regular skinsman, and Dresel will take over the throne at about 6 p.m.

“I’m very excited we’re playing there and, you might say, a little nervous,” Dresel said.

“I always had dreamed of playing a concert at the Columbia Theatre” in Sharon, he said. “That’s obviously not going to happen, yet. This is a great opportunity with a great festival there and a lot of people coming in.”

The former drummer for the Brian Setzer Orchestra promised a set that includes tunes written by Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman and two performers Dresel has toured with, Maynard Ferguson and Gordon Goodwin.

“It’s a mixture of really great music that’s not played anymore,” he said. “I tried to pick stuff that’s very drummy. It’s not gonna be for the flute.”

He said he’s looking forward to playing for old friends and family members, particularly his dad, Bernard, who lives in Sharon. Dresel’s mom, Marilyn, died in February.

“It’s most likely not gonna happen every year,” he said of playing in his hometown.

Dresel, who recently appeared in the movie “Jersey Boys,” will rehearse with the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra in the afternoon, possibly in the Sharon High School band room. Dresel seems to be looking forward to that as much as the gig.

“That would be very special to me,” said the 1979 Sharon High grad and student of the late Fred Boles. “It would be a first for me to get back in that room.”

The music Dresel will play Saturday is similar to what he has planned for a big band he is forming in Los Angeles called the BBB.

“People can guess what the Bs stand for,” said Dresel, who is planning an inaugural Nov. 6 gig.

Dresel, brother of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” house drummer Jonathan Dresel, also leads a 12-piece, LA-area funk band called Bern.

Dresel will fly into town late Friday immediately following a gig with the Gordon Goodwin Little Phat Band, a stripped down version of Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.