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“I had a laser focus in what I wanted to pursue in terms of being a professional musician.”

Jim Riley has been in Nashville, Tennessee for quite some time now and has enjoyed a very balanced and successful career in music. He is the drummer and musical director for well-known pop country act Rascal Flatts, a clinician, and a drum teacher at his home studio (“The Drum Dojo”). He has appeared on Drumeo more than once as well. During the years between 2011-2015 and 2017 Jim had been voted “Best Country Drummer” by the readers of Modern Drummer Magazine and he also won the distinction of “Best Drum Clinician” in 2009. Jim has also authored two drum education books: “Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer” and “Song Charting Made Easy”. A third book is expected to be released very soon.

Jim has enjoyed a full career and seems to have found a firm seat at the table of Nashville drummers. He moved to Nashville in 1997 and for the first couple of years Jim’s experiences were touch and go. Early on, he had worked in a drum shop and in fact slept there during the nights on soft drum cases. After that business closed its doors, Jim found himself sleeping in his truck with his dog for a couple of weeks (Click this link to read more about this story). However, Jim never doubted that the path he had chosen was indeed the best decision for him in the long run. Jim’s luck began to turn around when he would eventually become roommates with Rich Redmond.

Jim had secured a good gig with Mark Chesnutt and everything was going well. On the side he was playing $40 gigs with the guys, who would eventually become Rascal Flatts, and also performed regularly with Hank Williams III. One day, Jay Demarcus said to Jim that if their new project, Rascal Flatts, ever got a record deal they would love to have him as their drummer. And well, we all know how that turned out. A big risk turned into a big reward. Jim never gave up on his dream and it turned into a reality.

In this episode:

You’ll hear about…

  • Jim’s talks about a lecture that he gave at his old high school, Natick High School
  • Jim’s assured confidence that his future was in music
  • The story about Larrie Londin
  • What Nashville is actually like as a music city, and advice on approaching it if you just moved there hoping to create a career for yourself
  • The Nashville number system
  • Jim’s story about when he first moved to Nashville and how he eventually got the gig with Rascal Flatts
  • Jim’s advice for musicians who haven’t yet hit their target and definition of success
  • Jim’s new book “Improvisational Tools for the Modern Drummer”

Why you should listen:

Jim Riley is living proof that if you want something badly, you can achieve it through hard work and perseverance. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded that the success we desire is obtainable with enough effort put forward. That is a big message behind this episode.

You will also have a great explanation of the Nashville number system if you have ever been confused by other explanations or haven’t yet heard about it.

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