Warren guitar wizard finds his ‘Voice’

NBC  photo:

Warren native Dennis Drummond is competing on the current season of the NBC reality competition series "The Voice."

NBC photo: Warren native Dennis Drummond is competing on the current season of the NBC reality competition series "The Voice."

WARREN — Seeing Adam Levine spin his chair so quickly didn’t make Warren native Dennis Drummond relax during his audition for “The Voice.”

“You would think, but it actually was more scary,” the 2008 Warren G. Harding High School graduate said Tuesday during a telephone interview. “Everything up to that point is hypothetical. I go out there and, wow, this is actually becoming a thing now. Now matter how this ends up, I’m ending up on this show … Oh, man, what did I get myself into? This is becoming a thing. Panic sets in, but it was a good panic.”

Judge Blake Shelton also spun his chair for the lanky, 6-foot-8 musician after his rendition of the Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels,” and Drummond decided to join the country star’s team in the singing reality series that airs at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.

The audition that aired Monday was recorded in Los Angeles in early July. Drummond, who now lives in Nashville, plays guitar for Adam Wakefield and has played with Nolan Neal. Both are past competitors on “The Voice,” and Neal is the one who suggested that Drummond try out.

If there was a reality competition show called “The Guitar,” local audiences would have expected to see Dennis Drummond on television a long time ago. He was earning raves locally as a guitar player in his teens, and those talents took him to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. Since graduating in 2012, he’s worked as a professional musician, mostly backing other artists on guitar and singing harmony, but also doing weekly gigs at Hotel Indigo in Nashville. In addition to being a steady paying gig, the Hotel Indigo shows are where he became comfortable singing lead instead of background harmony for someone else.

“I’m 27 and I’ve been playing music out since I was 12 years old,” he said. “It’s my living. I can make a living at it. But I always wanted to take that step out. I was getting antsy.”

Drummond described everyone who works on the show as “super nice,” but he said the competition was intimidating.

“There were all these singers singing acrobatic runs and jumps; I’m just trying to sell a good song and tell a good story,” he said.

His parents, Donald and Diane Drummond, still live in Warren and were in Los Angeles to experience it with him. They also appeared on Monday’s episode. Three months after witnessing it live, Donald Drummond struggled for the words to convey what it was like watching his son achieve that goal.

“I can’t explain it,” he aid. “It was just a great experience to see him enjoy the experience and have someone turn around. As a dad, that’s jubilation. As a parent, you want the best for your kids and to see him realize something he’s worked so hard for, it was just amazing.”

Drummond’s parents had to accompany him when he started playing in bars as a teenager, because he was too young to be there alone. His father ended up becoming the soundman for his bands since he had to be there anyway.

“It was kind of tough getting out of a local establishment at 3 in the morning and then getting up at 5:30 for work,” his father said. “But we always had fun. I never had a bad experience with any of the people I met through Dennis.”

If this season of “The Voice” follows the formula of past seasons, Drummond’s next step will be to compete in battle rounds against other members of Shelton’s team. Ultimately, the series will go live and the viewers will get to vote and have a say in determining the winner.

Drummond isn’t allowed to say anything about what happens next or what advice Shelton has given him.

“Blake has been really great, a super funny guy,” he said. “It’s nice when people on TV are nice in real life. That’s the most I can tell you right now.”

Win or lose, Drummond said the competition won’t change his passion for music and how he approaches it.

“I’m in this for the long haul,” he said. “I’m not in this for superstardom. I just want to be able to feed my dogs.”

agray@tribtoday.com

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