Jim Felker has made a name for himself in the Boston area music scene over the last 20 years by being a singing drummer with solid time, big ears, a deep pocket in diverse styles, and making strong connections with all musicians he shares the stage with.
Jim started playing the drums at the age of 10 in the band program of the Haverhill, Massachusetts public schools and immediately began performing in diverse situations, from a local Italian social club drum and bugle corps to youth percussion ensembles. From an early age, Jim realized he had a deep passion for playing drums and teaching. In high school, Jim began studying drumset and percussion with Boston-area jazz great Jim Lattini, who pushed his playing to the next level and helped him audition for the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
At the university, Jim earned a bachelors degree in music education while performing in the university’s marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, big band, and several small jazz ensembles. The nickname “Falkin” (Falcon with the pronounced Boston accent of some college classmates) which is printed on his signature stick, was earned when his last name was butchered in front of an audience during a last minute sit-in jazz recital at UML. The goofy moniker stuck like glue and helped to identify him to other musicians he worked with.
Outside of school studies, he played in original rock bands, cover bands, and continued to play all kinds of eclectic gigs including timpani work in a local church and even accompanying a 40 member accordion orchestra! After graduating in 1995, Jim was hired by his hometown Haverhill public schools where he served as a middle school music teacher, chorus director, assistant high school band director, and drumline/percussion ensemble instructor.
After receiving a masters degree in music education in 2000, again at UML, Jim took a position in the Bedford, Massachusetts public schools, where he is currently employed as a high school and middle school band director and world drumming teacher, focusing primarily on the West African Djembe drum. Jim kept his ties with UMass Lowell intact working as a drumline instructor for the university marching band over the course of several seasons. In addition to public school teaching, Jim has given several sessions on djembe playing and world drumming at the Massachusetts Music Education Association’s annual all-state conference, giving professional development to colleagues in music education.
During his 20 years of teaching, Jim has remained a very active performer with successful multi-year stints with Boston based function band Bigtime and the popular Boston area funk and dance outfit Sugarfoot and the Brass Kickin’ Horns. When not busy with his regular gigs, Jim fills in time subbing with other local bands and has played on several small recording sessions. Though he has been influenced by artists across the musical spectrum, his heart lies in funk, classic R&B styles, and fusion drumming. His drum influences are David Garibaldi, Simon Phillips, Neil Peart, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Steve Gadd. Jim is thrilled to be on board as part of the Rich Sticks team playing his modified 5A signature sticks with acorn tip.