Author: Wolfford, Derek
Date published: August 1, 2011
Journal code: MDDR
Although megastar Justin Bieber can sling the sticks himself, touring drummer Melvin Baldwin is the conduit that funnels the crowd's energy back onto the bandstand. Baldwin's first show with Bieber was on Oprah-which was also, it must be said, the first time the veteran drummer met the pop singer and his band. "We flew into Chicago the day before the taping," Baldwin explains, "ran through it a couple of times, and have been moving ever since."
With the release of the recent movie Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, it's clear that Bieber fever is only increasing. "It's crazy!" Baldwin confirms. "We're playing very large venues on this tour, and to hear that much high-pitched screaming is unreal. Whatever Justin does is magical for his fans."
Besides touring the world with acts like BBD, the Indigo Girls, and Victor Wooten, Baldwin has also produced numerous artists over the years, and he says the production mindset flows into his drumming. With Bieber, for example, Baldwin carefully adds live elements to the original drum parts without taking away from the song. The show is packed with a variety of hits, including band favorites like "Up," the funk-flavored "Bigger," and the ballad "That Should Be Me."
During the portion of the show where Bieber pays tribute to Michael Jackson, Baldwin shares drumming duties with the young star. Baldwin, who acknowledges the importance of woodshedding, reports that Bieber tries to find time in his busy schedule to practice the drums. "Drumming has become so much more competitive," Melvin says. "There are a lot of extraordinary young players out there, and you have to practice to keep up. I try to reinvent myself every year so that I don't sound dated or stale."