The powerhouse drummer with Glen Burtnik and Bebe Buell proves it's not just fist pumping and hairspray down at the Jersey Shore.

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Publication: Modern Drummer : MD
Author: Stemkovsky, Ilya
Date published: May 1, 2012

Asbury Park, New Jersey, might always be linked to early Springsteen, but it has also enjoyed a musical rebirth as of late, with drummers like Sarah Tomek fronting the pack. There's a great community vibe with lots of original-music venues in Asbury," Tomek says. "It's not as fast-paced as bigger cities, so people pay more attention."

Tomek cut her teeth over the past decade with the jam band Days Awake and shore rocker Lance Larson, eventually hooking up with the heavy rock group Cavalier Rose and alt-country rocker Danny White; on White's A Beautiful Crazy LP, Tomek overdubbed drums to an already-recorded band on several tracks-without a click. Word spread about her steady pulse, focused energy, and ability to hang with different styles, and Tomek found herself playing in ex-Styx guitarist Glen Burtnik's Summer of Love concert, alongside Bernard Purdie. "We traded playing a lot of these '60s tunes," Sarah says, "some of which Purdie played on originally, and I had this big solo on 'Soul Sacrifice,' which was fun."

And if teaming that repertoire wasn't enough, Tomek got a calf from the renowned tribute band Lez Zeppelin, after their drummer broke her ankle before a European tour. "I had to learn thirty-eight tunes in three weeks-that's the best my chops ever were," Tomek says. "Lez was doing Led Zeppelin I front to back, so I'm in my basement trying to get the foot triplet in 'Good Times Bad Times' up to 88 bpm-plus, learning Bonham's fills and [capturing] the intensity while laying back... being an on-your-heels kind of player. That tour was a great experience."

After proving herself time and time again, does Tomek feel that the drumming community is still a boys' club? "It's most natural for a female to be a drummer," she explains, "and bands work better when there's a matriarch-like a Mother Goose who'll give you confidence that the I will be super-hard and you'll have a nice pocket to sit in."

On the horizon in the coming months are recordings and tours with the soulster Gedeon Luke and the rocker Bebe Buell, where Tomek hopes to use "the most amazing-sounding snare I've ever heard," which was crafted by Christina Bulaong's District Drum Company in Berlin.

Ilya Stemkovsky

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