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A look back...
Michael Herklots and his twin sister Sarah were born in Billings, Montana.  Michael's father Richard is a pediatrician and had been working in Montana.  He and his wife Lynn, an artist and teacher, had been married a little over a year, and were living together just outside Billings.  Shortly after birth, the Herklots family moved to the great jazz city of New Orleans, LA.  Unfortunately, being only a few months old at the time, Mike wasn't able to enjoy and appreciate the opportunities and culture that filled New Orleans.  It wasn't too long before the heat and car-sized cockroaches became too much for them, and it was time to move again.  Both Michael's parents grew up in Connecticut and their families still lived there.  A job opened up for Mike's dad in Burlington, Vermont and off they went.  Burlington proved to be a nice little town but at the age of three, a third and final move was planned.  A job opened up in Richard's home town of Danielson, CT, and the move was a go.  Danielson, CT, is what became home for Mike and his family.

Michael attended the Killingly Public Schools system through high school.  At the age of 10,  Michael found his love for drums following the tradition of his father, uncle, and grandfather, the drums were clearly the only thing for him.  Mike played in the school's Jazz Band. and performed his first drum solo on the tune "At the Hop"; still 10 years old.  His influences at the time were primarily his paternal side of the family, and oldies drummers.  He played along to tapes of Neil Diamond, Beach Boys, Frankie Valli, and The Beatles.  But, the more he played in the school's jazz band, the more jazz became his focus.  Mike's grandpa bought him a tape of Gene Krupa for Christmas.  Mike still listens to the tape.  He recalls,

"Gramp would pop in the tape, close his eyes, and tap out Krupa's 'Sing,Sing,Sing' solo on his knee.  A big smile would come over his face and I remember   watching him and wondering what was going through his mind.  Memories of playing that song in his big band back in the 40's; Formal dances with people swinging away with partners.  Thoughts of the war were probably swimming around too.  I remember thinking to myself that someday music would have that effect on me too; that someday I'd here a tune and for that moment be put right back in the memory as if it were happening all over again.  That's some deep stuff."
Drumming remained Mike's focus throughout is middle school years, while still being actively involved in other things as well.  He earned his Black Belt (#363 Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation), and was very active in his school chorus and the town drama department.  His sister Sarah was also involved with these things and they got to do a lot of this together.

High school, for Michael, was extremely influential.  Since eighth grade, Michael had already been a member of the Killingly High School Marching Band, so breaking in to the school's music scene was no problem.  As a freshman, he marched snare drum on the drum line, and  also played for jazz ensemble.  This was now his third year studying under director, Paul K. Smith.  Paul became one of Mike's biggest influences and closest friends, and continues to be.  Music was now, very much, the center of Mike's life.

It was in his last two years of high school, however, that Michael really began to focus.  By this time, he had already performed in numerous ensembles, and was gigging regulary around town.  He was teaching privately at home and at a local boarding school.  He was accepted as the drummer for Connecticut's Eastern Region Jazz Ensemble his Junior and Senior year in high school, performing with some of Connecticut's best young musicians. He also performed with the New England Concert Band for two years.  In addition, he was section leader of his high school's percussion section, and served as aassistant to the Intermediate School band.  It was also in his Junior year, that Mike began studying privately with drummer, Richard Baccaro.

"Rich was the best thing to happen to me.  He brought things right into focus, and brought me right back to the basics.  He helped me get my stuff together and prepare my auditions for the music festivals and Berklee.  I couldn't have done it with out him."
Although Mike had studied at school, he lacked the refined and structured influence of a private teacher.  Mike stayed with Rich until he moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music on a partial scholarship in the fall of '98.  While at Berklee, he said,
 
"Berklee has been the most amazing experience of my life.  Everyone hereis into the same thing.  There's music going on 24 hours a day. My teachers are absolutely the greatest..... the real cats on the scene right now.  They are very supportive, and encouraging, and at the same time, they're always pushing you to work your hardest.  Of course once in a while one of them had to leave to go on the road for a week or two... but they make up the class time, and always come back with all these stories and experiences to share whichmakes the learning experience that much greater."


While at school, Mike has been studying drums with Kenwood Dennard, Ed Kaspik, Bob Kaufman, Craig McNutt, John Ramsay*, Bobby Sanabria, Casey Scheuerell*, Bob Tamagni*, Steve Wilkes. and John Hazilla* (*=private instructors ) as well as vibes with Dave Samuels*

Michael has been playing for several different Berklee Ensembles incuding the "Miles Davis Ensemble" and "Back Bay Brass".  He has also been working with Boston singer/songwriter Stephanie Delk, and his own group, The Michael Herklots Quartet.

Mike has a great deal of influences and inspirations.  Some of the drummers that have inspired him are  "Philly" Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, Gene Krupa, Papa Jo Jones, Tony Williams, Jimmy Cobb, Louie Bellson, Art Taylor, Louis Hayes, Roy Haynes, Herman Matthews III, Steve Gadd, Sonny Payne, Richard Herklots (Father), Bill Herklots (Uncle), Adriaan Herklots (Grandfather) and Steve Morrison (Best Friend).
 

"There have been so many people who have played major roles in my life, it's hard to list them all and thank them all.  All the drummers that I listed have been very inspirational... "Philly" for his vocabulary, Kenny Clarke for his simplicity, Tony for his ride, Herman for his groove, and my dad, uncle, and grandfather whose footsteps I've had the privilege of following in carrying the tradition of drummers among the Herklots men.  Steve and I played drums together through middle school  high school, and college.  We;re always learning new things from each other and supporting each other throughout our musical endeavors."


 Other inspirations include his friendships with Granville Oldham, Herman Matthews III, David Andrews Rogers, Mike Merritt, Anton Fig, Gary Burton, and many others.  Most importantly, the support of his family and friends, and his faith are the true fuel behind him.
 

"I'vealso had the opportunity to get to know some really wonderful people.  Granville Oldham was a conductor of mine at a music festival whom I've stayed in touch with over the years... he never stops giving and inspiring new young musicians.  He's really a character role model.  I met Herman on his last gig with Tower of Power.  He's one of the most humble down to earth true gentleman I've ever met.  He's always encouraging me.  David Andrews Rogers was the music Director for Showboat  the tour when I met him.  He waswith the Broadwaytour of Les Miserables.  Now he has left that, and is back home working in New York.  He introduced me to members of the pit orchestra and cast (of Showboat)... and gave me the percussion part to follow along with during the show.  It was a wonderful experience.  I met Mike Merritt (bass player Conan O'Brian) and Anton Fig (Drummer for David Letterman) at anAl Kooper and the Rekooperators show at the Berklee Performance Center.  I got to spend the day with them, and they were just the greatest.  We still keep in touch, and update each other with what's going on.  Gary Burton is the Executive Vice President of Berklee and I've gotten to know him very well over the past year.  Not only is he the greatest vibraphonist EVER, but he's just a very sincere and generous guy who's helped me meet a lot of great people.  I can't thank Gary enough for everything he's done.  But over everyone and everything, my family has been the greatest.  My twin sister Sarah, and my parents Richard and Lynn have always supported me and encouraged me.  They gave me my first drum set, they gave me a ride to my first gig, and they've always been there when I've needed them.  And most importantly, I have to thank God for giving me the gift of music, and for bringing such amazing people and opportunities into my life."

 
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