May Issue, 2004, Page 28

The Joe Bonamassa Band’s
Kenny Kramme
Blues Deluxe

Some drummers playing in power trios instinctively think in terms of filling up space, rather than creating it. Not so with the versatile Kenny Kramme, who gives The Joe Bonamassa Band a solid foundation, along with providing plenty of flash and drive. “I had a teacher early on who instilled in me the idea that space is a sound,” says the thirty-six-year-old drummer.

Kramme grew up in Baldwin, New York and began playing drums at fifteen, first drawn to drummers Bonham, Paice, and Peart. He took lessons and played in jam bands, emulating the most musical of the 1980s progressive rock drummers, such as Journey’s Steve Smith—“guys whose playing was about the song, about the music,” Kramme says.

Upon moving to New York in 1995, Kramme paid the rent by playing with up to ten different bands, sometimes two or three gigs a night. While touring with The Fourth Floor in 1997, he met a producer who introduced him to Joe Lynn Turner of Deep Purple and Rainbow fame. Kramme has since played on four of Turner’s recordings, as well as on sessions with Leslie West, Vernon Reid, and Andy Timmons.

In 2001 Kramme was called to audition for a spot with the acclaimed young blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa. After being sent recordings of his music, “I learned the song structures and the things that had to be there,” Kramme explains. “But I didn’t try to cop every lick. I played the way that I play. For the most part that’s the only thing that separates one drummer from another in an audition. I don’t know if that’s good advice for everybody, but it worked for me.”

In 2002, Bonamassa, backed by Kramme and bassist Eric Czar, released So, It’s Like That which, with the help of non-stop touring, hit number-1 on the Billboard blues chart. Kramme kicks off their new release, Blues Deluxe, Vol. 1, with a no-trouble double shuffle. Then he’s heard on brushes, and later on a funky half-time groove. “We covered a lot of styles on Blues Deluxe,” Kramme agrees. “Shuffles, ballads, R&B—we did it all. And we pretty much played it down live. It was a lot of fun.”
Robin Tolleson