Percussionist Mike Dillon to rock Richland on Dec. 10

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerDecember 7, 2012 

Mike Dillon wanted to be a drummer when he was a little kid.

But that childhood dream was no fantasy that fizzled out by the time he hit middle school.

He took that love all the way to becoming one of the most dynamic and multifaceted percussionists in the country.

Dillon will bring his unorthodox percussion style to the Emerald of Siam on Dec. 10 in Richland. The all-ages show starts at 6 p.m. There is no cover.

Dillon told the Herald in a recent interview that he grew up in Texas, having lived in Humble, Houston, Corpus Christi and Levelland. These days, he calls New Orleans home.

"I would bang on all kinds of things when I was a kid," Dillon said. "Until I started playing percussion in the fifth grade. That summer, I bought my first drum kit using money I made mowing lawns."

His playing style was described by a young critic once as "Milt Jackson meets Fugazi meets Henry Rollins," and he kind of likes that description.

"Milt was the greatest jazz vibraphonist of all time," Dillon said. "And Fugazi was the coolest art punk rock band to ever merge out of the (Washington) D.C. hardcore scene, and Rollins was the lead singer of Black Flag. All three are personal heroes of mine."

He figures that young critic was trying to say Dillon combines the jazzy side of Jackson with the intensity of the old-school punk rock bands.

"I like using punk rock as a label because to me, punk rock is not some watered down Green Day-sounding B.S., but an energetic DIY work ethic displayed through your music," Dillon said. "I once heard Mike Watt say punk rock is being yourself. Thelonius Monk said genius is being yourself. But to me, Thelonius was the original punk rocker."

Dillon uses all kinds of percussion instruments when he performs and has even modified an electric vibraphone to suit his eclectic music taste.

"I run mine through pedals and freak it out," he said of the vibraphone. "I also have lots of percussion that I play in a tribal punk style. Lots of energy and dancing madness."

He explains that his vibraphone is an instrument that most people associate as a sound from the jazz world. He'll be accompanied by his band, which includes Carly Meyers on trombone, Cliff Hines on bass and guitar, and Adam Gertner on drums.

Dillon's show at the Emerald is the first all-ages show featuring a touring act that co-owner Dara Quinn has offered Tri-City music lovers.

"Mike is a personal friend of mine who happens to be passing through (the Northwest) on his national tour," Quinn said. "He's best known for his unforgettable live performances, unorthodox percussion rig and distinct original sound. It's an honor and a privilege to keep having artists of Mike's caliber come through the Emerald of Siam."

Dillon and Quinn met years ago in Seattle when Quinn was part of the Rockin' Teenage Combo.

"Our bands would play together in Seattle in the late 1990s," Dillon said. "Love live Rockin' Teenage Combo."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;

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