November 5, 2012

Most drummers start the same way as kids: beating on pots and pans with wooden spoons. Not Daniel Bravo. The Lake Arrowhead, California native says his beginnings were more in trying to keep up – and trying to set himself apart.

Growing up as one of six children, Bravo says the whole family was musical. “Everyone played, including my parents,” the 20 year old explains. “Everything was taken except drums and so I started taking lessons at 10.” Indeed his family is a talented one. Two sisters and a brother have at some point been in school at Belhaven University, all for creative endeavors. And that’s what brought Bravo here, to Jackson, on a path he never knew he wanted.

After a semester in Santa Barbara, California studying business, music was not necessarily on Bravo’s mind. “I didn’t do music the last year of high school,” he says. But he knew that was his ticket to come to Mississippi in January 2011. “I didn’t like (business) school, so I decided I wanted a scholarship to come here. I auditioned (at Belhaven) and they gave me position as one of two percussion majors.” He said it was his way of trying music out as a course of study. “It was my way in to college.”

Now, after almost two years in the town, Bravo has found a passion for teaching. As a percussion instructor 2 to 3 days a week at Jackson Prep, it’s something he says takes him back to his school days. “With music in my school, older kids taught the younger ones,” he says. “I’m keeping that going because it was given to me. We helped each other out.”

Bravo’s other gig is that of instructor at Fondren Guitars by Patrick Harkins. He’s been teaching since September and says it’s a great way for him to learn, too. “It helps you define where you are now,” he explains. “Teaching what you know locks it in more for you and makes it easier to work on the harder things.” While he is growing, he sees the growth in his students, too. “It’s always cool to look back at week one to now. It’s awesome to see how far they have come.” Bravo is even trying to teach Harkins’ two year old son, Hank. “He’s getting his mind wrapped around it and enjoying being with the instrument. Around 4 or 5, he’ll comprehend it, but right now, it’s something fun.”

As for his own instruction, Bravo credits Paul Heindl (“an awesome teacher”) and former Jackson State University percussion instructor Owen Rockwell (“he’s great”). Bravo has played with the Mississippi Wind Symphony and hopes to play with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra at some point. “There are a lot of great players that come through there,” he says. Influenced by jazz, Latin, swing, metal and “rock in all its forms,” Bravo is looking into master’s programs as close as Mississippi College and as far away as Manhattan School of Music. “A master’s program will help me better define what I do.”

Along the way, Bravo says he is enjoying life in Mississippi. “Art is super alive, something I didn’t get back home,” he says. “The musicians are great, have a passion and are really down to earth.” And he appreciates what everyone else seems to about the area.“I love the people.” Bravo has lived in the neighborhood for the past six or seven months and says it’s a tight community. “You see the same people all the time. There’s nothing like Jackson, especially Fondren.”

You may have seen Bravo at Brent’s, his first job when he moved to Mississippi. Now, find him at Fondren Guitars and, on the weekends, at Swell-O-Phonic/Soma-Wilai/Slavebird in Fondren Corner.

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