Ronnie Magri is a noted American drummer, percussionist who can be heard in many different musical circles. His style of playing is varied and he has been associated with artists in the rock, jazz and punk genres.
Magri's drumming style displays a diverse set of influences, from early jazz drummers like Baby Dodds & Gene Krupa to Earl Palmer & the early drummers of rock & roll. It is in subtly combining these influences as well as the drum stylings of New Orleans "street beats" & "second line drumming" that Magri's style is truly brought forth.
In 1984, at the age of 21, Magri joined Combat Records recording artists Sweet Pain, and is featured on the groups debut self titled album. The album featured guitarist Richie Ranno of 1970's power pop group Starz and future L.A. Guns bassist Kelly Nickels. In March 1985, Sweet Pain played in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,500 people at L'Amour Brooklyn opening up for Ace Frehley at one of Ace's first ever solo shows after departing Kiss. Ronnie would leave the group before the release of the album later that year and a year later, the group was history. In 2009, renowned rock & roll photographer Ross Halfin wrote on his blog about the Sweet Pain record, "this is one of Phil Collen (Def Leppard guitarist) and my all-time fave record".
CBGB'S 1988 - Photo by Lady Alchemy
Starting in 1988, and over the next few years, Ronnie would work with Joey Ramone (The Ramones), Stiv Bators (Lords of the New Church, The Dead Boys) & Cheetah Chrome (The Dead Boys) as a member of Geffen Records Recording Artists The Throbs (1988-1991). The Throbs released one album, the 1991 titled "The Language Of Thieves And Vagabonds". Produced by legendary producer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Kiss) and guitar great Dick Wagner (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper) the album features a special appearance by Little Richard on piano on the track "Ecstasy". The Throbs were on heavy rotation on MTV's "Headbanger's Ball" with the video for their first single "Come Down Sister" which Ronnie co-wrote. Though short-lived, the band's impact is still felt today, being a major influence of modern rock group The 69 Eyes, among others.
The Throbs in the studio with Little Richard - Hollywood 1990
In 1995, Ronnie relocated to New Orleans to study the city's rich musical culture, including the history of New Orleans drumming. During that time, Ronnie played with some of the best jazz, rhythm & blues & funk players in the Crescent City, including: Herb Hardesty (Fats Domino), The Palm Court Jazz Band, Duke Heiger (Squirrel Nut Zippers), the Storyville Stompers, the Dukes of Dixieland, Jacques Gauthe (Sidney Bechet), John Royen (Preservation Hall Jazz Band), Jack Maheu (Salt City Six), Jerry Jumonville (Professor Longhair), James Singleton (James Booker), Lars Edegran (New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra) and Evan Christopher... to name a few. From 2001 till 2008 Ronnie was a member of clarinetist Tim Laughlin's New Orleans All-Stars Jazz Band, along with Connie Jones and Tom McDermott and can be heard on Laughlin's 2005 record "Live in Germany", recorded during the groups 2002 tour of Germany.
Ronnie Magri & his New Orleans Jazz Band
Shortly after arriving to New Orleans, Ronnie befriended guitarist Link Wreckage (Roland S. Howard & Lydia Lunch) & singer/producer David Sale (Katharine Whalen), both transplanted New Yorkers, who were in New Orleans recording David's major label debut album. Released in May 1997 on Atlantic Records titled, Camus "Sins of the Father", Ronnie recorded drums on two tracks for the record, as well as being the groups touring drummer.
Camus - Atlantic Records 1997
In 1999, Magri became Musical Director, Bandleader & Drummer for the Shim Shamettes, one of the first neo-burlesque revival shows in the nation. Magri assembled the best musicians in town to form Ronnie Magri & the Shim Sham Revue Band. The show performed regularly at the Shim Sham Club located in New Orleans French Quarter. Magri and his group, along with the Shim Shamettes were featured prominently in the two-hour A&E documentary, It's Burlesque!, which premiered on TV in March 2001. That same year, Magri and his group backed some of the top names in new burlesque at the first annual Tease-O-Rama convention and showcase, which was held in New Orleans.
When the Shim Shamettes disbanded in 2002, Magri was instrumental in putting together The Shim Sham Revue featuring the Southern Jezebelles only a few months later. The show featured a comic emcee, comedienne and a cast of rotation singers including: Marcy Von Hesseling (Star & Dagger) & Ingrid Lucia (Flying Neutrinos). The show ran till the closing of the Shim Sham Club in June 2003. The show featured special guest appearances by Playboy Covergirl and Burlesque Star, Dita Von Teese. Ronnie has also collaborated with Dita on music for her burlesque shows, including her 2006 show MAC Viva Glam "Lipteese" and her 2007 show "Be Cointreau".
Ronnie on stage with Dita Von Teese
In 1999, besides leading the burlesque show band, Magri formed a smaller version of his Shim Sham Revue band named "The Port of New Orleans Jazz Band", The band played New Orleans style hot jazz of the 1920's, 1930's & 1940's. In 2000, the group won the Offbeat Music Award for "Best Emerging Traditional Jazz Band or Performer".
In 2002, Ronnie expanded his work to include production, including producing his first solo album "Shim Sham Revue" - Music of New Orleans Burlesque Shows of the 30's, 40's & 50's. The album was nominated for two Offbeat Magazine Awards for "Best Album by a Louisiana Artist" and "Best Emerging Band." He was also nominated for a Big Easy Award for "Best Traditional Jazz Band". In 2004 Ronnie & his group performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
In 2005 after the devastation to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, Ronnie started laying roots back in New York and joined the group The NYC Blues Devils. Members of the NYC Blues Devils have worked with: Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Wynton Marsalis and Prince. In 2006 Magri recorded and co-produced their debut album, titled "Hell Yeah". The album was mixed by Grammy Award Winning engineer Jason Corsaro (Chic, Duran Duran, Madonna). The group became a regular at the famed B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill in New York's Times Square, opening for Bo Diddley, James Cotton, Willy "Mink" Deville, David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Robert Lockwood Jr. among others. In 2006, Real Blues Magazine named The NYC Blues Devils album "Hell Yeah" as one of their "Top 20 Albums of the Year".
Since 2010, Ronnie has been a member of The Debonairs, featuring vocalist Matthew Piazzi, a Top 10 finalist from season three of NBC's hit TV show "America's Got Talent". Playing the best in 1950's & 1960's Doo-Wop, 50's Pop, Soul and Rhythm & Blues, the Debonairs are busy working around the NYC area, averaging up to 100 shows a year. The group released it's first album in April 2013, produced by Debonairs guitarist Nick Palumbo (Flipped Fedoras, Stephan Remmler) titled, "Meet The Debonairs", available now on iTunes.
To be continued ...