Chad Wright, Laying the Groove down for The High School Musical Concert DVD.

by Kees Boer

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One of the most popular concerts among the ages of 8 through 14 is Disney's High School Musical. It's a very positive upbeat musical of reaching for your dreams and not being boxed in. It's a wonderful show.

I was particularly excited to review the live concert DVD. When I started watching it, one person really caught my attention and that was Chad Wright, the drummer. He was just really playing the concert with all of his soul. Although he wasn't that visible in the DVD compared to the cast members of the show, the tracks he laid down were incredible. I've heard some incredible drummers that are very technical, but without much feeling and I've heard drummers that can really groove, but they aren't that technical. Chad is actually the best of both worlds, he's incredibly gifted well rehearsed drummer and at the same time, he really plays the songs with such a feel, that you can't help, but want to get up and dance to the music.

So, I was really excited about being able to catch up with him. He was very laidback and friendly and the amazing thing is that he's actually from this general area. He went to college just a couple of hours from here in Valdosta. Chad has played for some of the greatest musicians in the country, such as Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Lee Ritenour, and many others. You might have seen him play on such shows as Jay Leno's Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. In the midst of all of this, Chad is very laid back and humble and loved to talk about drumming.

He started seriously pursuing drums, while he was playing in various college bands in Valdosta. It was during the Jazz Band tour in 1990, that he decided to look into studying at Berklee College of Music, one of the finest percussion schools in the nation.

We started talking about how he got the High School Musical Concert tour gig. "They were looking for guys, that could really play the record and add something extra to the ballgame, to lift up the spirit of the music a bit. So, the first song we played was 'Start something new.' So, then they asked to hear 'Get your head in the game.' And they loved it so much."

We spoke about what it was like to play the concerts. "The energy is very positive. These young people really look up to the cast members. The smallest things that the cast members do, their faces just light up; their hearts just leap with joy. The way that they express it, be it vocally or physically it's overwhelming. It's something I've never experienced in any adult concert, whether I'm on stage or in the audience. It's very overwhelming."

Chad explained Kenny Ortega, the director's vision for the concert. "Kenny really wanted to maintain the uplifting positive atmosphere. And the reason that there was a live band in the concert is for that particular reason. That was our mission throughout the whole concert."

This positive upbeat energy is also shown in how everyone in the cast and band relate to each other. "Everyone is pretty much one big happy family. We all hang out together. There is no separation between the band and cast. The band is a lot older than the cast. We tend to sometimes go off after things that are more after our age, but still we all hang out as a group."

As part of the concert, Corbin Blue and some of the dancers also play a snaredrum part. Chad explains: "Corbin is an inspiring drummer. He's quite a natural at it. We do this tune on his concert, that's on his album and Kenny Ortega, the director came up with this great idea, that since this is a whole marching idea. 'Let's get Corbin to play the drums and let's all eight dancers to put on marching snare drums and let's do this big drum number.' And for 30-40 minutes/day during our concert rehearsal, I gave them a clinic on snare drum technique. So, that's how Corbin came to play the drums."

Something funny happened in Buenos Aires. "Recently on our Latin American Run, our first date was in Buenos Aires. We had two shows there, but one day of full production rehearsals in the stadium the day before. Our musical director, Cheche Alara is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Down there every knows that they have two rivalling soccer teams. Big rivals. You can't be a fan of both. If you're a fan of one, you can't be of the other. Cheche was a fan of one. We happened to be in the rival team's stadium and he always kept his ipod hooked up to his mixer, just in case so that he could reference something in private. He didn't know, but when he played his team's song, it went out over all the major speakers. It actually stopped production for over an hour or so, because the people in the stadium were really upset that that was played. They wanted it deal with at any cost. So at the end, Cheche, who's actually a very bright guy, publicly apologized to the President and all of the staff of the stadium, the media and to the cast and crew. No one had an idea that that would happen. We wound up rushing through one run through because of what happened. It was so ironic. Here's this guy in his own hometown and he's got all of his friends and family that are going to come and see him and the day before, he does this one thing. That was pretty funny."

Chad will be traveling with Corbin Bleu, one of the cast members of High School Musical. "We are going to be in Florida at the Fordampitheater in Tampa on August 18th." The show will start at 8:00 PM and I'm personally looking forward to it.

If you'd like to visit Chad's Myspace website, just click on the link below:

Chad Wright Myspace Website.