We had the good fortune of connecting with Dom Moio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dom, why did you pursue a creative career?
When I started to play drums it was just for fun. I saw a group on TV, The Young Rascals and said, I want to play music like that. So I started learning the songs by ear and just copying what the drummer played. Soon after that I auditioned for a band and got the gig because I had learned those songs. I then started playing six nights a week in the summers and then back to school in the fall and the drums went in the closet. After a couple of summers and getting more interested in the drums and seeing that I had to figure something out for after high school I started taking lessons in Maine where I grew up. I would drive thirty miles north for my weekly lessons and got very focused and decided to practice eight hours a day so that I could start to teach lessons myself. In 1972 I got my first job teaching College at The University of Maine at Augusta campus and started my own school with three other teachers in the area Music Associates. 1978 I sold the school and moved to Reno Nevada with my brother Bill, a great guitar player to take music to the next level of the business. While in Reno I got a lot of show experience with such acts as, Tony Orlando, Debbie Reynolds, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers as well as the house band gig at The MGM Grand Hello Hollywood, which I did from 1980-1984. While doing these shows I was also getting to play with a lot of my Jazz heroes from the Los Angeles area who would come to Reno. Don Menza, Bobby Shew, Red Halloway, Bill Watrous, so I was getting the best of both worlds. I also started teaching privately and at The University Of Nevada Reno. In 1988 I had enough of show biz and moved to Phoenix where I had a friend who had a three night a week gig so I had that to start over with. I then sent out resumes to Community Colleges, and State Universities and waited to see who would reply. I started at Mesa Community College in 1989 teaching a latin percussion class and some private students, then in 1990 started as an adjunct teacher at ASU in the Jazz program. I have been at ASU ever since and still teach there and have a 1/2 time Senior Lecturer position for the last 10 years so I am in my 30th year at ASU. The more I started teaching I started to write drum books to address my students needs, I have just finished book number twelve, in 2007 I had the opportunity to do two books with the Great Steve Gadd one of the heroes in music. I continue to play concerts here in Phoenix and some traveling.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My time at ASU for the last 30 years has given me the chance to play with many Jazz greats that have come to the school to perform for the students, Charles McPherson, Greg Hopkins, Joe Lovano, Jerry Bergonzi, Arturo Sandoval, Joe LaBarbera, Wayne Bergeron. How I got to where I am today is from always staying on top of my game, practicing my instrument, being open to all opportunities when they come up. You have to be ready when it is time to step up so yoi=u can’t stop learning and honing your craft. The lessons I’ve learned are be flexible and always try and play the music with honesty.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The Nash in downtown Phoenix. This is where music happens, pre and post Pandemic, even now they have an outside venue going. Whenever someone visits I cook Italian food for them, I even have a youtube channel called Mr. Sauce that is a drumming /cooking show with many guests and recipes.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
All my teachers have had a huge impact on my life, Dick Demers, Bernard Purdie, Alan Dawson, Walfredo De Los Reyes Sr.., And Steve Gadd for inspiring me and all drummers for the last 50 years.