Lessons from the Road Life

The Voice-Tribune Intern

Jim Boigos started as many drummers do, banging on pots and pans in his mother’s kitchen. Years later he’s toured with some of the biggest names in music and is currently touring with his band of 11 years, Counting Crows. The band has sold over 20 million albums and toured all over the world, and it all started with advice from his father.

“To this day I can still hear his voice in the back of my head,” Boigos said. “He always told me, if you’re not practicing, someone else is. Which is harsh, but it’s true. To this day when I’m home or if I talk to him on the phone, the first thing he’ll ask me is if I’m practicing.”

Boigos’s father was a trumpet player with the San Francisco symphony for 49 years, but was hesitant to encourage his son to pursue a musical career. However, as the young drummer grew, it became evident that music would play an outsize role in his life.

He studied with his dad’s fellow symphony players, and joined youth orchestras to develop his talent and classical training as a young drummer. It is that classical training that he attributes much of his success to, most recently when the band performed classical arrangements of some of their hits. His familiarity with the classical style afforded his band mates and himself a leg up in that musical exploration, so far from their roots in pop and rock.

Boigos joined a band in 1992, and from there, a career developed that would lead him into contact with some legendary artists and future band mates. He joined Papa’s Culture in ’92, where he met David Immergluck, who is his band mate once again in Counting Crows.

Between those bands, was some time spent touring the country, gaining valuable experience with several artists including Stevie Nicks, the Dixie Chicks, Amy Grant and Ben Folds. Most notably, in 1996 Boigos began what would turn out to be an eight-year stint as Sheryl Crow’s drummer.

“The only thing that would’ve made me leave Sheryl would be the opportunity to be in a band,” Boigos said. “That’s what I originally loved doing.”

So when an opportunity to audition for Counting Crows came up in 2003, Boigos jumped on it. He got the gig, and the past 11 years have been history. Racking up record sales and awards, including an Academy Award nomination for “Accidentally in Love” featured in the 2004 film “Shrek 2.”

When Boigos isn’t touring, he’s spending time at home with his wife, Sara and their first baby, a daughter named Tatum, who turned 1 on Dec. 4. He says his growing family has already taught him a lot.

“It’s not easy being the wife of a musician,” Boigos said. “That’s the hardest job. I used to think the road was tough until we started to raise that little girl, and that’s the best job I could ever have.”

His new daughter has added a fresh challenge to the musician’s life of spending an extensive amount of time away from home. But Boigos says that newer technology, like Facetime and Skype help him stay connected to his daughter, as he takes time to sit and talk to her while she eats and plays.

Counting Crows is finishing up a tour promoting their new album, “Somewhere Under Wonderland,” before they head home for a three month break. But for now, Boigos is enjoying touring with his band mates and friends.

“You have those moments where you’re doing something really cool, and you look over and see two of your really great friends that you have such a rich history with,” Boigos said. “It makes it even that much more special.”