The future of drumming, the future of music, relies on innovation, on the ceaseless spiral of inspired musicians exploring the bottomless well of musical possibility, and in the process, creating originality. Thirty-five-year-old Baltimore native Dana Hawkins is one such fearless explorer.

Hawkins has applied his kinetic, malleable, finger-flowing drumming to the music of myriad artists, including electric bass supercharger Evan Marien, saxophonists Elijah Easton and Ada Rovatti, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, harpist Brandee Younger, pianist Domenico Sanna, and his own Dana Hawkins Trio. A product of the fervent Baltimore church scene, the multidirectional drummer has also had two years of hardcore drum corps discipline, and he studied jazz at Berklee College of Music. He’s also a very adept bass player, which plays a huge role in his concept of drumming and high-level musicality.

Hawkins’ work with bassist Evan Marien in the duo Evan Marien x Dana Hawkins is perhaps his most popular collaboration. Their recordings, which run the gamut from funky dance drops to heart-of-darkness drum ’n’ bass blowouts, feature explosive improvisations within mind-melting arrangements. As Marien drives his bass across wide swaths of color and tone, Hawkins sticks close, his extremely dense yet ultimately wide-open playing often culminating in Dennis Chambers–worthy single-stroke rolls across his kit.

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