Long-time drummer and percussionist of iconic folk punk band Violent Femmes, John Sparrow has spent his life steeped in a wild mélange of music. Growing up on Milwaukee’s Southside, the artist was deeply influenced and captivated by the power and pulse of music at an early age, learning specific rhythm and techniques from his father, who toured with polka legend Frankie Yankovic. As a young artist, John was instantly hooked on “the gig life,’ and now, approaching nearly twenty years with Violent Femmes, continues to surpass traditional drum standards and methodology with his eclectic and electric playing, adding another layer to the band’s signature sound.
John joined Violent Femmes in 2005 as a member of the Horns of Dilemma, playing cajon. In 2016 he made his drumming debut with the band, playing a Weber Grill as part of his drum kit on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Several other notable performances with Violent Femmes include headlining Coachella, as well as orchestral engagements with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, and Kansas City Symphony Orchestra.
Not to be tied down to any one genre, John has played sessions that showcase ballroom dance, polkas, waltzes, country, western, Latin, multiple idioms of jazz and rock, and more. When not touring with Violent Femmes, side projects also include the Shakuhachi Club and Old Sam and the Teardrops, where John plays a mix of early blues, swing and hot jazz.