By Kaitlin Candelaria
Gary Asher has been in a love affair with the drum for more than 30 years.
As a Las Vegas-transplant growing up in Homewood, Asher described himself as shy. When he joined the band at Homewood High School in the late 1970’s, the band director pushed him to play trumpet. However, Asher chose the drums because his father had played them.
“My now 91-year-old mother made a call to the band director and I was playing drums on Monday,” Asher said. “From that moment on, everything has been through music, about music and the gift and blessing of music.”
So it was a natural step for Asher to accept a position at Nuncie’s Music in Birmingham after graduation. However, what he didn’t know was that the position would turn into a 25-year career, during which he would discover his second passion.
“The secondary market fascinates me,” Asher said. “My forte is really buying, selling, appraising and trading. I’ve been known to get into the car and drive 500 miles all night to pick up something for a client or myself. I’ve been a collector now for 40 years.”
It also was at Nuncie’s that Asher met his wife in 1984. They have been married for 30 years and live in Hoover.
In 1982, Asher founded his drum school. He has given lessons to more than 3,000 people from the age of four to 94.
“In 1982, I started by driving door-to-door in my 1971 GTO with my video camera,” Asher said. “I still have the car but now I do Skype and different things.”
Asher delivers lessons to a wide crowd in a variety of ways – he offers paid classes through his website at www.drumschool.com. He also recently opened a studio at WorkPlay in Birmingham, where he works with children and charities for free. He oftentimes donates his three-month course to organizations such as the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Camp Smile-a-Mile and the American Cancer Society to be auctioned during fundraisers. He also teaches young students at the Carver Theater at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame at no cost.
“Dr. Leah Tucker has developed an amazing army of teachers and me,” Asher said, laughing. “Kids from all over the state come on Saturdays. It’s an amazing thing and I’m a tiny part of it and I get to meet the most amazing kids and adults.”
Drums With a Story
Asher’s drum collection is gargantuan. When he and his wife bought their house, he converted the six-car garage underneath the home to store his collection and to build an in-home studio. Many bands playing at Birmingham venues such as Iron City and the Alabama Theatre rent equipment from Asher while they’re in town.
Asher is something of a connoisseur of drums with a story. He owns the drum set the Alabama Shakes used on their “Saturday Night Live” performance and sets used while filming the movie “Drumline.” And that’s to say nothing of the star-studded list of people Asher has worked with over the years.
His artist roster includes more than a few familiar names. Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, Lenny Kravitz and dozens more are on it.
When Asher isn’t traveling the world teaching or collecting and selling a wide variety of insturments, he still works actively with local high school bands and collects unwanted drum sets to donate. He also recently had the opportunity to be featured in a 550-page coffee table book titled “Sticks n’ Skins: A Photography Book About the World of Drumming,” which he now is promoting.
But for a man who seems to have done a little bit of everything in the world of music, Asher still has some goals ahead of him.
“I just turned 51, so for the next 51 years I hope to teach everyone drums and own every drum,” Asher said. “It’s real simple – not a very lofty goal.”