JD Beck is a 13-year-old drum prodigy. He has shared stages with veteran jazz musicians, produces music for hip-hop artists and even plays in a band for an America's Got Talent semi-finalist. This weekend he will make his South by Southwest debut in Austin with his latest project, The Drummies.
Beck has his own enormous studio at his parents' house in Parker and performs regularly in Deep Ellum. He goes to sleep in the morning and wakes up in the afternoon.
"It's good that I do that," Beck says. "When I play shows at 9 or 10 p.m., I'm at maximum energy."
He started playing the piano at age 5, quickly switched to drums and decided to focus on a career in music. After finishing 4th grade, school just seemed to interfere with his music, he says.
"I was smarter than them," Beck says, with a laugh, speaking of the other children. "I just worked on what I love doing and kept doing that all the time."
He started taking classes online through Texas Virtual Academy and is now in 8th grade. When he attended public school in Allen, Nickelodeon star Lizzy Greene was a classmate. He has an upcoming tour playing in Kadie Lynn's band. (She's a teen-aged Texan who appeared on America's Got Talent.) But Beck isn't particularly interested in appearing on television.
"I'm trying to be known for what I do," Beck says. "But I'm not really trying to be in the spotlight."
Beck has "the persona of a grown man," says Jahmal Cantero, a.k.a. Grammy-winning producer Jah Born. Two years ago, he met the boy onstage at the Prophet Bar during a jam session with fellow Grammy winners Shaun Martin and Robert "Sput" Searight, as well as Grammy nominee RC Williams. Jah Born was so impressed he decided to make Beck the drummer for his collective, The Beatitudes.
"This is the makings of a super producer or master musician," Cantero says about 13-year-old drummer Beck.
"He's very versatile. There's drummers in their twenties and thirties who take longer to adjust to different styles of music. He just has to listen a little and he's in it."
Beck recently produced a hip-hop track for -topic and KoolQuise.
"If you are not awesome, he will lose interest," says -topic (a.k.a. Tommy Simpson). "He's taken all of the knowledge of the people I look up to and transmuted it into his own thing."
By JEREMY HALLOCK/Special Contributor