Back to Tyrone Wells Modern - February 5, 2007
Tyrone Wells' Mark Chipello

Two and a half years ago I had just graduated college, and I was trying to figure out how I could make a living playing drums. I had great private instruction, a wide variety of playing experiences from jazz combos to orchestral work to drum & bugle corps, but I did not know how one made "the leap" from amateur to professional. (That's a fancy way of saying, "How can these sticks put food on my plate?") Was I going to wait tables the rest of my life to support "my habit"?

At the same time, I started doing a lot of work with an amazing artist named Tyrone Wells. As I started to tour the West Coast with Tyrone, his songwriting blew me away, his stage presence was captivating, and his fan-base was consistently growing and extremely
dedicated. In fact, the demand for Tyrone was so great, there wasn't enough time in the day for him to be an artist and run every detail of his career. As time went on, I decided that I was so passionate about this project that I would help him pick up the slack and pitch in on the business side where I could.

I started off by taking over the duties of running his MySpace account. (This might seem like a trivial task, but in today's market, taking a hold of this powerful marketing tool is a must.) Next thing I knew, I was tour managing the group: booking hotels, routing trips, and running the books for merchandise. Soon after that I became his booking agent, booking over a hundred dates in 2006 and spending a lot of quality time with my Blackberry and atlas. After one year, I was able to make "the leap," where I was earning enough money as a musician/tour manager/booking agent that I could drop the table-waiting and solely focus on dropping the beat. They key to my journey was seeing the needs in the career of an emerging artist and stepping up to the plate. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but with a lot of desire and a little research, I plotted a course to make myself an asset to Tyrone and create more revenue for the both of us.

I consider myself to be a drummer first and foremost, but a key to any gig is adaptability. When Tyrone and I started doing a lot of unplugged sets in boardrooms-we met with six or seven labels in quite intimate settings-I needed to find an acoustic instrument that would translate the R&B backbone of Tyrone's vibe. I decided to dive headfirst into the world of the cajon. I searched for a cajon that would really speak unplugged, and I ended up meeting with Michael Kotz at Kotz Cajons ( to develop a signature-model cajon that sounds great plugged-in in front of 1,000 people or totally raw in a carpeted boardroom with a few label heads. I am by no means an accomplished cajon player, but my desire to adapt to this unplugged playing situation ended up landing me a signature-model cajon-I'll take it! Whether it's simplifying a part to keep the pocket
deep, or learning how to draft a contract as a rookie booking agent, responding to the needs of those around you will make you an indispensable commodity on the kit and beyond.

In the fall of 2006, I saw the fruits of my labors pay off in a major way! Tyrone Wells inked a deal with Universal Republic Records. You're probably thinking, "Great, Mark, Tyrone gets paid, but you're just a hired gun." Wrong! Tyrone saw me as such a key to his success he made sure that I shared in the rewards: I co-wrote on a quarter of the record, played on all of the tracks, and was bonused on the advance-unheard of! We've been touring non-stop the past five months and have been doing a lot of radio promo lately for the February national release of Hold On. 2007 is full of anticipation and excitement, and I could not imagine a better gig than the one I have right now!