‘Why we joined the union’

Paul Shaw

Volume 119, No. 10November, 2019

I joined Local 802 to meet new musicians, collaborate on a variety of projects, and to be an official member of NYC’s community of professional musicians. My goal in NYC is to play, record and tour as much music as possible and give back to our musical community in the form of teaching. I’m a drummer, guitarist, singer-songwriter, composer, and author of two instructional books for drum set. One of my favorite gigs in NYC was playing at the Cornelia Street Cafe, which sadly closed its doors last year. I started playing drums at age 4. I studied with Keith Copeland at Rutgers in the 1990s and then enjoyed a 20-year career touring with small groups and big bands in the Air Force. I also taught drum line and jazz band at the Air Force Academy just before retiring. During my career, I had the privilege of playing or recording with Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Wynona Judd, Blues Traveler and Celine Dion. I recently earned a master’s in jazz studies at NYU and I’m working on my third instructional book for drums. Music connects people in wholly unique and meaningful ways. It is thrilling to play for people. When you can see audience members dialed in and eager to see and hear what happens next, it’s a great feeling. When audience feedback is positive, I feel like I did my job well. In addition to my freelance work, I do research as a doctoral candidate at Union Institute and University. My wife and I recently completed a chapter on music of the Gullah Geechee for a 2020 textbook. My next album is a collection of original compositions; it features Alex Sipiagin, Brad Shepik, Gary Versace and Drew Gress, and will be released in March on Summit Records.

Paul Shaw

To join Local 802, call (212) 245-4802 or visit