Updated: October 3

Editor’s Note: As you know, we recently had the pleasure of following around a very popular and well-liked drummer in Chicago’s Tris Imboden.  The super talented time keeper–the longest running in the prolific history of the iconic band–was kind enough to keep us in the loop while Chicago toured with Earth, Wind and Fire for a good part of this past summer.  With the leg of the tour with EWF now being over, Tris wanted to give us his final entry as we close out this feature.  However, first we wanted to thank Tris for generously giving us some time.  His point of view and perspective were clearly unique and interesting, to say the least. Second, I think we learned something about what Tris does as a touring musician.  Finally however, and perhaps most importantly, we learned about the man himself. After facing adversity (lung cancer) Tris changed his life; dramatically. He became an outspoken advocate against the disease and his words and actions are riveting and moving.  I would even dare to say they might even save lives and if you don’t believe me, check out this report by our colleagues at KGTV in San Diego.  Tris, we salute you and thank you and we so anxiously look forward to watching you perform for many more successful and and fun filled years with Chicago.  Keep that smile going; it’s only the beginning.

T.I.’s final entry:

I’m sitting at the moment in Atlantic City on the eve of our last show of this summer with EWF, and I can’t help but being overcome with a deep sense of disbelief as well as gratitude. In my wildest imaginings I could never have envisioned having this much good fortune. First, to have now played with not just one but two of my all-time favorite bands all Summer in 2015 for between 10,000 to 20,000 plus people a night is an experience I will never ever forget! Sheesh, how lucky can one drummer be?

T.I. takes a bow
T.I. takes a bow

The musical side is of course amazing.  Alongside EWF’s drummer John Paris, Walfredo and I have become sonically like one big well oiled groove machine! God, it is scary sometimes what happens between us and I am beyond honored to be a part of it!! I have to say that having the privilege of playing these songs with both of these bands is the stuff a musician’s dreams are made of. I was just thinking the other night that the combined careers of both bands spans almost 90 years of hits and playing experience!

Chicago and EWF
Chicago and EWF

Talk about no small feat to have defied musical gravity and the fickle nature of this business for all that time.. Wow!! I want to say also that it has been nothing less than an honor to work with every member of Earth, Wind, and Fire, their crew, and their management. I truly believe I have never seen a better, more consistent, professional and just plain Bad Assed Band in my life!! What a blast and I have to say again that I am indeed one lucky boy!! Thanks to all of you here for listening!!

Editor’s Note: Well said T.I.  Rock on and keep up the good work brother.

Updated: September 5

Well, as you know the leg of Chicago’s 2015 tour with Earth, Wind, and Fire is almost over.  Tris tells us it has been one heck of a ride and he’s having a lot of fun along the way.  Additionally, the reception to this tour has been great. So, look for another tour diary from T.I. shortly but in the meantime, here’s a new video just released which features a cool solo featuring T.I. and Chicago percussionist Walfredo De Los Reyes, Jr. Excellent work gentlemen. Check it out:

Updated: Q & A With T.I. . . . .August 18

Editor’s Note:  After a brief break from the tour it’s time to get back on track with Tris.  Tonight T.I. responds to more Q & A from fans.  Check it out.

Tonight’s first question comes from Joshua.  He asks:

Joshua: Tris, I saw in a prior Q & A how you said you talked about your awareness of Steve Gadd in the house.  Despite your vast playing experience do you ever get nervous or get the jitters?

T.I.: Hey Joshua.  Good question.  So, do I still get nervous at shows?

Tris Imboden
Tris Imboden

That is a definite yes! It doesn’t always happen but when I know there are other players in the audience that have been a big influence on me and that I greatly respect I most definitely am acutely aware of their presence and I’m nervous. I remember playing at the NAMM show a number of years ago with band that I performed with on the side.  We were performing at the joint party for Zildjian and DW Drums. Anyway, nearly every major drummer that I respected in the business was there from Dennis Chambers to Ed Thigpen! I had been working on a three pedal ostinato for the obligatory drum solo for a few weeks before this performance and I wasn’t really too confident playing it yet, much less soloing over it. As I started that part of my solo off I happened to look up and who was staring at me but Tony Freaking Williams!!!! I don’t know how but I managed to stumble through that part while being keenly aware of who I’d just seen watching my every move but I got through it. As the expression goes–“if you had put sand between my cheeks I could have produced diamonds–just about sums up just how nervous I was!  In the end, yes, on occasion I do get nervous.

Tonight’s second question comes from Chris.  Chris asks:

Chris: Tris, you have played so many shows in your career.  What do you find to be the most difficult obstacle you encounter playing live and can you contrast that with playing in an indoor setting versus an outdoor setting?

T.I.: Hi Chris.  Interesting question.  What I’ve found to be most difficult over the years in playing a live show has thankfully been eliminated with the advent of in-ear monitors.

T.I. live
T.I. live

It used to be that as every stage night to night and the hall itself would offer its own set of acoustics. The mix you had used the previous gig in your monitor speakers may sound really bad at the next venue. Consequently sound checks were real important to make sure you could hear the rest of the band the way you wanted to. Now with the custom molded in ear monitors it eliminates a lot of the variables acoustically.  As to the second part of your question, I recently was talking to a young drummer who asked me for any suggestions I might have for him performing in a live or studio situation.  I told him that one thing I have experienced through out my career is forgetting to breathe when playing a difficult figure, lick, or passage in a piece of music. I know it sounds so simple but I have seen myself over and over forget to do this and then suffer the consequences. I have a tendency to hold my breath when trying to execute something difficult. When I have managed to realize it and then remember to breathe through it I always am able to play it cleaner, with less effort, and it sounds and feels more musical. 

More from T.I. soon.

Updated: Q & A With T.I. . . . .August 7

Tris Imboden
Tris Imboden

Editor’s Note:  Well, as the Chicago/EWF 2015 tour continues, it has now hit a one week break. Both bands have been giving it their all in a tour that has again yielded great reviews so it’s probably a break that is well deserving. The tour picks up again when the two bands come together on August 14 in Bristow, Virginia, and from there Chicago continues on without EWF to conclude their tour on October 3 in Saratoga, California.  But, in the meantime T.I. fans don’t despair; Tris, being so attentive, will continue to stay in touch and respond to questions from fans. Let’s tune in.

Sean asks: Tris, I see in a prior Q & A you say the band doesn’t really sound check anymore.  Does that mean that the only time you really get to play your drums is at the show?  How do practice while on tour and you give us an idea what type of practice you do yourself away from the band?

T.I.: Hi Sean.  Thanks for asking.

The T.I. smile
The T.I. smile

Since we rarely do sound checks anymore the only time I have alone with my drums is occasionally when we arrive at the show early enough to go on stage and hit a little. I really don’t relish the idea of practicing on stage but sometimes I’ll have an idea that I will have hashed out in my mind and played on a practice pad but haven’t yet tried it on my kit. I only do this when the doors haven’t yet opened for the audience to enter. Other than that I will practice in my hotel room on a practice pad and I always bring a number of different drum books I’m working in along with me.


Lisa asks: Tris, can you talk about what is life like on tour?  Do you fly everywhere?  Do you take a bus and sleep on a bus?

T.I.: Hi Lisa.  Thanks for your question.  I know fans are often curious what we do behind the scenes.  We travel primarily by bus unless the distance is too great.

Chicago tour bus
Chicago tour bus

Sleeping on the bus is a an acquired skill but one that is absolutely necessary to master or you will eventually keel over from exhaustion! We normally drive to the next city and check in to the hotel and then try to get back to sleep on a stationary bed! My day usually consists of getting something to eat, working out as most of the hotels we stay in have some sort of gym, and then weather permitting, getting out to see where in the world I am.  I love exploring and particularly when we travel abroad.  I want to thank everyone and all the fans for their interest and support on this tour.  It has been great and I am looking forward to a break.  But, I am also excited about getting back to work.  This tour is so much fun. Can’t wait!  Stay tuned for more diary entries!

T.I. looking satisfied

Special Update: August 3

Editor’s note:  Tonight we have a real special feature from Tris.  It’s a Q & A and also an update on the tour with Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire.  Folks, it doesn’t get much better than this.  K Bo

T.I. in action
T.I. in action

Tour Diary Entry:

Last week we had a series of amazing shows.  It started with a live broadcast from Phoenix on the Internet. That then led to not one, but three amazing sold out shows in Texas.  This run then culminated in another great sold out show indoors in Denver!Chicago 8 2
Like the gig wasn’t pressurized quite enough with the live feed in Phoenix I had run in to, and invited, one of my all time favorite drummers to the show; Dr. Steve Gadd and his lovely wife Carol.
Steve and Carol Gadd
Steve and Carol Gadd

To my surprise Steve accepted my invitation to the show and he really seemed to enjoy it!! Personally, I was painfully aware of his presence but managed to have a good show anyway! Both bands were very honored to have him in attendance!! The Texas shows started in Austin then they moved on to Dallas and culminated in an amazing sold out show at the Woodlands in Houston. Hot does not begin to describe both the weather and the shows! It was a relief to finally play an indoor show in Denver at the Pepsi Center.

Chicago/EWF at the Pepsi Center (Photo courtesy of Daniel Petty/The Denver Post)
Chicago/EWF at the Pepsi Center (Photo courtesy of Daniel Petty/The Denver Post)

We are getting even tighter when we play together with EWF! Man this is fun!

T.I. can't hide having fun on this tour
T.I. can’t hide having fun on this tour
All of the audiences have been so appreciative and even the people working at the venues seem to get caught up in the excitement of the show! I feel so fortunate to be a part of this! We start tonight in St. Louis on a three day run taking us to Nashville tomorrow and then Noblesville Indiana on Sunday. I will let you all know how these all went when we are on the other side of them.

Editor’s note:  Ok, I have to say something.  One of the things that I cannot help but notice is Tris’ personality is really starting to come through in this diary feature.  First, I have to say that Tris is a phenomenal drummer.  We all know that.  His resume speaks for itself and it is common sense that an iconic band like Chicago would insist on nothing but the best at all positions.  Hands down.  But, there is an equally great human side to T.I.  The man himself. After having spent a day with T.I. the best way I can describe him is “what you see is what you get.”  It’s not a show and it’s not a put on.  The smiles are real and if you don’t feel enthusiastic after being around him you might want to visit a doctor.  It’s infectious.  He really does exude promise, optimism, and, enthusiasm like few others.  Ego, fame and arrogance have failed to catch up with T.I. and we think and hope with this diary feature it shows.  Rock on T.I.

Q & A with T.I. (Aug. 3)

Tonight’s question comes from Travis who asks:
Tris, you talked about playing alongside another drummer as in the case of EWF’s John Paris.  But, can you talk about what it’s like to play alongside Walfredo Reyes, Jr., as a percussionist?  Is there as much of an effort to sync with Walfredo since he is a percussionist and do you both try and compliment one another more than you would with another drummer?
Walfredo Reyes, Jr.
Walfredo De Los Reyes, Jr. (“Wally”)
T.I.: Good question Travis.  As far as Walfredo De Los Reyes Jr. is concerned (in Chicago we affectionately call him “Wally”), he is one of the most musical and tasteful percussionists I have ever had the privilege to work with! Being such a great and experienced drummer himself he just seems to intuitively know when I’m going to want to say a little something on the drums and he will leave space for it. A lot of people don’t realize that he has been the drummer for Santana, Steve Winwood, Robbie Robertson, and Lindsey Buckingham, just to name a few!
Walfredo Reyes, Jr., and Carlos Santana
Walfredo Reyes, Jr., and Carlos Santana
He is an amazing musician and an incredibly soulful human being!
T.I. and Walfred Reyes, Jr.
T.I. and Walfred Reyes, Jr.
He is also a true ethno musicologist and has studied drumming from all over the world. I am always learning something new from him. We really have a good time playing together and I think he has brought our music to another level.  So to answer your question, syncing with Wally can be a breeze.



Q & A With T.I. (7/27/15) 

Editor’s note:  Ok, this Q & A session is for drummers and boy will you love this one.  Let’s get to it.

Sean asks: Tris, your drums look and sound amazing.  What kind of kit are you playing on this tour?

T.I.: Sean, drums are one of my favorite topics!  I am proud and very pleased to be playing on a DW Collector Series which includes a 5 1/2 Super Solid or 6″ Black Nickel over Brass snare drum.  The rack toms are 8″, 10″, 12″, and I also have a 14″ and a 16″ inch floor tom.

Kit 1

But here’s the kicker (no pun intended). I am also using an 18″ by 23″ inch bass drum which is an absolutely magical size! It has the beefiness of a 24″ but has the action of a 22′ coming off the head. These are all in Ivory-Ebony wood veneer with a Candy-Black Fade with a Black Nickel finish on the Hardware. You really have to see them close up and in person to get the full effect. I tried one of John Good’s newer combinations of wood shells. As opposed to all maple I tried the maple -mahogany combination. They sound and look absolutely amazing!!

Kit 2


Editor’s note: It’s hard to explain but there are times when you can just look at a drumset and tell it sounds great; and, that’s before you even hear it.  This is one of those times.  But then again, this is DW for ya.  Such a great, great product.  Nice kit Tris.  Tris also shared with us an overhead view.  Check it out.

Tris kit

Q & A With T.I. (7/25/15) 

TI q and a

Editor’s note: Let’s continue with our Q & A with T.I.

Mark asks: Hi Tris.  When the band soundchecks how long does it take and what exactly do you do in soundcheck?  Is it just setting the volume and getting the sound or do you and the band rehearse or work on new material?

T.I.: Hi Mark.   Thanks for your question.  We rarely do sound checks anymore. Our house sound mixer makes multi track recordings of most every performance and will use one of those performances to tune to the house. Our techs know exactly how we like our instruments, (in my case tuning, placement, etc.), and the same goes for our in ear monitor mixes. We basically just show up and play.  Spoiled brats that we are!! On occasion we will have a sound check to fine tune our individual monitor mixes, rework a part of a tune,  or rehearse but that is rare.

Jim asks: Hey Tris, how hard is it to play to EWF’s music with their drummer at the same time and have you ever played in a 2 drummer project before?

T.I.: Jim.  Good question.  From the very first rehearsal back in 2004 it was clear that John [Paris, the drummer for EWF] and I felt time and groove similarly. We were cracking up because even at the first rehearsal there were times were we sounded like one giant drummer when we were playing together. It seems that every year we have paired with EWF it has just gotten tighter too. We have a lot of fun working out patterns for certain sections in songs where he may be playing one side of a pattern and I will be doing the other side. He is an extremely funky player and a very bad boy! I have had the pleasure of playing double drums with Brian Hitt of REO Speedwagon when we toured together last year as well.
TI and Hitt
He is an incredible player as well and it was easy to play together. I have actually played with three drummers a couple of times when we toured with the Doobie Brothers. As crazy as it sounds it worked like a charm. Ed Toth and I worked out some very cool fills together for certain transitions in songs. Needless to say you all have to be very considerate and gentlemanly with that much rhythmic fire power! We really did make it groove and feel good.


Q & A With T.I. (7/24/15)

Editor’s note: This is the start of a new feature to accompany Tris’ tour diary.  We have been receiving questions from fans and we asked Tris to respond in turn.  Check it out:

Maryellen asks: Tris, can you see the audience from where you are on stage?  Do the lights get in your way or are you too far away to see much?”

T.I.: Hi Maryellen.  Thanks for asking.   I usually can see at least the first few rows in the audience depending on the venue and yes I do try to engage with those that I can see as much as I can.

Fran asks: Tris, in some of the pics you look great and you are really in shape.  Being on the road so much what do you do to stay in such good shape?

T.I.: Fran, thank you.  I appreciate the kinds words.   Lately I have been trying to keep a daily regimen of power walking on an incline on a treadmill. I also try to keep up my resistance training with weights and try to watch my diet too. I often fail miserably though at all of it!! I also surf as much as I can in my off time.

Editor’s note: Look for a new tour diary entry tomorrow folks!


Tour Entry: July 18, 2015 (Updated)

Editor’s Note: Folks we are proud to bring you the first installment of T.I.’s tour diary where Chicago is joined by Earth, Wind & Fire where the two legendary bands come together on the 2015 Heart and Soul tour. Tonight’s entry pertains to the third date on the tour and the venue for this show is the The Forum in Inglewood, California.



The Forum

Tris’ entry reads:

Well after about five days of rehearsal we are back on the road with EWF! It has been such a blast hanging as well as playing with all of them again as we haven’t toured together since 2009. This summer will mark the 4th time we have done this together.

The really unique thing about this tour and the ones in the past is that we actually perform together in addition to doing our own shows.

We take the stage together, all 24 of us, and alternate playing each other’s songs. Then EWF does their set, we do ours, and then we finish the evening alternating playing some of each other’s biggest hits together. Man is it powerful! Their drummer John Paris and I have worked real hard to make it as tight as possible.

Tris and John Paris

At times it is so tight you can’t get a credit card in the cracks!! He is such an incredible person and unbelievable drummer. This summer is going to be so much fun!

Tris 2

Tonight we are playing our third sold out show only this one is in LA at The Forum.  I’d heard about how nice the place is since it has been renovated to be primarily a concert venue, but I had no idea just how nice! It was really a joy to play there unlike it used to be. I’ve always likened the old Forum to an empty blimp hangar acoustically. One of our former band mates used to say “yeah there’s still notes flying around in there that we played in the eighties!” Not anymore. It was sold out to the rafters too and the usually too hip to respond LA crowd was on their feet and dancing!

Chicago at the Forum

Let’s face it EWF is irresistible!! If they don’t make your ass move you might consider being embalmed! Damn it is such an honor to play with them! When we are all on stage together it is truly one of the musical high points of my life!

I’ll be keeping you all posted as the tour progresses.


Editor’s Note: Chicago’s first two shows were at the Concord Pavillion in Concord, California, and The Axis at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.  After tonight’s show the band will head to the Southwest United States. Stay cool Tris!



If you are a music fan you are in for a real and special treat with this one.  You know we have covered the great Tris Imboden before.   Tris is well known throughout the music industry as a drummer whose skills have always been in very high demand.  Indeed, just ask Neil Diamond, Kenny Loggins, Firefall, Richard Marx, Steve Vai, Roger Daltrey, Crosby Stills & Nash, Michael McDonald, and, Anita Baker, just to name a few.  For those major artists Tris has either toured with the artist or performed in studio, or both.  Frankly, a fraction of those accomplishments would be a lifetime achievement for most players but for T.I., they are “only the beginning.”  Indeed, just check out Tris’ “wall” of accomplishments.  (Mind you this is only one of those walls).


Beyond all of the above–which is a career in and of itself–Tris is also the longest standing drummer for the epic and legendary band Chicago with T.I. joining the group in 1990.   Yes, Chicago.  You know, the group that is the highest charting American band in Billboard Magazine’s list of Top 100 artists of all time (Chicago is number 13); the group that has record sales topping over 100,000,000 [Editor’s Note: That’s not a typo–it’s real]; the group that has had 21 top 10 singles along with five, yes five, consecutive number one albums; and, yes, the group that still–decades after its formation–is a perennial major tour draw that never disappoints.  [Editor’s Note: Folks, there is much more to Chicago’s success but really, we have to move on and get to Tris!]

With the blog

So, you can imagine the adulation and excitement that we here at Beato’s Blog experienced when Tris agreed to do a tour diary with us while he performs with Chicago on their Heart and Soul Tour of 2015 where Chicago will be joined by the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire.

Tour logo

Yes, a tour diary.  We are going to stay in touch with Tris–a master player in his own right–while he is on the road with Chicago/EWF (running from July 15 to September 6) to continue the celebration of T.I.’s 25 years with Chicago.  We are going to take you backstage, so to speak, to find out what T.I. is thinking, feeling, and experiencing during this tour. It will be a unique inside track as to what’s happening during this epic and celebratory journey. Admittedly, there’s only one problem; trying to wrap your head around the success of Chicago and T.I., collectively and individually.  Such a task is mind boggling.  It’s kind of like trying to lasso an air balloon with a dog leash. Anyway, we will figure it out.

However, we would be remiss if we did not, at the very outset, note that although T.I.’s musical accomplishments are incredible to say the least, T.I., the person, is equally outstanding.  If you have the privilege of meeting this man you quickly realize that Tris is very grounded.


He does not put himself above others, he is generous to his fans and the band’s fans, and, most importantly, Tris has taken the time to give back.  For example, T.I. has been very outspoken about the dangers of tobacco as he is a lung cancer survivor himself.  Tris has said:

“Early in my treatment, I vowed that if I survived five years I would join the cancer fight to work to inspire young people to steer clear of smoking—that means e-cigarettes, too.  I really don’t know how the tobacco industry sleeps at night when they keep pushing an addiction that will basically kill half of all the people who continue to buy and use their toxic product.”

As you can see there are many sides to T.I., and not all are musically related.  That’s what will make this experience fun and enjoyable for us and hopefully for you too.  Tris, as a musician alone makes the trip well worth it but, add in the T.I. personal touch and the story becomes irresistible.  Rock on Tris, rock on.

So, as a primer before we get started please take a moment to check out an interview we did with T.I. earlier this year at his California home.  Look for good things from this man, I don’t think he knows any other way.



Senior Editor, Beato’s Blog




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