Carter Beauford started in on his music career at an early age - three years old. That's when his father, who couldn't find a baby sitter, took the toddler-drummer-to-be to see the legendary Buddy Rich.

In Carter's own words, that moment "put the icing on the cake for me as far as what I wanted to do and what route to take. Believe it or not, I knew it was what I wanted to do then …my dad was a jazz trumpet player and kinda hipped me to the whole music scene. And he made it look like so much fun I decided to go ahead and pursue it.

Carter played his first professional gig when he was just nine years old with a jazz-fusion outfit led by local luminary Big Nick Nicholas (an associate of John Coltrane's). Eventually, he wound up in a Richmond, VA based group called Secrets. A young Dave Matthews used to watch the group perform locally, and approached Carter and the group's saxophonist, LeRoi Moore, to help him work on some material he was developing.

"I took a listen to it, and it was kind of interesting, the way he played and the way her wrote music. Before long we were in the studio recording, not our first record, but something that we could go back and listen to and play for friends and see what people thought. People were whooping and hollering over that sound we generated."

When you listen to a record he has played on, Carter's musical voice is unmistakeable. Equally as recognizable is his open handed approach to the drum set. Beauford explains his unusual playing style in his instructional video "Under The Table & Drumming", attributing his use of left-hand-lead on a right-handed kit to playing his own kit in front of a mirror as a child in an attempt to emulate his favorite drummers.

In addition to his work with the Dave Matthews Band, Carter has played on albums by Carlos Santana, Blues Traveler's John Popper, Victor Wooten and Robin Andre (AKA Boy Wonder). "Outside work keeps the creativity flowing for me. I feel it's important to get in there and try to tackle someone else's music and play a little differently, and then bring it back to the band.

Carter's Vic Firth Signature Drumstick:
Carter Beauford (SBEA)
A 5B shaft with an extended taper and elongated oval wood tip. Superior response‚ sound and versatility. Dressed in yellow Vic Grip.
L = 16" | Dia. = .595"
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Carter also uses:
A soft felt core covered with fleece for lush sounds.
Head = 1 3/8" | L = 14 3/4"
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images © Ronn Dunnett