by TaLeiza Calloway
When drummer Jeff Vee had to leave town shortly before a CD-release event for songwriter Adam Hammer, Hammer didn’t have far to look for a replacement.
Ten-year-old Bennett Velline, the nephew of Jeff Vee and grandson of rock legend Bobby Vee, came to the rescue. He went from being expected to play 12 bars of drums to playing the entire set during the CD-release concert March 28.
The performance took place at Pioneer Place on Fifth in downtown St. Cloud. The concert featured both Hammer and songwriter Dave Cofell.
At his young age, Velline is used to performing alongside his uncle for various performances, including the popular annual “Joetown Rocks” concert in St. Joseph. He admitted he was a little nervous about his first performance without his uncle.
“I’m used to having my uncle up there,” Velline said before the show. “I won’t have him up there to follow.”
Velline said while it’s nice to have his uncle on stage with him, he is also looking forward to the freedom of flying solo.
“It’ll be cool because we have different styles,” he said.
The fourth-grade St. Katharine Drexel student also shared the stage with his father and bass-player Tommy Vee during the show.
Even though he used the word nervous to describe his feelings before taking the stage, when he is playing the drums, he said he is in a zone where he will not allow his nerves to jangle. His strategy is always to look as if he’s enjoying being on stage – something he notices while watching other performers.
Velline has been playing the drums for eight years. His musical talent is an inherited gift.
“Two of my uncles are drummers,” Velline said. “I just watched them and thought it might be fun.”
It’s hard for him to pick one thing he likes most about playing the drums, he said. From being on stage to actually hitting a snare, he digs it all.
“It’s how I relax,” he said. “It’s just fun to get up there and play.”
He and his uncle usually do a drumming duo, something he started when he was 5 years old.
The drums are not the only instrument he plays. He also plays the guitar.
He started playing the electric guitar about a year ago but the drums remain his favorite musical instrument. Music, along with sports, is one of Velline’s hobbies. He likes rock-n-roll, a few pop songs. Since he’s been prepping for the show, he’s been listening to a lot of Hammer’s work, he said.
He’s also a big fan of Maroon 5 and has been listening to the Rolling Stones and The Who.
During the show, Hammer admitted when Jeff Vee had to leave unexpectedly, all he wanted was to have someone who could sit behind him that he didn’t have to worry about. Well, he got it. Velline sat behind him in his own groove, counting band members in and ruling the drumbeat.
“This kid is amazing,” Hammer told the audience.
When asked if performing alone was all he thought it would be, he gave an official nod signifying a yes with a smile. The lead drummer stood in a receiving line with performers shaking the hands of those who came out to enjoy the performance. Though the shortest in the line, he stood as tall as the adults standing with him.