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Keith Sanford


When I played drums for the circus. . .

The Circus

This is a recording of me playing drums for a show when I was 22 years old. The core band included a trumpet player, a keyboard player and myself, and we traveled with the show on a nine-month tour across the Western United States and Canada. When we played at large venues, local musicians were hired to provide a full brass section. If I recall correctly, this is a recording of a show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. I simply set a couple microphones on the stage and recorded to a cassette tape. The tape was tucked away in a tattered cardboard box for many years before I salvaged it and transformed it to a digital format.


People may know Keith Sanford as the Baylor psychology professor who studies romantic relationships. But when the muses beckon, he transforms into a musician performing a fusion of electronic jazz standards with modern rhythm loops. His original songs are distinct for lyrics that have weight. He often performs with a black box that contains synthesizers, percussion pads, and loop-station equipment mounted inside.

His musical history is unique in that, for many years, his primary instrument was the drums. He began playing drums and piano in the seventies growing up in Boulder, Colorado. In the early eighties, he moved to Hollywood California and attended a music school located on Hollywood Boulevard two blocks from the famous Chinese Theater. There, he studied techniques for playing drums in odd rhythmical time signatures with Ralph Humphrey, a former drummer for Frank Zappa. Subsequently, Keith played drums for several rock bands based out of the Los Angeles area. He also spent a few years touring the Western United States and Canada playing big-band style show music for several three-ring circuses. He got his singing debut at a circus performance in a stadium with tigers and elephants when the scheduled singer suddenly quit, someone needed to sing the closing song, and Keith was handed the microphone. In the nineties, he began expanding his musical repertoire, studying music theory and vocal performance at Los Angeles Valley College, and then later at Seattle Pacific University. Since then, he has spent many hours writing and recording music in his home studio, and has gradually placed more emphasis on work with piano and voice than with drums. Yet, whether he is performing with his electronic music equipment in his black box, or simply sitting at an acoustic piano to sing, there is always a distinctive rhythmical quality to his music that comes from his roots as a drummer.

Keith Sanford Waco Tribune Article
Keith Sanford picture
When teaching psychology, Keith Sanford sings songs about statistics.
Link to story in Waco Tribune

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