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The Saga of Rick Mateo
Session drummer Rick Mateo lived a turbulent childhood. He was born in 1948 in Bordeaux, France, to a father who abandoned the family before Mateo could gain a sense of memory, and because his mother was too young to take care of him on her own, Mateo first grew up under the care of his grandparents. Later, his mother remarried an American Air Force soldier in Turkey, and as his grandparents were growing too old to take care of him, Mateo moved in with his new family. However, life didn’t improve. His stepfather was an alcoholic, and he physically abused Mateo on the nights he drank. And when his family moved to Massachusetts, Mateo became a troublemaker in high school. Eventually, unable to deal with the pain at home, he ran away at the age of 16, and he never returned.
Although his youth was troubled, Mateo persevered with the one thing that gave him peace—his drums. His grandparents bought his first drum—a snare drum—when he was 10 years old, and since then, he could not get his hands off of his drum sticks. He took lessons during his childhood, and he performed as the first chair in the percussion section of his high school band. And after he fled home, he performed in various bands and orchestras, touring the nation as a professional drummer with a specialization in jazz. As the years passed, his drumming career grew, and he enjoyed keeping himself busy with an occupation he loved.
Nowadays, Mateo lives a much quieter life in Hampton Roads. He left his touring life after witnessing a band member die from a drug overdose, and after reassessing his priorities in life to fulfill his desire to be with his family, he started his career in car sales, which eventually led him to Charles Barker Automotive in Hampton Roads, where he now works as a corporate trainer and human resources director. In terms of drumming, he has reduced his traveling to a few trips to New York for studio sessions, and he performs regularly at the peace-building event One Love Festival, which he co-founded after being challenged by jazz bassist Buster Williams to use his drumming to get involved with the community. After years of struggling to find greater meaning in his life, it seems that Mateo has finally found a place to settle.
In this episode of Stories in the Sky, Mateo talks with Victor Russo about his experiences growing up, his encounters with Buddy Rich and Buster Williams, and the story about how he decided to create One Love Festival to give back to the community.
Rick Mateo is a studio and session drummer and the co-founder of One Love Festival. You can find more information on One Love Festival at the website,http://onelovefestivalva.com/.
Note: The interview was recorded on February, so the 8th Annual One Love Festival has already passed.