Drew McKeon Rocks Michael Bolton’s World

Growing up in Westport, says Drew McKeon, you see Michael Bolton as a local guy.

But when you walk through the airport with him in a place like Shanghai — with people “crying, freaking out” — you realize he’s an international sensation.

Michael Bolton and Drew McKeon in Singapore.

Michael Bolton and Drew McKeon in Singapore.

Drew has walked through plenty of airports with Bolton. They’ve  just finished a 9-month world tour. From Copenhagen, Warsaw, Bucharest, Kiev and Minsk through Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul’s Olympic Stadium, the Staples Class of 2000 graduate — and NYU religion and history major — has served as Bolton’s drummer. It’s been an awesome, rewarding — and eye-opening — experience.

In Japan, Drew says, “people tried to break into our dressing room. They passed old records and t-shirts through the window to sign. It was crazy.”

It’s no coincidence that Bolton hired a fellow Westporter. His daughters knew Drew when he played with Ryan O’Neill at local spots like Viva’s. They brought their dad; he liked when he heard.

When Bolton’s drummer left abruptly last May, he called Drew. The drummer — who’d cut his touring chops with Hall & Oates — had a week to learn 40 songs.

Drew McKeon in action.

Drew McKeon in action.

The past year has been a whirlwind of experiences. They played a billionaire’s wedding in Nice. They wore tuxes at Monaco’s Sporting Club, where a velvet curtain opened and the prince walked in. In Belarus, they performed with the Presidential Orchestra at the Imperial Palace.

On travel days, if the 15 to 20 band members and crew got to a city early, Drew took the rest of the day to explore. “Whether it’s Wheeling, West Virginia or Paris, I try to get out,” he says. “There’s not a lot of time, but you learn to be efficient. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved to travel. To do it on someone else’s dime is cool.”

The traveling party — a mixture of ages — got along well. “Everyone is so nice,” Drew says. “I’ve toured with bands that have real ego clashes. It’s not easy being together 24 hours a day.”

Drew McKeon backing up Michael Bolton.

Drew McKeon backing up Michael Bolton.

After almost a year on the road, Drew got another gig. He and singer Darian Cunning have performed on St. Barts since 2005, building a Bolton-like fanatic following. They play 3 hours a night, 6 nights a week — and spend the rest of the time on the beach.

“It’s like summer camp, with Victoria’s Secret models and billionaires,” Drew says.

A soundcheck in Tokyo.

A soundcheck in Tokyo.

He’s started to branch out. He played drums on “America’s Got Talent,” and hopes to do more TV.

The touring life is not easy — “I’m tired from traveling, but not of it,” he says — but it’s a life Drew McKeon loves.

With Michael Bolton’s new autobiography out, as well as a Motown tribute record, there’s sure to be more shows ahead.

And more chances to have crazy fans try to break into his — and Drew McKeon’s — dressing room.

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5 responses to “Drew McKeon Rocks Michael Bolton’s World

  1. Wendy McKeon (aka - Drew's proud mother!)

    Dan – Thank you so much for this insightful column about “my boy”…What a wonderful way for this very proud mother to learn what really is happening “on the road”…LOL
    Drew has had the good fortune to pursue his “passion” and be continually blessed by his professional experiences.
    Westport is the home of many, many talented young people…May each and every one succeed in their “reaching for the stars”…

    • Amy Schneider

      Wendy, you and Ross gave Drew the opportunity to pursue his passion. Kudos to you!

  2. Richard Lawrence Stein

    There’s a certain cool quality to be able to say I knew him when… Drew is a great guy and drummer… Nothing better than cold drinks and hot nights listening to Ryan and Drew and their crew jamming out tunes

  3. Great to read about you, Drew. All the best.

  4. Denise Fabrizi

    Wendy and Ross, you must be so proud of Drew and his accomplishments. Drew, it was great to read about you. Michael Bolton is one of my favorite singers and it’s awesome that you are his drummer and equally awesome taveling all over the world touring together. Wish you continued success doing what you truly love!!