John Metcalf (aka Bongo John), founder of John Metcalf Productions, is an audio-video veteran. He is a true innovator, an enlightened soul, and an explorer of aural-visual dreams.
John has over 20 years of experience as a recording-engineer (Studio 313 & Bongo John Studio) in lieu of his 40 years drumming. He is a prolific composer & musician with a substantial collection of original works.
Recording engineering is his mainstay and is the place where he feels most at home. Working professionally at Studio 313 in Morrisville, NC full-time for almost four years, additional experience was gained doing part-time work for various local studios including session work as a drummer & percussionist.
John makes every effort in appeasing the vision of any given artist - not only basing mixes on reference material, but also by engaging the artist on a production level that maximizes creativity; to not only listen sonically, but also to hear out what an artist has to say on all levels throughout the recording & mixing process.
John Metcalf is an off-line instructor and student mentor for The Recording Connection Audio Institute. He is also a member of the Raleigh Music Industry Association. He has extensive experience with ProTools HD [TDM], ProTools 11, Logic Pro X, and Sonar Platinum DAW recording software platforms. For John, maximizing the creativity and minimizing the rigors of technology is key.
As a percussionist, John has an eclectic and unorthodox approach to creating rhythms, often exploring unique configurations of percussion - from traditional Afro-cuban to African & West Indian instrumentation (i.e. bongos, bongo cajon, congas, djembé, doumbek, shakers, foot tambourine, hand cymbal, etc) to utilizing sample triggering technology to create an acoustic-electric sound palette.
John's focus is to strive for an organic groove as a time-keeper, yet play what a given song or instrumental calls for. Active listening is something he is always working on.
Drumming for 40 years and counting, John Metcalf has been given favorable write-ups in Modern Drummer Magazine (March 2005 issue - 'On The Move' column), as well as Drum! Magazine (May 2010 issue - 'New Blood' column).
In 2015, he released his drum book 'The Bongo Method' with a corresponding 45 minute video tutorial. The Bongo Method is a an open-ended approach in exploring coordination in polyrhythms, explained in layman's terms. John is often fascinated by polyrhythmic coordination in rhythm (i.e. 4-way independence). According to John:
"In developing a natural sense of creating underlying counter rhythms, or polyrhythms, a drummer can more readily create the illusion of several drummers playing at once in the study of polyrhythmic coordination. Following said discipline can help one achieve a deeper 'groove-in-the-pocket' sensibility. Developing melodic, harmonic, and dynamic skills are three key ideas therein, with musicality as the main focus."
In other words, studying polyrhythms creates a larger & more substantial palette to facilitate freedom of expression in lieu of repeating that which is habitually familiar or mundane. To explore all possibilities in a given domain of rhythm is a main ingredient of 'The Bongo Method' - to help one in cooking up what one brings to the table.
John's distinct percussive style is the fruition of many years exploring his own concepts in rhythm. His main focus is complimenting & interacting with other musicians in a jam, band, or through-composed scenario.
"To connect with an audience is paramount. To have fluidity in one's own interpretation while actively listening is to communicate naturally and to have a better feel of a given arrangement. The purpose of keeping time is not to exercise or demonstrate technique. It is to seek what emanates from the heart and soul. That's the objective I am always striving for."
The piano is essentially a percussion instrument, as a matter of physics in the percussive striking of the piano strings. John began tickling the ivories in his formative years, tinkering around on an old Chickering console piano. Little did he know that this creative process would lead him to develop his own unique voice as a keyboardist, not only with the piano-forte, but also with synthesis.
Finding unique avenues, such as with exploring synthesis & electronics to create organic, yet other-worldly noises, is also an area of exploration for the 48 year-old composer/recording engineer/musician. Synthesis is one of the mainstays of sonic textures that he explores with the keyboard, as evidenced by his progressive-pop albums 'Havana Sunrise' and 'Savannah Sunset', both concept albums in said genre. He has delved into synthesis in the past several years sampling with dedicated keyboards, as well as experimenting with VST-based instruments.
"Technology should remain transparent by understanding thoroughly the technology at hand. In this light, creative ideas can be realized more readily. Creativity, intuition, and playing with passion will take an artist's vision to a new level. We have the wherewithal to create transparency for any technology utilized to capture any given idea. It was out of necessity that I became a recording engineer in order to capture my own musical ideas, and by doing so, have developed a skill-set to help others in making permanent their cherished creations..."