Editor’s Note: “Boston Thriving” is a new series from Vanyaland highlighting and honoring the national and global success of Boston- and New England-based bands and artists.
It was 11 p.m. on a Sunday when Jonathan Ulman got the message. “You available the week of 6/26?” read the Instagram DM, sent from a producer of NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. The Boston drummer sprang up from the sofa with exhilaration.
He just received the official (albeit informal) invitation to perform with Meyers’ band on live television.
“I responded back to the producer and confirmed I was available and I sat back down, took a deep breath, and said to myself, ‘you made this goal eight years ago, you worked hard for it, and you got it, and you deserve it,’” he tells Vanyaland. “I always wondered what it would be like to get ‘The Call’… and I am happy to say I wouldn’t have changed a thing about how it happened.”
Between Monday, June 27 and Thursday, June 30, Ulman will perform as a guest alongside 8G, the band that backs Seth Meyers on his weekday talk show. Ulman joins an impressive list of celebrity drummers who have accepted the same honor, including members of Pearl Jam and Tool, and some of the most prominent studio drummers in the country.
The Boston musician calls the guest appearance “one of the biggest nods of respect that you can receive” as a percussionist — and as drummer for Boston hip-hop stalwarts STL GLD and a Boston Music Award winner for “Session Musician of the Year,” Ulman has worked his way toward this type of achievement longer than Late Night with Seth Meyers has even been on the air.
“Just the fact that I will get to sit on the same drum throne as Matt Chamberlin, Matt Cameron, Abe Laboriel Jr., Vinnie Colaiuta, Kenny Aronoff, and Danny Carey did, in my opinion, is one of the highest honors I could receive as a drummer,” he shares. “In my world, it’s the who’s-who of drumming, the most respected and revered drummers who’s resumes are lined with playing for the biggest artists in the world. So for me to not only be considered, which would be an honor in its own right, but to be actually invited to be the guest drummer, is pretty incredible.”
Ulman continues the tradition when he arrives in New York City on Sunday, June 26, and begins a rigorous rehearsal schedule. He’s brimming with excitement that he’s finally reached such a longstanding goal — but above everything else, he’s stoked to show up for Boston.
“I’m very proud to represent this city. I grew up here, I live here, made a career here, and never felt as though I needed to go off to L.A. or Nashville to be successful,” he concludes. “It’s pretty important for me to show other musicians they don’t have to leave Boston in order to do great things.”