WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a decisive 376-45 vote last Friday, the United States Congress hired drummer Joey Lombardo, a professional percussionist with years of studio and touring experience. Lombardo, who has toured with such diverse artists as Kenny Loggins, Pat Benatar and Richard Marx, is expected to provide the legislative body with a variety of much-needed percussive effects.
“You wouldn’t believe how much his steady backbeat helps keep bills and budget proposals rolling along, not to mention adding some zip to those filibusters,” Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) said. “Lombardo provides a rock-solid foundation upon which Congress can really jam.”
The seasoned studio vet, who played with Bryan Adams on the Australian leg of the star’s 1991 Waking Up the Neighbors Tour, will also provide drum rolls during key budget votes. Before the vote tally for the controversial Steffens-Hawley Welfare Bill was announced Monday, Lombardo performed a dramatic, prolonged snare drum roll, which, according to 93–year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), “made me tingly.”
Despite his lack of Congressional drumming experience, Lombardo is confident he has the stamina to keep up with the long-winded legislators. “When I was on Tina Turner’s Break Every Rule World Tour, we did a show in Rio that was over three and half hours. I’m confident that if I can keep up with Tina, I can keep up with Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter.”
With his extensive experience playing live, Lombardo also brings a theatrical sensibility to Congress. When Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently opened session with the remark, “I know why Clinton didn’t want to play cards with me on Air Force One—he was afraid of losing all of his money!,” Lombardo was on hand with a rimshot and cymbal crash to drive home the humor.
Lombardo’s drumset, a Starclassic eight-piece kit with glitter finish and a half-dozen Zildjian cymbals, has been permanently placed where Vice President Al Gore used to sit. The top-flight set, which was profiled in the April ’91 issue of Modern Drummer, has already caught the eye of a number of lawmakers.
“Boy, I’d love to get behind those skins,” Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) said. Helms went on to say that if Lombardo could teach him his one-handed drumstick-twirling technique, that would be “very cool.”
Other voices in Congress are also excited by Lombardo’s presence. “The beat of the drum calls out to all peoples,” Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-CO) said. “Lombardo’s rhythms will represent the heartbeat of our great nation.” Schroeder added that in his sleeveless red mesh T-shirt and tight jeans, the sinewy Lombardo is “much easier on the eyes than Patrick Moynihan.”
Other instruments were proposed to accompany Congress, including a bass guitar, a pipe organ and a synthesizer, but it was ultimately Lombardo’s power drumming that won out.
The two-time Drum World Drummer of the Month was eager to talk about his new job.
“I’ve had a lot of tough gigs in the past, but this one tops it,” Lombardo said. “I’ll be keeping the beat for the finest product of the Enlightenment, set in motion by our forefathers, swinging with enough finesse—yet also true crushing power—in rhythm to this intricate machine of Jeffersonian thought.”
Lighting a cigarette, he added, “I hope my chops are up to it.”
A number of special musical guests have already been booked to sit in with Lombardo during lon-ger Congressional sessions. Among the artists: Tito Puente and his Latin Orchestra, Al Jarreau, and three-time Grammy-nominated saxophonist David San-born.
President Clinton offered his congratulations for the Lombardo hiring in a press release this morning. “After months of attempts to erode the American Dream with cruel budget cuts, it is heartening to see such a positive decision coming out of Congress,” Clinton said. “Ever since I caught Lombardo behind the set on The Hooters’ Nervous Night Tour, I’ve known him as an American who can really rock.”