Thanks to Charity for the article today!
Lessons from ‘Big Jerm’: Musician creates learning center
By Charity Apple / Times-News
A place to be inspired — that’s what area drummer/teacher Jeremy Thomas is hoping Big Jerm’s Learning Center will become.
Thomas, known in the music community as “Big Jerm,” has taught drum lessons since 1998 and has performed with bands such as Hip Pocket, along with recording area acts such as the Harvey Dalton Arnold Blues Band, The Ends and Keaton Lange through his Music Mania Recording Company in Snow Camp. His latest venture is a learning center in which students can study music, art and more.
The former Brown’s TV Repair Shop, located next to Shomaker Guitars, 910 S. Main St., Burlington, has been renovated to include practice rooms for drum, trumpet and piano lessons. Thomas, along with musician/teacher Tanner Johnson and friend Bryan Cox, have done the work themselves. Thomas, who has a marketing degree, not only enjoys teaching but wants to encourage young people in this area to “do what you love, love what you do.”
“Just being in this room has inspired me to teach,” he said during a recent tour of the new learning center. A grand opening is planned from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 7 at the center.
Thomas taught himself not only how to play drums but to record music, too. Johnson will take on some of Thomas’ drum lessons so he can concentrate more on the learning center and Music Mania. Johnson, 18, has been a student of Thomas’ on and off since the age of 8. Johnson played his first show at the age of 9 and has been in four different area bands.
He feels blessed to have a kinship with performers in this area. The late Cecil Johnson, who recently died from cancer, was not only a friend, but he had planned to teach saxophone lessons at the center. His death, Thomas said, was a big blow.
“I just felt a connection with him,” Thomas said. “I don’t have that with a lot of people.”
Coming together as performers and teachers is something Thomas feels that the learning center will bring to Alamance County — something that doesn’t currently exist.
Thomas’ wife, Darcy, an art teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School, has taught him “a guerrilla approach to making artwork — using recycled materials” and it’s something he’s hoping will be a part of the learning center as well, teaching folks how to be more “green” in a creative way.
“Almost everything in this room was picked up on the side of the road,” he said of the kitschy, modern-looking fixtures and furniture found inside the learning center.
Johnson and Thomas have salvaged what some consider throwaway items to give the waiting area a cool, hip feel. Posters and photos of bands Thomas has worked with throughout the years, including autographs from country music legend Loretta Lynn and country artist Chuck Wicks, who he worked with on a Fat Frogg show in January 2011, are prominent there.
“My hope is to teach folks that they can be creative and be green at the same time,” Thomas said. “I just got back from Los Angeles and I was stunned. There was trash everywhere. I have recycled for years and I think it’s so important that people realize that they can make a difference by doing this. It’s not just a fad. It needs to be taught and ingrained in all of us.”
Through the learning center, Thomas said “we hope to offer a positive approach to the arts. It’s more about feeding your soul, finding a vital place in life. I feel good about this.”