World-class Drummer Jeff Campitelli Shares A Love Of Music With Daughter Gabby
Gabby and Jeff Campitelli
Jeff and Gabby Campitelli are a father and daughter duo who share a musical calling. As the long-time drummer for Joe Satriani, Jeff is considered one of the best percussionists in the country. He’s performed in London’s Hyde Park with Aerosmith and toured the Netherlands alongside Iron Maiden, Motörhead and B.B. King. Meanwhile, Gabby has sung with VOENA children’s choir since she was ten, touring the globe to festivals on the Amalfi Coast and performing for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. But none of this has gone to their heads because the pair are the salt of the earth.
Gabby remembers playing her first Barbie drum kit as a little girl, and watching the Lawrence Welk show with her dad every Tuesday, but she says her parents never pushed her into music. They let her follow her own path, and it turns out music is in her blood. Here’s what Gabby and Jeff have to say about their musical journey together:
BM: Gabby, what is your favorite VOENA story?
GC: I would have to say it was when we performed in Dublin, Ireland in a cathedral singing Prayer of the Children. It was during our trip to perform at the 2012 London Olympics and we did a lot of small shows and “flash mob” type performances. There was a stunning sound in this cathedral. The doors were open to the public, and everyone was feeling the magic of the music. It was so powerful.
BM: Where are you going to college?
GC: I will be attending University of the Pacific (UOP) this upcoming fall to study Music Therapy. It’s such a broad field, but technically it’s about helping people through the power of music. For example, when working with seniors, or kids with autism—music sparks a part of the brain that other stimulants can’t. And for me, it’s a way to do something I love while also helping change someone’s life.
JC: UOP is also the oldest music conservatory west of the Mississippi, so Gabby will be getting a classical music education too. She’s chosen classical guitar as her primary instrument.
BM: What do you plan on doing after college?
GC: After I graduate, I will have a music therapy internship. I’ve yet to find out what I’m really good at, but I really enjoy working with kids. Hopefully my music therapy degree will allow me to spread my love of music to children. And it depends on where the jobs are.
BM: What are you doing musically?
GC: I am currently finishing up my last season in the VOENA choir. I sit in with my dad when he plays at Lucca, and also teach private music lessons. I’ve been teaching vocal music, percussion, ukulele and guitar. I also help my dad teach at Mary Farmar.
Gabby and Jeff Campitelli
BM: With Father’s Day coming up, how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
We are the best dad and daughter duo ever! He is my best friend. Not only do we get along, but we are able to share our passion for music, which is so rare. I was fortunate enough to think that what my dad does is really cool. We just get each other.
BM: Jeff, where did you grow up?
JC: I was born in Southern California, but ended up in the Bay Area in 5th grade in Danville.
BM: In how many countries have you performed?
JC: That’s a tough one to count, but around 45 countries on five continents over a 20-year span.
BM: How did you keep perspective while you were on tour?
JC: One day I’d be in France performing to 8,000 people and the next in Luxembourg to 1,000 in a small club. But I still had to stand in line at the airport, just like everybody else. You can’t let it get to you, or it can really mess you up. When I focus on making the music the most important thing, it always works out. And when I come home to this sweet little town and to my wife, Christie, who was my high school sweetheart, it keeps it real. And I love teaching music to kids at Mary Farmar [school] and at Studio 851.
BM: 4. What are your favorite activities outside of music?
JC: Since so much of my life was spent in hotels, airports and dressing rooms, I love simple things. Camping with the family in our vintage airstream, riding my bicycle with my other Benicia dad buddies. Pretty boring actually!
BM: Any new projects/gigs on the horizon?
JC: One of my favorite new projects is a band I put together with Jeff Tamelier (guitarist from Tower of Power, Jefferson Starship) that plays down at Lucca every month or so called Camp Jeff.
We rotate the other members and always end up with some of the best players from the Bay Area. You never know who will show up to sit in, and the audience is always having such a blast that we just feed off of the energy. Another one is playing with Peppino D’Agostino and Stef Burns. We did a show at the Empress Theater not too long ago and it was really a fun night. I’d like to make that happen again.
BM: How has your style changed, or has it? And why?
JC: I’m constantly refining how I approach whatever instrument it is I’m playing to be a good player technically, but the absolute most important thing is to forget about all the technique and just make the music feel the best it can. That’s when the magic happens.
BM: Who are your favorite musicians?
JC: Right now, I am really into acoustic guitar-based stuff—which I know sounds strange coming from a drummer—but I’ve been listening to a lot of John Prine, Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings, Guy Clark. It’s Folk music that transforms simple lyrics with the deepest meaning. It’s organic and refreshing.
BM: With Father’s Day coming up, what’s your wish for Gabby?
JC: I always tell her, “Don’t go changing.” I want her to be happy, and to be where she’s supposed to be. I wouldn’t wish fame on her, unless that’s what she wanted. She’s always been very caring and aware. She’s followed her heart, and she’s found work that brings her joy. I’m really happy for her.