Stephen Coffman:  Following His Own Rhythms
by Ruth Eckles
Somewhere in the triangle, at any given moment, Stephen Coffman is keeping the beat.  Maybe he’s playing in Durham’s hip-hop influenced The Beast, or the improv jazz band Peter Lamb and the Wolves, or the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra.  Perhaps he’s freelancing as a session drummer,  teaching a drum lesson, or backing local singer-songwriters such as Shana Tucker and Greg Humphreys.  Wherever he is—a smoky bar, a sound-proofed studio, a concert hall, a classroom—he is why you find yourself tapping your foot, and nodding your head, drawn into the pulse of the music.
For as long as he can remember, Stephen Coffman felt called to the drums.  Born and raised in Durham, North Carolina Coffman was exposed to percussion through his father, a guitarist in a R & B funk band.  Only three years old at the time, he remembers tip-toeing down the basement stairs, feeling drawn to the band’s drum set.  The attraction continued, as he went from pots and pans, to a child-sized drum set to an adult set.  By the 4th grade, he and three of his friends, Duncan Webster, Joe Hall and Will Goble started a precocious Nirvana-esque Ska punk band called Slippery Chicken.
Their first big gig was at the famed Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, opening for Quintessential.
 ”People would freak out because we were just these tiny kids playing these cool songs,” Coffman remembers.
”I don’t think we really knew what the Cradle was back then, but once we were in high school we liked to brag about it,” he laughs.

All four members are now career musicians.  Webster and Hall formed Hammer No More the Fingers, and Goble tours internationally as a professional bass player with jazz heavyweight Jason Marsalis.

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