Joel Baer is an active performing and recording drummer in the Chicago area. Joel gained an interest in drums at an early age after watching his father Jeff play at church on a weekly basis. At the age of 11, he began formal instruction from drum educator Jack Brand in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Under Brand’s guidance, Joel developed his love for Jazz. This led to a B.M. in Jazz Studies from Elmhurst College and M.M. from DePaul University where he studied with Bob Rummage and Dana Hall.
Joel is an in-demand sideman in the Chicago Blues scene. He’s worked extensively with blues guitarists Corey Dennison, Pistol Pete and Jimmy Nick, playing throughout the midwest and competing in the International Blues Challenge in 2012, 2013 and 2016. With the Corey Dennison Band, Joel performed and was interviewed for WYCC’s concert series on PBS in 2014 and released a self-titled album on legendary Chicago Blues label Delmark Records in 2016. That album led to nominations for a 2016 Blues Music Award for Best Emerging Artist, two Blues Blast award nominations, a Chicago Music Awards nomination (Best Blues Artist) and the winner of the French Academie Du Jazz’s prestigious “Prix De Blues” award, which has been given since the 1960’s to luminaries like B.B. King, Lightning Hopkins and John Lee Hooker.
In 2017, the Corey Dennison Band recorded Night After Night, which has also received a Blues Music award nomination for “2017 Contemporary Album of the Year”. This year also saw the release of Joel’s first jazz album, Structures, which included a limited vinyl release.
Joel has been fortunate to perform with blues legends like Buddy Guy, Lurrie Bell, Carl Weathersby, Jimmy Johnson, Demetria Taylor, Eddie Shaw and Sam Lay and a host of current Chicago Blues and Jazz artists including Bob Margolin, Henry Grey, Mike Welch, Mike Ledbetter, Guy King, Fiona Boyes, Andy Poxon, Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Sugar Blue, Toronzo Cannon, Gerry Hundt, Matt Hendricks, Omar Coleman, Mike Wheeler, Andrew Diehl, Rodney Brown, The Special 20’s, Dave Potter, Ronnie Hicks, Mark Colby, Randy Brecker, Wayne Bergeron, Richie Cole, Erin McDougald, Joe Hurt, and has also performed with the Beloit-Janesville Symphony Orchestra.
Joel has played or performed on the following albums:
Cat Rolphes - Highway 55 (2018) - drums
Joel Baer Quartet - Structures (2017) - drums and composition
The Corey Dennison Band - Night After Night (2017 - Delmark) - drums, percussion, background vocals
Pistol Pete - Killer Bash (2017) - drums on "Crystal Blue" and "Last Hand"
The Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Tolono Tapes (2017) - drums on "Misty", Percussion on "Nightcreeper"
Jimmy Nick & Don't Tell Mama - Live and Nasty (2017) - drums and background vocals
The Corey Dennison Band - S/T - (2016 -Delmark) - Drums, Background Vocals
Susan Aquila - Nowhere (2016 - T.V.R. Records) - drums
The Corey Dennison Band - Live in Chicago (2015) - drums
Jimmy Nick & Don't Tell Mama- Rare Breed (2014) - drums
Clark Colborn - Frank Made Me Do it (2014) - drums on "Elephant Whosegow"
Blood Red Boots - Love + Destruction (2013) - drums
Jimmy Nick & Don't Tell Mama - Who Ya Kiddin' - (2013) - drums
Clark Colborn - Superstition (2012 - Single) - drums
Clark Colborn - Again (2012) - drums
Joel has also performed with Indie Rock band Blood Red Boots, whose single “Love Don’t Kill Me” was a finalist for the 2014 International Songwriters Competition and who’s music has been featured in popular television series. In 2015, he did a 20 city east-coast tour with violinist Susan Aquila and recorded her record “Miss Conduct.” In addition to weekly performances around Chicago, Joel is the current musical director at RCCG Victory Chapel in the Chicago Suburbs and has done orchestra pit work with Starlight Theater in Rockford, Illinois. Joel is currently an adjunct faculty member at Rock Valley College where he lectures on American Music and teaches percussion.