Kirk Covington is the drummer best-known for his work with the jazz fusion group Tribal Tech.
Born in Midland, Texas, he attended the highly-regarded University of North Texas College of Music where he met bassist Gary Willis, with whom he later joined Tribal Tech.
Covington has also performed or recorded with other noted musicians including Joe Zawinul, Robben Ford, Allan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, and John Humphrey.
Between 1998 and 2006 Covington toured with Scott Henderson and bass player John Humphrey as a trio. In 2003 they recorded Well To The Bone, as well as a live album in 2005. Covington continues to play with former Tribal Tech partner Scott Kinsey, is a member of the group VOLTO! where he also plays keyboards, and in 2008 formed his own trio, "CPT KIRK", with keyboardist Scott Tibbs and bassist Rufus Philpot.
Kirk Covington has become recognized as one of the most versatile and dynamic drummers in the world. He is the "Wild Man From Texas" that jazz fusion audiences all over the world are talking about. His energy is infinite and his crowd pleasing personality and vocal ability have been a driving force in the success of the world renowned jazz fusion group Tribal Tech featuring guitarist Scott Henderson, bassist Gary Willis and keyboardist Scott Kinsey. Coming from a musical family in Midland, Texas, and being the youngest of five children, Kirk was encouraged to begin playing drums at age seven by his brother Kyle (who is now in demand as a guitarist in the Nashville scene).
By age twelve, Covington was a full time "garage band junkie". "Kyle made me play 'Wipeout' for the older guys all the time, which probably explains my penchant for playing single strokes, or what I call blender fills". Encouraged by his grandmother to play piano in his elementary years, Covington opted for sports instead and decided to stick to the drums, leaving the piano behind until his senior year of high school. At age fifteen, Kirk was borrowing the family truck, and hauling his drum kit to rock'n'roll and country gigs around the Midland, Texas region. "By virtue of my age, I was heavily influenced by sixties and seventies rock and was also introduced to jazz through my parents love of swing and big band. In those days you also had to sing if you wanted to land the really good gigs". With little formal training, Covington entered the internationally renowned North Texas State University jazz program.
He eventually landed the drum chair in the famous Two O'clock Lab Band, a position that would also create many relationships with now famous players, including a young bassist named Gary Willis. After college, Covington and Willis continued to work together in Condor, one of the most popular jazz fusion bands in the region. Condor released an album in 1981 on Inner City Records that spent 4 weeks at #2 on the European Melody Maker Jazz charts. Several notable drummers followed in Covington's footsteps in Condor, including Greg Bissonette and Mike Baker. By this time Kirk has developed a naturally powerful and very soulful vocal style that, combined with his ever growing skills as a drummer and keyboardist, quickly made him one of the most sought after players in the Dallas area. Being a vocalist, keyboardist and drummer have also led to several national promotional spots, writing and performing corporate jingles and radio, TV spots. Encouraged by the success that bassist Gary Willis and other North Texas musical associates found in relocation to Los Angeles, Covington decided it was time to pack up his family and make the big move.
It was Covington's strong keyboard and vocal abilities that secured steady work for him in the first critical months. "Singing was really an unintentional thing for me" says Covington. "I've always been able to use it for its work value, but more and more I'm able to enjoy it as another avenue of musical expression". In the spring of 1991, the jazz fusion band Tribal Tech began a search for a new drummer. They needed a player whose technique was a flawless as their own: a visionary player who could help carry Tribal Tech into the next decade. The search ended with Willis' old Texas friend Covington. Covington's success in Tribal Tech has propelled him into the spotlight as the animated backbone of "Tribal" shows world wide.
His inventive drumming has been captured on the last three "Tribal" releases on Mesa/Bluemoon Records, Illicit ('92), Face First ('93), and Reality ('95). A new Tribal Tech release is scheduled for 1999. Guitarist Scott Henderson has also recruited Covington onto his solo recording efforts. Henderson's Dog Party CD, released in '94, featured Covington on drums and also unleashed Kirk's vocal talents on seven tunes. Dog Party is Henderson's most successful recording to date, and was voted Best Blues Record of the Year by Guitar Player Magazine (Jan. '95 issue) even receiving more votes than B.B. King's Blues Summit. Covington can be heard locking down the groove on Henderson's most recent burning blues release Tore Down House on Mesa/Bluemoon released in April '97. Covington's successful endeavors with Tribal Tech have led him to the calling of another of the 20th century's greatest guitar virtuosos, Allan Holdsworth. Holdsworth enlisted Covington, Gary Willis (bass) and pianist Gordon Beck for his most recent release titled None Too Soon . Modern Drummer Magazine Aug. '96 issue features "A Different View" with Holdsworth, in which Holdsworth speaks highly of Covington, commenting "I would really look forward to playing with him (Covington) in a context that is outside the one we just did" (which is straight ahead modern bebop). "I would love to have a chance to play with him on my own music".
Covington headlined the 1995 Montreal Drum Festival in which his inspiring performance with keyboardist Scott Kinsey and bassist Gary Willis brought the enthusiastic crowd to their feet. Modern Drummers May '96 issue exclaims, "The entire Drum Fest was brought to a dynamic conclusion with the performance of the Kirk Covington Trio". The Montreal Drum Fest was recorded and is available on CD. Covington's drum solo opens the CD followed by the Scott Kinsey composition "Foreign Affairs" which was first recorded on the Tribal Tech Reality Check album. A 10 page feature story on Kirk can be found in the November '96 issue of Modern Drummer magazine with Bill Milkowski discussing Kirk's part, present and future ambitions along with his many prolific accomplishments. Eclipsing all that Kirk Covington has achieved will be his much anticipated solo release which will feature the talents of guitarist Allan Holdsworth, bassists Gary Willis, as well as David Carpenter. Covington will incorporate his drumming, vocal and keyboard talents into a variety of musical styles that will be sure to astonish many of the followers of this "Wild Man From Texas".
Kirk Covington is endorsing Zildjian Cymbals/Sticks, Yamaha drums and Attack Heads.