Don Hemwall first came to the Boston area in 1975 to study music at the Berklee College of Music. He graduated in 1978 with a B.M. in composition. Don continued to further his education by auditing classes at the New England Conservatory while waiting for his name to come up for study with the world renowned Charlie Banacos. He came to the top of Charlies waiting list in October of 1979 and began a tutelage that would last 13 years. As Don would tell you, music education never ends and he feels he is still learning every day as he plays the works of the great masters and gains insights from his own students.
As A Performer
Don began to play drums in middle school starting traditionally with snare drum and gradually learning all of the percussion instruments. He continued into high school playing with the concert band in Michigan and joined the band at the new high school in New Jersey when he moved there in 1970. Don had worked diligently as a paper delivery boy in Michigan to buy his first true drum kit and in New Jersey began to play with local rock bands. Don's switch to piano came as a surprise to many including himself, but he realized his desire lay in melody and harmony as well as rhythm. While in attendance at Berklee College, Don began playing in jazz combos in local joints where his reputation began to grow and soon was enmeshed in the scene. After college Don looked for more lucrative types of gigs and focused on developing a solo piano style so that he could work the lounges, hotels, restaurants and night clubs.
He continues that to this day. He has held down several long standing house gigs around New England including: Bostons: Double Tree Suites, Copley Place, Bay Tower Room, Copley Hotel - Oak Bar, Ritz Carlton. Also the Marriot in Burligton, Sheraton Tara in Danvers and many more. Don also played and plays with a trio on a regular basis, "The Don Hemwall Trio".
Don's ability to be versatile earned him chairs in a multitude of bands playing many different styles.
Don shipped out with Carnival Cruise Lines in 1986 doing two tours of duty aboard the Carnival and the Jubilee. While on ship Don played with show bands, jazz bands and as a soloist in the piano bar.
Currently Don can be heard playing with the "Pocket Big Band", a 10 piece ensemble, "Dameronia", a five piece jazz group and "The Don Hemwall Trio". Don can also be heard in any conceivable arrangement of musicians playing anywhere in the world! Don is a frequent pianist with the "Barbara Duffy Dance Co." and will tour nationally with them periodically. Don has played numerous private functions from weddings to house parties as a soloinst, or with groups. See upcoming events for current listings.