Mike Cherry has been a professional drummer for more than forty years. He joined the Bel Airs as their drummer in 1995, a relationship that he says has lasted “longer than any marriage.” Cherry lives outside Columbia, Missouri, where the band is based.
Cherry recalls the last time he played the King Biscuit Blues Festival twenty-five years ago. He was drumming for blues artist James Harman and was asked at the last minute to play with James Cotton and Pinetop Perkins. “You’re looking around. Who’s the boss here? Even Pinetop kinda let me know, ‘Just pay attention to James Cotton.’” After the performance Cherry “followed Sam Carr and Junior Lockwood around all night long.” Reflecting on that night, he says, “I just had the greatest time, and it always stuck with me. It was a flavor I could never get rid of.”