Live performances are a big part of being a working drummer. When I am on a gig with my corporate show band I am responsible for knowing a ton of popular songs from the past 50 years, as well as running backing tracks. When it’s showtime, I’ve got to have my gameface on and I don’t want to be worried about my gear.

I use a modest drum set usually consisting of a 20” kick, 12” tom, 14” snare, 14” floor tom, hi-hats and two to three cymbals with lightweight hardware. Although the kit is small, as a drummer I am still the first to arrive and last to leave outside of the sound crew. Since I also run the backing tracks I must bring even more gear to the gig, so I prefer to keep my track rig small and easy to set up and tear down.

There are a bunch of options for running tracks, and the amount of gear required to accommodate those options can get out of hand pretty quickly. Here is a list of what I use in order to run a gig smoothly and efficiently.

Two smartphones

I keep the smartphones I’ve upgraded from. It comes in handy when I need something just for running apps, which is what I need onstage. I use one for a personal metronome if I feel the need to play to a click or to quickly 
reference a tempo, and 
I use the other to run backing tracks from the ShowOne app.


A small personal mixer with at least two input channels is all you need for this rig. One channel will be used for the click from your smartphone, the other will take a line for the in-ear monitor mix I receive from FOH. Maker Hart’s Just Mixer is the smallest I have found


From sheet music to set lists to samples and everything in between, a tablet is becoming an indispensable tool for the working musician. I prefer the smaller iPad mini to keep it out of the way of my kit, though most musicians I
 work with are using an iPad Pro. Since these things aren’t cheap to replace, it’s a good idea to spend the cash to get a good tablet clamp that mounts onto a stand.


You’ll need a digital interface with 4-channel capability to run stereo tracks from your smartphone with ShowOne. I recommend Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2.


There’s no substitute for a good set of cans to keep you locked in on your click track and to properly hear the backing tracks.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.

Lesson: Running Backing Tracks Part 3 (Four-Channel Mode)

Lesson: Running Backing Tracks Part 2

Lesson: Running Backing Tracks Pt. I