“… On Sundays, he would hide sticks in his dress pants so he could play on the floor at church. Even before that, as a baby, I worried when he was quiet because if he was awake, he was banging on something.”
From birth music was an inevitable fate for the Denver born musician. Tohbias, the youngest of four children watched his two oldest siblings participate in a Denver-based drum and bugle corps which their father directed. At the age of 3, Tohbias began noticeably attempting and achieving many of the rhythms and techniques he saw from the corps as they rehearsed. His mother shared, “… On Sundays, he would hide sticks in his dress pants so he could play on the floor at church. Even before that, as a baby, I worried when he was quiet because if he was awake, he was banging on something.”
Tohbias landed at Denver School of the Arts as an Instrumental music major and Jazz Studies minor in the eighth grade. Earlier the same year Tohbias had the honor of performing a percussion clinic with music mentor Dave Hammond and percussion legend William Ludwig Jr. By high school graduation he had received top honors at the Reno International Jazz Festival, performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade, marched with Blue Knights Indoor Percussion Ensemble, Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps, and The Colorado Symphony while being a three-year member of Colorado’s All-State band, Mile High Jazz All-Stars, ending his high school career as the drummer for Colorado’s All-State Jazz Band. This abbreviated list of childhood accomplishments was concluded with being selected as one of 12 jazz students in the United States chosen to perform in the 2nd Annual Vail Jazz All-Star Band.
Juniel believed, “Be a sponge! Learn all of what you can from everyone and everything you can.” These lessons were constantly being shared and explored.
Tohbias’ post-high school life began with accepting a scholarship to the University of Colorado Boulder. While a student, Tohbias toured and played with American Music-nominated band Yo Flaco, while also performing with blues guitarist Sammy Mayfield. At 17, Juniel began teaching and writing for various High School percussion programs in the Midwest Region. Using the sounds and experiences that shaped his life to encourage others, Juniel’s students were awarded many successes and acknowledgements along with receiving top percussion honors in marching music festivals from Hawaii to Dublin Ireland.
“If it moves me, I’m interested.” That approach to music is why teaching, writing, touring, recording and attending school for music wasn’t enough for the then 20 year old. Tohbias set his sights on the highly decorated drum and bugle corps Cadets of Bergen County. After being accepted, he spent a tour season with the corps based in Bergen Field, N.J., later returning to Colorado to continue his previous commitments. Tohbias rejoined Blue Knights Indoor Percussion Ensemble after being a member as a high school sophomore while choosing to study with Ron Miles and Dr. Walter Barr at Metropolitan State College of Denver. His experiences with various areas and genres of percussion studies allowed Tohbias to return to Blue Knights as a snare technician before assuming position as battery caption head and arranger. Tohbias also had the honor of working as associate percussion caption head for the Troopers alongside Nick Angelis from the Emmy Award-winning, Tony Award-winning cast of “Blast!”
“Somewhere, someone else is working harder than you…”
Those words keep the gifted man humbled in a career field where everything created is only measured by its level greatness. Tohbias, keeping up with the bunch, was awarded the drum chair of the 2011 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Cover Band competition, an international competition where one drummer was selected for the seven-piece all star band. That led to a summer feature story in the No. 1 drum magazine in the world, “Modern Drummer.” The attention continued as Tohbias was chosen as a regional judge for the 1st Annual Roland V-Drums Competition and today is a member of the elite roster of Yamaha Music Artists consisting of Elton John and Justin Timberlake.
“Acknowledge that no one has lived a life alone, therefore nothing is ever achieved alone.”
Tohbias is quick to pay respect and give thanks to the many amazing people that have influenced is life. “… Mom, Dad, Stevie, Moinette, Shalanda, aunts, uncles, grandparents, my great grandparents, Orlando Otis, Dave Hammond, Rudy Royston, Shamie Royston, Jerry Noonan, Dr. Willie Hill, Greg Carroll, Nick Angelis, Dr. Doug Rosener, Tom Aungst, Mike Nevin, Dan Burke, Sean Holt, Ron Miles, Hazel Miller and my many friends who’ve allowed me to become who I am.”
In 2011 Tohbias added business owner to his list of titles becoming the Founder and CEO of DC Global Entertainment, “… No one can give me a better job than the one I can create for myself”. Tohbias and DCGE recently linked with The Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra to expose a new generation of artists to the some of the same lessons he was able to experience is just of one of the many goals of the company. Many great things are yet to come for someone so driven and inspired by the want to encourage and motivate others.
“I just ask that everyone takes time to care more. Of course everyone is going to naturally care for things they hold valuable. So then I ask, ‘consider what you and others deem valuable.’ With that approach, how can life not become better for everyone and everything?”