The 24th Annual Chicago Drum Show
May 17-18, 2014 Kane County Fairgrounds, St. Charles, IL
by Bob Campbell with Kat Almlie (covering the “Careers in the percussion industry” Roundtable)
Each year now for 24 years, Rob Cook and his amazing team have put together one of the most exciting drum shows in the U.S.A. The Chicago Drum Show has become the place to gather for drummers, drum collectors, builders and craftsman from around the world. Oh, and yes they have some very cool raffle prizes…and a fantastic selection of drum books, DVD’s, t-shirts and swag for sale :). We would say that any drummer who has not had the chance to attend at least one Chicago Drum Show has truly missed out on a remarkable experience.
This year, the two days were jam-packed with great booths, performances, clinics, master classes and educational presentations. On Saturday, there were some wonderful clinics starting off with the flamboyant, fiery-red-haired Mike Semerau (“Chicago’s #1 Drum Lessons”) in the morning, followed by the multi-talented Curt Bisquera, a.k.a. “Kirkee B”, (whose credits include: Go-Go’s, Bonnie Raitt, Seal, Celine Dion, Mick Jagger, Queen Latifah, Dixie Chicks, Lionel Ritchie, Nelly Furtado, Spice Girls, and many more), and then rounded off by a gentleman from New Orleans, Stanton Moore (Galactic, Garage a Trois, Stanton Moore “Conversations” album, Stanton Moore Drum Company, the Hudson Music Groove Alchemy educational book/CD/DVD). Stanton always impresses me with his clinics; paying homage to his drumming history, humility and the constant evolution of his playing. Most of all, that man can groove.
For the drum collectors and historians, there were some terrific presentations by Rick Gier (“Dating Ludwig and Gretsch drums”) and Gary Astridge (“Ringo’s Beatle gear on the road”; “Ringo’s Beatle gear at Abbey Road”). All in all, both Rick and Gary were quite knowledgeable and approachable; I learned a lot from each of them. They have tried to set the record straight as best as possible, capturing the facts and discussing the gaps in our knowledge. I personally loved all the pics of Ringos’ kits and gold-plated Ludwig Supraphonic.
This year, the Chicago Drum Show offered a new element to the clinics and equipment - a Rebeats Roundtable in the Master Classroom on “Careers in the percussion industry” which Kat was keen to attend. The Careers roundtable featured Karl Dustman as moderator (music industry executive), and Jim Catalano (Ludwig Drum Company), Todd Trent (Ontario Music, Artists Relations for Ludwig and now Taye Drums), and Paul Wertico (Trio New, Paul Winter, seven-time Grammy Award winner with Pat Metheny Group), as panelists. So if you were thinking about getting into the business of drums/percussion, these guys were definitely great role models and sources of info. This roundtable was divided into two parts. The first segment was a 50-minute overview of the percussion industry as a whole, including everything from education to retail sales. The second segment consisted of about 50 minutes detailing how the percussion industry breaks down the economic impact of revenue generated by drum sales, services and education. One of the main features was a discussion of whether or not to pursue a higher education. Furthering your education was always viewed as a positive factor. Having a degree in Music or Business was helpful, but wasn’t the only way to get the job. Jim Catalano and Paul Wertico each had extensive education and then built on their experience in percussion. However, Todd Trent’s moving up the ladder from music store stock boy to Sales and Marketing Manager for Taye Drums proved that “plain old hard work” and lessons on the job pay off as well. While each worked diligently to get where they are today, there wasn’t any single formula for success. They did give some general advice:
- It is important not only whom you know, but also who knows you.
- Learn to market yourself and be your own best advertiser.
- Go to the shows.
- Be an active participant. Introduce yourself.
- Continue to move on forward.
To sum it all up, this was a very enlightening class offered by the Chicago Drum Show. It was refreshing to experience an educational event that didn’t actually involve a performance. One left this discussion feeling empowered. I (Kat) hope that more educational classes such as this will be offered in the future.
During both days, Jim Messina of Vintage Drums Talk (www.vintagedrumstalk.com) was doing live interviews with renowned drum experts such as Mike Curotto, Mark Cooper, Dave Brown, Bun E Carlos, Steve Maxwell and more. So that was just Saturday and I didn’t mention all the great drums yet…!