What would it be like to hang out with some of the best
the world for a weekend? To attend small clinics,
intimate master classes, incredible concerts at
night featuring world-class drummers...and...to have the
chance to sit in with a world-class band?
109 drummers of all ages and playing levels, and from all over
the world, found out at drumFantasy.07, held at
Seton Hall University, August 17-21, 2007.
along with Dave Weckl, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez,
and Jason Bittner, ran a series of lectures and small
master classes at the camp. They were joined by Pat
Petrillo and Jason Gianni (courtesy of New York's
The Collective), plus Glenn Weber of the
New Jersey School of Percussion.
Students arrived on Friday afternoon. They registered, and
then hopped on a bus over to Seton Hall for a reception and
kick-off concert with Steve Smith and Vital Information!
The crowd was treated
to a fantastic concert featuring Steve, Tom Coster,
Baron Browne, and Vinny Valentino. Of course, for
the camp, Steve had a few surprises in his back pocket.
On flute, hand percussion, and konnokol, was the great
Ravichandra Kulur. Steve also invited New York
It was an amazing lineup and the camp attendees saw a very
rare and special performance.
morning saw the beginning of classes. Everyone was assigned to
a group and that group went from class-to-class together.
"It was amazing how people bonded so quickly," said Steven
Orkin, organizer of Drum Fantasy Camp. "Drummers seem
to share ideas rather than competing with one another, as
evidenced by the scene in the cafeteria."
Orkin is referring to groups of campers huddled around tables
talking drums and trading concepts with their sticks and
practice pads. "I can only imagine what the university's
Summer students, staff, and the nuns were thinking when they
heard that racket!" Orkin added.
The instructors also ate in the cafeteria. This provided more
time for questions and discussion - as did the the lawn right
Steve was seen leading impromptu lessons out there after
lunch, with campers tapping out odd time signatures and trying
The second evening provided campers with another incredible
concert. But this time, it was a double feature.
The first show was a band put together by Horacio Hernandez.
He brought with him Turkish pianist Fahir Atakoglu and
Yirimibir. The trio played an assortment of fascinating
One special treat: Horacio performed "Lullaby for Miles" on
Mbira and invited Dave Weckl to accompany him on a snare drum
Dave returned to the stage for the second show with a band he
put together exclusively for this occasion. It featured Tom
Kennedy on a 250-year-old
bass, George Colligan on piano, and Ralph Bowen
Days three through five consisted of daytime master classes
limited to just 15 campers per class. This gave everyone some
quality time with the teachers.
"Steve and Dave wanted to make sure the classes were small
enough to give each student personal instruction in addition
to the larger concepts" says Orkin. "The hardest part was
keeping the classes on-track time-wise...because the teachers
wanted to keep teaching and sometimes went an hour over!"
Of course the campers didn't complain.
The last two nights of the camp were called "jam nights," in
which the campers got to sit in with an all-star band. The
band was led by guitarist Vinny Valentino, and featured
bassist Baron Browne, and singer Chrissi Poland.
This band often performs on Monday night in New York city with
a very great drummer - Joel Rosenblatt. But, on "jam
night," it was the campers who were given the opportunity to
But there were some conditions...
Poland, an extremely professional and accomplished singer who
graduated from the Berklee School of Music, and
who appears on the new CD from Moby, joined
Vinny in expressing what they wanted from the gig.
Specifically, they made it clear that they wanted a solid
groove and all eyes on the bandleader for direction during the
group's funky rock and blues tunes. No soloing. No
competition. Just music.
The drummers responded.
Put to the task of being professional musicians for the night,
each drummer, no matter what their level of play, was able to
hold the songs together. With two kits on stage and drummers
lined up for each kit, a new drummer would start as the
previous drummer stopped - allowing the
groove to flow, and each drummer to do their thing.
And, each drummer left the stage with a pat on the back from
the instructors, who also jumped in from time-to-time. This
led to some very fun moments.
For example, when the band broke into Van Halen's "Hot
for Teacher," campers were treated to Jason Bittner's
blindingly fast version of the song's double-bass shuffle.
also joined in on the song, showing a different side of his
Many students also appreciated Steve's groove on some
disco/R&B tunes. He was all pocket - loose and flowing, and
even had to turn his ball cap around to fit the mood!
Dave Weckl and Horacio Hernandez spent most of the two nights
timbales and congas, accompanying campers during their turns
on the drum kits. There were a lot smiles back and forth as
campers realized who was backing them up!
All-in-all, a lot was learned and there was much fun to be
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