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2019 Staff!
(2020 instructors TBA in January)

Dennis Chambers

Dennis Chambers has recorded and performed with John Scofield, George Duke, the Brecker Brothers, Santana, Parliament/Funkadelic, John McLaughlin, Niacin, Mike Stern, CAB, Greg Howe, and many others. Modern Drummer magazine named him "one of the 25 best drummers of all-time."

Chambers began drumming at the age of four and was gigging in Baltimore-area nightclubs by the age of six. He was recruited in 1981 by the Sugar Hill Label to be their "house drummer." Dennis plays on many Sugar Hill releases . In 1978, at just 18 years-of-age, he joined Parliament/Funkadelic, and stayed with them until 1985. In 1986, he joined the John Scofield band. Since then, he has played with most of the major figures in jazz fusion music.

Chambers also performed on the critically acclaimed Maceo Parker live album "Roots and Grooves" album with long time friend Rodney "Skeet" Curtis (bass) and the WDR Big Band. He has toured extensively with Carlos Santana and makes appearances with his band Niacin.

Chambers has become well-known among drummers for his technique and speed. Chambers is particularly regarded for his ability to play "in the pocket" but can also stretch in mindblowing ways. Chambers exhibits a powerful style that is technically proficient, yet highly musical and groove-oriented. He can play in a wide variety of musical genres, but is perhaps most notable for his jazz-fusion, funk, and Latin.

In a 2011 interview, Dennis Chambers was asked who some of his influences and favorite drummers were and he mentioned: Clyde Stubblefield, Al Jackson Jr., Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Husband, Jack Dejohnette, Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, and Tony Williams.

Steve Smith
Journey/Vital Information

Steve Smith is the inconic drummer for he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Journey. With more than 70 million albums sold worldwide, Steve's playing is forever set in the minds of drummers and music fans.

In addition to playing with Journey, Steve founded and still tours with his iconic fusion band Vital Information. Well into its fourth decade, the band has been a cornerstone of the genre, and has featured some of the industry's best musicians.

Beyond these two groups, Steve is well-known for his work in bands with legendary guitar players Ronny Montrose, Frank Gambale, Mike Stern, Scott Henderson, Tony McAlpine, and more. He has recorded with pop stars Bryan Adams and Mariah Carey, and toured with the legendary jazz group Steps Ahea.

Steve Smith's drumming, while always decidedly modern, can best be described as a style that embodies the history of U.S. music. His original love of rudimental parade drumming is evident in his intricate
solos. Likewise, his command of jazz, from New Orleans music, swing, bebop, avant-garde to fusion, is applied with his powerful rock drumming sensibilities and allows him to push the boundaries of all styles to new heights. His musical focus is committed to the exploration of improvised music incorporating styles as diverse as Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk and South Indian Carnatic.

Smith’s calendar often includes many drum clinics in which he is able to display his phenomenal techniques and concepts to drumming students around the world. Steve has been on the teaching staff of the Drum Fantasy Camp since 2007. His instructional books and DVDs are some of the most popular titles on the market.

Smith's explosive solos and intricate timekeeping served to gain him much acclaim from sources such as Modern Drummer magazine, whose readers voted him the #1 Fusion Drummer of 2012 and 2105. In 2017, Steve topped an unprecedented three categories in the MD poll: "#1 Rock Drummer," "#1 MVP" and "#1 Educational Product" for his Hudson Music Book/DVD "Pathways of Motion."

In the late 80s and early 90s, the Modern Drummer poll voted Steve #1 “All-Around” Drummer five years in a row and in 2001, the magazine named Steve as one of the "Top 25 Drummer of All Time.” In 2002, he was voted into the “Modern Drummer Hall of Fame” and in 2003 his Hudson Music DVD Steve Smith Drumset Technique - History of the U.S. Beat was voted "#1 Educational DVD" of 2003. The 2008, 2009 and 2010, Drum! magazine voted Smith "#1 Jazz Drummer," and in 2009, Drum! readers voted Steve Smith Drum Legacy - Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants the #1 educational DVD.

Chad Wackerman
(Frank Zappa/Allan Holdsworth/Independent)

A phenomenally skilled jazz and rock drummer, Chad's professional career began in 1978 with the Bill Watrous band. Since then, he has amassed a remarkable body of work including a seven year association with Frank Zappa, with whom he toured the USA and Europe and recorded 27 albums including the London Symphony recordings.

Chad has also recorded six albums and toured with guitar legend Allan Holdsworth. He played on the 'One Voice' album and DVD with Barbra Streisand, and recorded albums and toured with artists as diverse as Steve Vai, Andy Summers, Men At Work, Ed Mann, Albert Lee, Colin Hay, Dweezil Zappa, Pasqua/Holdsworth/Haslip/Wackerman Group, Terry Bozzio, Carl Verheyen, Steven Wilson, David Garfield, Los Lobotomy’s, John Patitucci, Joe Sample, Banned From Utopia, Robbie Krieger, The World Drummers Ensemble (Bill Bruford, Luis Conte, Dou Dou Ndiaye Rose and Chad Wackerman), and James Taylor.

As a band leader and composer, Chad has five critically acclaimed CDs: ‘Forty Reasons’, ‘The View’, Scream’, ‘Legs Eleven’ and his newest release, ‘Dreams Nightmares and Improvisations’. Chad has written music for the television show 'The Dennis Miller Show', as well as composing music for Allan Holdsworth's 'Secrets' , 'Wardenclyffe Tower' and 'Sixteen Men of Tain' CDs. His trio has a performance DVD titled 'Hits Live'.

Chad is also a world renown clinician and has masterclasses on drumchannel. com, Chad is also a professor at California State University Long Beach, Bob Cole Conservatory.

Chad's drumming combines the power and conviction of rock with the sensitivity and finesse of jazz. His playing is remarkably free of predictable patterns and licks, relying instead on invention and interplay with the musicians around him.

Gergő Borlai


Gergő Borlai started playing drums at the age of three when he heard Harvey Mason playing "Chameleon" (with Herbie Hancock) and Joe Morello playing "Take Five" (with Dave Brubeck). At six, he was accepted into a music school and was soon following Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Allan Holdsworth, John Scofield and John McLaughlin.

Originally from Hungary, Gergo appeared on more than 300 albums there and received two lifetime achievement awards and two "gold record awards," as well as the Golden Drumstick Prize and the Artisjus Lifetime Achievement Award. On a worldwide scale, his impeccable groove and soloing  has propelled him into one of the most exciting drumset artists out there.

Gergo is a great educator. He has run clinics and master classes all throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia like including Musician's Institute (Hollywood), South Korea, France, Sweden, Poland, South America, Spain, Germany, and more. Gergo has been a professor of the Liceu Academy/Jazz Departement - Barcelona since 2012. Gergo has lesson packages for Drum Guru and has also created curriculum with Drumeo.

Gergo has performed with Gary Willis, Scott Kinsey, Scott Henderson, Matthew Garrison, Steve Tavaglione, Walt Fowler, Bob Mintzer, Hiram Bullock, L. Shankar, Vernon Reid, Iain Ballamy, Terry Bozzio, Al DiMeola, Hadrien Feraud, Tim Lefebvre, Yolanda Charles, and many more.

More Information

The Band
Janek Gwizdala

Janek Gwizdala is one of the most in-demand bass players on the planet. A Berklee alum, Janek regularly tours with Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz, Marcus Miller, and many more.

He's an accomplished teacher and will join Vinny Valentino in teaching the optional Groove Class. You can choose that during the registration process!

Welcome Janek!
Stu Mindeman

Stuart Mindeman is a versatile pianist/keyboardistskilled in various styles of music including Jazz, Pop, R&B, Classical, Salsa/Latin music, Gospel, and more.

He has shared the stage with such names as Fareed Haque, Gloria Estefan, Rodney Whitaker, Claudio Roditi, John Clayton, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, and many others. He is also active in Chicago’s Theater community, musically directing for The Second City, among others.

In addition to performing, Stuart maintains a private studio, and is on faculty at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. We're grateful to have this amazing talent at our concerts and jams!
Chrissi Poland
Vocals, Keyboards

Chrissi Poland has been the heart and soul of Drum Fantasy Camp since it started in 2007!

A graduate of Berklee with a four-octave range, Chrissi is the energetic leader of our Jam Nights and opening concerts. A composer and recording artist in her own right, Chrissi has toured/recorded with artists including Moby, Bette Midler, Scissor Sisters and Sam Moore. She is also well known for her "Higher Ground" session with Dave Weckl and Chris Coleman. Chrissi has definitely earned the respect of the drumming community.

Chrissi is a true pro who challenges Drum Fantasy Camp attendees to play with confidence, passion, and solid musical sensibilities!
Vinny Valentino
Music Director
Guitar, Vocals

Vinny Valentino is a world-class guitarist and educator. He is best-known for his work with the legendary George Benson and Steve Smith's fusion band Vital Information.

Vinny is a "musician's musician." He plays "in the pocket" and chooses his notes carefully. He's a writer, arranger, and performer of the highest order. He is also a great teacher - helping drummers understand how to be more musical. Vinny has conducted music workshops all over the world.

Vinny's company, "Play Along Jazz," produces play along tracks for musicians of every background and playing level.

At Drum Fantasy Camp, Vinny pulls together all the music for our concerts and Jam Nights. He's the musical vision of the camp and holds everything together during the concerts and jams. He also runs our Groove Class! You can learn a lot from Vinny.
The Staff
Steven Orkin
Owner / Camp Director

Steven Orkin is the owner and director of Drum Fantasy Camp. He also runs Orkin Marketing Consultants, a music marketing firm in Los Angeles, California.

Steven spent ten years in corporate marketing and the ad agency world before starting his firm. He now manages marketing communications for Dave Weckl, Steve Smith, Simon Phillilps, Mike Stern, and others.

Steven started Drum Fantasy Camp in 2007 and also runs periodic drumming classes at Music Annex LA and Music Annex NYC. He's completely accessible at Drum Fantasy Camp and enjoys discussing the biz with attendees. He also enjoys staying in touch with attendees and hearing about their progress after the camp!
John Maloney
Manager / Vic's Drum Shop

John Maloney is the hard-working manager at Vic's Drum Shop - our host location for Drum Fantasy Camp.

While managing operations for one of the top drum stores in the world, John organizes and coordinates all the gear needed to run DFC. He and his crew make sure the teaching rooms, Jam Nights, and concerts are organized and efficient with respect to gear.

John is also a friendly and helpful guy who is always available to help our attendees. He's an invaluable part of the event!