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2018 Staff

This page will be updated for 2019 in January!

Billy Cobham
Mahavishnu Orchestra

Jazz fusion pioneer Billy Cobham is an internationally renowned drumming virtuoso, percussionist, composer, producer, educator and master clinician whose life has been dedicated to musical exploration and creative expression.

Cobham began his performing career with jazz artists such as: Horace Silver, George Benson, Ron Carter, Thad Jones, Kenny Burrell, Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott. In 1969, Cobham was a founding member of the band “Dreams,” which featured brothers Michael and Randy Brecker, along with Jeff Kent, Doug Lubahn, the late John Abercrombie, Barry Rogers, Eddie Vernon and later, Will Lee and Don Grolnick.

The following year, he was invited to join Miles Davis’ group and contributed to four pivotal recordings by the trumpeter, including Bitches Brew (where he collaborated with guitarist John McLaughlin) and Tribute to Jack Johnson.

In the spring of 1971, Cobham was invited by John McLaughlin into the Mahavishnu Orchestra, joining Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, and Rick Laird. They released three acclaimed albums, beginning with Inner Mounting Flame. Mahavishnu’s pioneering combination of classical virtuosity, jazz spontaneity, and rock prowess broke new ground in the music world. In this setting, Cobham’s dramatic, explosive power, extraordinary dexterity, and complex style of play brought him global attention and critical acclaim.



When the original Mahavishnu Orchestra disbanded in 1973, Cobham began leading his own groups and releasing his own albums, beginning with Spectrum, which unexpectedly became a sensational hit around the world. This breakthrough album is widely regarded as one of the most important, defining statements of the jazz-rock genre.

Throughout his career, Cobham has appeared on over 300 recordings, including those by pop and rock icons like Peter Gabriel, Quincy Jones, Jack Bruce, Bob Weir, and James Brown, and to date, has produced and released more than forty albums as a leader.

Todd Sucherman
Styx


Todd Sucherman is a Modern Drummer Readers Poll winner again. In 2018, he was the #1Progressive Rock Drummer and won #1 Recorded Performance for The Mission (Styx). 2015 saw Sucherman win #1 Progressive Rock Drummer as well as #1 Clinician in DRUM! Magazine all the while touring the world with the multi platinum rock band Styx. His “Methods and Mechanics” instructional DVD series has won multiple awards, and he remains an in demand drummer for recording sessions, clinics and drum festivals all over the world.

Todd attended Berklee College of Music for one year. There he studied privately with Gary Chaffee, a world renowned educator with former students the likes of Steve Smith and Vinnie Colaiuta.

In 1988, Todd returned to Chicago and quickly established himself as a first call musician in the recording scene. As an in demand player for live and session work, this led to his association with the band Styx. Todd was called in to record when Styx’s John Panozzo was ill. After John Panozzo’s untimely death, Todd’s position in the band was solidified. Twenty years later, Styx continues to play to millions of fans all over the world averaging 100 dates a year.

In-between his time with Styx he’s recorded more than 1000 radio and TV spots and worked with artists such as Peter Cetera, Brian Culbertson, Spinal Tap, Michael Bolton, The Falling Wallendas, Eric Marienthal, and Brian Wilson (including his 2003 release with Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Elton John.) Todd has been an in demand clinician performing at drum festivals around the world.



Robert "Sput" Searight
Snarky Puppy

Robert “Sput” Searight is one of the most influential drummers and producers in modern music. Well-known for his contributions to popular band Snarky Puppy, "Sput" has made a huge impact on the industry as a whole.

Hailing from a family of musicians in Dallas, Texas, Searight came up alongside artists like Erykah Badu, Norah Jones, and Roy Hargrove at the world-famous Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts.

He won a Grammy Award at age 18 with his own group, God’s Property, a band that changed the face of gospel music with its debut album.

Since then, Searight has proven to be unparalleled in versatility as a drummer, keyboardist, and producer.

Artists like Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, Celine Dion, Justin Timberlake, P Diddy, Timbaland, Myron Butler, and Kirk Franklin employ Searight’s talents regularly.



Matt Garstka
Animals As Leaders

Inspired by his father Greg Garstka (a professional guitar player), Matt Garstka began playing drums at age 8. At age 11, Garstka started gigging with his father playing rock, blues and reggae. By age 14, he was already playing in Rock, Fusion, Funk, Punk, Latin, Jazz, and Reggae groups.

Playing most often with seasoned musicians, Garstka quickly developed into a versatile and mature musician. It was at age 14 that he had the chance to meet Jo Sallins who inspired him to become a professional musician.

Garstka graduated from Berklee in 2011. He moved to L.A. shortly after to further his musical pursuits. Soon after moving to L.A. he joined the band Animals as Leaders and has been touring with the band internationally. He has helped propel the band into international stardom.

Garstka has worked tirelessly at his craft and his versatility has paid off. In addition to Animals as Leaders, he has done extensive studio work, teaches privately, and has toured with a diverse set of groups including Gokh Bi System, an African Hip Hop band.

More Information

   
   
The Band
 
James Genus
Bass

Grammy nominated bassist James Genus is one of the most in-demand players on the scene today. James regularly tours with Herbie Hancock and can be seen every week on Saturday Night Live. His credits include Chick Corea, The Brecker Brothers, and an endless list of top musical acts.

We're excited to have James back at Drum Fantasy Camp! Attendees will have the opportunity to play with him at jams and in the Groove Class!
 
Stu Mindeman
Keys

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!