Thursday, May 13th. I'm sitting in a plane on the runway at LAX getting ready to take off to Atlanta and then catch my connecting flight to Augusta. This was to be my first official clinic with Mapex and Sabian co-sponsoring. Exciting stuff. As I'm waiting for the inevitable announcement to please turn off all cell phones and other electronic devices, I got a call from my friend Ann at Sabian up in Canada.
Basically it was like this: Joe Morello had to cancel last minute on the Columbus Pro Percussion Drum Daze festival in Columbus, Ohio on the following Sunday. Was I available and into filling the spot vacated by him on that day? My first thought was "is Joe ok?". Turns out he had to cancel due to back problems, nothing really serious. That's good. I gladly accepted the offer and then started thinking all weekend about how this was going to go. I've done many clinics but this was my first festival with maybe 700-800 drummers in attendance. Good times indeed for drum enthusiasts. The bill also featured Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall, Teddy Campbell from the American Idol TV show band, Chris Coleman from Prince, and my good buddy Johnny Rabb. All drummers I'm a fan and admirer of. It was an honor to share the stage with them.
Columbus Pro Percussion's Drum Daze is a first class event that they've been putting on for about 15 years. They have this event down like clockwork. Jim Rupp the owner of Columbus Pro Percussion was extremely gracious and made sure to provide me with a great drum tech named Joel who was on top of things. He had checked out some youtube videos of me in order to see my setup (smart!). When I left Georgia to meet up with the Columbus crew for soundcheck the day before, they had my setup 3/4 of way there. This was a huge sigh of relief for me as each drummer only had 1 hour per guy to soundcheck and I was hurrying to the venue straight from the airport! They had to put together a Mapex Meridian kit they had at the store along with all the Sabian cymbals on my list of required gear. Crazy weekend for sure but it was just beginning. After soundcheck local Sabian rep Greg Zeller and I met up with everyone at a German restaurant where we were treated to an amazing meal by the guys at Columbus Pro Percussion. It was definitely a fun drum geek hang.
We went back to the hotel and I tried to get some sleep but being a world class insomniac, it was difficult. Especially the day before a big performance like this. But the day came and the show was a blast. The soundmen, crew and everyone else made it so easy. Luckily I had no gear malfunctions and I was happy with how my 55 minute set came out. I opened my set playing along to the new version of the Monday Night Football Theme (which I played on a couple years ago), played along to some other tracks from records I've done, soloed a bit and took some questions. What a great audience!
Of course once I was done I made sure to hang side stage and watch the rest of the performances. They were all killin it! We even did a full on jam at the end with all 5 of us on our kits! I'm happy to say I made some great new friends and met a lot of great people who were in attendance. It was obvious that the spirit and art of drumming are alive and well and the diverse performers and attendees were evidence of this.
The people at Columbus Pro Percussion made this a great weekend and everything was top notch and professional. It was an honor to fill in last minute and share the stage with so many incredible players. I sure hope to be back to Columbus soon to hang with my new drum brothers!
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