On the whole, drummers get something of a bad rap. Of all band members, there is no one more likely to have their intelligence questioned or be the butt of a joke – though cowbell players have found an odd credibility these days, thank you Christopher Walken. At a guess, I would say this is due to the perceived accessibility of drums. Unlike guitar or piano, trumpet or harp, anyone can play the drums, right? Talk to any musician who is serious about drumming, they’ll tell you it’s an art. At the inaugural Sydney Drum and Percussion Show, not only can you put your money where your mouth is and actually play drums yourself, but you’ll be exposed to a whole new world of musicianship.
The champion of the event, Rob Walker of the AMA, has long recognised the need to expand the drumming community to those who wouldn’t ordinarily be drawn to such festivals and activities. There is simply so much to see and experience across these two days at the Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavillion, even those with only a cursory interest in the mechanics of live music will find something to encourage their appetite for more.
“It’s really important that everybody gets some hands-on opportunity,” says Walker. “We’re finalising a place now where people can go and have a good old hit, to have the experience and have people in the room to help show them what to do. And there are workshops on orchestral percussion, marimba and timpani. There will be a variety of activities for people who are in any way interested in music and percussion.”
While the onus is certainly on established musicians and drum aficionados, the key to ensuring the festival’s success – not to mention the potential to return next year, following in the footsteps of its sibling event, the Melbourne Guitar Show – is encouraging members of the public to swing by and see what all of the ruckus is about. The Sydney Drum and Percussion Show is primed to do just that. Punters are invited to learn, play, and possibly purchase across a range of instruments and percussion technologies, as well as explore a variety of publishers’ lines and gain legitimate insight into the kind of industry services that exist out there. For what is essentially a pop-up store, it’s a fairly comprehensive grab-bag of services.
Yet, even for those who have little interest in pursuing drumming themselves - or who feel that gaining insight behind technique and style might somehow shatter the mystique – don’t worry, I feel the same way about photography - the event is more than an exaggerated drum supermarket. Some of Australia’s most celebrated drummers and percussion players will be performing.
Gang of Brothers, led by drummer Buddy Siolo and representing Istanbul Mehmet cymbals will be taking to the Main Stage Forecourt on the Sunday afternoon, capping off an epic day of sounds. Also appearing are Belgian drum maestro Michael Schack, fresh from his European arena tours, and who in February received the E-Drummer of the Year Award for the third time; the frenzy of musical energy that is Taikoz; and an early highlight in the shape of rockabilly drummer/vocalist Lozz Benson, who alongside Cam Kinsey and Josh Spoic will perform as That Redhead.
There are plenty of other live performances to be found across the weekend, with the added incentive that many artists will be stepping off the stage and into seminars and workshops. Stan Bicknell, who is being presented by Pearl, Zildjian and Remo will swing from his gig Saturday, to a Sunday morning bass drum workshop. Shortly after their Main Stage performance – and likely still thrumming with adrenalin – Taikoz are leading a workshop into various drumming styles and instruments.
You’ll also find dozens of exhibitors, a massive showcase of all things percussion that stretches across 34 different stands. While many of these are stand-alone features – such as those for the Drum Factory Parramatta, GH Music, Studio 19 Rentals, Drummers Dream, Aon and more – there are also stands that encompass a wide array of outfits and personalities. Optimum Percussion has enlisted Adams Percussion, Schlagwek Cajons, Boomwhackers, Grover Pro Percussion, Percussion Mallets and Pearl. Just Percussion has enlisted Korogi Percussion, Playwood, Saito, DJ Cajons Spain, Yamaha, Pearl, DW, Meinl Sonic Energy, Innovative Percussion, Kato Mallets and more.
The festival has been a given a further local flavour by the programming of various Sydney-side talents. Award-winning percussionist Alex West will lead audiences through the DRUMBEAT Program, which is committed to engaging and transferring social learning. The Sydney Conservatorium Percussion Ensemble will be performing, with an emphasis on showcasing Australian performers. The Thomas Hassall Anglican College Drum Circle will demonstrate contemporary interpretations and arrangements of traditional North-West African rhythms, while Allans Watson, the Associate Principal Timpanist and Percussionist of the Opera Australia Orchestra, will also feature.
Given the continued success of the Melbourne Guitar Show, it seems likely that the Sydney Drum and Percussion Show will find itself equally celebrated. It is a truly unique event, and will see some of the country’s most outstanding performers gather together in one of the most accessible festivals out there. For casual music fans to seasoned pros, every taste and level of skill has been catered for. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to unleash your inner Keith Moon, you’ve finally found your calling.
The Sydney Drum and Percussion Show will be taking place on May 27 and 28 at Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavillion in Sydney. For more information visit australianmusician.com.au/sydney-drum-percussion-show-2017.