Featured percussionists including Giovanni Hidalgo and Sola Akingbola light up a festive night at Ronnie Scott’s.
Latin Percussion recently celebrated more than half a century as one of the world’s largest percussion brands by hosting a second edition of their Rhythm Jam concerts at the legendary London jazz club Ronnie Scott’s. Special guests at the event included Grammy Award–winning percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo and Jam
iroquai’s Sola Akingbola, who performed with his band Critical Mass. In recognition of Hidalgo’s musical contributions, the instrument manufacturer presented him with the newly established Latin Percussion Legacy Award during the event.
“Last year we celebrated LP’s longstanding association with New York City by throwing a similar event at the Cutting Room club in Manhattan,” says the company’s brand manager, Derek Zimmerman. “The positive energy and camaraderie were undeniable. Sola had wanted to include Giovanni at an event in the U.K., so we decided to revisit the idea this year and invite our family to come jam with us at this incredible venue.”
Joining Akingbola’s band at the event were top British and European percussionists including Pete Lockett (Peter Gabriel, Jeff Beck), Karl Vanden Bossche (Blur, Gorillaz), João Caetano (Incognito), Rob “Skins” Anderson (Alexander O’Neal), Orlando Poleo (independent), and Will Fry (Motown: The Musical, Lion King). The entire concert was filmed and is planned to be released on LP’s YouTube channel later in the year.
Will Calhoun Among Recipients of 2019 Berklee Alumni Achievement Awards
The Living Colour drummer joins a select few who’ve received the honor.
This past April 4, Berklee College of Music recognized six of its graduates with Alumni Achievement Awards. Among the recipients were drummer and MD cover artist Will Calhoun, who since graduating from the institution in 1986 established an impressive and successful career and ensuing reverence among the drumming community. And although perhaps best known for his work in the rock band Living Colour, Calhoun’s accomplishments run the spectrum from independent performance to composition to photography to promoting environmental awareness.
Alumni recipients spent the day sharing their experiences with students before a ceremony at Boston’s Lenox Hotel. Calhoun joins a group of 128 Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee graduates who have received the honor. Other 2019 recipients included engineer Gustavo Celis, composer Ramin Djawadi, songwriter and music executive Nir Seroussi, dancer and choreographer Ebony Williams, and lyricist Amanda Yesnowitz.
Rogers Drum Day
Celebrating the resurgence of one of drumming’s most revered brands.
After a long hiatus, in 2017 Rogers announced a comeback to the world of drums with the modern reintroduction of their flagship snare, the Dyna-Sonic. The release made quite a splash among the drumming community and was followed a year later by the rumor of new kits. And indeed, the company followed through. A Rogers kit—along with many beautiful Dyna-Sonic snares—was displayed at the Big Bang Distribution booth during the 2019 NAMM show this past January.
To celebrate Rogers’ rebirth, Dana Bentley, who owns Bentley’s Drum Shop in Fresno, California, held a Rogers Drums Day in late fall of last year [October 14]. Various former Rogers employees, endorsers, company memorabilia, and both vintage and newly released Rogers drums packed the store’s floor.
To understand the significance of the day, a brief review of the Rogers drum history is helpful: In 1849 Joseph H. Rogers, an immigrant from Ireland, started a calfskin drum and banjo head company in Brewster’s Station, New York. A second tannery was later established by his son, Joseph H. Rogers Jr., in Farmingdale, New York. Around 1930, Joseph’s grandson Cleveland S. Rogers began manufacturing drums at the Farmingdale site.
Over the next century, Rogers became a revered name in the drum industry thanks in part to innovations such as their chrome-over-brass and wood Dyna-Sonic snares, MemriLoc hardware, and Swiv-O-Matic bass drum pedal. Wood-shelled Dyna-Sonics in particular have become coveted by collectors for their rarity, sensitivity, and unique sound.
The Rogers company stayed within the original family for more than a hundred years before being sold in 1955. Afterward, the company experienced multiple ownership changes as well as manufacturing eras in Covington, Ohio, and Fullerton, California. In 2013 Rogers was acquired by the president of Dixon Drums, Joseph Chen, who ushered in their 2017 return.
Bentley described the new incarnation of Rogers at the event. “They sound fantastic and are true to the original drums,” he says. “Rogers spent a couple of years engineering parts that resembled the old wood Dyna-Sonics, but they’re a little better now in my opinion. The same applies to the new Dyno-Matic pedal. The original Swiv-O-Matic pedal was iconic. When it came out in the late ’50s, no one pedal had its features. Rogers brought it back with the original fixtures, along with the addition of more modern features to make it easier for setup. And with the new wood Dyna-Sonic snares, all of the parts are ‘retro-fittable’—if you have an original vintage drum, all parts for it are available as replacements. Back in the day, Rogers drums were the most expensive on the market, and many players aspired to own one of their kits.”
The event started with a meet-and-greet along with a display of various vintage Rogers drums, including many wood Dyna-Sonics, a mint 1964 Holiday Blue Sparkle kit, and a 1983 Gina Schock Custom SuperTen snare hand-built by John Cermenaro, Rogers’ production manager in the early ’80s. This was followed by a presentation by Bob Kasha of Big Bang Distribution about the latest Rogers gear. Jim Ganduglia, a thirty-year Rogers endorser and part of the Rogers research and development team during the late ’70s, gave a clinic on playing styles, positioning, and what makes hardware work well.
Later Bentley debuted a drumset that hadn’t been seen for over forty years, surprising the audience with the original Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Silver Sparkle Rogers kit from New York. Bentley had purchased several of Ed Shaughnessy’s drums from his estate a little over four years ago. “Nineteen sixty-three was when Shaughnessy started with the Tonight Show,” says Bentley, “and I believe it was around 1972 when the show moved out to Burbank, California. Shortly after, Shaughnessy got a new Rogers White Marine Pearl double bass kit.”
Cermenaro shared his knowledge of Rogers’ drum production and the inner workings of the company during the last days before its shutdown in 1984. John gave personal insight into the agony he experienced while watching the company close its doors. In 1984, Cermenaro had pleaded to keep Rogers going. During his presentation, he read aloud some of his passionate letters to CBS management, who ran the brand from 1966 to 1983, but it unfortunately failed to convince them to continue.
Both Ganduglia and Cermenaro clearly showed their love for Rogers and their products. They said the camaraderie of the employees was amazing, as was their pride in their work. They were thrilled that Rogers was coming back in the right way. Jack McFeeters, a vintage Rogers expert, said, “I’ve talked to [Cermenaro] many times over the years concerning things at Rogers during his tenure there. His insights and knowledge of the daily operations, difficulties, successes, and failures have been most helpful toward building an accurate timeline of events at Rogers drums during the early 1980s. Jim is a genius in both his knowledge and engineering skills, and I gained a new appreciation for my old drums.”
Bentley said that the event truly lived up to his expectations, and attendees were able to share their enthusiasm for Rogers and see the promise of a new generation. “It was a fantastic day, so we plan on doing it again,” Bentley said. McFeeters also captured the feeling of the attendees. “What I found in the new Rogers Dyna-Sonic was beautiful in so many ways,” he said. “Every part, every fit, would have made Joe Thompson, Ben Strauss, and Henry Grossman, the early Rogers innovators, proud. This gives all of us who enjoy Rogers drums hope for a future filled with greatness.”
Story by Bob Campbell | Photos by Royce Davis