International drum enthusiasts gathered at the Factory Theatre in Sydney, Australia, this past October 8 for the third-annual Vintage and Custom Drum Expo. Local and international drum companies, including many Australian brands not readily available in stores, housed their wares throughout two auditoriums. Exhibitors provided short demo sessions to describe the unique features of their drums and accessories, artists presented impressive clinics on a dedicated performance stage, and a display of special vintage drums was curated especially for the event.
The Expo’s founder, Australian drummer Andrew Habgood, explains to MD that his goals for the show included “showcasing the leading international and Australian percussion instruments and the people who created them, right alongside the vintage drums that influenced and continue to shape current drum-building trends.
“In Australia,” Habgood continues, “we’re fortunate to have so many wonderful native timbers that are quickly becoming popular across the drumming world. The first wave of Australian drum craftsmen, such as Drouyn and Drouyn, Brady, and Sleishman, impressed the international community with their skill and unique-sounding drums. Today there are even more talented and passionate custom builders coming to the fore who are using Australian hardwoods, metals, and acrylics. What’s very exciting is that drummers worldwide are embracing local Australian products and taking them out on the road.”
The expo featured renowned local builders such as Evetts, JPP, Gas, Red Rock, Sia, Kentville, and Pansini Percussion. Brands new to the event included Metro, Swan, and Geo. H. Way Australia. Sleishman, one of Australia’s longstanding innovators, displayed its patented Twin bass drum pedal and free-floating suspension system. JPP showcased several marvelous segmented shell drums that were made from woods such as bubinga, Osage orange, red box, sapele mahogany, and tallowood. Red Rock demonstrated a fabulous series of stave shell drums, which includes the jazz-geared Heritage and versatile National lines.
The drum craftsmen Ronn Dunnett and Paul Warry of Geo. H. Way Australia displayed a beautiful 10-ply bamboo snare. Warry, who’s also at the helm at Metro Drums, introduced that company’s Stratasonic models, which feature a vertical grain veneer throughout the entire shell. Gas and Pansini each displayed stunning acrylic drums, Sia showcased hybrid stainless-steel/stave drums, and Evetts had on hand 3mm aluminum- and brass-shell drums.
Exquisite vintage drums included a masterfully restored 1936 Leedy “Oriental Pearl” Full Dress kit complete with a Chinese tom and woodblocks courtesy of Kentville Drums’ Steele Turkington. A set of North drums was on display, as well as some classic Ludwig and Rogers kits.
Leading international manufacturers at the event included C&C Australia, Craviotto, DW, Pearl, Pork Pie, Sakae, Sonor, Tama, Truth, Crescent, Istanbul Agop, Meinl, Murat Diril, Zildjian, Evans, Promark, PureSound, Q Drum Co., Tackle, Humes & Berg, Protec, SKB, TRX, Lowboy Beaters, Rodrigo, Fat Barry Brown Brushes, and A&G hand-painted drumheads.
The clinics featured superb performances by the Australian drummers David Jones (Don McLean, educator), Dave Goodman (Dave Goodman Quartet, Trioflight), and Jackie “Jimmy” Barnes (Jimmy Barnes, Lachy Doley Group). During the demo sessions, patrons were entertained by a number of local drummers, including Nic Pettersen (Northlane) and Alex Dumbrell (Caravãna Sun).
The 2017 Vintage and Custom Drum Expo proved to be a tremendous success. “The 2015 expo was our inaugural event and was well received,” Habgood says. “We had a majority of exhibitors returning this year, plus some new brands. I’ve been fortunate to form close relationships with the craftsmen involved. Throughout the year, many of them have forwarded ideas or suggestions for future expos. Our primary concern moving forward was to have more control over the sound levels in the main hall. With the backing of all of the exhibitors, we trialed a no-free-jamming, ‘one stick’ rule. I think this worked out well, so we’ll likely continue the practice.” Plans are already in the works for the fourth-annual show later this year.