Photo by Jeff Smith

Hi, everyone, and welcome to 2019!

This is the issue of Modern Drummer that’s given out at the annual winter NAMM trade show, which is being  held between January 24 and 27 at the Convention Center in Anaheim, California. That’s where instrument manufacturers and related companies display their latest products. You can keep up with what’s going on at NAMM by checking in at and at our social-media pages. And we’ll be covering much of the best new gear in upcoming issues of the magazine—which, by the way, is now available at your local Walmart. Of course, to get the best deal on MD you should become a subscriber; details are available online.

On a personal note, this past October I celebrated my “official” twentieth year at MD. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for supporting and reading our magazine and for giving me the opportunity to speak with you all these years. I’ve actually been associated with this fine publication for even longer, as artist-liaison of the Modern Drummer Festival, beginning with the second one. I actually attended the first festival with my pregnant wife. I’ve always wondered if that was one of the reasons our son, Matty, became an amazing drummer himself.

It’s been an eye-opening experience for me being on “the other side” of the business at MD. I spent most of my first forty years out on the road touring, and as some of you know, I’ve been blessed to have my fifteen minutes of fame, as well as being fortunate to do session work here in my hometown of New York City. It never gets old hearing songs I wrote and recorded on the radio. I never take any of it for granted, and I appreciate and thank the gods every day for making my life a happy one. Of course, as any musician knows, it’s not always fun and games— there are as many disappointments as conquests in the biz—but it’s the way you handle those challenges that will determine how far you get.

I was fortunate to have already known many of the players we subsequently covered in our pages,

and since I began working at MD I’ve met many more who’ve become good friends. One of those is this month’s cover artist, Dennis Chambers, one of the most influential drummers of our time. I’ve been a huge fan of Dennis’s drumming for years; one of the many times I’ve seen him play was during an early MD travel assignment to Boston for a Buddy Rich Memorial Show. If you’re unaware of Dennis’s prowess—or perhaps just need a quick reminder— check out some of his highly influential recordings mentioned in this month’s Readers’ Platform.

Also featured in this issue is Clem Burke. Clem and I go back to the ’70s, when his band, Blondie, and mine were part of the CBGB’s scene. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is now the subject of the documentary My View: Clem Burke. Plug in its title at YouTube, and watch the trailer.

A few other gentlemen I’ve had the privilege of knowing for years are featured this month: Brendan Buckley, who’s been with pop star Shakira for twenty years; Sterling Campbell, who tells us all about the rerecording of David Bowie’s infamous Never Let Me Down album; and Larry Lelli, who’s been driving the popular Broadway show Come from Away. One player who we cover that I’ve yet to meet is Aric Improta of Night Verses. Aric has been breaking new ground on record and online for several years now, and we’ll no doubt be hearing about his fascinating projects for years to come.

Thanks again for all your support over the past twenty years—and for helping make Modern Drummer magazine what it is. I’ll see you the next time it’s my turn to say “hello.” Enjoy the issue!






Billy Amendola Editor at Large