The Chicago Drum Show, the enduring brainchild of drum historian Rob Cook, returned to the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, Illinois, this past May 20–21 for its twenty-seventh edition. Global manufacturers and collectors packed the venue with tantalizing vintage, custom, and modern gear. The vintage corner featured extremely rare snares from collector Joe Luoma, including an engraved 5×14 Slingerland Black Beauty Artist model, a one-of-a-kind uncatalogued Ludwig & Ludwig cinnamon swirl 5×14, two 5×14 Leedy snares—one in red onyx finish and one in black onyx—and a 6×14 Billy Gladstone drum. Collector Brian Hill also displayed a wonderful assortment of well-preserved French and Indian War–, Revolutionary War–, and Civil War–era rope-tension drums.
A bevy of talented boutique and well-known drum manufacturers exhibited gear galore, including wares from companies such as Bolanos, Canopus, Chicago Drum, Craviotto, daVille Drumworks, Doc Sweeney, Dixon, Dunnett Classic/George Way, P. Ellis, Goodman, Holland, Holloman, Infinity, Jenkins-Martin, Kumu, Ludwig, Outlaw, Palmetto, Parra, RBH, SJC, Sonor, Stone Custom, William F. Ludwig III, and Yamaha. The custom drum company Beat Boogie displayed a stunning 24K-gold-plated, engraved brass Beat Beauty model, which was the result of a collaboration between the company and drum craftsman Adrian Kirchler. At the Trick Drums booth, Mike Morgan (studio, independent) hand engraved a brass shell using a pneumatic engraving tool and stereo microscope. Attendees also feasted on a wide array of fine vintage and modern cymbals from Amedia, Crescent, Meinl, Paiste, Sabian, UFIP, and Zildjian.
Master classes were held both days, with insights from Jim Payne (author and educator), Daniel Glass (Royal Crown Revue), Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts), Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band), and Aldo Mazza (educator and KoSA founder). Remo representative Jeff Davenport held a tuning clinic, and Gary Astridge, the curator of Ringo Starr’s drum collection, discussed the former Beatle’s setups. Kelli Rae Stubbs (author and educator), Matt Brennan (University of Edinburgh), and Glass held a roundtable discussion on their Postcard Project, a forthcoming book that surveys the evolution of the drumset from 1900 to 1930 as depicted on surviving postcards from that period.
Mazza opened the clinics on a unique hybrid kit that included a glockenspiel, djembe, and Korg Wavedrum. He integrated the acoustic and electronic voices seamlessly while infusing them with modern and Latin rhythms. In the next clinic, Bissonette regaled attendees with funny stories about his experiences with Ringo and his early days at the University of North Texas. He also demonstrated a tasty paradiddle-diddle fill.
On Saturday evening, KHS America treated a packed room to a series of drum clinics performed by Johnny Rabb (Collective Soul, author), Nir Z (studio), and Lee Pearson (Chris Botti). Rabb demonstrated blazing one-handed rolls. He also created guiro-like effects with his RhythmSaw ridged drumsticks and cleverly manipulated small cymbals on his snare to create electronic-inspired sounds. Nir Z emphasized the importance of solid timekeeping and the need to play seamlessly with sequenced tracks—skills that the session guru explained are necessary for modern studio drummers. During a melodic and dynamic performance, Pearson explored his drumset’s textures with rods, mallets, and sticks. While he admitted that showmanship isn’t everything, he explained that it helps to get the attention of his audience. He then capped off an incredible solo by playing for several minutes with a towel completely covering his head.
Riley opened Sunday’s clinics by handily playing to a variety of tracks in different styles. At the end of his performance, he invited the audience on stage for a group photo. Payne gave an informative clinic on James Brown’s drummers that served as a fitting tribute to the players who so profoundly shaped the sound and feel of modern drumming.
Event organizer and host Rob Cook says, “2017 was a breakout year for the Chicago Drum Show. Toward the end of the setup day, it felt like the show was already in full swing. Although initial access was limited to exhibitors, VIPs, and staff, there were nearly 600 people in the arena, and our ‘circular economy’ was booming. When the show opened to the public Saturday morning, there were long lines waiting to get in. Saturday set a single-day attendance record for the show, and overall attendance for the weekend was up by 26 percent this year. We’re very encouraged by this growth and have started planning for the twenty-eighth show in 2018.”