Stickman Drum Experience Deemed Huge SuccessArticle by Jayson Brinkworth // August 27 2012
The first annual Stickman Drum Experience Camp took place July 4 to 8, 2012, and what a success it was!
George Dimas and Julie Dimas, along with Laura Roddick and myself, began planning this event in November of 2011. Their mandate was to create a unique event in Western Canada that would motivate and educate players in a relaxed, scenic and non-competitive atmosphere. The event was held at Cedar Lodge on the beautiful Black Strap Lake in Saskatchewan (one of the Prairies’ best kept secrets). The teaching roster for year one was absolutely amazing! It featured myself (Aaron Pritchett); Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean); Vito Rezza (5 after 4); Chester Thompson (Phil Collins, Genesis); Chris Dimas (Skoni); Tim Smith, bass (Johnny Cash, Bill Evans); and Billy Ward (BB King, Robbie Robertson). For the 30 people that attended the event it was truly an experience of a lifetime.
Day One: July 4
It begins with a quick trip up to Cedar Lodge from Regina early in the morning. Upon arrival, setup for the event quickly begins with banners being hung, prizes, T-shirts and gift bags being organized, and four drum kits (one for each of the practice rooms) and two other kits (for the main stage) being assembled. Shortly after the completion of setup, the attendees begin to arrive at the scheduled 4:00pm check in/registration time. These people come from Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and beyond. At registration each participant receives their weekend pass, schedule of events and fully loaded gift bags. They are then shown to their rooms. After being given a quick tour of Cedar Lodge the participants scatter eagerly to find an open practice room.
At 6:00pm everyone sits down together to enjoy the first of many amazing meals. At this time the first instructor, Rich Redmond, arrives with a boundless energy and readiness to dive into the event. Rich is shown to his room where a welcome basket of goodies awaits him. Once settled, he joins everyone for dinner and conversation. As the practice rooms begin to fill up again, this free time is used to get Rich’s kit set up and sound checked. Jayson starts the night by sharing a few opening words with everyone and then gives away a handful of prizes. A huge percussion jam then breaks the ice with Rich taking the lead and everyone excitedly joining in. The jam winds down and the practice rooms close at 11:00pm with drummers playing up until the very last second. The second instructor, Vito Rezza, arrives later in the evening and gets settled into his room. Everyone is now well acquainted and very excited for the next day.
Day two: July 5
After a great sleep everyone shows up for the morning drumline at 8:30am. Jayson’s goal for the daily drumline is for everyone to have page four of Stick Control memorized by the event’s end. This lasts for 30 minutes each day. Breakfast is served at 9:00am with Rich and Vito eating and chatting with everyone.
The first classes begin at 10:30am. Group A is with Rich and group B is with Vito. These classes cover groove, fills, reading and much more. In both classes everyone is completely engaged. Each person has a chance to play through the exercises being taught. The classes wrap up around 12:15pm and lunch is served.
Once the students finish lunch they are off to the practice rooms again to apply their newly acquired tools. The next set of classes begins at 2:30pm. The most popular practice room seems to be the one with the Gretsch jazz kit that has been set up outdoors on the deck overlooking the water (this for obvious reasons, as the weather is amazing).
The afternoon classes have group A and B switching and continuing with the learning process. These classes wrap up around 4:15m. The students have free time until the daily “10-2-5” question and answer time at 4:50pm. Jayson asks each of the instructors 10 questions ranging from influences, best musical advice to their thoughts on educating and sharing information. This is important for the students to hear all of the different answers from such a variety of players.
Supper is served at 6:00pm, just as the next instructor, Chester Thompson arrives. This leads to the preparation for Vito and Rich’s evening performance. Vito kicks the night off playing along to 5 after 4 tracks, displaying complete control and finesse on the drums while grooving like crazy! Vito is a rare breed of musician, and it is a huge treat to have him at this event.
Rich follows with his CRASH Course for Success program, stressing the important factors to being an employable musician. Rich plays along to Jason Aldean, Thompson Square and other tracks while motivating and inspiring all the while. Vito and Rich join forces for an amazing improvised jam that has everyone freaking out and wanting more.
Once the performances wrap up practice rooms fill up yet again. Chester, Vito and Rich sit in the main room and chat about drumming and music while we start the fire for the fire pit hang. The fire pit starts as a percussion jam but quickly turns into a full-on jam, as a few people bring out their guitars and djembes. Songs are shared all night long. Back inside the lodge, we walk in on the artists still hanging out, but now Chester is playing the kit and showing Vito and Rich some of his licks. It was an amazing time for everyone, as the artists were having a blast learning from each other too! The fire pit hang comes to an end and everyone hits the pillows, ready for another very busy day tomorrow.
Day Three: July 6
Rich and Vito leave very early for their flights out and the morning drum line begins at 8:30am. Breakfast is at 9:00am and everyone is ready to learn more today. Today, the groups are split up between Jayson Brinkworth and Chester Thompson. Chester covers reading, playing Latin and Brazilian styles, and many other topics, while Jayson covers balance, creativity, and working with the metronome.
There’s a break for lunch and more practice room time. The afternoon classes switch up for more inspiration and education. Chester answers questions at the 10-2-5 time and inspires all with his responses. One student asks, “What was the biggest crowd you played for?” Chester’s answer blows everyone’s minds when he says it was a Genesis show in Rome for 500,000 people. (Wow!)
Today, attendees were also treated to a performance and solo from Chris Dimas (Skoni, Roland V-drum winner for Canada). Chris also answers a few questions about himself and his playing. Keep an eye open for this guy as he is only 15 and will rip it up in the years to come.
There’s a break for supper. At this time the next instructors, Tim Smith and Billy Ward, show up. Again, the artists immediately join in and everyone is completely immersed in this amazing event. Everyone then cleans up and disappears to the practice rooms for a short while before heading to the main room for the evening shows.
Tonight Jayson Brinkworth kicks it off playing along to three songs from Laura Roddick’s latest CD release Soar. (Jayson is writing articles on each song for The Black Page over the next couple of months)
Next up is Chester Thompson, who gets up and completely hits it out of the park! Chester plays a lengthy solo covering many styles, dynamics and colours. He also plays examples of songs he has played on with Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Genesis, and many other world-class artists.
This night wraps up with another jam by the fire. Chester, Billy and Tim hang out and share incredible stories about music and life, and the practice rooms continue to be eagerly utilized right up to 11:00pm. The fire goes out and people join Billy in the main room for a couple more interesting hours of story time. Another huge day will follow!
Day Four: July 7
The 8:30am drumline comes early today, but everyone is very close to having the stick control page memorized. Breakfast is at 9:00am again where Billy Ward and Tim Smith make lots of time to chat with students.
At 10:30am the days first classes begin, but today is different as the drummers get to work with bass player extraordinaire, Tim Smith. The opportunity for drummers to work with a bass player on groove, time, and feel prove to be an extremely invaluable experience. Tim’s playing, life experiences, and communication are first class. The drummers get so much out of this class, and they all have a blast playing along with him and hearing suggestions and tips on playing.
Billy Ward put his class through their paces, focusing on grip, touch, and groove. Billy is a very special musician and human being and, as expected, proves to be the perfect player to wrap up the weekend.
Lunchtime arrives, practice rooms are full, and then it is time for the afternoon classes to begin. It is at this moment that the event’s CEO, Jayson Brinkworth, along with organizers, George Dimas, Julie Dimas and Laura Roddick, recognize that this event needs to happen every year. With that goal in mind, the four go ahead and commit themselves to the future of the event by booking Cedar Lodge for 2013 and 2014.
Before the 10-2-5 question-and-answer session gets underway, everyone puts on their Stickman shirts and heads down to the dock (each person carrying a different piece of a kit with them) for a photo shoot. The kit is set up at the end of the dock and each participant has a photo taken playing with nothing but open water behind them. The beautiful and unique location of this lodge allows for so many great shots like this.
Everyone then heads back up to the lodge. Billy and Tim answer the 10 questions. Once again the answers are so rich with personal insight and inspiration that the participants are completely enthralled. The students gain a wealth of knowledge just from hearing the players talk and share information away from the drum kit.
Everyone then sits down to another great meal as they get ready for Billy and Tim’s clinic followed by the eagerly awaited grand finale jam.
Billy kicks off the clinic with lots of drumming wisdom and then plays along with Bill Champlin tracks. Billy is such an amazing musician! Tim Smith joins Billy as they share insight on playing with a great drummer, working in the studio, and much more. They play along with tracks from an incredible artist they have just recorded with named Chris Shinn. Once the clinic wraps up, the stage is reset for the grand finale jam.
A local group of talented musicians (vocalist, guitarist and bassist) from Saskatoon has been hired to come in and jam with the drummers. There is a sign-up sheet that includes a list of 40 songs for the drummers to choose from to play with the band. Jayson kicks off the jam playing with the band to the song “Free Falling” by Tom Petty. The night gets into full swing and there is such an exciting buzz in the air felt by everyone, including the students, the artists, the band, the soundman, the volunteers at the lodge, and the friends and families who came out to see the show (which was made open to the public). The drummers are jamming to Santana, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and many other standard cover band tunes. Billy Ward and Tim Smith have a ball as they sit in and play the tune “Hey Joe.” They even swap instruments as Tim Smith takes his turn at getting behind the kit—and Billy helps him out with some friendly critiquing.
As the night and the weekend comes to a close, everyone begins to reflect on the past four days they were just a part of, and excitement fills the air with talk of a 2013 camp.
Day Five: July 8
The final day of drumline is cancelled as everyone is so exhausted from the night before. Breakfast is at 9:00am. Jayson completes the weekend with a few closing words and gives away the last of the many prizes. Clean up begins. As people are leaving, they all want to register for 2013 and are made aware that they have priority on registration—and information will be out very soon!
George, Julie, Laura and Jayson want to thank all of the drum companies—Mosaic, SaskMusic and so many others—for their support on this event. It wouldn’t have been possible without your time and financial support!
The 2013 Stickman Drum Experience will take place again at the amazing Cedar Lodge from June 27 to July 1. Registration will begin at the end of July 2013 with several great deals and incentives for registering early. Let the Experience continue!
About the Author
Jayson Brinkworth is an accomplished drummer, percussionist, vocalist, educator and writer based out of Canada. He is co-owner of the Saskatchewan music school Music In The House, as well as the founder of both the Regina Drum Festival and The Stickman Drum Experience.
Jayson proudly endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans heads, Impact cases, Kickport, Flix, Future Sonics and Mountain Rhythm. Visit Jayson online at www.jaysonbrinkworth.com.
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