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August 17-21
Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ

Drum Fantasy Camp was originally launched in 2007.

Camp Director Steven Orkin had been looking for teaching opportunities for two of his clients, Dave Weckl and Steve Smith. Upon speaking to both, each mentioned that he had attended the Stan Kenton jazz camp in high school - seeking out the opportunity both to learn with the great Peter Erskine. Orkin decided to create DFC and test it in the country's largest metropolitan area: New York City.

The experience was incredible. Nobody had any idea that drumFantasy.07 would attract 109 drummers of all ages and playing levels from all over the world! The event was loaded with great musicians and amazing classes. It also revealed how drummers always support each other in this kind of environment. Everyone had a blast!

Steve and Dave were joined by Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Jason Bittner, Pat Petrillo, Jason Gianni and Glenn Weber of the New Jersey School of Percussion.

Students arrived on Friday afternoon. They registered, and then hopped on a bus over to Seton Hall for a reception and kick-off concert with Steve Smith and Vital Information! The crowd was treated to a fantastic concert featuring Steve, Tom Coster, Baron Browne, and Vinny Valentino. Of course, for the camp, Steve had a few surprises in his back pocket.

On flute, hand percussion, and konnokol, was the great Ravichandra Kulur. Steve also invited Israeli percussionist Gilad Dobrecky. It was an amazing lineup and the camp attendees saw a very rare and special performance.

Saturday morning saw the beginning of classes. Everyone was assigned to a group and that group went from class-to-class together.

It was amazing how people bonded so quickly. Drummers huddled around cafeteria tables talking drums and trading concepts with their sticks and practice pads. The instructors also ate in the cafeteria. This provided more time for questions and discussion - as did the the lawn right outside the classrooms. Steve Smith was seen leading impromptu lessons out there after lunch, with campers tapping out odd time signatures and trying Indian konnokol!

The second evening provided campers with another incredible concert. But this time, it was a double feature.

The first show was a band put together by Horacio Hernandez. He brought with him Turkish pianist Fahir Atakoglu and bassist Melik Yirimibir. The trio played an assortment of fascinating tunes.

One special treat: Horacio performed "Lullaby for Miles" on Mbira and invited Dave Weckl to accompany him on a snare drum with brushes.

Dave returned to the stage for the second show with a band he put together exclusively for this occasion. It featured Tom Kennedy on a 250-year-old upright bass, George Colligan on piano, and Ralph Bowen on saxophones.

Days three through five consisted of daytime master classes limited to just 15 campers per class. This gave everyone some quality time with the teachers.

Steve and Dave originally wanted to make sure the classes were small enough to give each student personal instruction in addition to the larger concepts. The hardest part was keeping the classes on-track time-wise. The teachers wanted to keep teaching and sometimes went an hour past the scheduled ending time! This tradition has continued every year since.

Of course the campers didn't complain.

The last two nights of the camp saw our original Jam Nights in which the campers got to sit in with an all-star band. The band was led by guitarist Vinny Valentino and featured bassist Baron Browne and singer Chrissi Poland.

This band had been performing on Monday night in New York city with a very great drummer - Joel Rosenblatt. But, on "jam night," it was the campers who were given the opportunity to contribute. The Jam Night tradition has continued ever-since and the band has become a main feature of Drum Fantasy Camp!

Put to the task of being professional musicians for the night, each drummer, no matter what their level of play, was able to hold the songs together. With two kits on stage and drummers lined up for each kit, a new drummer would start as the previous drummer stopped - allowing the groove to flow, and each drummer to do their thing.

And, each drummer left the stage with a pat on the back from the instructors, who also jumped in from time-to-time. This led to some very fun moments.

For example, when the band broke into Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher," campers were treated to Jason Bittner's blindingly fast version of the song's double-bass shuffle. Steve also joined in on the song, showing a different side of his playing!

Many students also appreciated Steve's groove on some disco/R&B tunes. He was all pocket - loose and flowing, and even had to turn his ball cap around to fit the mood!

Dave Weckl and Horacio Hernandez spent most of the two nights on timbales and congas, accompanying campers during their turns on the drum kits. There were a lot smiles back and forth as campers realized who was backing them up!

All-in-all, a lot was learned and there was much fun to be had!

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More Information

drumFantasy.07 Videos
Horacio Hernandez Live at Drum Fantasy Camp

Dave Weckl (snare) and Horacio Hernandez (Mbira)