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August 5-9
Vic's Drum Shop
Chicago, IL

The 11th annual Drum Fantasy Camp featured the return of one of our founding drummers - and four new additions to the Drum Fantasy Camp family!

Steve Smith, who rejoined the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Band Journey in 2015, returned to Drum Fantasy Camp after playing more than 60 summer dates! Steve is a natural teacher and the camp allows him to get personal in our small classes of just 15. It was amazing to have Steve back!

Joining Steve were three drummers who Drum Fantasy Camp has been chasing for several years now. Will Calhoun fit the camp into his neverending schedule of dates with the iconic band, Living Colour. Simon Phillips joined us during some very rare downtime in his schedule (we asked him for at least five years!) And Todd Sucherman took time away from his family in between segments of the Styx tour!

On the band side of things, the camp welcomed legendary bassist Jimmy Haslip for the very first time! Jimmy's incredible playing and warm demeanor made him an instant hit at the camp. He was joined by Music Director Vinny Valentino (guitar/vocals), Chicago native Stu Mindeman (keys), Chrissi Poland (vocals).

Camp preparations always start months in advance. Camp director Steven Orkin arrived in Chicago to get things going on August 1. After a stop at Chicago's famed restaurant, "The Mean Wiener," it was all business putting the final touches on Drum Fantasy Camp.

On August 2, Orkin picked up gear from SIR (Studio Instrument Rentals) and paid a visit to Vic's Drum Shop. He met Vic's managers Kevin Jensen and John Maloney, who had been coordinating drum gear for all four drummers. The guys reviewed the gear to make sure everything was in place.

On August 3, the musicians began arriving in Chicago. Weather conditions in the Midwest diverted some flights and made things challenging! But the guys eventually arrived. Todd Sucherman took some time meet the team at Vic's and being the process of tuning his drums (while telling hilarious stories and doing drumming "impressions"). With Todd's touch, his Pearl kit sounded amazing.

Later that evening, everyone met at Athena restaurant down the street from the hotel in Greektown. The top of the restaurant, which opens on nice summer nights, was abruptly closed when storms rolled in. The group was having too much fun to notice. Great stories were exchanged, followed by a late-night hang among the drum instructors!

On the 4th, Todd and Will joined "Hamilton" Chicago drummer Tom Hipskind at the Sabian Education Network event hosted by Vic's. Joe Bergamini, a top Broadway drummer and writer/educator with Hudson Music who runs the Sabian network, moderated an amazing discussion! When the event ended at Noon, Orkin picked up Sucherman and drove him, Steve Smith, and the band over to Martyrs' music club to set up for the opening concert.

As always, the opening concert delivered a mindblowing performance to a full house. The first set opened with all four instructors joining the band on snare drums only for "Hey Pocky Way." Plenty of shenanigans followed (see the videos on the right side of this page). Todd and Steve both did individual sets after that, followed by an incredible duet at the end!

The next four days were the main days of the camp. Full-time attendees ranged in age from 9 to 70 and they came from 12 countries, including: China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, England, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Canada, and the U.S.!

Full-time attendees had the choice of working with four drumming instructors over four days, or substituting one instructor for an all-new "Groove/Swing Class" with Vinny and Jimmy as the teachers! Many of the attendees opted for the that class - and they were not disappointed! Vinny and Jimmy got everyone up and playing with them all day. The attendees walked out with great input!

During the evenings of the first three nights, we ran our famous "Jam Nights." Hosted in the Vic's Drum Shop Showcase Room, attendees were called up to perform with Jimmy, Stu, Chrissi, and Vinny! Tunes ranged from classic rock to straight-ahead jazz, Indian fusion, and more. There was no pressure - but several attendees found themselves being accompanies by one or more of our drumming instructors! Only at Drum Fantasy Camp...

On the final night, we ran a closing concert at Martyrs' featuring our incredible band, Will Calhoun, and Simon Phillips. Will opened the show with an amazing set that blended Elvin Jones with Jimi Hendrix! He also performed a solo piece on his Korg Wave Drum. Meanwhile, Simon delivered an iconic tune that he wrote with Jeff Beck entitled "The Pump," which was made famous in the movie "Risky Business." He then delivered a blistering version of Beck's "Space Boogie" before joining Will for a duet that also included audience participation!

All in all, the 11th annual Drum Fantasy Camp was packed with thrills, learning, and unforgettable moments that will never be forgotten!

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More Information

drumFantasy.17 Videos
"Hey Pocky Way"
Featuring Will Calhoun, Simon Phillips, Steve Smith
and Todd Sucherman. The band: Jimmy Haslip, Stu Mindeman, Chrissi Poland and Vinny Valentino

"I Love You"
Featuring Steve Smith with Jimmy Haslip, Stu Mindeman, Chrissi Poland and Vinny Valentino

"Fred" (Tony Williams)
Featuring Todd Sucherman with Jimmy Haslip, Stu Mindeman and Vinny Valentino