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August 10-14
Vic's Drum Shop
Chicago, IL

The 12th annual Drum Fantasy Camp saw the addition of three new instructors and one new performer to the Drum Fantasy Camp family! It also saw the return of many of our friends.

Returning to Drum Fantasy Camp after his first year (in 2017) was Styx drummer Todd Sucherman. With just two days off after the camp before he would head back out with Styx, Todd brought his wit, incredible skills, and straightforward and informative teaching style!

Also returning to the camp were longtime band members Vinny Valentino (Music Director/Guitar) and Chrissi Poland (vocals). Bassist James Genus returned for his third stint at the camp and also brought his wife and daughter for the ride! Keyboardist Stu Mindeman played one of our nightly jams and also the closing concert!

New teachers/performers included a legend and two of the hottest contemporary players out there. Drumming icon Billy Cobham blew everyone away with his concert performance and charming manner! He was incredible in the classroom! Robert "Sput" Searight and Matt Garstka headlined an explosive closing concert while inspriring everyone in their classrooms. Keyboardist Paul Mutzabaugh slayed the opening concert and first two jams! A great hookup by Stu, who joined us after finishing the Kurt Elling tour.

August 9th is when it all actually started. In the afternoon, Todd Sucherman went straight from O'Hare airport to Vic's Drum Shop where he put together his kit and tuned it up. Attention to detail is a hallmark of Todd's professionalism. He wasn't leaving this task to soundcheck the next day.

Meanwhile, after spending some time at Vic's with Todd, camp director Steven Orkin made his way over to O'Hare to pick up Billy Cobham, who was coming all the way in from Switzerland! Two hours after the flight landed, Billy emerged from the customs area in great spirits! But he was missing something...

The airline had lost his full personal set of Sabian cymbals! Woudl they make it to the club the next day? You'll find out in a minute! But the car ride back to the hotel turned into a spirited drum lesson for Steven. A real treat!

After an incredible staff dinner that night, it was all business the next day - gearing up for the big opening concert. Vic's Drum Shop general manager John Maloney worked with his incredible staff and the staff of Martyrs' music club to bring the stage to life. Meanwhile, Billy "went shopping" at Vic's, choosing from their huge selection of Sabian cymbals because his set had not yet reached Chicago. Billy found just what he needed, and he and Steven made their way over to Martyrs'.

The day was filled with soundchecking, rehearsal, and plenty pizzas from the world-famous Lou Malnati's (as demanded by longtime Lou Malnati's fan Todd Sucherman!)

The opening concert delivered all the great moments our attendees (and local Chicago music fans) have come to expect over the years. It opened with Lee Dorsey's "Everything I do Gohn Be Funky," featuring all four drummers playing on snare! This eruped into the usual snare drum duel between the instructors and other shenanigans!

Todd Sucherman then stayed on to blow the crowd away an eclectic mix of tunes! He was followed by Billy Cobham, whose set featured a return to his roots with the band performing "Stratus." He grooved hard and jaws dropped. The intermission between sets featured Steven Orkin and Mark Eldridge (Artisan Customs) presenting performers with Mark's hand-carved trophies. Todd and Billy closed out with an amazing duet!

The next four days were the main days of the camp. Full-time attendees ranged in age from 10 to 65 and they came from all over the world, including: Denmark, Germany, Brazil, Panama, England, Austria, and Argentina!

Each day, attendees worked all day in a small group with one drumming instructor. On Sunday, 13 attendees took the "Groove/Swing Class" with Vinny and James as the teachers! Each attendees got to play with the duo and work on their time feel, groove, swing pulse, and overall musicality.

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 James, Paul or 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' with our incredible band plus Matt Garstka and Sput Searight. Matt highlighted his set with Chick Corea's version of "CTA." He also wowed the crowd with one of the most blistering solos we've seen in 12 years of Drum Fantasy Camp!

Sput Searight closed out with a powerful set - featuring the Brecker Brothers' "Some Skunk Funk." At soundcheck, Sput introduced the band to horn players Constantine Alexander and David Ben Porat. They blew everybody's hair back with their signature parts to the Brecker Brothers' tune! The show concluded with a crazy duet between with Matt and Sput!

Completely drained from five days of learning and great performances, attendees hugged and exchanged contact information. And camp director Steven Orkin held onto a drumhead signed by everyone who attended the camp, courtesy of camper David Dadoun. It's a moment he'll never forget...

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