On June 9 and 10, 2007, the The Singapore Drumfest was held for the first time, and was the first ever International Drum Festival in the whole of Asia. The festival provided Drummerszone.com with a post-event write-up about the two day event. In two seperate articles, one of every day, you can read all about the events that took place of this historical event. Below you can read all about day one of the Singapore Drumfest on June 9, 2007.
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Singapore Drumfest Day One – Saturday, 9th June The crowd was buzzing with anticipation in wait for the first drummer to take stage. It did not help that earlier on, some of them have had a preview of what is to come through the Master Classes with Grant Collins and Derek Roddy. After all, it is not every day that you get up close and personal with your favourite drummers. In fact, cynics would even say that it is too good to be true, especially here in Singapore.
Who could blame them? For the longest time, an event featuring 10 world-class drummers seemed only possible in the Western countries. Most had resigned to watching video footages for their dose of drumming brilliance. The lineup for the first ever Singapore Drumfest was truly a work of art, attracting drum enthusiasts from all over the world; some in attendance flew in specially for the event, coming from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Finland, USA and the UK!
Drum Challenge finals Before the stage was turned over to the pros, the crowd was kept entertained by the finals of the Drum Challenge 21-and-under category. The showdown was between 18-year-old Jonathan Ong and the American contender that flew in from California, 20-year-old Danny Morledge. The latter eventually emerged as the champion, winning the judges over with his structured and well thought-out solo, not to mention his impeccable sense of timing. As the winner,
Danny walked away with a Mapex drum kit worth $1,800, 1-year subscription to Modern Drummer magazine and apparel gift vouchers. Jonathan was well-rewarded for his efforts too, receiving a Meinl cymbal set worth $800 and 1-year subscription to Modern Drummer magazine.
Gregg Bissonette By the looks of it, all the anticipation was just killing the crowd. So when Gregg Bissonette finally appeared in flesh on stage, he was greeted by appreciative, excited applause and cheering from the crowd before he even took his place behind the drum set. He was visibly surprised and flattered by the reception and went on to kick start Singapore Drumfest 2007 in style.
A solo with a mix of left-foot clave patterns, catchy grooves on a fantastic-sounding snare drum and some flashy chops immediately hushed the crowd as they watched in wide-eyed fascination and from then on, Gregg had all their attention. And who could forget the moment when he flipped his snare upside down and did some ‘Drum n’ Bass’ rhythm while filing in using the snare wire? The animated performer also took some time out of his set to chat and interact with the crowd, delighting those in attendance with his personality and humour.
After Gregg finished his set with a super-catchy Bollywood-flavoured tune, the star of the moment was treated to a surprise himself when the emcees broke into a chorus of “Happy Birthday” and presented him with a cake for the special occasion.
Steve Thornton and Mohammad Noor The good spirits continued with the dynamic percussion duo of Steve Thornton and Mohammad Noor as they took stage for their combined item. Steve, a renowned percussionist who have worked with the likes of Mongo Santamaria and Jazz legend Miles Davis, joined efforts with our local percussion great to bring a slice of Latin flavour to the show.
Warming up and then launching into a detailed and demonstrative solo comprising a series of impressive chops, Steve was then accompanied by Mohd Noor (as he is commonly known in these parts) on the cajon that provided the “drum set” effect and then on the timbales with cracking rolls and fills.
Later, the duo were also joined by several local musicians in a traditional Latin Jazz ensemble, pleasing the crowd with Mohd Noor’s flavourful cascaras and Steve’s precise technique and resounding notes and slaps adding zing to the smooth rhythms.
Derek Roddy If there were to be an award for Mr. Nice Guy at Drumfest, it would go to a very unlikely recipient in the eyes of most - extreme metal drummer Derek Roddy, who was the third drummer for Day 1. Off stage, Derek was all smiles despite the jet lag and early morning sound checks. He chatted happily about anything from his love for snakes to his lovely wife who was back in Florida taking care of their python eggs, which were on the verge of hatching. Speaking with the tone of a concerned father, he told us about the difficulties that come with taking care of those hatching eggs, for the snakes are known to drown easily when hatching. It is hard not to be infected by his easy demeanor, even if he is talking about breeding pythons.
On stage though, Derek definitely did not put the audience to relax mode. Living up to his reputation as one of the fastest extreme metal drummers around, Derek riled the audience up with the incredible speed of his playing. It was scintillating to see him ride on his double bass, and for most, if not all of the audience, it was quite possibly the fastest single double bass playing that they have seen live. Derek also surprised everyone when he incorporated some Latin and Jazz tunes into his set, showing off his proficiency with various genres and highlighting his versatility as a drummer.
Grant Collins After his set, Derek turned from performer to audience as he settled down to watch his newfound friend, Grant Collins from Brisbane, Australia, sizzle up the stage. The two had hit it off immediately and became fast friends, promising to keep in touch and maybe even work on future projects together. Grant, who had affectionately named Derek his ‘long lost brother’, was all warmed up and ready to take the stage by the time it came to his turn.
He kept the flavour fresh through his unique style of playing. With almost all of his tunes playing in odd time signatures, it really opened up the eyes of many to the different styles and techniques of playing that can be done on the drums. On top of that, Grant also wowed everyone with his out-of-this-world independence, playing some very different and difficult patterns on each limb. The end result was an array of innovative and incredibly groovy tunes by the man from Down Under.
Jojo Mayer The fifth and final drummer to take stage for Day 1 came in the form of Jojo Mayer, and it was obvious from the huge cheers he received that most of the audience had been waiting eagerly to watch the Swiss maestro in action. Jojo did not disappoint with a very educational set for the audience, specifically teaching on how to develop good techniques to enhance one’s drumming.
With acoustic drums and the use of the “Moeller” technique, he can easily sound like a ‘Drum n’ Bass’ set on his own. For the finale, Jojo brought up his band Nerve, who is a rising star in the electronic dance music scene, for an epic concert of electronic dance music in its finest form.
Grant Collins and Derek Roddy And then, what almost no one had been expecting happened: the two firm friends took to the stage for a surprise item. For the first time ever, Grant Collins and Derek Roddy combined their powers of versatility and technique to trade several solos.
As Grant built his rudimental technique on Derek’s foundations of raw speed and power, the collaboration between them left the crowd agape. Not surprising, then, that there was a resounding ovation and even cries of “Encore” when the two up-and-coming titans stepped out from behind their kit to embrace. It was last but not least in a day of firsts, and more was yet to come on the second day of the Drumfest.