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, we publish the events that took place of this historical event. Below you can read all about day two on June 10, 2007.
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Drum Challenge finals Following the structure of Day 1, Day 2 started out with the Drum Challenge finals. This time, it was for the Open category, where Gilbert Rolan Nogales from the Philippines pitted his skills against Gary Tan. Gilbert, with his creativity and crowd-pleasing antics won the judges’ vote though it was a very close contest against Gary’s well-honed techniques and impressive chops. Both drummers were rewarded with 1-year subscription to Modern Drummer magazine and gift apparel vouchers. In addition to that, Gilbert won for himself a Sonor drum kit worth $2,500 and Gary, a Meinl cymbal set worth $2,000.
Nate Morton Backstage at the second day of Singapore Drumfest, Nate Morton was giving his set-up a final once over. When asked what he felt about going first on Day 2, the very humble Nate declared, “I asked to go first, ‘cos I don’t think I would want to have to play after any of those drummers. I would look horrible.”
The audience did not share his sentiments though, seeing as his album, \'Playground Philosophy\', sold like hot cakes after his set and was gone even before the night ended. Nate was a joy to watch on stage, being one of those drummers whom you can just tell really enjoys himself behind the drum kit. He laid a very solid foundation for the music without overplaying, and with the experience of playing with the Rockstar INXS and Supernova house band under his belt, Nate really set the standard of how music should be played for everyone.
Jimmy Lee After the rock show, next came Singapore’s very own Jimmy Lee, who slowed things down a little together with his band in a high-quality Jazz set that even those who are not fans of the genre would appreciate. Unlike the other drummers, Jimmy played all the songs in his set looking at the scores, and he shared with the audience how important sight reading is to a drummer.
Jimmy’s amazing solos really added a whole new dimension to the band’s Jazz music. Playing with such incredible speed and skill, he definitely did Singaporeans proud by holding his own at the Drumfest alongside all the other international drummers.
Jojo Mayer & Tony Royster Jr. While there could be no doubt that everyone in the audience must be enjoying the world class drumming on show, some were probably still sour from news of Benny Greb’s sudden withdrawal from the Drumfest lineup just three days before the event, citing health problems as reason for his absence. Everyone was expecting a shortened programme for Day 2 because of that; so imagine the crowd’s surprise when Tan Boon, the director of Singapore Drumfest, brought back Jojo Mayer for a very special first-time collaboration with child prodigy Tony Royster Jr.
Though it was a weekend specially dedicated to the drums, other forms of music was at its highest level as well, and for this performance, the two drum stars were accompanied by Nerve’s highly-accredited bassist, Janek Gwizdala. Janek has worked with some of the most respected musicians in the business, including Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Eric Johnson and Paul Oakenfold. His prowess on the bass was on show during Jojo’s set the day before, and was no doubt the perfect accompaniment for this very special duet.
The impromptu performance really showcased drumming at its highest level as Jojo and Tony traded solos from opposite ends of the stage to the incredible bass groove provided by Janek in the centre. With good flashy chops, metric modulation, dash of showmanship and some killer grooves from both the drummers, it was no wonder that the crowd went wild for the friendly battle between the master drummer and the young talented contender. Who came up tops? Well, it was simply impossible to say.
Gorden Campbell The trio’s adrenaline-pumping set was followed by an equally captivating set by Gorden Campbell aka the Groove Machine. The R ‘n’ B drummer played licks and grooves that were so catchy that it was simply impossible not to move to the music. Gorden played with an unconventional, open-handed way, and coupled with the Gospel music that is pretty much unexplored here in Singapore, he really opened up the eyes of many in the audience.
Tony Royster Jr. Finally, it was time to bring on 22-year-old Tony Royster Jr., who was by far the youngest drummer in the lineup. He lived up to his reputation as the child prodigy with his explosive performance. Tony has got everything – the chops, the groove, showmanship, speed, time – you name it, and he pretty much has it.
Midway through his set with a band of Singaporean musicians, Tony also took some time out to talk to the audience about the importance of timing in drums, and even challenged everyone to try and count the time signature of the tune that he had written himself! While his drumming ability was never a doubt, Tony really proved to everyone his talent as a musician with his own composition.
As Drumfest drew to a close, the organisers had just the right finale to end this groundbreaking event. The whispers in the crowd grew louder as three drum kits were being set up on the stage and it broke into loud cheers as the emcees welcomed back Gorden, Jimmy and Tony for a three-way drum battle as a special treat for the audience.
Gorden Campbell, Jimmy Lee and Tony Royster Jr. All three drummers showcased what they do best in the exciting match-up. They dished out some incredibly high-level drumming and drove the crowd crazy with flashy stick tricks and gimmicks. Determined not to be outdone, each solo by the drummers got wilder and more unbelievable, drawing gasps of surprise from the awestruck audience. As the trio hit their last note, they were given a standing ovation for what was really an example of a drum battle at its best.
As the happy, excited and satisfied crowd streamed out for an autograph session with the drummers, there were already talks of a Drumfest 2008. It was obvious that the audience just could not get enough of all this high level, world class drumming action.
At that moment though, they could only contend with etching memories of the incredible weekend into their minds and getting the drummers to ink their signatures as a commemorative for an unforgettable Drumfest 2007.
Singapore Drumfest has stirred up the appetites of drummers and musicians alike for more of such world-class events at this magnitude, and from here on, music can only get better. Drummers in particular, can look forward to more drumming action in the very near future.
Singapore Drumfest 2007 was proudly supported by: Sonor, Mapex, Drum Workshop, Meinl, Sabian, Paiste, Remo, Evans, Vic Firth, Latin Percussion