Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The 21st Annual Chicago Vintage Drum Show

This coming weekend, May 21st and 22nd, marks the return of the Annual Chicago Vintage Drum Show. It's held at the Kane County FairGrounds, which is approximately 35 miles Southwest of downtown Chicago. Admission is 15.oo. This is THE premier vintage drum convention in the United States. You will not find more vintage drums under one roof anywhere else on the continent.

This is the 21st year for the convention. I remember its first few years. Initially, it was just a gathering of drum geeks who sold or traded drums and hardware. The location moved around and sometimes it was a one day event, sometimes two. There were no drum clinics and the event was ignored by current Drum Companies. In fact, there was a certain snobbishness directed at the event and at event attendees.

Things have changed in 21 years. The event has grown in size and stature. The Ludwig Drum Company, the Gretsch Drum Company, and the Yamaha Drum Company all have booths at the show. The list of small custom Drum Manufacturers is most impressive. These include Paul Mason and his Tempus Drum Company, Ronn Dunnett of Dunnett Custom Drums and the George Way Drum Company, the Craviotto Drum Company, the Joyful Noise Drum Company, and the Palmetto Drum Company. Even Stick and Cymbal companies are represented. These include Zildjian and Sabian Cymbals and Regal Tip sticks.

This influx of current manufacturers has changed the environment for the better. Indeed, the show is advertised as the Chicago Drum Show. The "vintage" word has been dropped. But make no mistake. This is vintage drum heaven. There is a good sized consignment section. Steve Maxwell, one of the most respected vintage collectors, has a booth for his wares. Bun E. Carlos, the drummer for Cheap Trick, sells vintage gear at his booth. Guitar Center, the big box music retailer, sells used stock from its local stores. And there are a number of small respected retailers like Skins and Tins Drum Shop who sell vintage drums, cymbals, and hardware.

Last, but not least, there are a number of Drum Clinics given throughout the two day event. This year's clinicians include J.R. Robinson, Clayton Cameron, Bryan Hitt, Johnny Rabb, Jane Boxall, Les DeMerle, Daniel Glass, and Cora and Josh Dunham.

As you can well imagine, the show attracts visitors from throughout the world. Drummers, drum collectors, drum geeks, drum manufacturers, even (gasp!!!) guitarists---all can be found wandering the aisles. It's a collection of characters, a real slice of humanity. As they used to say in the 60's, "It's bitchin." Or to put it another way---Be There or be Square.

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